Certificate and Diploma Programs
While there are many potential benefits to earning a college degree, it might not be for everyone. That's when a certificate or diploma program could be your best choice.
Certificate and diploma programs could potentially allow you to prepare to pursue a career, and add to your credentials.
Generally, programs that award diplomas are somewhat more comprehensive, while certificate programs are more focused. Programs could potentially take a few weeks to a year or more to complete, depending on school, program type, and course load.
Certificate and diploma programs are available in many academic and career fields, including massage therapy, culinary arts, and paralegal studies. Coursework is typically focused on a specific topic, unlike bachelor's degree programs, which could require additional general education credits.
Certificates and diplomas are offered through community colleges as well as colleges and universities, and make up a large part of the curriculum at vocational and technical schools. Certificate and diploma programs are also one of the most common academic programs offered online. The relative flexibility of online schedules could potentially help students arrange their schedule around other responsibilities.
Some career paths might require or highly encourage completion of a certificate or diploma program in the respective field. For example, physical therapy assistants are required to be certified in areas such as first aid, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In other cases, a certificate or diploma could serve as an additional credential. A computer programmer could enroll in a certificate program to learn a new programming language, or an auto mechanic might choose to get certified in hybrid auto technology.
Here are a few potential careers that could be pursued with a certificate or diploma:
Medical assistants perform a variety of tasks, including administrative work, basic patient instruction and care, and interaction with patients' families and caregivers. They work in numerous settings, including hospitals, clinics, and doctors' offices. Many complete a certificate or diploma program. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, medical assisting job prospects should be excellent for those with formal preparation, such as a certificate or diploma.
Average annual salary: $23,700- $33,050*
Paralegals take on work assigned to them by lawyers, like drafting legal documents, performing legal research, and investigating facts. They also help lawyers prepare for closings. People who already possess a bachelor's degree and want to pursue this career should look into paralegal certificate programs.
Average annual salary: $36,080-$59,310*
While some chefs learn on the job, starting out with a solid education at a culinary school could potentially help put you ahead of the pack. Chefs work in many environments, including restaurants, cruise ships, resorts, and institutions like hospitals and schools.
Average annual salary: $29,050-$51,540*
Computer Support Specialist
These specialists solve computer problems and make sure computer systems are up to date with the latest technology, software, and virus protection. Since computer technology is constantly changing, a certificate or diploma in an area like security techniques could help keep you ahead of the game.
Average annual salary: $33,680-$55,990*
*All average salary information is from the U.S. Department of Labor.