If you are looking for certificate courses that lead to well-paid careers, then this article will help you in your research. One can get a certification for various jobs that do not need a four-year college degree. If you are looking for qualifications to help you land entry-level positions in your field, consider online certifications. There has been a growing interest in online certificates in the past few years. That interest has doubled during this pandemic.
A recent study found that one in five Americans is looking for skill-based training to make them job-ready. With the quarantines and stay-at-home orders bringing lives to a halt, people have more time on their hands. Most are trying to utilize this time by opting for online certifications and degrees.
These online certifications focus on a specific skill set that different industries demand. They take six months to a year to complete in most cases. They are also affordable, so you don’t have to break the bank to prepare for a well-paying career. Individuals opting for these can get viable credentials to help them get jobs right away or grow in their existing careers.
We have listed some online certificate courses that are affordable and pay well. They are offered by many colleges as well as some industry-led associations. In this article, we have discussed and shortlisted courses that lead to well-paid jobs as well as long and fruitful careers. These are:
- Audio and Sound Technician
- Medical assistant
- Sheet Metal Worker
- Medical records technician
- Nursing Technician
- Dental Assistant
- Surgical Technologist
- HVAC Techs
- Architectural and Civil Drafter
- Ophthalmic medical technician
- Industrial Engineering Technician
- Massage Therapist
- Building Inspector
- Restaurant Management
- Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Mechanic
- Court Reporter
- Radiology Technician
- Computer Support Specialist
- Web developer
- Certified Occupational Safety & Health Specialists
- Certified Aircraft maintenance technicians (AMTs)
- Real Estate broker
These courses prove that you don’t always need a four-year college degree or graduate with an expensive degree to do well in life. Pursuing online training in a fast-growing field will help one embark on a high-paying career. The certificate programs listed above can pay off handsomely in a short time. They train students in specific skills across a range of fields.
Once they are completed, students can immediately get into entry-level jobs and start earning. Some may require additional state licenses, but these courses prepare them well to take those exams. These technical certifications offer the exact skills demanded by employers. We have outlined some jobs that one can get into with a six-month certificate program.
Audio and Sound Technician
A sound technician handles assembling, operating, and maintaining the technical equipment used for recordings. A big part of their job is to test every piece of equipment and ensure optimum results. With their help, sound engineers can record, enhance, amplify, mix, or reproduce sound. Sound technicians test the equipment, make necessary adjustments during a recording or sound production. They are trained to identify the sound requirements for a given task or situation and perform adjustments to get the best results. They work in concert venues, recording studios, TV and film sets, or radio stations.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $47,920
Phlebotomy technologists are in demand as they are an essential part of the medical process. They work in hospitals and clinics, helping in the accurate diagnosis of a patients’ condition. They are skilled in obtaining and processing specimens for diagnosing and handling the equipment. It is a specialized field that has a lot of growth potential. People interested in the life sciences can opt for these jobs. Once they get certified by the American Society of Phlebotomy Technicians (ASPT), they can start working.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $36,320
A medical assistant is a great way to step into the medical field without a four-year degree. Many online certifications train students to be a part of the medical team and help patients. These allied health professionals support doctors and nurses in their work. They help in prepping patients, taking medical histories, and explaining treatment options. They also train in essential lab work and first-aid options. It is an entry-level career that has a lot of potential for growth and for earning well.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $35,850
Sheet Metal Worker
Sheet metal workers work in various industrial settings. They help assemble, fabricate, design, install, and repair sheet metal products. It is a good fit for individuals who like working with their hands. A certification course and an apprenticeship will help them develop special skills that can be used in various industries. They learn to work with many metal types like copper, black and galvanized steel, brass, stainless steel, nickel, and aluminum. A certification also prepares them to get a recognized trade certificate or be a registered apprentice.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $51,370
Medical records technician
A Medical Records Technician handles the documentation of all patient healthcare records. An online certificate program familiarizes them with filing techniques and medical records. They learn about various medical terminologies and aspects of medical practice. They are prepared to take the electronic Medical Records Certification exam through the National Health career Association. They can get into a job right away, even with a four-year college degree. It is a fast-paced and in-demand career with great potential for growth.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $45,620
A nursing technician works under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or physician to provide nursing care and support to patients. The demand for Nurse Techs is increasing every year. They work in hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. Also called nursing attendants or nursing aides, they assist RNs by caring for patients’ essential mobility and personal care needs. They help monitor the well-being and medical condition of the patients and in the maintenance of patient rooms. Nurse Techs are often students studying to become RNs.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $30,830
Dental assistants support dentists and other staff in a dental practice. They work as a part of the dental team and ensure that patients get the best and efficient dental treatment. A certification program trains them to assist in various treatment procedures. They take and develop radiographs (x-rays) and provide patient care. They instruct patients in oral care after surgery and other procedures. They also teach patients about oral hygiene, how to maintain oral health. They provide necessary information about periodontics, orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, and oral surgery. These programs prepare them to take the Certified Dental Assistant Exam from the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $41,180
Surgical technologists help surgeons and nurses in surgical operations. It is a good fit for those who wish to join the medical field without a four-year degree. A certification allows them to get into entry-level jobs. They can then pursue advanced studies and get hands-on training on the job as well. The profession has a great job growth forecast as these professionals play a critical role in the healthcare industry. They train to work with various operating room (OR) staff and help in many duties to ensure a surgery’s success.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $49,710
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians help build and maintain HVAC systems in buildings. HVAC techs specialize in various residential and commercial heating and cooling systems. Individuals with a high school diploma or GED can become HVAC techs after completing a certificate program. They train in installing, maintaining, and repairing various indoor climate control systems. They are a group of skilled trade professionals who are called upon to restore working order when mishaps occur. After completing a certification program, they may pursue state licenses.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $50,590
Bookkeeping is an in-demand profession that does not need a college degree. One can get into entry-level jobs with a certificate and climb up the ladder fast. These programs train students in functions that revolve around accounting and general ledger. They help senior accountants by recording all transactions, producing financial statements and reports. A bookkeeping certification enables students to stay ahead of the competition. One can take an online certificate course to become a certified bookkeeper. They can then become certified by either the AIPB or the NACPB. Both are nationally recognized and are one of the two top professional bookkeeper organizations.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $42,410
Architectural and Civil Drafter
Architectural draftsman certification helps one gain credentials and get into architectural draftsman positions. They gain essential knowledge of draftsmanship, learn the use of design and drafting software. They assist senior architects in creating blueprints for buildings. Certification is not mandatory, but formal training improves one’s job prospects and sets a career growth path. Licensure is not compulsory as well, but students may choose to apply for one. A certification program will prepare them to take these exams, which may vary by state.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $57,960
Ophthalmic medical technician
Ophthalmic medical technicians work with ophthalmologists in clinics, hospitals, and refractive surgery centers. They perform various eye-related clinical tasks and aid in providing patient care. They get training in eye exams, ultrasounds, and surgical assisting. They also learn about digital photography and light-based eye imaging with lasers. The certificate programs include practice exams and tutoring along with comprehensive coursework. They can sit for IJCAHPO (COA), (COT), and (COMT) exams. These make them eligible for jobs in a growing and evolving field.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $38,620
Industrial Engineering Technician
Industrial engineering technicians work on developing, designing, testing, maintaining, and repairing various industrial equipment. High school graduates interested in the STEM fields can become industrial engineering technicians. With an online certificate program, they can work in a wide range of industrial and manufacturing facilities. Students learn to help senior industrial engineers in the implementation of equipment designs. Routine maintenance is a big part of their jobs. They help in the upkeep and operation of the machinery and equipment.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $57,320
Massage therapists practice in a variety of settings like private practices, health, and wellness clinics. The certificate programs cover topics like kinesiology, physiology, anatomy. In addition to these, students learn classic massage techniques. These programs also prepare students to take state licensing exams and the Board Certification Exams (BCTMB).
Various health and wellness organizations, as well as corporates, employ massage therapists.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $43,620
A Building Inspector certification prepares students to inspect commercial or residential buildings. They must hold a high school diploma or equivalent to apply. Once they complete these, they can appear for state licenses and get into entry-level jobs. Students learn about construction technology, electrical and mechanical systems. They also learn about various building codes for plumbing and hands-on inspection training. Once they start working, they begin by assisting senior inspectors. They help in checking building structures and foundations, zoning requirements, among many other functions.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $62,860
Restaurant managers manage restaurants and lead restaurant staff. Individuals holding a high school diploma or its equivalent can become restaurant managers. They start as assistant restaurant managers and then grow in their jobs. They learn through hands-on experience and by earning a certificate. Online certificate programs are an excellent option for working professionals looking to succeed in this field. They are trained in different tasks such as recruiting and hiring restaurant staff and training them. They also learn restaurant marketing strategies. They have excellent customer service and communication skills. They oversee food quality, develop menus, greet, and serve restaurant guests.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $56,590
Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Mechanic
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics repair and maintain various construction and surface mining equipment like graders, cranes, bulldozers, and excavators. They do not need a formal background in heavy vehicle repair but have a high school diploma or equivalent. Most receive on-the-job training and then go on to perform routine service tasks. But those who wish to grow in their jobs need some more advanced training they can get from a certification course. Their knowledge and competence on the job help them advance to more complex work and better pay.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $53,370
An online certificate in paralegal studies helps individuals start a career as a paralegal. Those already working as legal professionals can take these courses to hone their skills further. They gain the skills and professional competencies demanded by the profession. These include legal writing, reasoning, research skills, laws, legal tools, and technologies. Students are prepared to take the CLA/CP exam and start practicing as paralegals. They can work in diverse legal settings and related businesses.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $52,920
Court reporters are in demand, and jobs in this field are expected to see a steady rise through 2028. This growing need for court reporters shows how important they are for all legal proceedings. One can get into entry-level jobs by completing a certificate program. Those who wish to advance in their careers may opt for earning an associate degree as they gain more work experience. They train in typing and stenography, creating an accurate record of courtroom proceedings and ensuring testimony consistency. When needed, their records are used to show discrepancies in the appeals process.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $61,660
Radiology technicians are allied health care professionals. They work in the clinics of various hospitals and clinics. They perform different diagnostic imaging procedures. These include X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. They help position patients accurately during these tests. They help ensure that a quality diagnostic image is produced. They assist doctors and senior radiologists in interpreting results. One can get into entry-level jobs with a certification but may need an advanced degree to advance in the field. Some people specialize in techniques like mammography, cardiovascular-interventional radiography.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $61,900
Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists have a lot of growth potential. Their work is essential as they ensure that all IT systems are running efficiently at all times. Completing a certification program will help gain entry-level jobs in the IT field. They train in maintaining and repairing technological equipment and peripheral devices. They also help senior technicians set up and configure new software and hardware. Another function is to install computer networks and manage various components on a routine basis. Students can take the CompTIA IT Fundamentals and A+ certification exams to get into the field.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $55,510
Online certification in web development is an excellent idea for those who are interested in IT-related careers. It pays well and does not need a college degree to get started. Expert web developers are always in demand because every company needs a good corporate website. Businesses are also on the lookout for experts who can help them with mobile apps and eCommerce websites. Web developers often work as freelancers.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $77,200
Certified Occupational Safety & Health Specialists
Certified Occupational Safety & Health Specialists are in demand. It is one of the best-paid entry-level jobs. Individuals with a high school diploma or equivalent can enter the field. All they need to do is complete an Occupational Safety & Health certificate program. Students learn about complex occupational health issues in business and OSHA standards for various industries. They receive comprehensive occupational safety and health training. They apply the fundamentals of occupational safety and health regulations in their work. They focus on accident prevention and control, and the occupational safety and health of all workers.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $72,530
Certified Aircraft maintenance technicians (AMTs)
Certified Aircraft maintenance technicians (AMTs) are in high demand. They perform preventive and routine maintenance on all types of planes and helicopters. They are responsible for the repair and scheduled maintenance jobs that ensure plane and passenger safety. They are trained to meet all safety standards so that accidents and crashes can be averted. Anyone with a high school diploma or equivalent can enroll in an FAA-certified program and train to become an aircraft mechanic. They work for public and private airline companies as well as the military.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $66,680
Real Estate broker
Real estate is one of the easiest fields to get into if one is interested in sales, dealing with property, and interacting with people. It does not need a four-year college degree either. Anyone with a high school diploma or GED can become a real estate broker or agent. All they need to do is take a short certificate course to learn the basics of this very lucrative business. Once the training is done, individuals can apply for state broker licenses and start working.
- Median Annual Salary 2020 (BLS): $51,220
More about online certifications that pay well
What kind of online certifications are in demand and pay well?
Many online certificate programs lead to well-paying jobs. The demand for these programs is growing, more so during the pandemic. With the economy badly affected, many people have lost jobs. They are looking for certificate programs to upgrade their skills or learn new ones to get back into the job scene. They can choose several career-advancement certificate programs that are affordable, easy to enroll in, and complete within a few months. These online programs offer skills-based training and the credentials needed for various jobs.
Many industries are looking for skills-based training instead of a college degree. They recognize and accept employees who hold a high school diploma and certifications instead of a college degree. These programs help students get jobs and start earning right after high school. They get the training and knowledge to proceed with specific careers that pay well.
Some even pursue advanced degrees later on to ensure career growth. These online certificate programs attract many young students and experienced professionals looking to grow in their careers. They are using these to upgrade their skills or learn something new, especially during the pandemic.
How can online certifications help?
Online certifications are great for those looking to get into jobs soon and need to enroll in courses that will aid their cause. They need to train themselves in the required qualifications, knowledge, and skills for various jobs. While these programs can get them entry-level jobs, they also give them the advantage of certification when many of their colleagues may only have a GED. Thus they are not just job-ready but also armed with unique skills that make them an asset in the job from day one. It also improves their prospects of earning well.
With an online certification under the belt, students can start working and earning right away. Once they gain some work experience, they also can go for an advanced degree or program to grow in the field. These specialized certificates allow people to find jobs faster, earn well, continue learning on the job, and advance in their careers. Students can choose from courses they are interested in, fields they want to get into, and skills that match their own. The specific skills training that they get help students become the top candidate for employers. The fact that they are affordable is a boon for individuals who do not want to spend a fortune to get a degree at this point.
Which industries recognize online certifications and hire employees without a four-year college degree?
There is hope that 2021 will see a recovery of the economy and the job market. Once the market picks up and more jobs are listed, there will be immense competition between candidates. They will be vying for these open positions with hundreds of others. It may be hard to find a job without a college degree or work experience. But if one doesn’t have a college degree or cannot wait for one because they need to start earning now, there is no cause to fret. They can opt for online certifications that teach specific skills and be job-ready for some of the most in-need industries. Once the economy improves and hiring freezes are over, they will be on the top of the consideration list.
Many industries give importance to skills-based training and recognize online certifications. They are perfectly happy to hire individuals who hold a certificate in the field for their entry-level roles without a four-year college degree. Due to the pandemic, many industries are facing a chronic shortage of skilled workers. The increase of skills-based training programs and increased enrollment will go a long way to combat that shortage. Industry sectors that are looking for skilled workers and pay well are:
- Real estate – Real estate is one of the highest paying fields to enter with a GED and a certification. These training programs can be completed quickly, and one can start working right away. They can work in real estate firms or start a business as well.
- Technology – Tech-savvy workers are in demand in many areas and will continue to be over the coming decade. There are many job openings in IT, computer science, and programming. They pay well and offer job security as well.
- Manufacturing – The manufacturing industry has faced a massive shortage of workers during the pandemic. Now that the industry is making a comeback, they are all the more on the lookout for skilled workers. They need to keep factories operating and have qualified individuals fill up the many high-tech and highly-skilled positions.
- Healthcare – Healthcare is said to be a recession-proof industry, and they certainly have faced the brunt of the work during the pandemic. It has all the more highlighted the huge gap in skilled labor that they are facing. The industry desperately needs to fill up positions at various levels. Yet, they are severely lacking when it comes to getting qualified applicants to fill them.
- Childcare – Childcare jobs are expected to grow at a swift rate. Even during the pandemic, childcare specialists continued to be in demand. Working parents and busy households have mandated a safe and secure environment for young children. Trained childcare specialists ensure that kids have the education, care, and nutritional food that they need.
- Engineering – The engineering sector is also facing a dire shortage of qualified engineers to hire. They cater to a vast array of industries that need engineering skills like aviation and manufacturing, among others. They are looking for specific skill sets that students can get from short-term certification programs rather than the universities.
- Energy – The energy industry is rapidly evolving as we move away from fossil fuels to renewable resources. It needs new blood with people who have upgraded skills for new technologies. A certification program can offer these specialized skills training in a short period of time and pave the way for a lucrative career. Although we are moving towards renewable energy sources, the traditional energy sector is still booming. It needs skilled workers to keep operating and serving the masses.
- Construction – Despite the high demand, the construction industry is lagging when it comes to skilled workers. It has the potential to hire skilled workers in many areas like welding, building inspection, carpentry, plumbing, electrician jobs, and many more. The lack of skilled tradespeople has led to a severe shortage of new hires.
- Accounting – Accountants and bookkeepers will always be needed to support business operations, no matter what the industry is. Many online certificate programs help individuals get into entry-level accounting jobs right after they graduate. Of course, they may need to get an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree to grow into the field. Some even go on to complete their master’s so that they can climb up the corporate ladder. However, they can get a foot in the door with an online certification.
What does an online certification program cover?
The curriculum of an online certification program typically blends theory, practice, and some hands-on training. Depending on the field one chooses, the types of training or apprenticeships may differ. The more technical the field, the more practical training is required. The overall curriculum is designed to ensure that the students gain the knowledge and skills to perform their job well. Though the programs are online, they are packed with information and taught by knowledgeable professors. Students are trained to apply their knowledge to their work right away.
How to choose online certifications that pay well?
While there are many online certifications to choose from, making a decision can be quite a challenge. Students have to keep certain things in mind to ensure that they are choosing the right program. The right choice would go a long way to help them grow in their careers. Here are a few tips on choosing the right online certification program:
- Make a list of programs and certifications that lead to well-paying jobs
- Divide and shortlist by entry-level or advanced certificate programs
- Do thorough research of every program that is shortlisted
- Find out the salary and growth potential that the certification offers.
- Ensure that the final choice leads to a lucrative career as well as aligning with your interests
- Find out the professional credibility and value of the program before you make a selection
- Try to determine if the certification will add a competitive edge to your job hunt
- Find out if the program is industry-recognized and employers are looking for those particular skills
- What kind of career advancement can happen with the new skills you learn in the program?
- Try and ask around to see what the best recommendations are for your field
- Find out what the requirements to get into the program are and how much time it will take to complete
The online format is flexible and the right choice for students working or pursuing multiple programs. They can choose a program that pays well without the constraints of location. They gain the skills to get a good job fast and start earning.
How does an online format work?
The online format is a popular choice for students looking for the right program without geographical constraints. These programs are offered by specific learning portals that allow both synchronous and asynchronous options. The latter is more prevalent as most students prefer to study at their own pace as they balance life and work.
Students are given a unique login and password to access their accounts on these portals. There is no special software or hardware needed by the students. They just need their laptops and a fast Internet connection to use the school’s specific software. They log in at their convenience and study to complete the programs within the scheduled time. There may be some occasional need to join in for a group discussion or attend a workshop for some hands-on learning.
What is the value of online certifications versus traditional programs?
The value of online certifications is growing every day. Compared to a few years ago when traditional programs took center stage, now students are on the lookout for online options. More and more employers wish to fill the skills gap and are therefore looking out for skilled professionals in their fields. For them, technical and skills-based training is more important than a generic college degree. Students who are trained in specific jobs are their answers to combat the acute shortage of trained workers. They are also willing to pay the top dollar for these skilled workers since they cannot run the business without them.
A lot of these jobs require only a high school diploma and specialized certificate. These are entry-level roles but offer great pay and great potential for growth. Students can complete these certifications online and within a few months, which will allow them to find jobs faster. They have to choose a program that aligns with their interests, skills, educational, and career backgrounds. They also have to keep in mind the cost of the program. They can stack more of these credentials as they start working and pave the way for a lucrative career.
Online certifications are also great for professionals with a college degree. It allows them to add specific skill sets to their resume and upgrade their skills as they continue to work.
Are online certification programs accredited?
Some certification programs are accredited, especially if a four-year college offers them. Some institutions offer accredited programs due to their affiliations with an industry association. This is especially true for regulated industries and those that deal with safety and compliance issues. Some recognized programs are non-accredited but highly regarded by industries and employers. Some are state-approved, while others prepare students to apply for state licensures.
- U.S. News & World Report
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Strada Education Network