While many college students today are opting for a two-year degree over four years in school
, there is an even shorter option to consider. Community college students are finding that certificate programs can be completed in much less time, yet reap the same employment benefits as a full degree program. Check out these benefits of professional certification from your local community college.
Consider the Statistics
While many are still out of work in the United States, millions of jobs remain unfilled. Why? There are no skilled workers to fill the slots, according to a report at CNN Money
. Employers need workers who can come right into a position with the necessary training and experience. However, much of that training is not available through four-year universities. Instead, students must turn to schools that are providing the specific training employers in the community require. This is the important void that community colleges are learning to fill – and often through certification and licensing programs.
Community college degree programs typically take around two years to complete, but certification programs can take significantly less time. AOL Jobs
estimates that most certificate programs
range in length from six months to one year. In addition, coursework for these types of programs is often offered in the evenings or on weekends for students who are trying to juggle current family and professional responsibilities. In some cases, classes can even be taken online
, prior to the certification examination.
Workers with certification typically earn more than those who hold a high school diploma only. According to Inside Higher Ed
, that difference may be as much as 20 percent in some occupations. For those who decide to earn a certificate after earning a degree, the income potential is also higher – 39 percent higher than an associate degree alone and 24 percent higher than a bachelor degree. The statistics for women are slightly lower, but still favor certification over a degree only.
Redirecting a Career
Certification can be the perfect option for the working professional looking to make a career change
. This fast track to a new job path combines with previous education and job skills for a truly marketable resume. In addition, certificate programs offer flexibility that allows workers to expand their job skills without missing a beat on their day jobs.
Businesses and community colleges often form partnerships to ensure training provided at the schools is a direct match for employers in the area. This training is often offered in the form of certificate programs designed to prepare students for specific positions within a company as soon as possible. Training programs are short-term and highly focused to benefit the student and the employer alike.
High Placement Numbers
With partnerships between schools and businesses
becoming a growing trend, placement statistics for students in certificate programs is also on the rise. According to CNN Money, some schools now offer programs that are placing nearly 100 percent of their students directly after completion of the certificate. For example, Wallace State Community College
in Alabama is coming very close to placing 100 percent of their graduates into manufacturing jobs
in the state. Wilbur Wright
in Chicago, IL placed all of their graduating students this last spring.
Students who earn a certificate are also more likely to continue their education through a degree program, one study found. Inside Higher Ed reports on the study, which found 20 percent of those who earn a certificate eventually move on to an associate degree
and another 13 percent complete a bachelor degree
. This additional education can serve as an important milestone in working up the corporate ladder, gaining supervisory and management positions later on.
Choosing a Certificate Program
The key to finding success through a certificate program is choosing the best program for your needs, according to the Huffington Post
. When shopping certificate programs in your area, consider the following factors:
The Local Workforce
If you want to ensure marketability in your area after earning your certificate, look at the employers in the community to see how they match up to the training currently offered. For example, if your community is home to a manufacturing plant, the community college down the street should offer certificate programs applicable to the work done in the plant.
In many cases, the final achievement of certification is based on a state or national examination. If that is the case for the certificate you are interested in, find out how many community college students in that program pass the test each session. If the pass rate is relatively low, such as under 80 percent, that may indicate the program offered by the community college is not sufficiently rigorous to prepare students for employment in the field.
Most students earn a certificate with the goal of employment in mind. If this is your reason for pursuing certification, find out if the community college can help you reach your goal. Community colleges should boast a relatively high placement rate – around 75 percent or higher – for students in programs specifically designed for the employment needs of the local community. Low placement rates could indicate the college is missing the mark on training or does not have a strong enough partnership with the local business.
Certificate programs are offered through community colleges across the country and often become the path to employment for high school graduates and displaced workers alike. The right training program can take you right from school to gainful employment at a company right in your own community.