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 These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.
Just as with the ancient traveler headed to Rome, there are many routes to successfully preparing for and passing a certification exam. Anyone who has gone through the pre-exam preparation process could attest that there are many different kinds of IT certification study materials available. Which of them is the "best" options is largely a matter of personal preference.
Even those who are new to the information technology realm probably have a preferred learning style, whether that's leafing through a certification study guide or sitting in a classroom and taking notes on a lecture. There are videos, simulation labs, and self-paced online courses. Some people seek out friendly advice from others via internet forums or mailing lists. Computer learning platforms typically offer a mix of teaching methods.
For our recent Linux Certification Survey, we asked certified Linux professionals which Linux certification study materials give them the best results. Survey respondents rated the effectiveness, per their most recent certification experience, of various 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:
Self-study books are generally the most popular and relied-on method of study in our survey, and that pattern holds true here. Nearly 65 percent of survey respondents rated self-study books as being either Excellent (31 percent) or Very Good (32.9 percent). On the other hand, practice exams, which are often rated almost as highly, didn't fare so well with certified Linux professionals.
The next-most highly rated study method here is on-the-job training: 25.9 percent of respondents rated it Excellent, while 29.2 percent say direct workplace exposure to Linux is Very Good. That's considerably stronger than the next two runners-up: instructor-led training (19 percent Excellent, 20.7 percent Very Good) and, yes, practice exams (17.2 percent Excellent, 34.5 percent Very Good).
Pivoting to the areas where certified professional are not seeking out Linux certification study materials, notably more than half of those surveyed have no use for either vendor-authorized boot camps (63.9 percent of respondents) or community and technical college courses (63.8 percent). Exactly half of those surveyed don't involve Internet mailing lists/forums in their preparation, while 51.7 percent entirely steer clear of brain dumps.
You also have close to half of respondents entirely ignoring both online courses (44.8 percent) and instructor-led training at training centers (48.3 percent).
Linux, it would seem, is an IT knowledge realm where there are a lot of people lone-wolfing it when it comes to learning the basics and/or adding new skills. If you're a newcomer to the field, then it seems that a majority of certified professionals would probably point you toward books, workplace immersion (the "learn by doing" approach), and practice exams.