Benefits of an accredited certificate and how to get one.
What is a certificate program?
A certificate program is a specialized set of courses to teach you specific career skills. You can get a certificate from four-year universities, community colleges, and trade schools. However, they typically take less time than an academic degree to earn.
Examples of subjects that offer certificates:
- Computer science
- Business administration
What’s the difference between a certificate and a certification?
While they may sound similar, a certificate is not the same as a certification. A certificate is specific to the institution you earn it from and acts like an academic degree. It represents coursework you completed and skills you earned. A certificate is typically used to help get a job or learn new skills.
Certifications or licenses are issued by an authorized institution and are standardized credentials in the industry. Typically, you’ll get a license or certification if it’s required by your industry or state. Even if your industry doesn’t require it, a certification may help advance your career.
Why should you get a certificate?
There are many benefits of certificate programs. Consider the following advantages:
- Length: You can usually complete a certificate program in much less time than an academic degree. Many certificate programs take less than one year to complete.
- Cost: Since certificate programs take less class time, they're usually less expensive than an academic degree.
- Job opportunities: If you’re just starting or changing your career, certificate programs are a great way to prepare. A certificate on your resume is a strong signal to your employer that you have the skills needed for the job.
- Skill building: If you’re experienced in your career, certificate programs still offer tremendous value. They can help you sharpen your skills and even learn new ones.
Tips for decision making
“Do what’s best at the time. Everything I’m doing today has to help me to be better tomorrow.”
Jae Dillard, Realtor
How to pursue a certificate program
Before you jump into a certificate program, take some time to do your research. With so many programs available, you want to find the program that’s the right fit for your career goals.
Ask your employer
If you think a certificate can help advance your current career, start by talking to your employer. They can tell you if a certificate will lead to better pay or promotions. Better yet, there’s a chance you can get your employer to pay for your certificate program if you ask.
Check with your network
If you have friends, family, or colleagues in your industry, get their opinion on which certificates would be helpful. If your network can’t help, try scheduling informational interviews with someone who works in your career field. Your interviewee can confirm if your certificate would be helpful or recommend a different one. Ask if they have an example of someone who benefited from obtaining a certificate.
Find an accredited school with our Program Explorer
Already know what certificate you want to pursue? Then it’s time to find a school that’s the right fit for you. While many schools and organizations offer certificates, they don’t all carry the same value. Be sure the school you pick is accredited by the Department of Education or Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).
Why is accreditation important?
Accreditation sets a minimum level of standards that all schools need to follow. It helps students know that they’ll receive a certain level of education so that they won’t waste money and time. Also, it helps people know that a school is reputable.
Additionally, check to see if a school is for-profit or nonprofit. Many for-profit schools have earned a negative reputation for providing low-quality education and leaving students saddled with debt.
Use our Program Explorer to simplify your search
Our Program Explorer can save you time on your search. With this tool, you can explore accredited schools in Texas that match your goals. Filter by schools in your area, online programs, cost, expected pay, and more. You can compare schools and add them to your favorites with a My Texas Future account.