Many of you are considering taking training classes to help you get
certified. Even though these classes seem expensive they can be a
great investment if they allow you to achieve your certification
quickly and efficiently. In this article we'll talk about what to
look for in any training company you're considering.
1. Focus on the quality of the training. You're going to be
spending a lot of time and energy at whatever training center you
choose so you should emphasize quality over cost when choosing a
center. Saving a couple of thousand dollars by going with a low-cost
alternative might seem like a smart move, but most people who do
this wind up disappointed with the product that they receive.
2. Ask about any guarantees. Many centers will charge you thousands
of dollars but not offer a single guarantee that you'll even obtain
your MCSE. This is somewhat equivalent to an automobile dealership
selling you a car without a warranty. Just as you would steer of
buying a car from people without a guarantee, you should do the same
with a training company.
Some companies will offer to reimburse you for failed tests or allow
you to re-sit the classes a second time at no additional cost. A few
will even offer to reimburse your entire cost of training if you don't
pass your exams. The better the guarantee, the more you should expect
to pay for your training.
3. Ask about placement. If you're just breaking into the industry,
finding a training center with a good placement program can be
invaluable. You'll want to ask a prospective center about their past
placement record and what efforts they are currently making to get
people into IT jobs. Some centers will even go so far as to guarantee
a job to all people who make it through their program.
4. Find out about the center's instructors. Instructors are usually
either full-time employees of the center or contracted specifically to
teach classes. Contract instructors often have more real-world
experience but their teaching skills may be less polished. Full-time
instructors can be very good but you'll want to make sure they have an
adequate amount of hands-on experience as well.
5. Inquire about the facilities. The quality of the machines you'll be
learning on usually says a great deal about the quality of the facility
as a whole. Microsoft enforces minimum hardware requirements for all of
its CTECs but just because a center meets these doesn't necessarily
mean that that's enough. For example, taking an NT class on a Pentium
166 with 32 MBs of RAM can be a vastly different experience than the
same class on a Pentium II 350 with 128 MB of RAM.
6. Find out about funding. Spend a lot of time asking about financing
options for your training. Don't be talked into loans too quickly until
you exhaust all possible sources of "free money". Many centers have the
ability to tap into scholarships or government assistance. However
you'll usually have to be vigilant in pursuing this. Stress to them that
you cannot afford the entire cost of the class and ask them about any
ways to make class "cheaper". Which brings us to our final piece of
7. Never, ever pay full price. Going back to our analogy of the
automobile dealership, you shouldn't ever buy a car for the full sticker
price. The same goes for training. Centers will almost always be willing
to negotiate a price that is lower than their "retail" price. Some
centers will go so far as to offer up to 50% off the price listed in
their sales materials. This just happens to be a pretty slow time for
training centers around the country. Strike while the iron is hot and you
just might be able to score yourself a pretty good deal.
We wish you the best of luck in choosing a training center. Remember to
ask a lot of questions. Your future may depend on the choice your make.