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.
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”
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.