What You Should Know About This Degree
There is a significant difference between a certificate program and certification. Where a certificate is earned by attending a program that has completed a specific type of schooling or training and is awarded by an educational institution, certification comes from a professional organization or certifying body within a given industry, and is usually bestowed after an individual has accumulated a specified amount of time working within the industry in addition to having taken a standardized professional exam.
Certificate programs offer many advantages for those who have an interest in advancing their education and improving their marketability but who are not in a position to pursue an associate’s or baccalaureate degree. They offer the advantages of learning a concentrated subject area and completing their education in a shorter period of time, at less cost. They offer the ability to continue to live in their own homes and to study from there, without incurring additional costs or having to forego their current work or home obligations. The programs are extremely flexible, with most offering the opportunity to take all classes online.
Accredited certificate programs open the doors to a wide range of opportunities. The programs that we have included offer options in the fields of healthcare, construction, law enforcement and firefighting, computer information technology, and trade and manufacturing. They represent a cost-effective way of getting a quick education that leads to employment, as well as a method of transitioning into a college education. By selecting a certificate program that has been accredited, you not only provide the opportunity for financial aid through the federal student aid program, but also the ability to transfer credits from certificate programs that you have completed into a future baccalaureate program if you choose to pursue that option.
Earning a certificate has been directly associated with higher earnings in several different fields, including: healthcare; business/office work; cosmetology; auto mechanics; construction; electronics; transportation; refrigeration, heating and air conditioning; drafting; and aviation.
Here are some questions to ask when researching accredited certificate programs:
- Am I eligible for this program? Applying for admission to an accredited certificate program is much less arduous than the process of applying for a bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree. In most cases the school to which you are applying will allow you to complete the process online by providing some basic information, including your contact information, the name and contact information for your high school and the year of your graduation, and information about the classes you took and the grades you achieved if your graduation was within the last ten years. If you have taken any college classes or earned your Associate’s, Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree you will be asked to submit that information too.
- Are courses offered synchronously or asynchronously? Almost all certificate programs are offered online and asynchronously, though many colleges also offer the opportunity to attend classes in person. Students who are seeking online certificates for which an internship or a certain number of hours of real-world experience are needed will be provided the opportunity to fulfill that requirement in their own locale.
The application process for entry into an accredited certificate program is generally flexible, although some programs will follow a typical, semester-based calendar. Be sure to read all requirements for admission carefully, noting deadlines for submission of documents such as transcripts or confirmation of having fulfilled any prerequisites for the program to which you are applying.
By selecting an accredited certificate program, you give yourself the opportunity to apply for financial support through federal, state and local student aid programs. If you need help, be sure to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid in order to determine what kind of tuition assistance you may be eligible for. You may also be able to get tuition reimbursement from your employer.