I am interested in the MCSE, MCSD, and MCDBA certifications of Microsoft. I currently hold the MCP certification for Windows NT server 4.0.
1. Minimizing costs: you can do this best by following self-study approaches to MS exams. At $125 per exam, you should be able to keep total costs per topic to $275 as follows: $50 study guide, $30 Exam Cram, $70 Practice Test(s), plus exam costs.
2. Research other sources of funding or loans: Certification magazine had a cover story entitled "Financing your certification" in the March, 2003 issue. Visit this story at http://www.certmag.com/articles/templates/cmag_feature.asp?articleid=88&zoneid=1 for great ideas and further information.
You're basically going to have work hard, study cheaply, and manage costs to the best of your ability. Once you get certified, you may want to seek employment somewhere else, where management understands the value of certs, and provides at least partial support or funding.
This was first published in March 2003