Are Educational Certificates Worth the Money and Effort?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Looking for a new job or a promotion, but don't have time to get a degree? Millions of people are now banking on certificate programs to give their careers a boost.

Millions of people are now banking on certificate programs to give their careers a boost.

Educational certificates are now offered at many universities. The main reason people try to earn a certificate is to get a better or higher paying job. So should you spend your time and money trying to earn a certificate?

Healthcare, IT, finance, or education. No matter what your interests there's no doubt you need to stand out, whether it's to break into a field or simply get a leg up.

Sean Ferry, Employee: "There's opportunities within my current company where I could advance --- advanced salary or probably, maybe eventually even move on to maybe a larger company."

To boost his chances, Sean Ferry's joining millions of people beefing up their resumes by enrolling in a certificate program. It's not a full degree but rather training in nearly any given field.

Sean Gallagher, Analyst, Eduventures: "If you have a bachelor's degree or a master's degree in the same field as someone else, what a certificate program does is it shows that you've specialized in an area."

Brian Barry, National Human Resources Association: "We're seeing it at all levels, the very top level of chairman of the board to brand new individuals just entering the work force."

UCLA is among many universities offering the programs. Many are also offered online.

They run from $500 up to $20,000. They are offered at undergraduate and graduate levels, and can last from one week to several months.

Sean Gallagher, Analyst, Eduventures "In some cases, certificate programs, especially at the graduate level, are sort of like a mini-MBA degree".

Many employers are taking notice of these certificate programs.

Brian Barry, National Human Resources Association: "The more credible certificate programs you have that play a critical role the better."

But every boss is different so make sure it's worth it before you start studying.

Brian Barry, National Human Resources Association: "Find out up front if it plays an important role in promotions and raises so there's no misconceptions."

Also, experts say, like in anything else some programs are better than others. It's critical to make sure the program is accredited.

Sean Ferry's program is accredited, and he expects his certificate will pay big dividends down the road.

Sean Ferry, Employee: "It's think it's definitely worth the time and the money."

Most certificate programs are for people with college degrees, but there are some for high school graduates, mainly in the healthcare field such as medical technicians or doctors' assistants.

Most schools do not offer financial aid for certificate programs, although many companies will foot the bill.

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