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Certification Mistakes You Don't Have To Make, continued

Error: Underestimating Cost
There are so many variables to consider when estimating how much certification will cost, that it's not surprising that the calculation is often done wrong. Sometimes, it isn't done at all.

Why is underestimating the cost of certification such a big deal? Consider these potential scenarios:

  • You run out of funds before you're done. If you end up taking an extended break from your certification program, some of your qualifications may expire and you'll have to meet them again. At best, you'll have to spend time reviewing to get back up to speed once your budget gets back on track. At worst, you'll never pick it up again and your efforts will have been largely wasted.

  • Based on ballpark figures you described, your employer agrees to pay for certification training and testing. You then submit a bill that's double what you initially suggested. How will that go over?

  • You decide that a particular certification will more than pay for itself. But as the bills mount up, you realize you've grossly miscalculated the figure in question. What will you do if the certification isn't worth the cost at the "new" price, yet you've already committed significant time and resources?

As you can see, miscalculating the cost or failing to calculate it at all can be a big mistake. It's a mistake that happens because naming a figure isn't always a simple process. Part of the confusion arises because there are usually several different routes to achieving any particular certification. The largest variance comes under the heading of training expenses. Whether you self-study from manuals or attend instructor-led, sponsor-approved classes can make thousands of dollars of difference in your total tab.

Then there's the somewhat nebulous question of opportunity cost. To some people, an estimate that doesn't include it is meaningless. Others consider adding opportunity cost a false inflation of price. Either way, coming up with a reasonable figure for it requires a little math.

Given the potential consequences of underestimating the price tag of a certification program, it's worthwhile to work out a few figures. The worksheet in Chapter 5 will walk you through the steps, and you can even plug the numbers into the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet included on this book's companion Web site and let your personal computer do the calculating for you. When in doubt, guess a little high. Having extra money left over is a problem you can probably live with.

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Excerpted from Get Certified & Get Ahead by Anne Martinez Copyrightę 2000. Excerpted by permission of McGraw-Hill All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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