We all know that companies consider your education during the hiring process. But what you might not know is that going to college is not the only way to get an education that will serve you in your professional career. While going to a college or university can drastically increase your earning potential, there are alternatives to a four-year degree that you can carry into your workplace. One of the best ways to prepare for a career is to enroll in a certificate program.
What is a job certificate?
A certification program is generally a faster, more affordable way to get job training without going the traditional college route. Sometimes, certification programs help college graduates dig deeper into the little details of a particular field. Earning a certification is an important part of your professional development.
Whether you're an IT professional or a business analyst, a human resources worker or an electrician, getting a certificate in your area of expertise will help you develop a deeper understanding of the skills you need to do your job, make your application stand out to hiring managers and put you in the running for a higher salary.
4 certifications to advance your career
Google Professional Certificates
Google has partnered with Coursera in a program for job seekers to gain the job-ready skills needed to launch careers in IT Support, Data Analytics, UX Design, Project Management, and IT Automation. Students can learn at their own pace. The courses require no experience, and find a path to in-demand jobs.
OSHA Training and Certification
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the United States Department of Labor enforces safety regulations within companies. They ensure that employees aren't put in dangerous situations and hold companies and supervisors liable for safety violations. OSHA offers multiple training courses that are relevant to different job fields. A few of these courses include:
- Machinery and Machine Guarding Standards
- Cranes in Construction
- Shipyard Employment
- Excavation, Trenching and Soil Mechanics
- Power Press Guarding
If these certifications sound interesting to you, take a look at these construction jobs.
CompTIA A+ Technician Certification
Technology is one of the best industries in America right now. There are hundreds of thousands jobs that need to be filled, but not everyone is well-versed in computer programming, troubleshooting and even the right terminology. CompTIA A+ Technician certification is a good place to start if you want to break into the technology field but don't have a formal computer science education.
Graduates from this certification will be able to troubleshoot computers, laptops, operating systems and mobile devices. They will typically become a support specialist or help desk technician and can then work their way up the career ladder through additional on-the-job training. The course typically requires a performance-based element along with a written exam. For many professionals, the cost of the exam and time spent studying is worth it as opposed to re-enrolling in college and getting a technology-related degree.
Intuit's QuickBooks is one of the top accounting software platforms on the market. Even if you work as an accountant or bookkeeper for a company that doesn't use this platform, you're probably going to use one that has similar capabilities, and learning about QuickBooks could prepare you for another role at a larger company.
There are two online exams that you can take — a basic exam and an advanced one — both of which require a great deal of training, studying, and practicing. This is why employers actually look for candidates that are QuickBooks certified: it proves the employee's commitment to their profession. It also serves as insurance that a new hire is trustworthy and actually knows what they're doing. If you're an accounting associate or an auditing clerk, this certification will prove you're ready to advance in the company.
6 certifications based on the job you want
With so many certification programs to choose from, it's tough to know where to start. Below, we'll examine the basic job duties of a variety of professions, share information about the average annual salary for each of them, and consider certifications that could help you shine in each role.
Average salary: $89,000
As a Project Management Professional, you are a highly organized employee with excellent communication and time management skills. They work with teams to determine what resources they need to get jobs done, anticipating obstacles and supporting workers to make sure projects are completed in a timely, efficient manner.
Aspiring project managers, or those already in the job who want to build on their years of experience, should consider Google's Project Management Certificate. You can start the program with no prior experience. It's 100% remote, and requires fewer than 10 hours of study per week.
Average salary: $87,500
Business analysts gather and interpret data and other information to determine how a company can achieve success. A certification confirming you have the skills to turn spreadsheets into stories that can spur businesses to take action could help put you in high demand in the business community.
We encourage you to do some research to find out what business-focused certification program is right for you. There are lots of different options for those who like to work with big data. You might consider a Google Data Analytics Certificate. International Institute of Business Analysis also offers a variety of certificates that could help you take the next step in your career.
Average salary: $68,000 (HR associate)
Working in human resources is all about supporting networks of people to help them find and succeed in the roles best suited to their strengths. Offering a variety of roles, from human resources associate all the way to human resources manager, this industry calls for professionals with great communication skills and a high degree of emotional intelligence. You'll need stellar interpersonal skills to diffuse workplace disputes, connect employees with the right resources and communicate information about pay, benefits and workplace expectations clearly.
If that sounds like an awful lot to keep track of, try studying up with a certification program. There are a variety of programs to choose from, including online offerings from Cornell University and eight different certifications from the HR Certification Institute.
Average salary: $65,500
For automotive technicians, opening the hood of a car is like opening up a book. Where some see an incomprehensible jumble of wires and machinery, they see the wonders of mechanical engineering, and they know exactly what to do to keep vehicles running safely and smoothly. Or at least, they do when they've received the proper training.
To be competitive candidates, automotive technicians typically attend a vocational school or training program to learn all the skills necessary to do the job right. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence is the industry standard. You should also look for programs in your area — but make sure that they are accredited, and ask about how long it takes students to complete the program, how much it costs, and at what rate their graduates get hired in the industry.
Average salary: $72,500
You don't technically need a certificate to become an electrician. A high school diploma or the equivalent will satisfy the educational requirements for a typical position. But most electricians learn the ropes through a four- to five-year apprenticeship. Others learn their skills at a vocational school.
If you want to stand out with a certification, take a look at the Home Builders Institute, which offers programs in a variety of construction trades, including electricians.
Average salary: $74,500(IT specialist)
In our hyper-connected business world, information technology touches every sector. If it's a business, it needs some kind of technical support. And that means that talented professionals with technical skills will be in high demand in a variety of industries.
If you're looking to get ahead in your career as an IT professional, there are a number of popular certifications you might consider. In the coming years, as more and more people pursue IT-related careers in everything from software development to digital marketing and data management to information security, certifications could help you differentiate yourself from other job candidates.
Google offers multiple IT certifications that could amplify your work experience, teach you new skills and equip you to succeed in the field. The Google IT certification, in particular, could help you become a more well-rounded IT decision-maker, with programs aimed at entry-level workers and advanced veterans alike. Tech-minded professionals might also enroll in the Google UX Design or Google Associate Android Developer Certifications. Below are some roles that might benefit from these or similar programs. Oh, and if you're applying to tech jobs, don't miss our example resume for web developers.
- Web developer
Average salary: $107,000
- Software developer
Average salary: $112,000
- Cyber security professional
Average salary: $97,000
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