How do I Choose the Best University Certificate Program?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

People can choose the best certificate program by determining assessing present level of skill, determining career goals, and evaluating available programs. This takes some work because there are many different types of certificate programs and they can range in educational commitment that lasts a day or two to a year or more. It’s also important to determine if a university certificate program somehow outweighs the advantages of a traditional degree; some do and some don’t. The sheer range of choice may be narrowed by understanding what employers want in a specific field.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

One university certificate program that many people will choose is a teaching certificate. Often this is required for K-12 teachers, and they cannot get a teaching credential without first participating in a program. Not all other university certificate program types are this essential to career but some can prove a head start on a career or they help flesh out a barebones resume.

Some certificate programs require a specific amount of education. There are those that anyone can get provided they’ve passed high school, those only open to people with at least two years of college, programs available to those with a bachelor’s degree, and some that people can acquire if they have a master’s degree. Sometimes special nursing certificates are earned by completing master’s studies, or a number of business certificates are only available to a person with an MBA. In choosing, people should determine their level of skill or education to make certain they’re eligible to participate.

The next step is determining how a university certificate program fits in with career goals. Some programs help people acquire basic knowledge in a subject, which they can use to find work or parlay into additional academic studies leading to a degree. Alternately, students may participate in a program while concurrently getting a degree and the certificate makes them more likely to be hired. In all cases, deciding how a certificate enhances likelihood of finding work or moves the person forward to achieving certain goals is worth considering. Another thing a certificate can do is help people determine if they have a career interest in a specific field.

Clearly, a university certificate program may be a good fit when it is aligned with current education and with a person’s employment plans. Still, there are many certificate programs that are so short, they might be worth exploring if people are interested in a career change. Restrictions on this may have to do with cost of programs, time involved, and available free time, but some people find this exploration fruitfully leads to a new career.

Not all programs are equally worthwhile. Employers might best know those that come from high-profile universities. People can research to determine if a certificate is truly the education needed to enter or remain in a field, by asking questions in the field about the certificate and by thoroughly querying universities or graduates of them about benefits certificates confer. This can help make final determinations on the best programs, or help people decide if another form of education like a degree better serves career goals.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Readers Also Love

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Forgot password?