If you could use only one word to define why certificates are important to a professional’s career, it might be this: specialization.
Specialization makes graduates an expert in niche areas within a business. Employers want professionals with this high-level of knowledge and skill, especially when it comes to critical operational functions.
That level of expertise is exactly what certificate programs offer students. Examples include a certificate in computer science, cybersecurity, or systems models and management - all related to the growing technology field.
But certificate courses go far beyond this. The University of Massachusetts, for example, offers 62 online certificates, including those at the graduate and post-graduate level.
Why Earn a Certificate?
Specialization obviously is the key. It’s good for employers, but it’s also good for those with a goal of becoming experts in a very focused area. The three technology-related certificate programs offer a good example, but most major fields have related certificate programs.
Some examples include:
- In healthcare, certificates are available in Behavioral Intervention in Autism, Gerontology (including management of aging services), Global Health, and Health Informatics
- In criminal justice, certificates are available in Domestic Violence Prevention, Forensic Criminology, Criminal Justice Studies, and Victim Studies
- Education certificates include Educational Policy, Early Grade Reading in Developing Countries, and Higher Education Leadership
- Communications certificates include Journalism, Contemporary Communication, Meeting and Event Management, and Multimedia Applications.
That provides an idea of both the number and the depth certificates go within certain fields.
In many cases, those with a bachelor’s degree will take a graduate-level course to further their career aspirations. For example, someone with a bachelor’s degree in healthcare administration will earn a certificate in Management of Aging Services. Or an education professional might want a certificate in Instructional Technology Design to master the use of technology in schools and the corporate world.
Will Employers Recognize Online Certificates?
Most of the time, the answer is yes. And that should increase as the sheer number of certificates become available from quality universities.
A majority of employers now accept and consider certificates earned at reputable universities, especially if the certificate applies directly to the job being sought, according to U.S. News & World Report.
As with earning a degree, earning a certificate also shows that the potential employees cared enough to do the work and see the program through. Wider acceptance of online learning also has driven businesses to place more importance on those who earned certificates.
Clearly, committing to earning a certificate from a university can provide a large return on investment for students. The key is to take the time to find a course that focuses on an area where you have a passion for the job and a desire to achieve mastery of the required skills and knowledge.