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7 PowerShell courses to help hone skills for all levels of expertise

Online PowerShell courses, such as the seven examined here, offer systems administrators and other users basic tutorials as well as more advanced courses.

PowerShell can be one of the most effective tools administrators have for managing Windows systems. But it can be difficult to master, especially when time is limited. An online PowerShell course can expedite this process by prioritizing the most important topics and presenting them in logical order.

Admins have plenty of PowerShell courses from which to choose, offered by well-established vendors. But with so many courses available, it isn't always clear which ones will be the most beneficial. To help make the course selection process easier, here we offer a sampling of popular PowerShell courses that cater to varying levels of experience.

Windows currently ships with PowerShell 5.1, but PowerShell Core 6 is available for download, and PowerShell 7 is in preview. PowerShell Core is a cross-platform version of PowerShell that runs on multiple OS platforms. It isn't an upgrade to Windows PowerShell, but a separate application that runs on the same system.

Some of the PowerShell courses listed here, as well as other online classes, specify the PowerShell version on which the course is based. But not all classes offer this information, and some courses provide only a range, such as PowerShell 4 or later. So, before signing up for an online course, be sure to verify the PowerShell version.

Learning Windows PowerShell

This popular PowerShell tutorial from Udemy is designed for beginners. This course targets systems admins who have no prior PowerShell experience but want to use PowerShell to manage Windows desktops and servers. This course is based on PowerShell 5. But this shouldn't be an issue when learning basic concepts, which is the primary focus of this PowerShell tutorial.

Admins have plenty of PowerShell courses from which to choose, offered by well-established vendors.

The course provides background information about PowerShell and explains how to set up the PowerShell environment, including how to configure the console and work with profiles. The course introduces cmdlets, shows how they're related to .NET objects and classes, and explains how to build a pipeline using cmdlets and other language elements. With this information, systems admins will have the basics they need to move onto the next topic: PowerShell scripts.

The tutorial on scripting is nearly as extensive as the section on cmdlets. The course examines the details of script elements, such as variables, constants, comparison operators, if statements, looping structures and regular expressions. This is followed by details on PowerShell providers and how to work with files and folders, and then a discussion of administration basics. This course can help provide participants with a solid foundation in PowerShell so they're ready to take on more advanced topics.

Introduction to Windows PowerShell 5.1

This Udemy tutorial is based on PowerShell 5.1, so it's more current than the previous course. The training is geared toward both beginner PowerShell users and more experienced admins who want to hone their PowerShell skills. The course covers a wide range of topics, from understanding PowerShell syntax to managing Active Directory (AD). Participants who sign up for this course should already know how to run PowerShell, but they don't need to be advanced users.

The course covers the basics of how to use both the PowerShell console and the Intelligent Scripting Environment (ISE). It explains what steps to take to get help and find commands. This is followed by an in-depth look at the PowerShell command syntax. The material also covers objects and their properties and methods, as well as an explanation of how to build a PowerShell pipeline.

Participants can move onto the section on scripting, which starts with a discussion on arrays and variables. Users then learn how to build looping structures and conditional statements, and how to use PowerShell functions. This course demonstrates how to use PowerShell to work with AD, covering such tasks as installing and configuring server roles.

PowerShell version 5.1 and 6: Step-by-Step

This tutorial, which is one of Udemy's highest rated PowerShell courses, is geared toward admins who want to learn how to use PowerShell to perform management tasks. The course is broad in scope and covers both PowerShell 5.1 and PowerShell Core 6. Users who sign up for this course should have a basic understanding of the Windows OS -- both desktop and server versions.

Because the course covers so many topics, it's longer than the previous two training sessions and goes into more detail. It explains the differences between PowerShell and the Windows Command Prompt, how to determine the PowerShell version and how to work with aliases. The course also examines the steps necessary to run unsupported commands and create PowerShell transcripts.

This PowerShell tutorial also examines more advanced topics, such as working with object members, creating hash tables and managing execution policy levels. This is followed by a detailed discussion about the Common Information Model (CIM) and how it can manage hard drives and work with BIOS. In addition, participants will learn how to create profile scripts, functions and modules, as well as how to use script parameters and to pause script execution. Because the course is so comprehensive, admins should come away with a solid understanding of how to use PowerShell to script their daily management tasks.

Udemy course pricing

Udemy distinguishes between personal and business users. For personal users, Udemy charges by the course, with prices for PowerShell courses ranging between $25 and $200. Udemy also offers personal users a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

Udemy also offers two business plans that provide unlimited access to its courses. The Team plan supports between five and 20 users and costs $240 per user, per year. It also comes with a 14-day trial. Contact Udemy for details regarding its Enterprise plan, which supports 21 or more users. Udemy also offers courses to help users prepare for IT certifications, supporting such programs as Cisco CCNA, Oracle Certification and Microsoft Certification.

Windows PowerShell: Essentials

Pluralsight offers a variety of PowerShell courses, as well as learning paths. A path is a series of related courses that provide users with a strategy for learning a specific technology. This path includes six courses ranging from beginner to advanced user. Participants should come away with a strong foundation in how to create PowerShell scripts that automate administrative processes. Before embarking on this path, however, they should have a basic understanding of Windows networking and troubleshooting.

The beginning courses on this path provide users with the information they need to start working with PowerShell, even if they're first-timers. Users will learn how to use cmdlets, work with objects and get help when they need it. These courses also introduce concepts such as aliases, providers and mapping network drives. The intermediate tutorials build on the beginning courses by explaining how to work with objects and the PowerShell pipeline, and how to format output. The intermediate courses also focus on using PowerShell in a networked environment, covering such topics as CIM and Windows Management Instrumentation.

The advanced courses build on the beginning and intermediate tutorials by focusing on automation scripts. Admins will learn how to use PowerShell scripting to automate their routine processes and tasks. They'll also learn how to troubleshoot problems in their scripts if PowerShell exhibits unusual behavior. The path approach might not be for everyone, but for those ready to invest their time in a comprehensive program, this path could prove a valuable resource.

Practical Desired State Configuration

Those not suited to a learning path can choose from a variety of other Pluralsight courses that address specific technologies. This highly rated course caters to advanced users and provides real-world examples of how to use PowerShell to write Desired State Configurations (DSCs). Those interested in the course should be familiar with PowerShell and DSC principles.

DSC refers to a new way of managing Windows Server that shifts the focus from point-and-click GUIs to infrastructure as code. To achieve this, admins can use PowerShell to build DSCs. This process is the focus of this course, which covers several advanced topics ranging from writing configurations with custom resources to building dynamic collector configurations.

The tutorial demonstrates how to use custom resources in a configuration and offers an in-depth discussion of securing DSC operations. Participants then learn how to use the DSC model to configure and manage AD, covering such topics as building domains and creating users and groups. The course demonstrates how to set up Windows event forwarding. Although not everyone is looking for such advanced topics, for some users, this course might be just what they need to progress their PowerShell skills.

Pluralsight pricing

Pluralsight doesn't charge by the course, but rather it offers three personal plans and two business plans. The personal plans start at $299 per year, and the business plans start at $579 per user, per year. All plans include access to the entire course library. In addition, Pluralsight offers a 10-day personal free trial and, like Udemy, courses geared toward IT certification.

PowerShell 5 Essential Training

Of the 13 online PowerShell courses offered by LinkedIn Learning -- formerly, Lynda.com -- this is the most popular. The course targets beginner and intermediate PowerShell users who are Windows systems admins. Although the course is based on PowerShell 5, the basic information is still applicable today, like other courseware written to this version.

The material covers most of the basics one would expect from a course at this level. It explains how to set up and customize PowerShell, and it introduces admins to cmdlets and their syntax and how to find help. This is followed by installing modules and packages. The course also describes how to use the PowerShell pipeline, covering such topics as working with files and printers, as well as storing data as a webpage.

The course moves onto objects and their properties and methods. Participants can learn how to create scripts that incorporate variables and parameters so they can automate administrative tasks. Participants are also introduced to PowerShell ISE and shown how to use PowerShell remoting to manage multiple systems at once, along with practical examples of administrative operations at scale.

PowerShell: Scripting for Advanced Automation

This course, which is also offered by LinkedIn Learning, focuses on automating advanced administrative operations in a Windows network. Those planning to take the course should have a strong foundation in managing Windows environments. As its name suggests, the course is geared toward advanced users.

After a brief introduction, the course jumps into DSC automation, providing an overview of DSC and explaining how to set up DSCs. Users can learn how to work with DSC resources, push DSCs and create pull configurations. The course then moves onto Just Enough Administration, explaining JEA concepts and best practices. In this part of the course, participants learn how to create role capability files and JEA session configurations, as well as how to register JEA endpoints.

The final section of the tutorial describes how to troubleshoot PowerShell scripts. The discussion begins with an overview of PowerShell workflows and examines the specifics of troubleshooting PowerShell in both the console and ISE. The section ends with information about using the PSScriptAnalyzer tool for quality control. As with any advanced course, not all users will benefit from this information. But the tutorial could provide a valuable resource for admins looking to refine their PowerShell skills.

LinkedIn Learning pricing

LinkedIn Learning sells courses individually, offers a one-month free trial and provides both personal and business plans. Individual PowerShell courses cost between $30 and $45, and individual subscription plans start at $20 per month. Contact LinkedIn Learning regarding business plans. LinkedIn Learning also offers courses aimed at IT certifications.

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