2021 Certification Goals - Tips & Resources

With the New Year, lots of people are looking to get certified in the New Year. In this article, I'm going to share some tips and free & low-cost resources to help you reach your certification goals.

Create a study plan

This is the first place I start when working on a new certification. Gather your exam topics, your materials, and set your deadlines (exam date).

This year, make it a point to schedule your study time in your planner, on your phone, or both. BE DETAILED. Your calendar entry should include the topic(s) you intend to study for that block of time and any links you may be referencing. Here are a few other tips to keep you on track:

  • Gather your resources

  • Book your exam

  • Draft a Study Plan based on the exam objectives

  • Create some flashcards (digital and/or index cards)

Kill Procrastination

With the start of the new year, we are all fired up and motivated but of course, motivation fades, and when you are working during the day and come home to take care of your family, it's easy for your studying to go to the back burner. Procrastination is the thief of accomplishment. Here's a great article on 11 Practical Ways to Stop Procrastination in its tracks. Print it out and keep it in your workspace! #MakeEverydayCount

Take Breaks

While you want to work to keep procrastination at bay, you also don't want to run into mental fatigue. Just like when you are working out, and you have rest days, you need to give your mind rest too. Build "rest days" into your study plan early to keep your mind fresh. 

Take care of your body as well. I have often been guilty of snacking on unhealthy foods and downing energy drinks & coffee while studying. I ended up crashing at the end of long study sessions and dealing with brain fog. Be sure to continue to eat healthily, drink water, and take your vitamins!

#LabEveryday - Du'An Lightfoot

Practice makes perfect! Labbing helps reinforce the concepts you are learning. Be sure to build in lab time before attempting your exam to verify your understanding of a topic.

Ask for help

We are all human and need an extra hand sometimes. Maybe this is taking a night off (if you can) from your family or work to get some extra time in to study, or perhaps this is seeking out a mentor in the field you help you with a troubling concept. Ask for the help you need. Communicate with friends and family to get them on your team with your goal. Communicate with your employer as well as they may be able to provide some assistance.

Believe in Yourself

Above all else, you must believe you can do it. These certifications are tough, and it's going to be a huge investment of time and money, but the dividends you'll receive will put you far ahead in your career. 


Cisco DevNet

Cost: Free

If you're already in Networking but are looking to build or enhance your skills in programming & automation, Cisco DevNet has several free learning paths these all include detailed instructional videos and labs!


Cost: Free for the Month of January from Cybrary

For the Month of January Cybrary is offering several courses for free but the stand-out one is the CISSP Course. The Course has 19 hours of training including labs.

Cisco Networking Academy

Cost: Free (register for a NetAcad Account)

A few courses I'd like to highlight that you can take for free:

Network+ Playlist by CYBERINSIGHT

Cost: Free

This playlist is made of practical lab videos that align with the objectives for the CompTIA Network+ certification. The purpose of these lab videos is to provide viewers labs that they can implement on their own at home.

CCNP ENCOR 350-401 by David Bombal

Cost: Free

This playlist covers both the exam objectives and labs.

CCNA 200-301 by David Bombal

Cost: Free

This playlist covers both the exam objectives and labs.

AWS Cloud Practitioner Essentials

Cost: Free

This is the intro course that aligns with the exam objectives for the AWS CCP

*Pro tip - when you pass an AWS exam, you get 50% off the next one!

AWS Foundations - Coursera

Cost: Free for individual Courses

These 4 Courses are to help you better understand the use of AWS.

Google Cloud - Coursre

Cost: Free for Individual Courses

Everything Goggle Cloud!

Throughout the year I'll be sharing more free resources as I come across them. If you want to keep up with this, Be sure to subscribe to my email list, The Network Broadcast.

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