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Earning your IT certification is only half of the "IT career" equation. That is to say, your success in IT certification in particular and an IT career in general hinges not only upon your mastery of theoretical concepts, but also upon your ability to apply these concepts in practical, real-world situations.
I strongly encourage all IT certification candidates to build a home practice laboratory. With PC hardware prices down, speed and power up, and the proliferation of virtualization technologies, you can set up a wonderful practice lab with minimal cost and effort.
The main answer to the "why" question with regard to building a home practice lab is that you want to avoid becoming a "paper tiger" at all costs.
In other words, you need to ensure that by the time you have those certification letters appearing after your last name, you actually know how to perform the tasks related to your certified skill set as opposed to knowing how to select the correct answer from an exam item set.
To establish your test lab, you will require the following items:
In future blog posts I will address each of the three aforementioned components in excruciating detail.
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