Why This Matters


    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 45 occupations that only require a postsecondary certificate for entry-level positions.

  • EARN UP TO $106,920

    Some certification-level occupations pay quite well. For example, the median annual wage for theatrical and performance makeup artists is over six figures.


    Many certification-level occupations are in high demand. Over the next decade, there are projected to be over 100,000 annual job openings for tractor-trailer truck drivers and nursing assistants.

Our Research

In this guide, we’ve reviewed the best certificate programs in the United States. Most students should be able to find an option that fits their needs, as these programs cover many different subject areas and concentrations.

All of these programs have been accredited by institutions such as the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the New England Commission of Higher Education, and the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. This ensures that each program on our list provides students with a high-quality education. Also, if you ever decide to switch to another school, accreditation will make it easier to transfer your credits.

  • 71 hours to write this article
  • 131 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 189 education programs we compared

The Top 42 Best Certificate Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

When you’re deciding on which particular certificate program to pursue, it’s important to consider how much money you’ll be able to make. In addition to theatrical makeup artists and their median annual wage of $106,920, some of the highest-earning occupations at this education level include power station electrical repairers ($85,340 per year), ship engineers ($75,990), and auto damage insurance appraisers ($65,550).

You may also want to avoid associate-level occupations that tend to earn the lowest wages. These include manicurists/pedicurists ($27,870), barbers ($32,470), and private household cooks ($32,630).

Another factor to consider is security — this may be more important to you than earning potential. Indeed, even though the average theatrical makeup artist makes over six figures, there’s a lot of competition for jobs with only 600 openings available per year.

You’ll have an easier time finding work if you enter a field that’s in high demand. For example, certificate-level occupations that are projected to have more than 50,000 annual openings over the next decade include tractor-trailer truck drivers, nursing assistants, licensed practical/vocational nurses, auto service technicians/mechanics, and hairdressers/hairstylists.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching certificate programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Generally, you will only need a high school diploma or GED to be eligible for certificate programs.
  • How long does it take to complete this program? The amount of time required to complete these programs depends on your schedule and the number of credits that are required to earn the certificate. Most certificate programs take about one to two semesters of full-time coursework to complete.

Whenever you’re considering a particular program, take note of the application deadlines, materials you need to submit, and any other important details for admissions. This information can be found by reviewing the school’s website or contacting a campus official.

You should take time to research the scholarships, grants, and loans that are available to you as well. If you currently have a job, you may also be able to receive tuition benefits from your employer.