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Career Planning
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Online certificates offer an alternative to comprehensive, two-year and four-year degree programs. Although these programs vary by size and scope, many can be completed in the span of 6-12 months. By earning online diplomas or certificates, working professionals earn important credentials that can beef up their resumes, prove their competence, or simply help them stay up-to-date on changes within their industry. Furthermore, some online certificates stand on their own and help individuals find entry-level work in their desired field.


In most cases, students need a high school diploma or GED to pursue an undergraduate certificate. Some certificates offer academic credit which can be applied toward a degree. However, others are noncredit credentials of achievement. Further, additional licensing beyond the certificate may be required for some professions.

Benefits of Online Certificates

The benefits of pursuing this type of education are obvious. With online certificates, students can learn and gain valuable credentials in their spare time and from the comfort of their own homes. Since many certificate programs are self-paced, students can learn as they go and find time to study while still tending to their other responsibilities.

Obviously, listing an online certificate program on your resume comes with benefits, too. Once students finish their program, they gain valuable credentials and experience that shows employers they went the extra mile. And in some fields, such as information technology and computer science, online certificates in specific software programs can be a huge asset and even help someone land a job.

Depending on the student, they can choose from online certificates that fall under one of the following categories:

  • Undergraduate certificates: Although terms vary, students typically need a high school diploma to pursue an undergraduate certificate. These programs can last anywhere from six months to two years
  • Graduate certificates: Graduate certificates are for individuals who have already earned a four-year degree in their chosen profession. By helping students prove their competency, they can add to a resume, bolster a professional's outlook, or lead to higher pay.

Types of Online Certificates

Many types of online certificates and diplomas are available across a broad range of fields and industries. If you're considering this educational path, these options are available:

  • Software and programming certificates: Pursue certification as a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), Comp TIA A+ Technician, Project Management Professional (PMP), or Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) to prove mastery in any of these programs
  • Information technology certificates: Professionals in information technology can pursue certification in web technology, database management, ecommerce and programming, among other options.
  • Education certificates: Earn a teaching, counseling, or specialist certificate that could take your teaching career to the next level
  • Communications and journalism certificates: Pursue certification in writing, editing, or copyediting in order to put your advanced skills on display for potential employers
  • Business certificates and diplomas: Pursue certificates in accounting, administration, organizational leadership, or management
  • Automotive certificates: Students who want to take their career as a mechanic to greater heights can pursue certification in automotive service excellence, ATV repair, boat or marine technology, collision repair and refinishing, or vehicle maintenance
  • Criminal justice certificates: Criminal justice certificates are offered in disciplines such as criminal justice administrator, criminal justice technology, crisis management, cybercrime, fraud investigation, security management and safety
  • Psychology certificates: Psychologists and other mental health professionals can keep their skills up-to-date and add to their resume with certifications in behavior analysis, forensic psychology, social work, child psychology, bereavement studies and gerontology
  • Visual and performing arts certificates: Actors and other visual performers can learn new skills with certification in apparel design, digital graphics design, media production, or visual communication
  • Transportation and distribution certificates: Various industries in transportation and distribution see online certificates as a boon to one's resume and potential work performance. Students in this field can pursue certificates in fields like aviation technology, commercial driving, small airport management, overhead crane safety and more


"5 IT Certifications that Will Get Your Foot in the Door," Rasmussen College, http://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/technology/blog/5-it-certifications-to-get-your-foot-in-the-door/

"Professional Certificates Can Lead to Higher Pay, Study Says," Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/07/certificates-higher-pay_n_1577299.html

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