Linux training – how much will it cost you?

By   |  March 22, 2005

This sixth article in the series on training looks at that nasty subject called money. If you are looking at getting trained up in Linux, or if you are an employer looking to train your staff, the process is going to cost you some money.

But how much money?

This is the beauty of getting trained in Linux: you have more than one option. As an individual, you could download any number of free manuals from the Web and start studying them. I can\’t list any such links in an article such as this, but Google will find them for you.

Total cost? A few hundred Rand for bandwidth and printing will get you started. It\’s a very effective method if you are short of cash.

At the other end of the spectrum you find formal training and this costs a great deal more. You can expect to pay something in the region of R20 000 to a college or training institution for a good Linux education. Of course this is really just a ball park figure but it\’s a good starting point. That\’s a fairly large sum for an individual person to pay, so what should you expect to get for your money? I could give a long list of physical things you should expect (software, manuals, facilities, etc.) but to me the most important is that you are paying for information and skills. I believe you have a right to have the following:

• A properly laid out course that takes you step by step through the materials and covers all the basics.
• An instructor that knows the subject.
• An instructor that will answer your questions if you need something clarified.
• An instructor who cares enough to make sure you really understand and can use what you are learning.
• An instructor who is prepared to work with you all the way till you are ready to pass your certification exam.

Training colleges have business expenses just like any other business, and that\’s where most of your R20 000 goes. We have to pay salaries, rent, hardware costs, advertising and everything else. But caring for the student doesn\’t cost anything extra. And let\’s face it, that\’s what you are really paying for, isn\’t it?

Each person\’s circumstances are different, and there are a whole host of costs you will have to add to the price of tuition. If you are self employed, there might be loss of income while on course. There are transportation costs, exam fees and even accommodation if you are from out of town. There are also the intangible costs: trust me on this one, to make it in your Linux studies you will have to sacrifice some of your social life. And your significant other will probably see less of you — this thing called Linux is very addictive!

So there\’s a commitment you have to make, and its not all financial. The biggest non-financial commitment is time, and here\’s what it takes:

Earning a real Linux certification is going to take the average person at least 12 months if starting from scratch. In that 12 months you will attend class, read more books than you ever believed possible, and probably type till your fingers hurt. You will need to get some practical experience any way you can, and if you don\’t already work with Linux that probably means doing useful work for deserving places for very little money or even for free. Schools, churches and charities are good places to start — they always need people with expertise and often can\’t afford to pay market rates.

I could easily sit at this keyboard and tell you that getting through your Linux education is a walk in the park and takes a few weeks. But I\’m not going to say that, because then I would be lying. You have at least three Linux certifications that are worth getting — LPI, RHCE and Novell\’s CLP — and all three take lots of work.

I know many people who attempted Linux certification exams before they were ready, and none of them passed. Most learned from that mistake, put in the work and did pass the next time. Other trainers I know have similar stories to tell.

So there you have it — the three things that are going to cost you to get trained: money, effort and time.

What you will get out of good training is knowledge, and knowledge is power. And that, the power to better determine your own future, is worth far more than what you will pay for it.

Alan McKinnon is head trainer at Afribiz. This column is published every two weeks.

Previous columns in this series:
Why Linux and OSS training?
The real value of certification
Choosing the right Linux certification
Why you should train your staff
Choosing the right Linux trainer

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