Certification is the paper trail that places a value on training and education. If you don't have it, don't expect a free pass unless having experience. You can use the book all you want and then pay to take some A+ test or short course for a test so you can have that under your belt and continue to any other level. Of course taking the test is yet another expense. All these other venues basically are offering a test at the end of the training/eduction period. Look at your options and what's available to you. If you don't have some real paperwork saying you're "certificated" or some way to prove it, its all a waste of time, they basically don't have any value to an employer or acknowledged as a true certification process.
I've been studying for my A+ certification from a 50 dollar book, I thought this was enough (I feel that it is enough), but the other day I got a call from a PC institute called New Horizon which offers A+ certification and Netwok+ certification in a course that lasts 2 months and costs 3,500 or so dollars. This threw me for a loop. The reason why is because the person who contacted me from New Horizon told me getting certified just from studying the book I have in my posession won't be sufficient- In my defense, I have three computers around that I mess around with, and I've fixed them up numerous times, other people's computers too. All other studying options seem so pricy, and I'm utilizing the cheapest one. Is it enough? I've taken dozens of A+ prep exams on the net and I do great.
oh, and where are good places that A+ certified technicians get to work and what are the wages, I'd like to work with PC's thoughout college. I apologize for the length of this post, but I'm genuinely worried.