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How a Certificate Can Lead to Your First Career or Career Advancement

What Is a Certificate?

A certificate is one of the more difficult levels of education to define. For example, a licensed practical nurse might enroll in a 1-year certificate program at a vocational or technical school. Or you could earn an additional certificate after obtaining a bachelor's degree, such as a certificate in project management that may enable you to get a promotion at work.

Some certificates take only a few weeks to complete while others could take over a year.

Popular Certificate Programs

Some of the fastest growing careers in the U.S. today only require a certificate instead of an associate's or bachelor's degree. These include:

  • Automotive service technicians and mechanics
  • Fitness trainers and aerobic instructors
  • Nursing aides, licensed practical nurses, orderlies, and attendants
  • Personal appearance workers (specifically manicurists, hairstylists, and skin care specialists)
  • Preschool teachers
  • Theatrical makeup artists

IT Certificate Programs

In the computer world, online certificate programs are one way to advance in your career and earn higher salaries. Many certificates are offered by vendors. For example, the Microsoft Certified IT Professional credential is useful for database developers, database administrators, and server administrators. Other certificates deal with security, like the CompTIA's Security + accreditation that teaches security fundamentals.

Why Get a Certificate?

A certificate can help you get your first job after high school, or it can help you get a raise or promotion in your current job. The advantage of online certificate programs is that you can complete one while working full-time. Some employers even pay for relevant certificate programs, especially in fields (like technology, business, and teaching) where you need to stay on top of the latest developments or where continuing education is required to stay licensed.