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Winter 2012–13
Vol. 56, Number 4
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Certificates: A fast track to careers


No time or money to earn a college degree? No problem. An educational certificate may be a good option, but do your homework first. That way, you'll know if a certificate is the best choice for you.

Certificates are nondegree awards for completing an educational program of study after high school. Typically, students finish these programs to prepare for a specific occupation. And they do so in a relatively short period of time: Most certificates take less than a year to complete, and almost all are designed to take less than 2 years.

Among the questions about certificates that you'll need to have answered are the following:

  • What occupations can certificates prepare me for?
  • What are some benefits and drawbacks to getting a certificate?
  • How can I find a program that's right for me?

This article answers these and other questions about certificates and certificate programs.


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U.S. Department of Labor
Bureau of Labor Statistics

Last Updated: December 27, 2012