Many people today are considering pursuing certificate education rather than a full post secondary degree. An academic based certificate program can be well worth the investment. If you consider the certificate route, make sure you find a certificate that meets and supports your future career goals.
An academic certificate program offers a level of accomplishment that translates into more opportunities and higher earnings. A certificate program is faster to complete than a traditional degree, yet it still displays a high level of post-secondary or post-degree academic achievement. When you review different certificate programs, keep in mind that they are far more diverse than academic degrees. Certificates can be earned in multiple areas of knowledge that might not be recognized by earning a single degree.
Certificates are more flexible than a degree. By earning a certificate, you build upon the education you already have, rather than start over with a new degree. Certificates cover many different areas of knowledge, such as programming, social media, or project management. There are even certificates for becoming a webmaster or growing your proficiency in Oracle Database. In fact, there are far more certificate programs available than academic degrees because not all certificates earn academic credit. Be sure to evaluate whether or not your certificate has academic credit before you start your program.
Although some certificates might not result in a student becoming a renowned expert, earning the certificate shows a proficiency level beyond a self-taught or novice in the field. Certificates received with academic credit may also contribute towards a future degree. For example, if a certificate program requires 18 academic credits and a college degree requires a substantial number of credits, you could be well on your way to that degree. However, if your certificate program does not carry academic credit, a university may or may not accept it for transfer credit. Consequently, you may have to complete those classes again to earn your degree.
A common misconception about certificates is that they are not as valued by employers as are academic degrees. Certificates earned at an accredited academic institution or endorsed by an industry association would likely have widespread acceptance. Certificates offered by small, private institutions with only a few thousand members would probably be less-regarded by employers.
Completing a certificate program will help assist someone early in their career to get a good first job. These are a list of high-paying, in-demand jobs that benefit from a certificate.
An architectural and civil drafter creates drawings of buildings’ structural features or creates maps of civil engineering projects such as public works, bridges, and roads. Most drafters have training in computer-aided design and drafting (CADD), engineering, mechanical drawing, and other design and engineering skills. This training can be from a certificate program, a two-year program, or even a four-year program.
- Construction and building inspectors inspect construction sites and buildings to ensure that the structures meet all required codes and regulations. Many construction and building inspectors have a certificate from a local or community college, although others have a two-year associate’s degree instead.
- Court Reporters transcribe legal proceedings such as depositions and trials. Most court reporters work in courts or government settings. Many court reporters have at least a postsecondary certificate in court reporting from a community college or technical institute.
- Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVACR) technicians work on heating, cooling, ventilation, and refrigeration systems in homes, offices, and industrial buildings. HVACR technicians usually complete a degree or certificate program from a trade or technical school or a community college, lasting from six months to one year.
- Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Mechanics (also known as service technicians) inspect and repair vehicles and machinery used for all aspects of transportation, farming, construction, and any other industries. An increasing number of employers want to hire mechanics that have completed a one- to two-year certificate program in diesel technology or heavy equipment mechanics since much of the latest machinery is highly complex.
- Industrial engineering technicians assist industrial engineers with revising methods of operation at manufacturing plants and other industrial sites. They help revise operation methods, equipment layout, and more to make a factory run more smoothly. Most industrial engineering technicians have either an associate’s degree or a certificate from a vocational-technical school.
- Plumbers and pipefitters install and repair pipes at offices, homes, factories, and other buildings. Many plumbers learn their work through a certificate program and/or a four- to five-year apprenticeship. Several states also require that plumbers and pipefitters be licensed.
- Sheet Metal Workers constructs and installs products made from thin sheet metal. This work might involve measuring and marking dimensions on sheets, drilling holes in sheets, carrying large sheets, or welding, bolting, riveting, and soldering sheets and using a sheet metal brake. Many sheet metal workers learn their work through an apprenticeship or a certificate program from a vocational or technical school.
- Surgical Technologists are medical professionals who assist in operating rooms in hospitals. They help prepare operating rooms, arrange equipment, and help doctors during surgeries. They often complete a certificate program in surgical technology, lasting between a few months to two years.
- Web developers design and develop websites. They create the look of the site and handle the website’s performance, speed, and capacity. Web developers might work for computer systems design companies, marketing firms or departments, or are often self-employed. While some web developers have an associate’s degree in web design, others choose a web development certificate.
In the end, you need to find a certificate program that is a good fit for what you hope to accomplish. If you want to learn a new skill, look at earning your certificate online, where classwork is mostly self-guided. If you want a certificate with a value recognized by employers, then seriously consider a certificate program that carries academic credit. Those credits can be used toward a future degree, and the certificate offers increased credibility because it is associated with an accredited institution.