Earning a certificate can help you start a new career or enrich your current career. Certificate programs are available through online schools, technical schools and community colleges. The time needed to earn a certificate varies by program and by field of study. Some programs may be offered online or as hybrid options, blending hands-on training with instruction in academic subjects.
The many different types of healthcare certificates include these options:
- Dental assistants: The most common training programs take about one year and offer a certificate or a diploma. Studies include supervised practical experience in addition to studies of oral anatomy.
- Medical assistants: Programs typically take about one year and could lead to a certificate or diploma, although some students may opt for longer program leading to an associate degree. Training may include study of anatomy and medical terminology as well as laboratory practice.
- Medical transcriptionists: Certificate programs usually last about one year, although longer associate degree programs are also offered. Studies could include medical terminology, anatomy and healthcare documentation.
- Pharmacy technicians: Pharmacy technology certificate programs generally last one year or less. Coursework could include recordkeeping, pharmacy law, and names and uses of medications.
Some healthcare fields require official certification in addition to a certificate training program. Certification requirements differ, but they often include completion of an approved training program as well as professional examinations. Licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses (LPNs/LVNs) need to complete an accredited educational program and also meet licensing requirements such as a national examination, according to BLS.gov.
Healthcare Certificates: Career Outlook
Those who earn a certificate may enjoy career advantages that can come from higher educational attainment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that, on average, those who have a higher level of education see greater levels of pay and lower unemployment rates. Here is a comparison of median weekly earnings and unemployment rates for 2012:
- Never finished high school: $471 per week, 12.4 percent unemployment
- High school graduate: $652 per week, 8.3 percent unemployment
- Some college, no degree: $727 per week, 7.7 percent unemployment
Employment in healthcare-related occupations is projected to expand by about 27.8 percent between 2010 and 2012 nationally, BLS.gov reports. A variety of healthcare careers may offer entry-level opportunities for those who have earned a certificate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One career possibility for those with a post-secondary non-degree award is massage therapy, although some states may require a professional license as well as a certificate.
- Dental Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
- Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013
- Healthcare, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
- Industry-occupation matrix data, Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
- Massage Therapists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
- Medical Assistants, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
- Medical Transcriptionists, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012
- Pharmacy Technicians, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012