Here’re my suggestions. None of them apply to everybody. Hopefully one will fit you.
1. Buy good certification books.
I was told by a training school recruiter that the recommended MCSE process was to take a class for 3 full days, then study for a month, then take the certification exam.
So, that’s at least ten days of study in front of a thick book for each day of class anyway.
So do you really need to pay for a live teacher too?
2. Buy computer based CD-ROM training.
This is of course very similar to the above method, except that computer based training is more interactive, more fun, probably more effective for most people.
3. Take training classes online through the Internet.
4. Put together your own network study laboratory by buying several used PCS and hooking them up in your home office.
Look for used computers cheap online, in your local newspaper For Sale ads or just ask your friends. Lots of people have old machines they’ll gladly give you for free just so they’ll have more closet space.
5. If you’re currently employed in a networking job, get your current employer to pay for the classes.
You may have to sign an agreement to continue working for them for two years or so.
6. Pass the first several required tests, use the Microsoft Certified Analyst (MCSA) credential to get an entry level job and then get your new employer to pay for the classes.
7. If you are unemployed, the government may pay for your training.
8. Check with your local unemployment office to see what is available in your area. Here in St. Louis, laid off Boeing workers have a complete center paid for with a government grant, and the program is sending some to computer training.
9. If you are on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), apply for a Plan for Achieving Self Support (PASS Plan).
The basic idea is, you are capable of working as a networking professional, but you can’t yet because you don’t know how. So you want to learn by buying the books etc.
Consult with a good career counselor or Vocational Rehabilitation. If your PASS Plan is approved, the Social Security Administration will let you pay for your training out of money that would otherwise reduce your SSI.
That way, you can live on your SSI and use the other income to obtain your MCSE.
Consult with your local Social Security office or call 1-800-772-1213 for additional details.
If you are a Native American, a special government program may pay for your training.
I have a friend who was recently approved for a government grant that would have paid for his tuition to attend a local technical school and get his MCSE certification.
Not all methods will work for everybody.
The point is, if you’re willing to read, study and work hard on your own, you don’t have to spend top dollar. If you can get your employer or the government to pay for your classes, go for it. All these methods have been used by somebody and will be used by many more. Now they’re yours.