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If you feel like you're hearing the phrase "job lock" in the media a lot these days, you're not alone. You might feel trapped in your current job by the need for good healthcare or for stable employment. Or you might struggle to find better jobs because you lack specific skills. Online certification courses have emerged over the past few years that let eager job seekers develop the qualifications for jobs that appeal to their passions and skills. Recent statistics point to three kinds of career changes you can make with the help of a certificate program.

Certificate Programs Help Entrepreneurs Launch Companies

If your vision of the American Dream includes running your own business, you're not alone. Over the past decade, the United States government has tracked some revealing trends about entrepreneurs. Reports from the Federal Reserve Board indicate that about eight percent of American workers own their own businesses. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 2 million workers are second job entrepreneurs: individuals who earn a salary working for someone else and also own their own business.

Salaries for entrepreneurs can vary greatly, depending on the location, industry, and size of the business. For instance, a doctor who owns her own medical practice may net $150,000 or more per year. Meanwhile, a Silicon Valley startup owner might not even earn a salary for the first few years while he waits for a stock offering to bring a significant payday. Online certificate programs in entrepreneurship can help skilled technicians learn the basics of turning existing training into an independent business.

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Certificate Programs Validate Corporate Leadership Skills

When a major staffing company surveyed hiring managers across the country in 2009, they were surpirsed to discover that despite high unemployment rates nearly half of all job seekers were not qualified for the positions for which they were applying. In many cases, the one element holding applicants back from earning promotions or landing new jobs was a lack of formal job skills certifications.

According to staffing professionals, college degrees don't always provide the specific training and experience necessary for most leadership and management roles. At most companies, hiring managers prefer to promote from within, making online certificate programs a relatively easy way to rise through the ranks. In one example cited by government analysts, a nurse who earns about $60,000 per year can use a management certificate program to qualify for a leadership position that pays $73,000 or more. As more industries seek to develop leaders, management training courses can help skilled technicians earn higher salaries.

Certificate Programs Boost Job Prospects for Bilingual Workers

Another job qualification that is in short supply is bilingual language skills. Government analysts estimate that over 30 million United States residents speak Spanish at home, while Hispanic-owned businesses generated over $226 billion in revenue in 2002. Corporate America has woken up to the reality of a strong consumer population that prefers to do business in Spanish.

Banks, health care providers, and government agencies are among the employers competing most heavily for highly skilled, bilingual workers. Studies have shown that bilingual employees earn more than their monolingual counterparts. For workers already fluent in both English and Spanish, online certificate programs in management or in job-specific skills can lead to lucrative promotions or to entirely new careers. Skilled workers who speak only English can enroll in Spanish language certificate programs to qualify for raises or for premium jobs.

Compared to earning a college degree, completing a certificate program is a relatively quick, inexpensive way to develop marketable job skills. Enrolling in career training programs from accredited colleges and universities helps assure hiring managers that you can meet industry expectations. Paying for career training may not cost you anything, since many employers can also help cover the cost of online certification programs through professional development initiatives. Instead of settling for small annual raises, you can use the power of online certification courses to earn that higher paying dream job over the next year.

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