Dear Lifehacker, I’m currently coming to the end of an 18 month contract working in a L1 helpdesk role, and I’ve been looking into industry certifications such as Cisco and VMWare certs. I’m unsure what’s the best route to take for training (classroom? self-help?) and whether I need to sit exams. Any suggestions? Thanks, Wants To Get Certified
We’d definitely love to hear from readers who have been there on this one, but we’ll offer three thoughts here first:
- No matter which certification route you choose — an intensive course, an evening class, self-study — you’ll be facing an exam at the end of it. That’s just the way it goes.
- If you’re studying in an area that’s largely new to you, we’d recommend a face-to-face course — if there are elements you struggle with, it’s much easier to overcome them. If you’re looking to extend existing knowledge, then self-study could be more appropriate. But if you do that, set formal time aside in your calendar on a regular basis.
- If you’re looking to advance your career immediately, an intensive course makes more sense than spreading out your study. You can concentrate on the task at hand, and you can potentially sit the certification exam immediately afterwards when the knowledge is still fresh.
Ultimately, practical issues — your current working hours, course availability — will play a major role in the option you choose. But consider those factors when planning. Readers, what would you advise?
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