If your current job is just "a job" and opportunities for advancement are unlikely, then it may be time to consider alternatives that can turn your nine-to-five into a career.  One of the best options may be a certificate program.

Instead of dedicating 4 years to obtain a degree requiring large student loans, most certificate programs can be completed in 24 months or less. 

They include a wide range of programs from computer technicians to billing specialists. Many colleges require a GED or High School Diploma to be entered into the program.  Check with the college or trade school for any pre-requisites for the program of interest.

We put together a list of common certificate programs for you to consider.  Look for a program at a local college or university that matches your interests and desired pay. 

Once you select a program in a specific career field, check out local job sites to determine the demand for that career (based on number of jobs available compared to job listings for different careers) and average entry-level pay (based on qualifications inclusive of the certification you would receive) upon completing the program.   

Also, consider the median income compared to other positions with an equal amount of schooling.    It's best to seek a certificate that offers you academic credits from a reputable accredited college or technical school to apply towards a future degree.  

Certificate programs in 24 months or less 

Paralegal Assistant (Median Salary $51,300/yr)

6 weeks to 12 months/certificate or 2 years/associates degree

Phlebotomy Technician (Median Salary $32,200)

12 weeks to 18 months/certificate

Pharmacy Technician (Median Salary $31,200/yr)

12-24 months/certificate

Medical Assistant (Median Salary $32,400)

12-24 months/certificate

Dental Assistant (Median Salary $37,400/yr)

12-24 months/certificate

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (Median Salary $55,196)

18-24 months/certificate or 2 years/associates degree or 4 years/bachelors degree

Surgical Technologist (Median Salary $48,300)

9-12 months/certificate or 2 years/associates degree

Physical Therapist Assistant (Median Salary $55,000)

24 months/associates degree

Occupational Therapist Assistant (Median Salary $54,100)

24 months/associates degree

Ultrasound Technician (Median Salary $67,332)

24 months/associates degree

Nutritionist (Median Salary $50,000)

24 months for certificate or associates degree 4 years/bachelors

Medical Billing and Coding Specialist (Median Salary $36,698)

24 months/certificate or associates degree

Massage Therapist (Median Salary $50,119)

24 months/certificate

Wind Turbine Technicians (Median Salary $45,000)

24 months/certificate

HVAC Technician (Median Salary $43,660)

6-24 months/certificate

Truck Driver (Median Salary $43,586)

3-4 weeks/CDL

Auto Mechanic (Median Salary $37,261)

12-24 months/certificate



Information related to median salaries is not guaranteed, is subject to change without notice and was collected from the following sites: Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Salary.  Information is collected on a national scale and varies based on city, state, experience, certification, education and job requirements.  Many of the above noted careers require licensure and state certification following education requirements.  Check with your college to determine requirements before, during and following certification or program.

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