Microsoft Certifications are a great way to certify your expertise. I, myself, am a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist in .NET Framework Application Development.
Soon after I earned my certification, a friend of mine decided he’d like to try. He’d heard about ComputerTraining.com and PC Pro Schools, and how “you can get your Microsoft certification in just six months!” That sounds great and all, but I decided to look into the program. Keep in mind that all of my information on this program is based on research, not personal experience. I’m confident that it works well for some, but it is my belief that this is rarely the case.
About PC Pro Schools
I hear radio ads about PC Pro Schools and ComputerTraining.com all the time. They teach you what you need to know about the certification tests to help you pass. This is a wonderful thing, but my research on the program shows that it’s not very effective.
Lately I’ve been hearing radio ads about how only around 75% of those attending 4-year colleges graduate and only around half of those attending 2-year colleges graduate. They say you should go to PC Pro Schools instead. What they don’t say is that those stats include all majors, all age groups, all colleges, and all regions. They also don’t mention what the graduation rate is for those who attend their program. It is said that “only a handful of students” pass the exams without extra help outside the program.
A while back the radio ads talked about the salaries of Microsoft certified professionals. They stated that the average salary among these individuals was around $65,000, and that it had increased by 12% over the previous year. Once again, they don’t explain these numbers. Most of those who take and pass the certification exams are seasoned professionals in their fields, which means they already had relatively high salaries. The 12% increase in average salary is NOT a 12% average increase in salary! This just means that more highly-paid people decided to take the exams and passed. It’s also the case that most of these people did not go through PC Pro Schools or ComputerTraining.com.
What I’ve read about these classes is that they teach out of the book. Yes, the books that are available at the Microsoft Press website. Their preparation for the exams is reading from the books with perhaps some extra explanation, while expecting the students to find complete information on their own. I have not been in one of these classes myself, so I will let the first-hand reviews out there speak for themselves.
I was able to pass the three exams required for my certification in four months using nothing but the Microsoft Press published books dedicated to each exam. You can find those here. Each exam has its own book with all the information you need. They teach you the material through lessons and include quizzes for each chapter. Each book contains a trial copy of the software required to “practice” what you learn, as well as test-taking software similar to the test actually used during the formal exams with hundreds of questions. I recommend using these because you can learn at your own pace and it costs much much less. You can earn your certification with less than $3,000 (depending on the specific certification).
More materials designed to help can be found at TestKing.com and several other places on the internet. If you’re just beginning with programming, pick up a beginner’s book on the language you want to end up certifying with. I’ve found that many of the books at Microsoft Press are very helpful.
Also use Google! There are several instances where I find myself not completely understanding a concept or wanting to find out more information about some methodologies, languages, or classes. A quick Google search helps me to find fast and free material with all the information I need. It’s a great tool for those just learning to program.
For the information in this post, I searched all over the web and asked friends and colleagues for information. The links below are just a few with helpful information.