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Top Certificates to Earn in 2023
Have you ever wondered what alternatives to a four year degree might be out there? With the cost of 4-year colleges continuing to rise, alternative education options are becoming increasingly popular. Certificate programs typically take a fraction of the time and money of a 4-year degree.
Who can earn a certificate?
Certificate programs are for everybody! Whether you aren’t interested in going the traditional college route or are a working professional and just want to level up your skills, certificate programs can be a great way to improve yourself.
Below is a rundown of some certificates proven to increase career and salary potential. We’ve broken our picks down into two categories: human resources and IT. While certificates are available in many fields, these are the two most common general fields for certificate programs.
Certifications in information technology
This program will prepare you to design and plan cloud solutions and architecture. Boasting a typical graduate salary of around $176,000, this program can help increase your earning potential dramatically. To pass the exam, Google recommends having “3+ years of industry experience including 1+ years designing and managing solutions using Google Cloud.”
This test will assess your capability in designing solutions on Amazon Web Services. You’ll need to have at least one year of hands-on experience with AWS technology to qualify. Graduates can expect to earn a salary of about $143,000 per year.
This program will help you hone your experience in “information security governance, program development and management, incident management and risk management.” Graduates earn an average base salary of $118,000.
The CRISC is offered by the same organization as the CISM, but is tailored towards “mid-career IT/IS audit, risk and security professionals.” It boasts a typical graduate salary of $125,000.
This is one of the most prestigious project management certifications out there. However, it takes a fair amount of work; on top of 35 hours of formal education, you’ll have to complete an hour quota for project management experience. This will be 4,500 hours for bachelor’s degree holders and 7,500 for anyone else.
Also read: Information technology major overview
Human resources certifications
This is a great option for anyone looking for an entry-level HR position. The program does not require any prior experience. It can also be useful for people in non-HR positions who manage workers.
This program is for anyone who works in HR under the direction of an HR director. You’ll need a minimum of one year of experience in a professional-level HR position and a master’s, or two years of experience and a bachelor’s, or four years of experience and no degree.
Cornell offers a wide variety of online human resources certifications programs. You can find programs to meet your situation whether you are new to the field, have extensive experience, or work in an HR-adjacent position.
The American Staffing Association offers several professional certifications. This general one demonstrates your familiarity with federal and state labor laws. If you work in a staffing position, this is a great way to show that you have a solid understanding of the basics. You can also look into more specialized programs from the organization, such as their health care staffing certification.
This certification is recommended for “HR professionals who implement policies and strategies, serve as point of contact for staff and stakeholders, deliver HR services, and perform operational HR functions.” To be eligible, you must either hold a master’s degree and currently be employed at an HR position, or have 1 year of experience and a bachelor’s degree, or 4 years of experience without a bachelor’s.
How much do certificate programs cost
Information technology programs
In general, IT certifications are very affordable. The only cost you’ll pay directly to the certifying body is the exam registration fee. For most of these, this fee falls somewhere between $50 and $250. Oftentimes, there are even discounts on the exam. Some organizations offer complimentary study material as well. If your organization does not, you may have to factor in the cost of a few books as well. But you’ll rarely have to pay any more than $500.
Human resource programs
Human resource certifications are a bit more expensive than information technology certifications tend to be. You’ll probably end up paying somewhere between $300 – $500 for the exam and all of the necessary materials. It’s worth noting, though, that this is still a tiny fraction of the cost of a 4-year degree program.
Using the CareerOneStop Tool
The US Department of labor has created a valuable tool for searching out certification programs that are specific to your field. You can use CareerOnestop to browse programs by field or by job. The site lists all of the requirements for each program and shows you where you can sign up. If you didn’t find an opportunity that fit your desired skill set on our list, you should definitely try out CareerOneStop.
Also read: Is coding bootcamp worth it?
Accessible option: Google Certificate Program
If you’re wondering where to start in your search for a certificate program, we recommend checking out Google’s programs. The Google Certificate Program has no prerequisites, is highly affordable, and has a flexible schedule. If you find a program that appeals to you, it’s worth investigating. On top of that, there are scholarships available. With the combination of its accessibility, flexibility, and affordability, it’s hard to go wrong with Google Certificates.
Frequently asked questions about certificates
Can certificates get you a job?
Is it better to get a certificate or a degree?
Are certificates worth it on a resume?