Best Online Certificate Programs
Professional certificate programs are a great way for people to start a new career or advance in their current field. Enrolling in one of these classes can also allow folks to build their professional networks and demonstrate their skills. Certificates can also enable people to specialize in a specific area they enjoy, offering a greater degree of satisfaction in their careers.
There are several industries where anyone can benefit from obtaining a certificate, like web development, medical billing, project management, and Human Resources. For those who prefer virtual learning or cannot access an in-person location, there are several professional certificates available online. See below to explore some of these programs in more detail and learn about the average cost and time commitment that different courses require.
American Management Association: Sales Management Certificate Program
Key Information: Tuition for this program is $2,795 per person. The course lasts three full weekdays, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. This certificate is meant for those new to the area of sales management or those who hope to become a sales manager in the near future. The American Management Association offers an advanced certificate for sales managers with more experience. Individuals must be 21 or older to attend.
Sales managers have to balance many responsibilities, including filling their open territories, taking care of each team member’s needs, and managing their supervisor's expectations. This course teaches participants to successfully manage all of these tasks through positive communication skills and effective interviewing to ensure all team members will be a good fit. Participants will also receive training on a six-step process designed to coach your team on their sales skills.
Some of the overall goals for those who complete this class include maximizing your team's productivity through positive recruiting and coaching skills. Students will also learn more about targeting territories and customers and how to plan the structure and logistics of your team’s operations. Some of the post-course resources available to students include on-demand lessons, skill refresher classes, and access to a library of articles to reinforce key tactics and industry tips.
American Management Association: Business Essentials Certificate Program
Key Information: The American Management Association also offers a Business Essentials Certificate Program for $2,995 per student. The class is three full days (9:00 am to 5:00 pm), and students must be 21 or over to attend. The class is designed to be most beneficial for professionals new to management or who would like a management role in the future. Attendees who successfully complete the course can access a library of on-demand lessons and post-course articles to refresh their skills as needed.
This course helps professionals develop strong business skills essential for their careers. Through individual activities, teamwork, and a final project, participants gain practical experience and learn important abilities like customer-focused strategies, financial expertise, and project management. By the end of the course, attendees will be ready to make intelligent business decisions, find solutions, and use their new skills at work.
The program offers many benefits, like understanding how different business aspects work together for success. Attendees also learn about financial analysis and project management to contribute effectively to team projects. They discover how to create strategies focused on customers, building better relationships with customers and stakeholders. With this knowledge, attendees improve their reputation for business skills and advance their careers.
Noble Desktop: Web Design Certificate
Key Information: The cost of enrolling in this program is $4,995 per person. This certificate course lasts around seven weeks. In some weeks, classes are scheduled daily, while in others, they only take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Enrolling in this program requires a full-time commitment since sessions are held from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
A Web Designer's responsibilities involve creating the visual components and overall layout of websites. Their design skills are utilized to create a visually attractive and user-friendly interface. These roles are crucial for businesses as a well-designed website improves the user experience, simplifying navigation for visitors. An appealing website also establishes a strong brand identity, both attracting and retaining more customers.
This certificate program also provides one-on-one career mentoring sessions facilitated by industry experts. These meetings are designed to equip students with the necessary skills and confidence to excel in the job market. Students will receive guidance on refining their resumes, mastering interview techniques, and exploring various networking options to ensure they are prepared to secure an entry-level position once the course is finished.
Noble Desktop: Data Analytics Certificate
Key Information: Enrolling in this program costs $4,995 per person. The course lasts around six weeks on a full-time schedule, with sessions on weekdays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Aside from basic computer skills, no prerequisites are needed, and if you need extra practice, Noble Desktop offers a free retake within a year.
Data analytics involves examining and understanding data to find meaningful patterns and trends. It includes collecting, transforming, and modeling data to help businesses make smarter, data-driven decisions. Data analysts are essential employees as they provide valuable insights into customers, operations, and market trends, helping with strategic planning. They also identify opportunities for growth and areas that need attention, keeping businesses ahead of their competitors by more effectively managing risks.
This course equips students with skills to collect, manipulate, analyze, and present data using various tools and technologies, which is beneficial for decision-making and strategy in businesses. Real-world projects enable students to improve their career prospects. The training covers predictive analytics, where regression models and forecasting techniques predict future outcomes based on past data, and prescriptive analytics, optimizing decisions using tools like Scenario Manager.
Towards the end of the class, participants receive individual career mentoring sessions with an industry expert. These meetings are designed to help students thoroughly prepare to enter the job market. Students receive help refining their resumes, interview tips, and exploring networking opportunities, ensuring they are ready to apply for an entry-level position.
Noble Desktop: Full-Stack Web Development Certificate
Key Information: This is a four-month program that costs $7,995 to attend. Classes last from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm EST, Monday through Friday. Like all of Noble Desktop’s classes, there is a free retake option students can take advantage of within one year.
A Full-Stack Web Developer can handle both the front (client side) and back end (server side) development tasks of a website or web application. They are essential for businesses across all industries because they possess a comprehensive skill set, allowing them to handle all aspects of web development. This makes them versatile and efficient, as they can independently create, deploy, and maintain web applications. People in these roles allow businesses to have faster development cycles and more cost-effective solutions for their web-based projects.
Towards the end of the course, participants will engage in one-on-one career mentorship sessions. Students will receive vital career guidance in resume development, portfolio building, and interview skills in these individual meetings. Students can also use these sessions to discuss their career goals to ensure their resumes align with their areas of interest.
Loyola Marymount University Extension: Substance Use Disorders Counseling Certificate Program
Key Information: Students can attend this program for$5,600. It is designed to help students become certified as Substance Use Disorder counselors in approximately one year. It provides over 300 classroom hours in addition to 255 hours of supervision. In order to participate, students must have a high school diploma or a GED. Those with a history of substance abuse are also expected to have at least six months of sobriety.
The program begins by exploring the foundations of substance use disorders and current best practices for treatment. Students will also learn more about the physiology and psychology of alcohol and drug use, helping them better understand the mental and physical changes a person experiences when they abuse certain substances. The course also discusses counseling tactics when working with families and large groups.
The later modules cover the ethics of treating substance use disorders, as well as some of the legal challenges clients may face due to their diagnoses. Students will also discuss the importance of continuing education when entering this field. Ongoing professional development is vital in an academic field as rapidly changing as substance abuse counseling.
Computer Training Source Inc.: PMP® Exam Prep (Online)
Key Information: This program lasts one week, Monday through Friday. Classes are held from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm CST. It costs $2,995 to attend, and students must be 18 or older to participate. There is an average class size of around ten students, so participants will likely receive more attention within a smaller group.
This course contains 15 modules, each focusing on a different topic that is essential to project management as a whole. Some of the units include tips on studying for the exam, the framework and current best practices for project management, and how to appropriately manage expectations between team members and stakeholders. Students will also hone their skills in balancing risk, cost, and schedules, ensuring their projects are completed in a timely fashion without sacrificing performance or quality.
This class is designed to help students prepare for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification. As a bonus, it also qualifies for the 35 PDUs that are required before becoming certified. At the beginning of the course, each student receives a Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)® manual, a learning guide, and access to practice exam questions. Computer Training Source will cover your retest fees if you do not pass the exam on the first attempt. To qualify for this benefit, students must attend all sessions, complete two practice exams, and take the initial exam within three months of the last session.
Computer Training Source, Inc.: Certified Info Systems Security Professional CISSP
Key Information: Participants can attend this course for a fee of $3,995. It takes five weeks to complete, with classes taking place on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6:00 pm to 110:00 pm CST. The average class size is approximately ten students per course, and you must be 18 or older to attend.
The CISSP certification is highly regarded in the information system security field and is offered by International Information System Security Certification Consortium, Inc (ISC)². This course will equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to master the eight CISSP domains, ensuring their credibility and success in this industry. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to demonstrate comprehensive expertise in these domains.
Some of the content of the class includes security and risk management, which discusses topics like professional ethics, security documentation, risk management, and threat modeling. There is another lesson that focuses on asset classification, privacy protection, asset retention, and secure data handling. Other units address security at various stages in the engineering lifecycle and explore network protocol security, communication channel security, and network attack mitigation.
NetCom Learning: HealthCare Information Security
Key Information: Tuition for this course is $3,695, and it is open to all skill levels. It takes four full weekdays to complete. Participants in this program will enjoy small class sizes, as the average class has only six students. This class is recommended for professionals in roles like Compliance Officer, Medical Records Supervisor, or Information Security Manager. There are a few benefits included in the tuition, including official HCISPP e-books and assessments, a certificate of completion, and an HCISPP exam voucher.
This course focuses on healthcare security and privacy, preparing you for the HCISPP exam, which is crucial for defending health information. As the healthcare industry faces challenges in safeguarding personal health data, having knowledgeable and credentialed practitioners is essential. Throughout the course, you will learn about legal and regulatory requirements, risk management practices, privacy principles, and security frameworks.
You'll also explore the use of third parties, appropriate responses to data breaches, and the relationship between security and privacy in healthcare. Understanding the impact of information movement and key healthcare business processes will be covered, along with privacy and security governance practices. Ethical standards and the information lifecycle's impact on privacy and security are key components, and you'll also learn secure handling practices for sensitive information.
El Camino College: Pharmacy Technician Training Program
Key Information: This seven-month program costs $2,499 to attend. Classes are held on Tuesdays from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 12:20 pm CST. Supplies like textbooks, lab coats or scrubs, and a license application fee are not included in the tuition fee. However, the tuition does include a certificate of completion and a background check and drug screenings, which are required for the externship.
Through a total of 260 hours, participants will learn the fundamental knowledge and skills to become proficient pharmacy technicians. The material covers a range of subjects, such as legal protocols governing pharmacy operations, m sterile and non-sterile formulation techniques, quality control best practices, and safeguarding medication administration. The curriculum also explores the preparation and fusion of prescriptions, keeping thorough patient records, inventory administration, and how to correctly manage billing and compensation.
The program culminates in a hands-on, 120-hour practical training phase in a pharmacy environment, overseen by a certified pharmacist. Following the successful completion of the Pharmacy Technician program, attendees will be qualified to apply for their California Pharmacy Technician License.
FAQ for Online Professional Certificates
The available information about professional certificates and certifications is extensive and can be overwhelming. Keep reading to find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about these programs:
What is the Difference Between a Certificate and a Certification?
A certificate recognizes that someone has completed a training course and has been trained in a particular set of skills. Some certificates stay valid indefinitely, while others last for a predetermined length of time.
A certification is obtained when someone passes an exam that shows they have a certain degree of understanding in a particular subject. Certifications often require ongoing education to keep the certification active. Unlike certificates, a certification can be revoked if someone doesn’t meet the maintenance requirements.
Should I Pursue a Certificate or a Certification?
There are several advantages and some drawbacks to getting a certificate or a certification. These programs can aid in professional advancement, but it’s important to consider these issues before deciding on which type of program you want to enroll in. A certificate program often requires less time to earn compared to certifications, making them a quicker option for skill acquisition. They usually concentrate on specific skills or areas of expertise, allowing individuals to tailor their learning to their needs.
Certificates can be valuable for entry-level positions and may give you an edge over other candidates without any formal training. However, these credentials may not carry as much recognition as certifications, especially outside of specific institutions or organizations that offer them. Also, the training provided in a certificate program may focus on a specific skill set, which could potentially limit your overall understanding of a broader field.
On the other hand, certifications are more widely recognized by employers, industries, and professional organizations, enhancing your credibility and employability. These programs usually cover a broad range of topics, ensuring a well-rounded understanding of the field. Also, certifications generally involve rigorous exams demonstrating your expertise, providing employers a clear benchmark for evaluating candidates.
When pursuing a certification, it’s important to know that the process is typically more time-consuming and expensive due to more extensive requirements and exam preparation.
Many certifications require continuous education or periodic renewal, adding to the time and financial commitments.
Do I Need to Become Certified to Find a Job?
Certifications aren’t universally required for any job. However, there are some industries where having a certification to advance professionally is incredibly beneficial. Below are a few examples of career paths that would likely require some sort of certification:
- Information Technology: Certifications such as CompTIA A+ and Network+ serve as foundational credentials, covering essential hardware, software, and networking concepts. For those interested in cybersecurity, CompTIA Security+ is valuable, addressing security fundamentals and practices. Certifications like the AWS Certified Solutions Architect or Microsoft Azure certifications showcase expertise in cloud computing.
- Finance and Accounting: The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) credential is highly regarded in these industries, encompassing comprehensive knowledge of accounting principles, taxation, and auditing. Certified Management Accountant (CMA) focuses on management accounting and strategic financial management. For those in risk management, the Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation is valuable.
- Human Resources: The Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification covers multiple HR disciplines, including employee relations, labor laws, and recruitment. The Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) certifications align with the latest HR trends and best practices.
- Project Management: Offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI), PMP is a widely recognized certification. It demonstrates your knowledge and experience in project management processes, methodologies, and best practices. Also from PMI, the CAPM (Certified Associate in Project Management) is suitable for entry-level project managers. It validates foundational knowledge of project management principles and terminology.
What Certificate Program is Right for Me?
If you’re considering attending a certification or certificate program, there are multiple factors you’ll want to consider before officially enrolling. These programs are often costly and can take weeks or months to complete. Since time and money are often precious resources, it’s essential to spend some time reflecting on your goals before deciding to invest in a course like this.
Because a professional certification can be expensive, you must feel secure in your decision. One of the ways you can do this is to discuss your plans with your employer to see if they will provide any support as you engage in professional development. Some workplaces will provide additional time off or some form of tuition reimbursement. It’s equally important to review the perks offered by the program you plan to attend. You may want to prioritize those that offer career support and ongoing educational opportunities.
It’s also important to consider your professional goals and interests before deciding which program to attend. If your primary goal is to earn more money in your chosen field, there may be less expensive and time-consuming ways to advance professionally. However, in situations where a certification is required for a promotion, the initial investment will likely pay off down the line. Some certifications require ongoing education and maintenance, so be sure you’re willing to do this and that you’re factoring this additional expense into your decision-making.
Which is Better: In-Person or Online Classes
The type of course you take can significantly impact your overall learning experience, so it’s important to consider which modality (in-person or online) will work best for your schedule, goals, and learning style. It's essential to weigh these pros and cons carefully and consider how well each format aligns with your circumstances.
Online certifications allow individuals from anywhere in the world to participate in the certification program of their choice, without the need for relocation or travel expenses. The online format also offers a wider range of courses. Learners can access programs from various institutions and industries, finding the one that best suits their needs and interests.
Some of the drawbacks to online learning include limited face-to-face interaction with instructors and peers. This absence of communication may hinder some people’s ability to engage fully or seek immediate clarification on complex topics. Online programs may offer networking opportunities through virtual forums and discussions, but they may not match the depth of in-person connections and networking events. Finally, some professions require hands-on training, which may not be adequately fulfilled in an online setting.
Which is Better: Live Online or Asynchronous Classes?
The choice between live online and on-demand professional certification courses depends on an individual's learning style, schedule, and preference for real-time interaction. Some learners might thrive in a live environment with immediate feedback and social interaction, while others may prefer the flexibility and convenience of on-demand courses. It's crucial to consider personal preferences, goals, and potential limitations before enrolling in either type of program.
Live online courses offer immediate interaction with instructors and fellow participants through virtual classrooms or webinars, encouraging active engagement and the opportunity to ask questions in real time. Instructors can provide immediate feedback on assignments, projects, or questions, allowing learners to clarify doubts promptly and adjust their learning approach accordingly. Live classes also follow a set schedule, providing a structured learning environment to help learners stay on track and maintain a consistent study routine. However, live classes may not align with everyone's schedules, making it challenging for individuals with other commitments to attend at specific times. The rigid class schedule may not accommodate learners who prefer to study at their own pace or have irregular work hours.
There are several benefits to on-demand learning that you may not have considered. On-demand courses allow learners to access content anytime and anywhere, enabling them to study at their own pace and according to their schedule. They can spend more time on challenging topics or speed through familiar ones, tailoring the learning experience to their individual preferences. On-demand students can pause, rewind, and replay content as needed, ensuring a thorough understanding of concepts without the pressure of keeping up with live classes.
On the other hand, on-demand courses lack real-time interaction with instructors and peers, potentially reducing opportunities for immediate feedback and networking. The lack of a fixed schedule and live interactions may lead to procrastination and reduced motivation for some learners. Additionally, some on-demand courses offer support through forums or emails, but the level of instructor support may not match that of live classes. Without a structured schedule, some learners may take longer to complete on-demand courses, potentially delaying the certification process.