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How can I get certified without paying course fees?

I have a diploma in computer and telecom engineering from CMS Institute, after SSC, and have been working for the last five years, four of which have been working on Novell NetWare. For the past year, I have been working as a network admin on Win2k server and Windows 98 nodes. I want to go for some certifications, but I am unable to afford the fees for courses. Can you please offer me some feedback on what I should do and how?

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The traditional approach to certification for those who don't feel up to instructor-led training is self-study. For Microsoft topics, a budget of $275 per exam (or $1,100 for MCSA and an additional $825 for the MCSE afterwards, assuming you don't need to retake any exams) is typical.
  • $125 for an MCP exam
  • $50 for a study guide (book) on the exam topic
  • $30 for an Exam Cram 2 (or similar exam-focused book, flash cards or other exam-focused prep tools) on the exam topic
  • $70 for a set of practice exams on the topic
You will also benefit from participating in online discussion groups, "question of the day" (QoD) services and in digging around the Microsoft Web pages, particularly in TechNet. I'd urge you to investigate leading Microsoft certification sites as well, including ExamCram, MC MCSE, CramSession, CertCities.com, MCP magazine and so forth.

Good luck with your upcoming certs!
--Ed--

This was first published in April 2003

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