Certificate Programs That Pay Well

Medical Records Technician
Medical Records Technician

If University isn’t practical or an option for you, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a well-paying career or that you shouldn’t try to further your education. You may want to consider completing a certificate program.

These programs, often offered by colleges, offer training in specific fields. You can take certificate programs as a college graduate. Still, there are many designed for people who have a high school diploma or GED and want additional training to land an entry-level position.

Certificate programs are far cheaper than college, though the cost can add up. You might spend $100 per credit, give or take. That may not sound like much, but if you’re taking a 12-credit course to earn your certificate, that could be $1,200. Still, considering that a college education can cost thousands of dollars per semester, a certificate program is much less expensive.

If certification is something you’re thinking about, check out these 10 certificate programs that may be worth considering.

Here Are Certificate Programs That Pay Well


10. Optician

How To Become An Optician In America

The typical time it takes to earn a certificate: dependent on the student.
The median salary of the job: $37,010

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you’ve met opticians – they help fit your glasses and help you choose the right contact lenses. You might be able to get a job without taking a certificate program, but some employers will insist. You’ll be able to get certified by taking the program offered by the American Board of Opticianry, which offers a certificate to those who complete a written exam.

It isn’t a test you’re likely to pass if you cram or haven’t studied. You’ll need to discuss lens characteristics, the effect of changes in a lens’ base curve and thickness and how to calculate prismatic effects and ophthalmic formulas.


9. Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse

Nurse wearing PPE

The typical time it takes to earn a certificate: one year
The median salary of the job: $46,240

Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses do it all, from performing enemas and installing catheters to delivering medicine and starting IVs. It’s an essential job, which is why if you’re going to complete a certificate program for either a licensed practical nurse or a licensed vocational nurse (both jobs are the same thing; LVNs are simply what the job is called in California and Texas), it needs to be a state-approved certificate program.

Generally, you’ll find these programs at universities, colleges and nursing schools throughout the country. (Practicalnursing.org would be a good jumping-off point in your research.) You’ll want to make sure whatever school you attend is accredited by national agencies such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.


8. Ophthalmic Medical Technician

Best Optometry Schools In America 2018

The typical time it takes to earn the certificate: dependent on student
The median salary of the job: $36,530

An ophthalmic medical technician takes a patient’s history and does some visual testing and other duties before the eye doctor come in. Many people learn how to do this on the job, but if you want to advance your career or get training, you’ll want to take a certificate program.

You might consider the Certified Ophthalmic Assistant certification, which you’d get after taking a three-hour test with 200 multiple-choice questions. (Down the road, you might want to get an advanced certification, such as Certified Ophthalmic Technician or Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist.) You can learn more at the website for the International Joint Commission on Allied Health Personnel in Ophthalmology.


7. Phlebotomist


The typical time it takes to earn the certificate: generally four to eight months.
The median salary of the job: $34,480

Phlebotomists draw blood, learning, among other things, how to take the right amount and how to do it safely. Some states don’t require certification, but most employers will want you to have completed a phlebotomy certificate program and earned professional certification. You can find these certificate programs throughout the country, often at community colleges, vocational schools or technical schools.

For instance, Pima Medical Institute, which has numerous locations in states like Colorado, Arizona and Texas, is just one example of the many offerings you can find. They have a three-month program in which you’ll learn tasks such as labelling the drawn blood for testing or processing and how to enter patient information into a database.


6. Paralegal


The typical time it takes to earn a certificate: varies; four months to two years
The median salary of the job: $50,940

Paralegals, who do everything from draft affidavits to help with trial preparation, make attorneys’ lives easier. Many universities and colleges offer paralegal certificate programs.

You can also take a certification exam and get professional certification through organizations such as the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, the National Association of Legal Assistants and the Association for Legal Professionals.


5. Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Solar Photovoltaic Installer
Solar Photovoltaic Installer

The typical time it takes to earn the certificate: a few months.
The median salary of the job: $42,680

To learn how to install solar panels, you’ll either need to find someone to train you or get a certification. The nonprofit Solar Energy International offers the SEI Solar Professionals Certificate Program, which has numerous certifications.

The certifications are pretty pricey – anywhere between $2,000 to $10,000, depending on the program. Otherwise, you might be interested in Penn Foster Career School’s (located in Scranton, Pennsylvania) solar photovoltaic installation skills certification program, which is only around $300. It’s geared toward people who are already working in skilled trades fields and lasts two months.


4. Landscaper and Groundskeeper

Landscaper and Groundskeeper
Landscaper and Groundskeeper

The typical time it takes to earn the certificate: dependent on student
The median salary of the job: $29,000

You don’t need a certificate to become a landscaper or groundskeeper, but securing one may help you land the jobs you want – and it should certainly make you a more skilled landscaper or groundskeeper.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals offers numerous certifications, such as getting one as a business manager, an exterior technician, a horticultural technician, a lawn care technician and more. The certificates are earned through self-study programs, and you can take the exam for certification online.


3. Medical Records Technician

Medical Records Technician
Medical Records Technician

The typical time it takes to earn the certificate: one year
The median salary of the job: $40,350

Many community colleges offer medical records technician certificates, which means you’d have a career in which you’re organizing medical records, including taking the doctor’s notes and putting them into the patient’s medical record.

A place where you can get the training you need for this career is Johnston Community College in Smithfield, North Carolina, which offers a medical records technician certificate with classes such as “Medical-Legal Issues” and “Medical Terminology I” and “Records Management.” It’s a nine-credit course taken over two semesters.


2. Medical Assistant

Medical Assistant
Medical Assistant

The typical time it takes to earn the certificate: one year
The median salary of the job: $33,610

If you’re interested in being a medical assistant and performing administrative, clinical and management roles in health care organizations, there are a lot of certification programs that you might want to explore.

For instance, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College offer the Cincinnati State Medical Assistant Certificate program. Medical assistant students complete supervised clinical practice, including 160 hours of unpaid practicum experience. After that, you take an exam to become a certified medical assistant.


1. Web Developer

Web Developer
Web Developer

The typical time it takes to earn the certificate: one year
The median salary of the job: $69,430

Across the country are numerous certifications you might look to get, such as certified web developer, certified internet webmaster, advanced web developer and mobile application development.

Finding the right certification program involves a lot of online sleuthing, and what you decide is right for you will depend on your own interests, of course. But to give you an idea of what’s out there, Rappahannock Community College in Glenns, Virginia, offers a Web Design Career Studies Certificate that’s typical of what you might find. It’s a 12-credit program, and courses include “Web Page Graphics,” “Web Page Design I,” and “Web Page Design II.”