Certificate Programs Can Advance Your Career

Certificate programs are ideal if you want to work in a hands-on career or get specific skills for a job. They can take about two terms to complete and provide crucial qualifications and skills for certain occupations.

Certificates can be obtained from universities, colleges, vocational schools, or trade schools. Getting a certificate can help you further your career in a short amount of time. If you would like to learn more about what a certificate program can offer you, read on.

Certificate Programs: An Overview

In this article, you can learn how useful a certificate program can be. Even though some jobs require degrees, certificate jobs can be just as lucrative. Jobs that require certificates include firefighters, interpreters, massage therapists, and more.

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An increasing number of people are pursuing hands-on certificate education. Work experience, short courses, and certificate programs are gaining more recognition in different fields. These programs are valuable and should not be overlooked when you plan your career path.

  • Certificate programs offer hands-on education so you can get experience in the field.
  • Certificate programs are the best way to switch careers. If you are struggling with your current job, enrolling in a certificate program can help you enter a new field quickly.
  • You can still earn a high salary with a certificate. According to ZipRecruiter, the average annual salary for someone with a trade school certificate or diploma is $44,353.
  • You can save money with a certificate program. These programs are faster and less expensive than university degrees.
  • A certificate program can take a year or less to complete if you study full time.

What Is a Certificate Program?

A certificate program is a hands-on post-secondary program that can train you for a specific job. Although they do not equate to a degree, certificate programs are a great option to enter specific fields. They can help you get real-world experience in less than two years. You can enter the workforce much faster than you could with a degree.

Undergraduate Certificate Programs

Undergraduate certificate programs offer vocational training and professional credentials. You can get an undergraduate certificate straight out of high school. Most programs give you the option to specialize in a singular topic or get a general certificate. You can usually find undergraduate certificate programs at community colleges.

Graduate Certificate Programs

A graduate certificate program is a perfect option for students that have already completed an undergraduate degree or certificate program. It will usually take the same amount of time as an undergraduate certificate. You should get a graduate certificate if you want to specialize in your field or earn a higher salary.

Why Get a Certificate?

You should get a certificate if you’re interested in a specific, hands-on job. Certificate programs are the best way to learn real-world skills. Some jobs and fields require a certificate instead of a degree. Read below for more reasons why you should get a certificate.

  • You can gain technical skills and become job-ready in less than a year.
  • A certificate will help you boost your credentials and employability.
  • You can enter fields without a long or expensive degree.
  • You can complete an apprenticeship or other kinds of hands-on work experience as part of your certificate program.
  • A certificate is the quickest way to learn new skills and enter the workforce.
What Is the Difference Between a Diploma, Associate Degree, and Certificate?

What Is the Difference Between a Diploma, Associate Degree, and Certificate?

The difference between a diploma, associate degree, and certificate is that they offer different types of education. They can all be useful in different fields. Four-year degrees are popular for most undergraduate students, but diplomas, associate degrees, and certificates are just as valuable.

A diploma is similar to a certificate. It takes under a year to complete and focuses on career orientation. A certificate is also obtained at an educational institution like a college or vocational school. Certificates are often shorter than diplomas and offer very specific job-oriented skills.

Finally, an associate degree is a shorter alternative to a bachelor’s. You can get an associate degree from a community college in around two years. The curriculum is more academic than a diploma or certificate. It can also prepare you to get a bachelor’s degree later on.

Professional Certification vs Certificate Programs

Although they sound similar, professional certifications and certificate programs are different. A professional certification is a document that can prove your qualifications in a certain field. Some jobs require certifications before you begin, such as law or dentistry. You can get a professional certification by passing an exam.

Certificate programs, on the other hand, are much longer programs. They provide job-specific skills through classroom, lab, and workshop experiences. You can get a certificate program from an educational institution. Sometimes, a certificate program might offer a professional certification at the end.

What Are Some Career Options After I Get a Certificate?

You can find many different career options after you get a certificate. Getting a certificate is a great way to switch careers or to accelerate career advancement. You can further your career in almost any job that requires a specific set of skills. There are certificate programs for aspiring web designers, medical coders, software engineers, and more.

Choosing the Right Program

Choosing the Right Program

A certificate program requires short-term commitment. This does not mean that certificate programs are not challenging. There is a lot of work required to complete programs, and in some cases, the workload can be overwhelming. Make sure you have the time and motivation to devote yourself to a certificate program before enrolling.

There are many factors to consider. We’ve listed three factors that should help you plan.

Salary Expectations

Different jobs have different average salaries, and you should check how much you can make. Depending on your location, experience, and education level, you can make more or less per year. You should check what the salary expectations are in your area so you can be sure of your career once you have a certificate.

Availability of Programs at Your Local Technical School or College

Many universities offer exciting certificate programs, but others don’t. You should always check to see where you can learn your desired topic. You can look at local community colleges, vocational schools, and technical institutes that may offer your desired program. It is also worth noting that in-state universities are much cheaper than out-of-state ones.

School Accreditation

Some schools and colleges are not accredited. If you want to get a solid education, you should always search for accreditation. Otherwise, you might not be able to transfer credits or get a higher degree. You can look on the US Department of Education website to research school accreditations.

Certificate Program Requirements

To enroll in a certificate program, you should get a high school diploma or equivalent certificate. If you have work experience or other circumstances, you may be able to apply without a high school diploma.

Some schools might ask you to maintain a certain GPA before you apply. You might also need to prepare for an apprenticeship or internship. You should always check with your school’s enrollment office to make sure you have everything you need to start the program.

What Do Certificate Programs Cost?

A certificate program can vary in cost depending on where you enroll. No matter what, it is still significantly cheaper than a four-year degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), two-year institutions charge about $3,621 per year in tuition and fees on average.

At a Glance: High-Paying Jobs That Require a Certificate

You can get many high-paying jobs with only a certificate. Read below to see the jobs you can get with a certificate program that have decent salaries and job prospects. Note that the job growth numbers refer to growth from 2019 to 2029.

Profession Entry-Level Salary Job Growth
Computer Support Specialist $43,674 8%
Electrician $47,859 8%
Firefighter $41,797 6%
Manicurist or Pedicurist $22,976 19%
Massage Therapist $36,560 21%
Sign Language Interpreter $40,456 20%
Software Engineer $63,041 22%
Web Designer $43,439 8%

Most Lucrative Jobs That Require a Certificate

Computer Support Specialist

There are many certificate programs for information technology and computer science. This field encompasses the knowledge and practice of computers, software, and maintenance. Computer support specialists are some of the most important IT workers. This job is here to stay and can pay you very well with the right experience.


As long as we use electricity, we will need electricians. Electricians work on everything from power lines to your television. You can work as a freelance contractor or with an electrical company. Either way, this job is a great choice if you enjoy working with your hands. According to PayScale, experienced electricians earn around $60,569 per year.


There are many training programs and credentials required to be a firefighter. In most states, you need certain qualifications or certificates in medical and emergency services. Certification in first aid may be mandatory to apply for a firefighter position. You will most likely need to complete a certificate program as well as professional certifications.

Manicurist or Pedicurist

As a manicurist or pedicurist, you will work with clients to perform hand and foot treatments. This job includes buffing, polishing, and painting nails. You can chat with clients and create a rapport with your regulars. To become a manicurist or pedicurist, you will need to complete a cosmetology certificate and get a professional license.

Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is an increasingly popular career. Many certificate programs offer specializations in athletics therapy, recreational therapy, and more. Masseurs can work on a freelance basis, making this a flexible career choice. According to PayScale, experienced massage therapists can make almost $30 per hour.

Sign Language Interpreter

This is a career path that you may not have considered yet. Through a certificate program, you can gain the required skills to start work within a year. Sign language interpreters can work for the government, media agencies, or individuals. If you enjoy languages and helping others, this is a great career choice.

Software Engineer

Software engineers are some of the highest-paid workers in 2021. You can get certified in programming languages like Python, C++, JavaScript, R, and more. With a job growth rate of 22 percent, you can’t go wrong with this career.

Web Designer

Web design is another attractive tech job that focuses on web development. You can enter a design certificate program and specialize later on. You can also find many professional certificate programs for web designers. You can get certified in different computer programs and programming languages to further your skills.

Pursuing a Certificate Program Online

An online certificate program can help with time management and flexibility. It is often possible to study online for a certificate program, though not all topics have this option. The credentials you receive through distance learning can be the same as credentials you would receive on campus.

You should keep in mind that for hands-on jobs like plumbing or massage therapy, you probably won’t be able to find online programs. However, for topics like web design or computer support, online programs are a great option.

Online colleges are also cheaper than on-campus options. This is because you will not be using the school facilities, labs, or research spaces. In some cases, they are also faster. Note that you might miss out on networking opportunities and events. If you want to receive a certificate while working full time, you should consider online options.

Is a Certificate Program for Me?

Yes, a certificate program is for you if you’re interested in a hands-on job. You can fast-track your career and start getting work experience quickly. Certificate programs are a great choice for many different career options. They are faster and less expensive than a four-year degree.

Many educational institutions have ramped up online training and certificate credentials in 2021. If you would like to study from home, many institutions offer top-tier online programs. You have extensive options for online and in-person certificate programs. All you have to do is apply.

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