Best Online Certificate Programs 2021

October 6, 2021

reviewed by ACO Rankings Team
Best Online Certificate Programs 2021

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Online Certifications

Certificate programs prepare students to work in a specialized trade or update their professional skills. These programs teach practical skills and training for a specific career. Learners may complete a certificate program to gain career training as a resume booster, increase their salary potential, or learn more about technological advances in their field. 

Certificate programs appeal to both undergraduate and graduate students. Students who hold a high school or GED diploma can pursue undergraduate certificate programs to gain entry-level positions within a specific field. Alternatively, students with bachelor's or master's degrees can advance their skills with graduate certificate programs. 

A college education can cost thousands of dollars per semester. Students can spend far less on a certificate program. Certificates also allow students to circumvent graduate school and save money if they already hold a bachelor's degree.

The earning potential relative to the low cost of a certificate program can offer lucrative career opportunities. For example, construction and building inspectors earn a median salary of $60,710 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects 3% job growth from 2019-2029 for these professionals. Pipefitters and plumbers earn a median annual salary of $55,150, and the BLS projects a 4% job growth in the field.

Online Certificate Program: Frequently Asked Questions

true Q. How many years does it take to finish a certificate program?

Most students can earn a certificate quickly, in as little as a few months to a year in a self-paced online environment.

true Q. What job can you get with a certificate program?

Certificate earners can pursue diverse jobs in various industries with a certificate program. Enrollees may learn skills in healthcare, administration, and information technology.

true Q. Can I complete a certificate program online?

Career training schools, community colleges, and career colleges offer online certificate programs. Students can complete training at convenient times and through out-of-state institutions without needing to relocate.

true Q. How much is an online certificate program?

Costs vary based on the college, program, and credit requirements. A community college online certificate program will cost less in most cases than a comparable state university online program or on-campus program.

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Best Online Certificate Programs 2021

What Are the Goals of a Certificate Degree?

Career training and continued education offers value in all industries, especially as technology continues to evolve. Certificates could boost learners' opportunities in fields such as business, healthcare, and technology.

Since certificate courses develop a narrow skill set, students should use their certificate program to apply actionable skills in an array of industry-related topics. Some certificate programs dive more deeply into the subject or help learners develop a more refined skill set. No matter what the certificate program entails, certificate training goals should elevate performance in students' field of choice.

Students can earn a certificate in various niche areas, including business, healthcare, technology, criminal justice, and arts and design. Students can also pursue a certificate in education, skilled trades, social services, health and fitness, and hospitality. All classes aim to elevate student skills in these specializations.

Why Get a Certificate Degree Online?

Certificate-holders can point to many professional and personal benefits to pursuing a certificate program. Learners may want to earn an online certificate for the following reasons.

Degree-seekers can acquire new skills to change jobs with a certificate program. Learners may also use a certificate to further their existing career. Certifications usually cost less than pursuing a degree. A certificate offers one of the least expensive credential types. Online courses offer more flexibility because learners can access courses online at any time. Online certifications may not require any prerequisites. If they do require mandatory courses, the program may require fewer than a traditional degree. Achieving a certification in a few months means learners can reach their goals more quickly. Certificate-seekers could complete a program in 3-9 months.

What Are the Requirements for a Certificate Degree?

Admission requirements for online affordable certificate programs vary depending on the program. Students may not need to submit as much official documentation for a certificate program compared to a degree program.

Official documentation may require students to prove that they possess a high school or GED diploma and offer proof of age. Individuals under the age of 18 may not apply in some cases. Alternatively, applicants for graduate-level certificate programs may need to show proof of a bachelor's degree, offer graduate test scores, and/or show applicable professional experience.

Certificate-seekers will only learn the practical skills taught in that program. For example, a construction and building inspector certificate program teaches students how to inspect construction sites and buildings to ensure that the structures meet all required codes and regulations.

Learners may need to demonstrate required competencies, such as through examinations.

Scholarships for Certificate Degree Students

With a little research, certificate-seekers can find scholarships to help fund their studies. Below, we offer a few scholarship examples for students pursuing an online certificate program.

Scholarship Amount Who Can Apply

Work Ethic Scholarship Program

Varies Students who enroll in an approved program can apply for the Work Ethic Scholarship Program. Applicants must also sign the S.W.E.A.T. Pledge, make a video, and offer solid references from a teacher or boss. Candidates must also verify school costs, provide a high school or college transcript, and submit their most recent 1040 tax return.

UW Certificate Scholarship

$2,000-$5,000 Students who live in Washington state may apply. U.S. citizens or permanent residents can apply if they received acceptance to an eligible certificate program. Applicants cannot exceed specific household income limits or have access to financial assistance from an employer.

Coursera Financial Aid

Varies Anyone who needs financial help completing a Coursera course can fill out an application that includes information about your educational background, career goals, and financial circumstances. The application must total over 150 words.

Melissa Brock worked in college admission for 12 years and writes for numerous publications, including "The Journal of College Admission." Her website, College Money Tips, helps families smoothly navigate the college search process. She currently works as a freelance writer and financial editor, covering higher education, college savings and personal finance.

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