Career planning and education: The role of certificate programs

Recently I wrote on the proliferation of career-oriented master’s degree programs, suggesting that some of them — perhaps many of them — do not provide a lot of training or clout in the job market, especially when weighed against the expenditures of time and money.

For those seeking a different career path, a certificate program may do the trick, providing a slightly more modest credential, requiring less time and money to complete, while opening doors to new job opportunities. Many do not require a bachelor’s degree.

Five examples

Lisa Manterfield, writing for Yahoo! Education (link here), identified five job fields where certificate programs are a common ticket to entry:

1. Medical assistant — “certificate or diploma in medical assisting”

2. Dental assistant — “certificate or diploma programs in dental assisting”

3. Paralegal/legal assistant — paralegal certificate for those who already hold a bachelor’s degree

4. Administrative assistant — “certificate program in office administration”

5. Pharmacy technician — “pharmacy technician certificate program”

Non-traditional fields

For those seeking to enter non-traditional fields, a certificate program may be the door-opener. For example, those interested in alternative health and nutrition will find many non-degree programs, in person and online, that give them a sufficient knowledge base and provide guidance on opening and establishing a professional practice.

Training vs. credentials

In weighing whether a certificate program (or any formal continuing education offering, for that matter) is right for you, consider these two dimensions:

1. Training — Does the program give you the requisite knowledge and skills to enter a field or enhance your abilities within it?

2. Credentials — Does the program have a good reputation within a field or a track record of placing graduates that indicates its value as a job-seeking credential?

Some may have the training but need the credential. For others, it’s the other way around. And some need both.


This is the second in a series of posts on career planning and further education.

3 responses

  1. I made a complete career change on a Certificate of Completion and some moonlighting to add to my resume. Great move lateral with no pay loss.

  2. I have a great deal of experience in Administration; Certification for me is the way to go. I have ‘The Best’ Customer Service Skills; because, I see myself looking at me and have the mindset, “How would I like to be treated?” Then, I proceed. It never fails – I have developed many friends that has enrich my life.

    Also, I have always been interested in ‘Jurisprudence;’ but as you well know, Dr. Yamada, after experiencing ‘Horrific Workplace Bullying for 2 1/2 years,’ this has opened a whole new world for me that I am sure will also enrich my life.

    Also, I am interested in Alternative Health and Nutrition!

    So, I better get busy!

    Thanks, Dr. Yamada! Keep This Great Information Coming!

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