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How to Study and Prepare for an IT Certification Exam

How to Study and Prepare for an IT Certification Exam

The 2017 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report offers a ton of insight and analysis of the global IT professional’s workforce. It’s a very beneficial read for anyone working in IT or planning a career in IT.

One finding that piqued my interest was the issue of certification within IT. Across the board, the verdict is that certification is a must. The benefits include:

  • Increased productivity
  • Faster troubleshooting
  • Fewer skills gaps
  • Better monetary compensation. In the US and Canada certified IT professionals earn roughly $8,400 or 11.7% more than noncertified; in APAC and EMA this number increases even more.
  • 94% of IT decision makers reported that their certified team members bring added value above and beyond the cost of certification.

Certification is popular. 86% percent of global IT professionals possess at least one certification, while many hold more. EMEA professionals hold the most at 3.5 per professional. And it is an ongoing process. Most are either planning their next certification or already studying. Those with a certification are more likely than those without one to pursue another one.

In recent years, those with certifications in cybersecurity tended to earn more than others; this is a trend I don’t expect to change any time soon. To help meet demand, CompTIA released the Cybersecurity Analyst (CySA+) certification last year, and this year will release PenTest+ which focuses on penetration testing.

Interested in cloud computing? Check out Amazon Web Services certifications – like certified cybersecurity professionals, AWS certified cloud computing professionals tend to average higher salaries than the norm.

The bottom line is that holding a certificate equals the potential to make more money.

What this report clearly illustrates is that if you work in IT, taking a certification exam will be part of your job. While the various certificates examine different topics/subjects, there is a universality to getting exam ready.

Here’s how.

So, you’ve identified a certification you want to attain, or perhaps it’s a job requirement. Either way, with an exam, there are a few necessary but essential steps that should be taken to make your road to certification smoother.

Step 1 Research the exam

Here’s a list of some questions to help with this:

  1. What is the application process?
  2. Are there education or experience requirements?
  3. Is there a prerequisite certification?
  4. How long has the current exam version been released? Are there upcoming changes?

Microsoft updates its cloud-based exams every two months! Visit the exam page often to keep current and be aware of any changes.

I’m a big believer in personal experience so I always encourage learners to, if they can, actually speak with someone who holds the certification they seek.

Step 2 Get the prep material that works for you!

How do you like to learn? We are very fortunate that today technology offers a wealth of variety in the many ways knowledge is delivered.

So, whether it’s instructor-led classroom sessions, online self-study courses, books or audiobooks, videos, or collaboration with peers, the option is there. Do not underestimate the power of practice and again, most reputable exam prep courses offer ample resources to make sure you get loads of practice in before the day of the exam.

I always tell students to write down a study plan and stick to it. And remember, whatever study techniques worked for you in the past, use them.

Step 3 And finally….Exam Day

We’ve all been there. Butterflies the size of jumbo jets flap about in your stomach, and you can barely remember your name. To calm nerves, I recommend sticking to your routine as much as possible and to be sure to arrive to the test center early and with all the necessary documentation.

Interested in learning more about the different certificates? Check out Skillsoft’s IT skills and certification training.

 

Devin McDougall is a Team Leader, Mentoring Services at Skillsoft.

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