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Top 10 best IT certification Web sites of 2013

January 22, 2013

Top 10 best IT certification Web sites

As with just about everything on the internet, there is so much information you can get lost before you even know where you are going. In searching for links for this site I have come across some really great computer certification sites and some really terrible sites. There are a few which stand out as being especially useful, and most importantly, are easy to access and provide the majority of their content for free. If I have to spend too much time giving them my life history before I can see anything or am forced to subscribe to a newsletter that I have no desire to read, then I am not likely to send you there. In this eternal search for good, quick, and reliable certification information I have come across the following great sites. They are listed here in no particular order. I reference these quite a lot on this site so if you want specific information on your individual quest for a certification, use the links provided to the left.

It’s no surprise that a ranking of the top IT certification Web sites would change in six years, which is when I last published such a list for TechRepublic. What is surprising is just how much the IT certification landscape has changed.

But that’s not what industry certification was about just a short six or seven years ago. No, certifications then were a key tool that many job changers wielded to help solidify entry into the IT field from other industries. When technical skills were in higher demand, technology professionals leveraged IT certifications for greater pay within their organizations or to obtain better positions at other firms.

Technology professionals, accordingly, should update their thinking. Gone should be the old emphasis placed on brain dumps and test cram packages. In their place should be a renewed focus on career planning, job education, and training. Instead of viewing IT certification as a free ticket, which it most certainly isn’t (and never was), technology professionals should position certifications as proof of their commitment to continued education and as a career milepost — an accomplishment that helps separate themselves from others in the field.

Fortunately, there remain a great many resources to help dedicated technology professionals make sense of the ever-changing certification options, identify trustworthy and proven training resources, and maximize their certification efforts. Here’s a look at today’s 10 best IT certification Web sites.

[large]#10: BrainBuzz’s CramSession[/large]

CramSession, early on, became one of the definitive, must-visit Web sites. With coverage for many Cisco, CompTIA, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, and other vendor certifications, the site continues to deliver a wealth of information.

The site is fairly straightforward. While it appears design improvements aren’t at the top of BrainBuzz’s list (the site’s not the most attractive or visually appealing certification destination, as evidenced by some missing graphics and clunky layouts on some pages), most visitors probably don’t care. As long as IT pros can find the resources they seek — and the site is certainly easily navigable, with certifications broken down by vendor and exam — they’ll continue coming back.
[large]#9: Windows IT Pro[/large]

CertTutor.net is one of the Web sites that made the previous top 10 list. It did not, however, make this revised list. Instead, Windows IT Pro magazine’s online site takes its place.

The long-running Penton publication is a proven tool for many tech pros. CertTutor.net used to be part of the magazine’s trusted network of properties, but the certification content has essentially been integrated throughout its larger overall Web site. Certification forums are mixed in throughout the regular forums. For example, the Microsoft IT Professional Certification topic is listed within the larger Windows Server System category, while security and messaging exams receive their own category.

Within its Training and Certification section, visitors will also find current articles that track changes and updates within vendors’ certification programs. Such news and updates, combined with the site’s how-to information and respected authors, make it a stop worth hitting for any certification candidate.
[large]#8: Redmond Magazine[/large]

Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine, long a proven news and information resource for Microsoft certified professionals, became Redmond Magazine in late 2004. Thankfully, the Redmond Media Group continues to cover certification issues and maintain an online presence for Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine.

MCPmag, as the online presence is known, may remain the best news site for Microsoft professionals looking to keep pace with changes and updates to Microsoft’s certification tracks. In addition to timely certification and career articles, the site boasts industry-leading salary survey and statistical information. Visitors will also find dedicated certification-focused forums, numerous reviews of exam-preparatory materials, and a wide range of exam reviews (including for some of the latest certification tests, such as Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista desktop support).
[large]#7: Certification Magazine[/large]

Besides a Salary Calculator, the Certification Magazine Web site includes another can’t-miss feature: news. For certification-related news, updates, and even white papers across a range of tracks — a variety of programs are covered, from IBM to Sun to Microsoft — it’s hard to find another outlet that does as good a job either creating its own certification content or effectively aggregating related contextual information from other parties.

That information alone makes the site worth checking out. Add in study guides, timely articles, and overviews of different vendors’ certification programs, and Certification Magazine quickly becomes a trustworthy source for accreditation information.
[large]#6: Cert Cities[/large]

CertCities.com (another Redmond Media Group property) also publishes a wealth of original certification articles. Site visitors will find frequently updated news coverage as well.

CertCities.com also includes dedicated forums (including comprehensive Cisco and Microsoft sections and separate categories for IBM, Linux/UNIX, Java, CompTIA, Citrix, and Oracle tracks, among others), as well as tips and exam reviews. There’s also a pop quiz feature that’s not to be missed. While not as in-depth as entire simulation exams, the pop quizzes are plentiful and can be used to help determine exam readiness.
[large]#5: InformIT[/large]

Associated with Pearson Education, the InformIT Web site boasts a collection of ever-expanding certification articles, as well as a handful of certification-related podcasts. You’ll also find certification-related video tutorials and a helpful glossary of IT certification terms.

But that’s not the only reason I list InformIT in the top 10. The site also provides an easy link to its Exam Cram imprint. I’ve never taken a certification exam without first reading and rereading the respective Exam Cram title. I continue recommending them today.
[large]#4: Prometric[/large]

Of course, if you’re going to become certified, you have to take the exam. Before you can take the exam, you have to register.
[large]#3: PrepLogic[/large]

Training and professional education are critical components of certification. In fact, they’re so important in a technology-related career that I’d rather see computer technicians and programmers purchasing and reviewing training materials than just trying to earn a new accreditation.

While there’s certainly been a shake-out in the last few years, a large number of vendors continue to develop and distribute self-paced training materials. As I have personal experience with PrepLogic’s training aids, I believe the company earns its spot this revised top 10 list.

[large]#2: CertDatabase.com[/large]

Just as I never attempted a certification exam before studying the relevant Exam Cram title, I also never sat an accreditation test before ensuring I could pass the respective Exam simulations. The method worked well for some 10 IT certification exams.

Association of Certification Exam Resources launched http://www.certdatabase.com to ensure complete certification exam coverage for IT students who are studying for Microsoft,Cisco,Comptia,IBM,Novell,Vmware etc.

Whether it’s the confidence these practice tests provide or that the actual simulation so well replicates the real-world exam, I’m not sure. All I know is I always recommend candidates spend hours with practice exams after completing classroom or self-paced course instruction. And, when it comes to simulation exams, I’m a believer in Transcender products. I’ve repeatedly used them and always found them to be an integral component of my certification preparation strategy.

http://www.certdatabase.com

[large]#1: The certification provider’s own Web site[/large]

The most important site, though, when preparing for an IT training exam is the certification sponsor’s own Web site. Nowhere else are you as likely to find more accurate or timely news, information, and updates regarding a certification program. Vendor sites are also an excellent source for officially approved study aids and training guides.

So if you’re considering a Microsoft certification, don’t skip the basic first step: Thoroughly research and review Microsoft’s Training and Certification pages. The same is true if you’re considering a Cisco, CompTIA, Dell, or other vendor accreditation; their respective training and certification pages can prove invaluable.

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