Friday, July 20, 2012

Guest Article: The 15 best certificates for today's job market

The 15 Best Certificates for Today’s Job Market

GOOD Education recently asked the question, “Is the certificate the new college degree?” We’re inclined to say that it’s a likely possibility. With the rising cost of college tuition, the lengthy process of study, and the lack of available jobs for graduates, more and more students are becoming turned on to the idea of a short, sweet, and cheap certificate instead of a college degree. At the same time, others seek out certificates to bolster their existing degrees, launching them into new employment opportunities.
However students are using certificates, there’s one thing for sure: they’re on the rise, and they offer opportunities for lots of great jobs. We’ve picked out 15 of the most helpful certificates to have in today’s job market, from health care to IT, and even construction. Read on to learn about some of the very best certificates you can earn for finding a job today.
  1. Project Management:

    With a project management certificate, workers can expect to be in charge of large-scale projects in construction, engineering, and IT. In these industries, salaries for a project manager can reach as high as $152,922, and often well into the six-figure range. IT managers and directors tend to do the best with this certificate, but project engineers do well, too, with a wealth of positions available through major contractors including The Boeing Company, and even the U.S. Air Force. HP and Microsoft are the most popular employers for IT project managers. Often, project management certificates are received online, with the University of Phoenix and DeVry University Keller Graduate School of Management among the most popular schools for this certificate.
  2. General Contractor Certification:

    With a flagging housing market, one might think that construction and contracting has slowed down, but in actuality a general contractor certificate is still quite valuable these days, and it’s practically a must for becoming a construction manager. With coursework that typically focuses on estimating, drawing, building materials, and construction methods, general contractors are groomed to be ready for the construction zone. Construction contractors enjoy a 17% job growth rate and have a wide salary range: from $30,606 all the way up to $124,686. Construction managers and project engineers with a general contractor certification also do very well. Workers with this type of certificate often operate as self-employed contractors, or work for companies like Lennar Corp., Balfour Beatty, and even Habitat for Humanity.
  3. ARRT Registered Technologist in Radiography:

    Radiologic science is a growing field, as new technologies are developed to make radiographic diagnostics even more powerful. Jobs for this certification are plentiful, with the reporting that job growth for radiologic technologists is growing faster than average. Salaries aren’t too shabby, either: a radiologic technologist typically earns an annual wage of $54,340. Stick with it, and you can do even better. Radiology managers make $65,928 and diagnostic imaging directors nearly reach six figures with a $96,690 salary. People with this certificate tend to work in hospitals, but there are positions available in doctors’ offices and imaging clinics as well.
  4. Licensed Practical and Vocational Nursing Certificate:

    Registered nurses make up a huge part of the nursing population, but licensed practical and vocational nurses are growing in a big way. reports that jobs for licensed nurses are growing faster than average, and most can expect to earn about $40,000 per year with a full-time position. Providing basic nursing care, LPNs and LVNs work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. Typically, certificate programs for this type of nursing take just one year.
  5. Automotive Service:

    Professionals with a certificate in automotive service and repair keep cars, motorcycles, and other vehicles in good working order. Although service technicians can begin work without certification, most employers prefer to hire professionals with a certification, as well as long-term on-the-job training. In this stable career, mechanics enjoy a median pay of $35,790 per year, and good job opportunities for qualified job seekers, especially those that are certified.
  6. Massage Therapy:

    Using soft-tissue massage, massage therapists increase the wellness of their clients, and even rehabilitate injuries. To become a massage therapist, most states require licensing or certification from an accredited training program with 500 hours or more of study and experience. With this certificate, massage therapists can earn about $34,900 per year, and this job has a faster-than-average growth outlook.
  7. Fitness Training:

    Fitness training is a hot market, with lots of people trying to lose weight and seeking professional help to do so. That means certified fitness trainers and instructors enjoy a great job outlook in an industry that is growing faster than average. Working in health clubs, studios, country clubs, even private homes and hospitals, there’s no shortage of locations where fitness trainers can find work, and those that are certified will find the very best opportunities available.
  8. Court Reporting:

    Employed by both the justice system and closed captioning industry, court reporters are in high demand these days, with a solid salary of about $47,700 each year. And it’s easy to find programs for studying court reporting: just about every community college has one, or you can find a technical institute that offers the certificate. Plus, if you study techniques for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, you’ll have even more opportunities available to you.
  9. Microsoft Certified IT Professional:

    Although Apple makes popular products, Microsoft professionals are in incredibly high demand and sometimes hard to come by. Microsoft Certified IT Professionals (MCITP) can configure enterprise environments, network and application infrastructures, and more. This means MCITPs can find work anywhere from small business to enterprise. Information systems managers often earn $100,000 per year or more.
  10. Cisco Certified Network Associate:

    Another heavy-hitting certification in the IT world, a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification is essential for professionals working within the Cisco network. Add a CCNA Security certification, and you’ll even be prepared to take on network security as well. Network and computer systems administrators will usually earn about $69,160 each year.
  11. HVACR Certification:

    Is it getting hot these days, or is it just us? Thankfully, we have certified heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers to save the day, whether it’s sweltering hot or freezing cold. Professionals with this certification are clearly in demand, with a 34% growth rate that’s much faster than average. Over the next 10 years, there should be more than 90,000 new jobs for HVACR-certified professionals, with typical pay around $42,000 per year. The work environment is typically very hot or very cold, but most HVACR professionals find that this is a small price to pay for great job security and a stable salary.
  12. Medical Transcription:

    Turning voice recordings into written reports, medical transcriptionists make up an important part of the medical field. Often, transcriptionists work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, or transcription service offices, but many others are able to work at home, making this a flexible career to pursue. Certificates in medical transcription can be completed through community colleges, vocational schools, and distance learning programs. Once complete, medical transcriptionists will understand medical terminology, grammar, and the skills needed to perform this job. Medical transcriptionists typically earn about $32,900 per year, and although the job outlook is slow overall, certified transcriptionists will enjoy the best employment opportunities.
  13. Embalming:

    Death doesn’t stop for a poor economy, so those that work in the death business, including funeral directors and embalmers, will continue to find plenty of opportunities for work. With this certificate, professionals will learn how to work for funeral parlors, preparing the dead to be buried. Most embalmers will earn about $38,000 per year.
  14. Commercial Driver’s License:

    Truck drivers spend a lot of time on the open road, bringing goods from one place to another. To do so, drivers must qualify for a Commercial Driver’s License, showing their ability to drive specialized vehicles. Drivers can also ad a HAZMAT endorsement for even more opportunities. With education and experience, truck drivers usually earn about $37,770 per year.
  15. Advanced EMT:

    Usually first on the scene at an accident or trauma, EMTs are the front line when it comes to medical care. With about 1,000 hours of specialized training, EMTs can reach the advanced level, typically finding work on ambulances or in hospitals. The work is stressful and emotionally draining but rewarding. Median pay for EMTs and paramedics is $30,360 per year, but those with an advanced certificate will earn more and have more opportunities to find a good position in this industry that is growing much faster than average.

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