What's that you say? You pay full price when you take a certification exam? Oh, no no no, this just wont do. If you are planning on taking taking a certification exam and you are used to paying full price, let me introduce you to the voucher.
Since most IT certification exams (i.e. Cisco, Microsoft, CompTIA) are taken from third party test centers, such as Pearson Vue and Prometric, there are opportunities to pay for exams ahead of time using a voucher system. The voucher is simply a string of text you copy from an email and paste into the purchase form which will either remove some of the price or completely pay for the exam. This is similar to coupon codes for online stores, except you pay for the voucher and then that covers some or all of the cost of the exam.
Some vouchers cost the same amount as the exam, but other vouchers are sold at a discounted price. Sometimes the deals aren't that great, maybe 10% off. But on occasion it's a fire sale at over 50% off. It just depends on the timing, supply of the vouchers, etc. Be careful to note which country the vouchers are valid for and when they expire. If you live in London, don't buy a Voucher that can only be used in the United States unless you're planning on taking an exam during your holiday.
Where do I get one?
There are several online storefronts that offer discount certification vouchers. One that I have used several times in the past is Get Certify 4 Less. Their voucher prices fluctuate a lot and they often have an expiration date, so I wouldn't recommend buying one until you are primed and ready to take the exam. I made the mistake of buying the voucher and then trying to study really fast before the expiration date, let's just say it's not much of a discount if you don't pass the exam.
Another site that appears to offer vouchers, though I can't vouch for them personally, is itexamvouchers.com. If you have used this company or any other and want to share your experience, feel free to post a comment.
Deal or No Deal
Vouchers aren't always a great deal and you don't have to use them every time. For a while I got into a trap of waiting for a good price on a voucher before scheduling an exam, but I've learned it's better to schedule the exam on your timeline, not the voucher market.
One other tip, employers sometimes reimburse for the cost of the exam when you pass, but not all of them will reimburse you for an exam if the receipt is for a voucher. Often times it has to show it came from Vue or Prometric. In a case like that, your voucher company is your employer, so no need for a middle man.
Hopefully this will help some of you save some money in your certification pursuits. It can be costly, but in the end it is most definitely worth while.