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Not Enough Money to Get a Degree...Consider a Certification

Did you know that the national average of student loan debt for undergraduates is $38,000 and $75,000 for post-graduates? Shocking right?! Well that is one of the main reasons why many are ditching the idea of continuing their education at traditional colleges and opting for online/classroom certification programs. Since 2010, certification program enrollments have skyrocketed and is expected to rise due to the slow rebuilding of the economy and rising costs of college tuition. Certifications not only enhance the diploma or degree that you already have, they also provide specialized opportunities and immediate marketable job skills within your field that will give you a competitive edge amongst your peers. I mean come on, who doesn’t love to show off a few acronyms behind their name? Having your credentials respectfully listed screams expertise…I know this stuff…hire me!

While you may stand tall and proudly wear your credentials at the tail end of your name, keep in mind that not all credentials are treated the same. As with choosing the best major and college for your future, the same rule applies when selecting a specialized certification program from an accredited institution. Accreditation is very important because it ensures that your certificate is widely accepted and up to date with national standards.


  • Because money is an important factor, be sure to check the job title’s salary to see if it’s even worth choosing a certification within that field. Payscale has nifty free “What am I Worth” salary report that allows you to research any job within the city of your choice. Never choose a certification program based off of the maximum pay for any position. Receiving the maximum pay depends on many factors (experience, education, location, company, etc.).

  • Pay special attention to the 5-10 year growth within that field. If you notice that there is a decline or very slow growth, then that’s a tell-tell sign that you will probably not thrive in that field.

  • Contact the school/institution of choice and inquire about their career placement and graduate success rate.

  • Peruse certificate graduates on LinkedIn to ask about their experiences since graduating from the institute of your choice.


Finance, Healthcare, IT and Marketing are among the best industries in terms of steady growth and pay.

  1. Project Management Professional (PMP) - Project Management Professional (PMP®) certification is one of the most valued and respected credentials in project management. Earning and maintaining this PMI project management certification demonstrates a solid foundation of experience and competency in effectively managing projects and project teams.

  2. Web Design & Development - Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of the site, the site’s technical aspects, such as its performance and capacity, which are measures of a website’s speed and how much traffic the site can handle. In addition, web developers may create content for the site.

  3. Social Media Marketing - Social media marketing manages a company's online presence on various social media sites (YouTube, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn). Those interested in social media marketing must perform a wide variety of tasks, such as analyzing trends in social media, building brand awareness, and creating engaging content for users on the social media platforms. Additionally, one must create an environment in which the company can successfully interact with current and prospective customers, responding to questions and helping resolve issues or complaints.

  4. Six Sigma Green Belt - The IASSC Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (ICGB) is a professional who is well versed in the Lean Six Sigma Methodology who both leads or supports improvement projects, typically as a part-time role. A Lean Six Sigma Green Belt possesses a thorough understanding of all aspects within the phases of D-M-A-I-C.

  5. Personal Financial Planner - Personal financial advisors provide advice on investments, insurance, mortgages, college savings, estate planning, taxes, and retirement to help individuals manage their finances.

  6. Cardiac Sonographer - Cardiac sonographers, or echocardiographers, use non-invasive cardiovascular technology equipment to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with heart and blood vessel conditions. The ideal candidate for this career has excellent communication skills in order to convey scientific information to doctors, as well as a good bedside manner for dealing with patients.

  7. Radiation Therapist - Respiratory therapists care for patients who have trouble breathing—for example, from a chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma or emphysema. Their patients range from premature infants with undeveloped lungs to elderly patients who have diseased lungs. They also provide emergency care to patients suffering from heart attacks, drowning, or shock.

  8. Health & Wellness Educator - Many companies are now hiring in-house specialists to offer health-and-wellness advice and services to work with employees individually to assess personal health issues and create strategies tailored to each person’s needs.


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