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 These posts contain previously unpublished Certification Survey data.
Certification is different for everyone. Some individuals study for weeks or months before attempting a certification exam. Others learn what they need to know by working in a professional IT setting. Some people take a class or spend money on guidebooks of online training modules. Some people rely on their native wits to carry the day.
One thing that is the same for everyone, on the other hand, is the price tag that comes with exam itself. There are sometimes special circumstances where exam candidates get a discounted rate, or even occasionally a fee waiver. For nearly all certification exam candidates, however, the price is the price and you can't take the exam without payment in full.
That doesn't mean, on the other hand, that if you are the exam candidate, then the fee has to come out of your wallet. There are quite a few ways to fob the cost off on someone else without dipping into one's own bank account. As is true in many other academic settings, help is available if you know where to look.
We frequently ask survey participants what garden provides the cabbage — so to speak — when it's time to pony up for a certification exam. And that includes the certified IT support professionals who responded to our recent Computer Technician Certification Survey. Who picked up the tab when they attempted their most recent certification exam?
Here's what we learned:
Q: Who or what paid for your most recent computer technician certification?
I paid 100 percent — 42.1 percent
My employer paid 100 percent — 27.6 percent
My employer and I shared the cost — 10.5 percent
Federal government grant or program — 2.6 percent
State or municipal assistance program — 1.3 percent
Scholarship — 3.9 percent
Vendor-issued voucher — 3.9 percent
Included in conference or convention fee — 1.3 percent
Some combination of these factors — 2.6 percent
No cost to me or anyone else — 2.6 percent
Other — 1.3 percent
The first thing to note is that close to half of those surveyed didn't look elsewhere for assistance. They just paid the exam fee. Fees can vary widely from one certification to the next, but IT support certifications are probably cheaper, generally speaking, than credentials in other, more highly specialized IT niches.
The second-most popular option is one that a lot of people apparently know about. If you have a job already, particularly one where your skills are essential to job performance, then your employer will quite often invest in your career growth and development by footing the bill. Many employers offer to cover exam fees as a standard benefit.
And even if you can't get your employer to cover the entire cost, you can quite often work out an arrangement where they will cover part of it.
For whatever reason, it would appear the many certified computer technicians don't look to other sources for assistance. There are numerous other options, but paying the whole thing out-of-pocket or getting some or all of the cost covered by an employer is the ball game for 80 percent of all respondents.
If you're relatively new to the certification realm, just bear in mind that you have options. You don't have to pay for everything yourself, and there are other places to look for help than just leaning on your employer.