The top publishers of IT certification study and training books
Posted on
July 25, 2017

Most educators agree that every person has an optimal method of learning new material. Some people are auditory learners: They learn best when they're listening to a lecture, or to an audiobook version of a textbook. Others are strong tactile learners: Their ideal learning experience involves hands-on experimentation, taking things apart and reassembling them, tinkering with physical models of concepts.

And then there are visual learners. These people do their best learning by reading text or viewing images. Visual learners make up an estimated 65 percent of the population, and they are a big reason why textbooks and study guides are still very popular items with students of all ages.

Chart - Types of Learners

IT professionals have been using printed study guides to prepare for certification exams since the earliest days of the industry. This has resulted in a large market for IT certification textbooks and study guides, a market that several book publishers have attempted to grab a piece of over the years.

When you compare different IT certification study and training books from a variety of vendors, you will find a number of companies that stand out from the rest. These publishers are considered to be the most reputable by students, instructors, and other groups in the IT industry.

We're about to take a look at the top IT certification book publishers. These companies have distinguished themselves by offering high-quality instructional books and study guides across a wide spectrum of IT disciplines and specialties. They stay relevant by regularly updating and releasing new editions of their books to keep up with revisions of certification exams. They quickly publish original books for popular new IT certifications as they are released.

Also, all of the publishers on the following list make an effort to add value to their products with extra features like practice exam questions, video lessons, and online updates to the electronic versions of their books.

No. 1: Wiley

It would be difficult to name a more influential American publisher of academic books than John Wiley & Sons, known simply as Wiley today. The company's origins date back to the early 1800s, where it started as a literary publisher based in Manhattan. Today, Wiley is a multinational publisher with numerous imprints and titles across a broad spectrum of science, technical, and medical disciplines.

Wiley is the current publisher of the Dummies books, one of the highest-selling series of instructional books of all time. Not everyone remembers that the Dummies series began as a software and technology series — in fact, the very first title released in the series was DOS for Dummies in 1991.

Although the Dummies books have expanded into dozens of categories since the series' debut, its technology books continue to flourish, including its books for IT industry certifications from Microsoft, CompTIA, Cisco, Project Management Institute, and others.

Wiley also owns and manages the Sybex line of titles. Sybex has one of the most well-respected and recommended catalog of technology books in North America. The Sybex line of IT certification study guides are considered by many to be the best in the business.

Those two series alone would be enough to earn Wiley a place on this list. It only gets better, however: Wiley also owns Wrox Press, recognized as a premier publisher of books for software developers. Wiley is the official global publisher for all Microsoft Official Academic Course (MOAC) materials. They also publish the Teach Yourself VISUALLY line of technology books which cover beginner and intermediate subjects.

It's not hard to see why Wiley is at the top of our list. The publisher offers the most impressive lineup of technology and IT certification titles in the industry.

No. 2: Pearson Education

Founded in 1998, Pearson Education has become a giant in education publishing over the last two decades. A subsidiary of British multinational Pearson PLC, Pearson Education owns and manages an impressive portfolio of IT training and certification products. Here is a partial list of its various brands:

  • Adobe Press
  • Addison-Wesley
  • Cisco Press
  • IBM Press
  • InformIT
  • Microsoft Press
  • Peachpit
  • Que Publishing
  • Sams Publishing

You get the idea. Pearson Education has several strategic partnerships with the world's biggest IT vendors. The exceptional Exam Ref exam preparation books from Microsoft Press is reason enough to include Pearson Education on this list.

Pearson Education has some of the best IT vendor connections in the industry, and it shows in its vast and varied inventory of training materials, study guides, and exam preparation products.

No. 3: McGraw-Hill Education

The McGraw-Hill Publishing Company was founded in 1917. Today, McGraw-Hill Education operates in nearly 30 countries and offers products in almost 60 different languages. The company has expanded beyond its publishing business to include a variety of technology-enabled training and education materials.

Under its McGraw-Hill Education Professional publishing imprint, the company has produced several reputable and respected IT certification study guides, including:

  • All-in-One Exam Guides series
  • SmartBook print-and-digital adaptive textbook series
  • Mike Meyers' study guide and Certification Passport series
  • Oracle Certification exam guide series

The inclusion of additional online resources like practice exam questions, video training, and interactive simulations gives McGraw-Hill Education's IT certification products a significant amount of extra value over many of its competitors.

Are you a visual learner? Get the best certification study and training books!

No. 4: O'Reilly Media

If you have been in the IT industry since the late 1990s, there is a very good chance you have an O'Reilly book with one of its distinctive animal woodcut images on the cover somewhere in your bookshelf.

For years, O'Reilly's technology print titles have been considered among the best in the business, featuring high-quality content from some of the industry's best writers and IT specialists. O'Reilly hasn't traditionally published many books specific to certification exams, but it has done something even better — it owns and manages Safari Books Online.

Safari Books Online (SBO) is the most relevant digital library of technical learning materials in the world. It was launched as a joint project between O'Reilly and Pearson Education in 2001, but is now solely owned by O'Reilly. Pearson Education continues to provide titles for SBO — as does Wiley, the top IT certification book publisher in our list. SBO is based on a paid subscription model. Subscribers receive access to unlimited ebooks, video courses, and audiobooks. A single license subscription is $39/month or $399 annually. For lifelong learners (and what IT pro isn't one?) SBO offers tremendous value to its subscribers.

Do you have a favorite publisher of IT certification books that is not on our list? Let us know about them in the comments section below.

About the Author

Aaron Axline is a technology journalist and copywriter based in Edmonton, Canada. He can be found on LinkedIn, and anywhere fine coffee is served.

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