The face of work has drastically changed in recent years. Today, more and more people are getting degrees, and technology has revolutionized the way we find jobs.
Because of these factors, jobseekers must work harder to stand out from the competition. People are now considering different options hoping to differentiate themselves from thousands of other equally qualified workers. Many people further their education by getting a master’s degree or another advanced degree, but this can be an expensive, time-intensive investment.
Fortunately, graduate certificates provide a faster, more cost-effective alternative to the traditional advanced educational path. Graduate certificates have grown in popularity in recent years because they offer many of the benefits of a master’s degree without the sizable time commitment or financial strain.
Pro Tip: You Get A Competitive Edge
With over 30 percent of American adults holding a bachelor’s degree or higher, a university degree is no longer enough to differentiate yourself from thousands of other applicants. In cases where all other things are equal, a certificate can be the deciding factor that determines which applicant is hired for a position.
Certificates provide an opportunity to show an employer that you are willing to go above and beyond. Earning a certificate is also a way to gain relevant skills and up-to-date industry knowledge that can help you keep up with the changes in your chosen field.
Pro Tip: It’s A Smaller Financial Commitment
The average cost of a master’s degree program currently sits at over $24,000 per year. Degree seekers typically take 2 to 5 years to complete a master’s program, which comes to an overall cost that can easily exceed $100,000.
At this rate, furthering education can seem like a huge obstacle for both working adults and recent grads who may already be struggling to pay off loans from their undergraduate education. Though certificate programs vary in price, many certificates cost less than $10,000 to obtain. This is a substantial difference.
Pro Tip: You Earn A Faster Return on Investment
The average graduate programs require students to take around 36 hours, but some require as many as 60 hours. Such a large time commitment can be a challenge for adults with busy family lives and demanding careers.
Certificate programs offer a more convenient alternative. Many certificates are offered entirely online and can be completed in as little as a year. Another advantage of earning a graduate certificate, besides the shorter course duration, is the tangible return on investment. According to the Washington Post, people who hold a graduate certificate see an annual increase in pay of up to 25 percent.
Pro Tip: More Career Opportunities and Future Growth
Though salary increase can be a major reason many people decide to earn a certificate, there are a variety of benefits that can be even more valuable in the long run.
Earning a certificate provides the opportunity to expand your professional network. The instructors, classmates and industry professionals you will meet through your certificate program can be valuable connections in the future.
Obtaining a certificate also creates a chance to explore a passion. If you want to expand your knowledge in a field unrelated to your career, a certificate can create the option for a change.
Though often considered to be an alternative to a master’s degree, a certificate can actually create a pathway to a graduate degree in the future. It is a great way to test the waters to see if a graduate degree is something you can realistically take on. Many graduate programs accept the credits from a certificate program and allow the credits to be used towards the completion of a graduate degree, so in those instances certificate holders will enter their graduate program at an advantage.