With the right education, a new career could be closer than you think…
Hate your job and looking for something new? Want to transition to another field, but don't want to spend years and years preparing?
Look into continuing your education through a certificate program.
Much shorter than bachelor's degree programs, certificates often provide a focused education that can be completed in a relatively short period of time.
"Certificates can enhance your chances of finding a job since it gives you specialized education in a particular area," says Lisa Andrews, director of career services at the University of Maryland University College. "Combined with your other experience, it raises your level of qualifications."
If you want to build your skills and boost your career, these five options can help.
If you want to get into the medical field, consider earning a medical assisting certificate. Many programs can be completed in about one year.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a certificate can help distinguish an experienced or formally trained assistant from an entry-level one, which could potentially lead to higher income or greater employment opportunities.
Potential career path: Medical assistant
- Typical medical assistant responsibilities: Medical assistants often help with the day-to-day administrative and clinical tasks in a doctor's office. This includes scheduling appointments, taking patients' medical histories, and helping with daily tasks to keep the office running smoothly.
- Average earning potential: Medical assistants have an average annual income of $29,760. Top earners average at $40,190.
Want to boost your chances of scoring a gig in the information technology industry? A certificate in computer and technology support could help. Many programs take a few months to a year to complete. Even if you don't have a degree in computer science, the Department of Labor says that a certificate could give you an advantage in obtaining an entry-level position. If you're already in the field, a certificate program could help you stay up-to-date with the latest in changing technology.
Potential career path: Computer support specialist
- Typical computer support specialist responsibilities: Support specialists often work as technical or help-desk support, and may find themselves assisting computer users, writing training manuals, or performing computer diagnostic work.
- Average earning potential: As of May 2008, the average income for computer support specialists is $43,450, with the top 10 percent averaging at $70,750.
For those who already hold a bachelor's degree, completing a certificate in paralegal studies program could prepare you for a career as a paralegal in nine months to one year. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a paralegal certificate is a common credential for those looking to enter the field, especially for those who already have a bachelor's degree.
Potential career path: Paralegal
- Typical responsibilities: Paralegals help lawyers by drafting legal documents, investigating cases and judicial decisions, and providing assistance during trials. Some have the additional responsibility of coordinating the activities of the law office and maintaining financial records.
- Average earning potential: Paralegals have an average annual income of $49,640. The top ten percent of earners average at $74,870 per year.
Most certificate programs in this field take two to three semesters to complete and can help administrative support staff learn how to use new technologies. Businesses need to be technologically savvy, and administrative personnel need to keep pace with current administrative skills.
According to the Department of Labor, those with certificates may be promoted to senior or executive administrative assistant positions.
Potential career path: Administrative assistant
- Typical responsibilities: Administrative assistants help manage offices, schedule meetings, and perform other important duties like customer support or organizing important documents.
- Average earning potential: Median annual wages of executive secretaries and administrative assistants were $45,860 in May 2010. The highest 10 percent averaged at $67,000.
Ever wonder what it would be like to work as a professional cosmetologist or beauty expert? Wonder no more. Most certificates in cosmetology can be earned in six months to one year. Certificate programs often teach you new cosmetology skills in basic beauty, which includes hair care, manicures, and facials.
Potential career path: Cosmetologist
- Typical responsibilities: People who find work in beauty and cosmetology can apply their skills to a variety of careers such as hairdresser or manicurist. They can also look to find work in barber shops, spas, and salons.
- Average earning potential: According to PayScale, the average income for cosmetologists is $17,224-$30,967.
Unless otherwise noted, all average earning potential information is from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Employment and Wages for May 2010.