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How to get certified for (almost) free

A Computerworld article (4) estimated the cost of a typical certification at between $4,000 and $10,000. Wow! This is real money if you pay it yourself. Your first step is to see if your employer will pay for either all or some of your certification costs. About half of employers pay most certification costs, according to a recent informal survey (5). To convince your manager of the value of certification, access the promotional materials developed by IBM marketing professionals and use them as your own. For example, IBM's training and certification site includes videos on benefits, testimonials and other "convincers" ready to hand over to your manager at http://www-306.ibm.com/software/data/education/cert/.

If your company does not cover certification or training costs, you can still minimize your expense. The key is to take advantage of the many free resources IBM offers. A great beneift of certifying with DB2 (as compared to Oracle or SQL Server), is the outstanding breadth and quality of the free, IBM study resources.

Leveraging these resources makes it possible to certify with DB2 for very little. For example, my Database Adminstrator certification came in at a total of less than $150. This reflects the only cost you really must bear, purchasing the certification books you'll study. You can avoid paying the exam testing fees (currently $120 per test) by attending conferences that offer free testing, such as those of the International DB2 Users Group (IDUG) and the DB2 Technical Conference.

We've mentioned above how to take the core exams for free, where to get free PC-based courses, tutorials and study guides, how to get DB2 UDB for free, and where to download free DB2 manuals and redbooks. Table 3 summarizes these resources and where to get them. Together with the certification books, they represent everything you need to pass the tests.

Table 4. Recommended FREE DB2 resources

For Exams Resources
Most Free testing at conferences: DB2 Users Group and Technical Conference
700 Exam Preparation Resources
701 Exam Preparation Resources
700, 701 Downloadable PC-based course for DBAs
700, 703 Downloadable PC-based course for Developers
All Trial copy of DB2
All DB2 manuals
All DB2 redbooks
All Study guides or "Cramsessions," plus tips, what you need to know tips to pass, and advice on the best study materials
All The International DB2 Users Group offers many DB2 resources.
All Official test objectives, sample tests, and resource lists for each exam
All DB2 Magazine runs a regular column on DB2 certification.
Problem Determination Mastery A set of 9 downloadable tutorial courses for this exam

While the monetary cost of DB2 certification is minimal, your time is also a valuable, limited resource. Here again, look to your employer first for support. Even companies that do not pay for employee certification will often offer study time at work. The key is to show them that they will receive a tangible benefit from your effort. Most organizations want to quantify training and progress in skills. This fits perfectly with certification, since it produces a quantifiable result. To sell managers on the value of certification, there is no better pitch than that written by the marketing professionals at the vendors themselves. Show your manager IBM justification for certification.

If your company won't support your certification effort, we've shown how to minimize your out-of-pocket expense. Even if your company doesn't let you study at work, the certification books, DB2 manuals and redbooks, and other DB2 resources are all legitimate tools for solving work problems. No one is likely to object if your productivity and problem-solving abilities soar as you use these materials at work.

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