Certification Survey Extra: Rating cloud computing certification study materials
Posted on
April 28, 2022
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Certification Survey Extra is a series of periodic dispatches that give added insight into the findings of our most recent Certification Survey. These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.

Consumers like to have options. Let's say you're hungry for a snack, you like chocolate and peanuts, and you're in the mood for a candy bar. There isn't just one chocolate-peanut candy bar out there. You could have a Snickers bar, or a Mr. Goodbar, or a Baby Ruth, or a Whatchamacallit, or a Nutrageous, or a, whoa, look at the time, we'll be here all day. The point is that there are a lot of different ways to satisfy just that one particular craving.

When it comes to training and study materials, certification candidates are just consumers who want options. And, just as with the marketplace for chocolate and peanut snack bar cravers, when it comes to cloud computing certification, there are plenty of ways for exam candidates to learn, study, review, and otherwise prepare for exam day. Quite often, there are multiple training options for the same certification.

There are many different ways to refresh your understanding, or take in new information and make it your own, and individuals tend to have personal preferences or proclivities. A key element of learning and studying is figuring out what works for you, while also understanding that your own best approach may differ from that of peers or colleagues.

Certification is an ongoing pursuit, of course, so you aren't likely to enter the IT industry, whatever your specialization, with every cert you'll ever need already in hand. For our recent Cloud Computing Certification Survey, we asked certified cloud professionals how they get the best results when it's time to study up for a new certification exam.

Survey respondents rated the effectiveness, per their most recent certification experience, of various cloud computing certification study materials. As always, those surveyed had the option to mark "Does Not Apply" for study approaches that are foreign to their experience. Here's what we learned:

Method of Study Percentage of Respondents who rate this method
Excellent
Percentage of Respondents who rate this method
Very Good
Percentage of Respondents who rate this method
Good
Percentage of Respondents who rate this method
Fair
Percentage of Respondents who rate this method
Poor
Percentage of Respondents who rate this method
Does Not Apply
Self-study books 41 percent 31.1 percent 9.8 percent 1.6 percent 1.6 percent 14.9 percent
Product Documentation 18 percent 27.9 percent 29.5 percent 11.8 percent 1.6 percent 11.2 percent
Instructor-led training at training center 13.1 percent 19.7 percent 11.5 percent 3.3 percent 1.3 percent 51.1 percent
Vendor-authorized boot camp 9.8 percent 16.4 percent 11.5 percent 4.9 percent 3.3 percent 54.1 percent
On-the-job training 18 percent 23 percent 23 percent 9.8 percent 1.2 percent 25 percent
Practice exams 34.4 percent 32.9 percent 19.7 percent 10 percent 1.4 percent 1.6 percent
Online university or e-learning course 24.6 percent 21.3 percent 16.4 percent 1 percent 2.2 percent 34.5 percent
Internet mailing lists or forums 4.9 percent 18 percent 18 percent 16.4 percent 6.6 percent 36.1 percent
Computer-based training or simulations 21.3 percent 26.2 percent 24.7 percent 4.9 percent 1.6 percent 21.3 percent
Community or technical college courses 6.5 percent 14.8 percent 11.5 percent 4.9 percent 3.3 percent 59 percent
Brain dumps from web sites 8.2 percent 9.8 percent 8 percent 5.1 percent 4.9 percent 64 percent

2022 Cloud Computing Certification Survey: Refers to materials used by survey respondents to prepare for their most recently taken exam.

One of the first things that we noticed is that certified cloud computing professionals are apparently a highly good-natured bunch. Very few survey respondents handed out Poor ratings. Only two of the classes of training and study materials being rated even got a 5 percent disapproval rating: brand dumps and internet mailing lists or forums.

Many certified IT professionals take a lone wolf approach to training, and that trend is certainly borne out here. The three training options rated most highly by a fairly wide margin are online universities (and related online e-learning courses), self-study books, and practice exams, all of which are entirely reliant on the self-motivation of the learner, but also don't require any sort of interaction with others.

The workplace is a key arena of learning for many, as demonstrated by the fact that nearly 75 percent of survey participants have experienced some degree of success in furthering their certification efforts through on-the-job-training. If you know enough to get a job in IT, then you can do work, get paid, and enrich your skill set all at the same time. Other strong options include product documentation and computer-based training or simulations.

We've already noted that very few options were rated poorly. You have to actually try something in order to rate its effectiveness, of course, but it's clear that many certified cloud professionals didn't even contemplate going down certain roads (or at least didn't contemplate it for long): community college courses, boot camps, training centers, and online mailing lists/forums are apparently beneath the notice of many certified cloud computing professionals looking to study up for a certification.

The consensus take on brain dumps is that there is no consensus. Survey participants were all over the place on grading their effectiveness, which is probably an accurate reflection of the generally dubious reliability of purported stolen exam content. The good news here is that only about 35 percent of those surveyed have used brain dumps. For everyone else, this one got a hearty "does not apply."

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