Top Certificates to Earn in 2021
With the cost of 4-year colleges continuing to rise, alternative education options are becoming increasingly popular. Among these options are certifications. These programs typically take a fraction of the time and money of a 4-year degree. They can even be helpful for people who have already graduated from 4-year programs to help advance their career. But with all the certifications out there, it’s important to make an educated choice.
Here 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. These are the two most common general fields for certificate programs. However, they exist in many different fields. Keep reading to learn about Career OneStop, a tool that can help you find more niche programs.
Related: How to pay for a certificate program
Certifications in information technology
In general, these 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.
This program will prepare you to design and plan cloud solutions and architecture. Boasting a typical graduate salary of around $170,000, 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 $114,000 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 salary of over $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 $114,000.
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
These 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.
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.
Using the Career OneStop 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 Career OneStop 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 skillset on our list, you should definitely try out Career OneStop.
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.
If you’re looking into certificate programs, you should start by investigating the fields that they encompass. Find the one that is most interesting to you, and then look for reputable programs that will fit your schedule and financial situation. The programs on this list are reputable and high-paying, so if you find a fit there, we recommend going for it. Good luck with your search!