I've noticed an interesting trend that will counter the higher costs of obtaining certification in the wake of Microsoft's decision last year to increase exam prices -- from $100 to $125 per exam. The phenomenon I'm about to report is probably a function of the soft economy and may therefore be transitory. But in the past couple of months, key players have announced or delivered discount vouchers for a number of certification exams. These deals that will certainly offset part of the cost of obtaining your MCSE or MCSA.
In mid-December, Microsoft Press started to include 15% off discount coupons in selected second edition MCSA and MCSE training kits. These coupons may be redeemed at any VUE testing center and expire at the end of 2003. Coupons are included in MCSA and MCSE self-paced training kits for core requirements (bundles), which cover Exams 70-210, 70-215, 70-216, and 70-217 for MCSE, and 70-210, 70-215, 70-216, and 70-218 for MCSA. Likewise, all the same individual self-paced training kit titles also include discount vouchers as well (namely 70-210, 70-215, 70-216, 70-217, and 70-218).
The Pearson Technology Group's Que Certification division is holding a March 2003 re-launch of the recently resuscitated Exam Cram 2 Series (for which it is my honor and privilege to be Series Editor). Because VUE is part of the Pearson family of companies, they plan to offer discount vouchers for a broad range of certification exams as well. Details should be available by the end of January and will affect both their Exam Cram 2 and Training Guide titles.
With two leading publishers offering exam discounts for Microsoft topics, I suspect that other major players—namely Sybex Books, Syngress Publishing, and Osborne/McGraw-Hill—will also follow suit. This will be good news for IT professionals who plan to upgrade or pursue Microsoft credentials in 2003.
The overlap between MCSA and MCSE requirements is such that four exams are likely to be discounted for each program. At $125 per exam, four cost $500; a 15% discount drops that total to $425. Thus, candidates who are just starting out or those already in the process of pursuing an MCSE or MCSA, should keep their eyes peeled for exam discount offers. Taking 15% off a $125 exam adds $18.75 in value to books that include discount coupons. Given the current economic climate, any savings at all are welcome. Careful shopping in months to come will help you keep your certification costs down!
Ed Tittel runs a content development company in Austin, Texas, and is the series editor of the Que Exam Cram 2 and Training Guide series. He's worked on many books on Microsoft, CompTIA, CIW, Sun/Java, and security certifications.