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Best Training Options for IT Pros 2017

Today, IT training companies are a dime a dozen. How do you choose the one that’s right for you? In this in-depth article, we assist IT pros looking to increase their knowledge and advance their careers with the help of the available IT training options.

Credit: ShutterstockWhen it comes to finding IT training companies that teach various IT certification curricula with a focus on helping IT professionals pass one or more certification exams, there is no shortage of options. Though instructor-led training (ILT) remains a favorite option, it is still the most expensive way to prepare for IT certifications. That said, for those with funds to cover costs that usually hover around $1,200 per classroom day, ILT remains one of the best ways to prepare for earning various IT certifications.

But there is an increasingly large array of other options available. At the opposite end of the cost spectrum, self-study remains a favorite option to earn credentials. For those who want to pay somewhere between those two options is the increasingly large range of online training options.

Various providers now offer instructor-led online (ILO) training, and online or standalone courseware and blended learning offerings, which mix video, text, simulations, labs and other materials together to deliver a combination of learning styles for students. E-learning refers to any kind of online instructional encounter where no instructor is actively present, and where students learn at their own pace.

Virtual labs (vlabs) let students obtain hands-on experience over the internet or via software simulations or virtualized and local runtime environments (although online vlabs are the most popular today). Online mentoring from some training providers gives students access to subject matter experts (SMEs) in the certifications they’re chasing. As a result, they can get questions answered and assistance with tricky issues or difficult concepts to make sure they master training materials and key topics.

On the following pages, we examine a variety of training organizations, including:

  • Big global training companies
  • Major high-tech corporations with certification programs and learning delivery organizations
  • Training companies that specialize in information security and computer forensics

This collection of training organizations concludes with a grab bag of other major certification providers with strong training interests.

MORE: Best IT Certifications for 2017
MORE: IT Career Paths & Certification Guides
MORE: Professional Development for IT Pros: Planning & Resources

How to Make The Most of IT Training

Don’t let the plethora of available options distract you from your mission. Ultimately, the best way to choose what’s right for you is to research and compare user experience, rankings, ratings and results.

Chances are good that your peers and colleagues have been both vocal and detailed about their training experiences somewhere online. With a little judicious search engine work, you can uncover this information easily. When you select a final pool of providers, use your search results to pick the training option that’s best for you and your budget.

For those planning to take ILT courses, consider who will be teaching the class. Lots of students deliberately delay their classes and even decide to travel away from home for up to a week (for most individual exam classes) or even two or three weeks (for most boot camps, or complete multi-exam certification training packages), just to benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of particularly esteemed instructors. Names like Todd Lammle or Wendell Odom for Cisco topics, Clement Dupuis for infosec topics and Mark Minasi for Windows topics come to mind as good examples.

Balance your budget against your skills, knowledge and motivation. Even though ILT and ILO options abound, it’s still the case that the majority of candidates will self-study for certifications that don’t mandate courses.

My advice is to consider the urgency for earning a certification, your current experience in the topics at hand and your available funds when picking what’s right for you:

  • Boot camps and ILT are usually the fastest path to obtaining a certification.
  • Boot camps and ILT are the best way to start from behind and still earn your cert, but with enough time and effort self-study, can get you where you need to go.
  • Self-study usually costs about 20 percent less than ILT. This means less for those whose employers provide full or partial funding for training outlays.


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