Licensing and Certification Opportunities at Community Colleges

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Licensing and Certification Opportunities at Community Colleges
Learn about the numerous licensing and certification opportunities available at community colleges.
From careers in construction, electrical work, teaching, to even daycare employment, nearly all careers now demand that employees maintain professional certification. Furthermore, for individuals new to their particular field, even jobs that do not require a four-year degree now demand that applicants have met professional licensing standards. 
Providing students and professionals with easy access to affordable opportunities, community colleges are now one of the top venues for continuing education and certifications for qualified advancement.  
The Top-Paying Careers with Professional Licensure Requirements
According to DAS Human Resources, legislation was passed in 1996 that permitted the expansion of application requirements, resulting in the shift that requires many jobs to demand that all workers meet “professional licensure, degree, accreditation or certificate requirements.” While the requirements for certification and licensure may have become more stringent, data from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Census Bureau, according to CNN, assert that some of the top-paying jobs in the country are careers that do not require a four-year degree
Among the top-paying jobs are careers as an air-traffic controller, storage and distribution manager, transportation manager, and police/detective work—all of which boast of an average annual income above $60,000. The careers expand to include non-retail sales managers, real estate agents/brokers, and dental hygienists—which also average an annual income of over $58,000. 
While the prospects for interested candidates in these careers are financially outstanding, CNN continues to assert: “Though a college degree is not a requirement for these positions, all require moderate to extensive on-the-job training or apprenticeship. In addition, dental hygienists, radiation therapists, nuclear medicine technologists, and commercial pilots require an associate degree at a vocational or technical school,” and/or some form of certification and licensing program. 
This video looks at the pros and cons of two-year degrees.
Pursuing Licensure in a Popular Career Path
Air Traffic Control Programs
As a high-paying career path, air traffic controllers make, on average, over $100,000 annually. As an Air Traffic Controller, workers “guide pilots to their destinations and are responsible for the safe and orderly flow of aircraft in congested airspace.” With increasing transportation demands, security requirements, and federal flight regulations, community colleges are working with federal units, such as the Federal Aviation Administration and Flight Service Stations to provide students with programs to ensure a wide depth of knowledge, instruction, and professional experience.
For example, Cecil Community College, in North East Maryland, provides students with a program for Applied Sciences, where their program is “designed to prepare students for employment by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as weather briefers and specialists in Flight Service Stations (FSS) or as air traffic controllers working in control towers, terminal radar control centers, or air route traffic control centers.” While the demands of an Air Traffic Control specialist are known to be intense, Cecil explains, “The Air Traffic Control Option focuses on FAA regulations, air transportation, and air traffic control operations.  This program also includes numerous ‘hands-on’ visits to air traffic control facilities.” 
Police, Firefighting, and Public Protection
While many law enforcers choose to obtain their four-year degree in criminal justice or other subject areas, many careers in law enforcement mostly require professional certifications and state examinations, and they do not mandate baccalaureate degrees. 
For example, to become a certified paramedic or firefighter, students can enroll in community college programs, where they can receive training in EMT/Paramedic Specialty or Fire Academy programs. As Macomb Community College, in Lansing, Michigan, further explains, “along with the skills and training in the EMT/Paramedic specialty, the Fire Academy enables students to learn at our state-of-the-art Burn Tower the skills that they need to fight fires.”
Building on this, community colleges across the country are also reaching out to not only provide licensure programs for public service but are also working to teach the whole community about plans for public protection. 

For example, Lakeland Community College, in Kirtland, Ohio, has developed Town Hall meetings designed to address public safety concerns. Students potentially interested in public protection programs or legal certification programs at a local community college should attend such forums. As Lakeland supports, “By attending the Town Halls on December 3 and 10, residents will learn how they, themselves, can prepare by using local resources and how they could respond personally to terrorist or biological threats,” in addition to other safety concerns.

This video looks at the value of a community college education in the technology field.

Child-Care, Child Safety, and Teaching Programs
As each state mandates different requirements for child-care workers, Howard Community College, in Columbia, Maryland, offers programs that are up-to-date with the ever-changing demands for child-care employees. As Howard supports, “The child care certification courses offered […] have been revised and updated, with added topics to address new state requirements effective July 1, 2008. Child Care Certification I and Child Care certification II satisfy the (state requirements) for […] skills training.” 
From classes in health, CPR, emergency action plans, and child behavior, community colleges are developing and revising programs so that students have access to innovative and accessible opportunities for career advancement. Whether a student is planning on opening his/her own daycare, desires to find employment at a school or daycare, or is generally interested in pursuing a career as a teacher aide or school support staff member, community colleges offer a wide variety of avenues for personal accreditation.
Obtaining your certification at your local community college can open a wealth of opportunities and professional doors, which may include very lucrative and rewarding careers.
CNN, “20 Great Jobs,” February 24, 2006, available at
DAS Human Resources, available at
Lakeland Community College, available at
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Why Community College


Community colleges have been expanding course and degree offerings. This section provides information on your options, from GED to a bachelor’s degree. Learn how you can benefit from a professional certification, find out which community colleges are offering bachelor’s degrees, and identify the top degree-producing colleges.