Free and cheap ways to study for IT certifications

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Use these tips for finding inexpensive study resources and getting hands-on experience

For as long as there have been technology certifications, IT pros have debated their value. Some believe they're the key to a better job or paycheck, while others contend that they're often not worth the paper they're printed on. Still others say, essentially, "it's complicated."

This aim of this story is not to add to that debate. This story is for technology professionals who have already decided to pursue a certification, and who are looking for ways to do so without breaking the bank.

Because there's no denying it: Studying for and taking certification exams can be costly. Instructor-led classes often cost in "the thousands of dollars," notes Tim Warner, a 15-year IT veteran, technology writer and trainer at CBT Nuggets, which specializes in IT certification training. Even computer-based classes, which generally don't offer direct contact with the instructor, typically cost "in the hundreds of dollars," he adds.

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