Certificate programs are on the rise at colleges
Stephanie Graham, Vince Vitrano
Kimberly Conner is excited to be back in class for her certificate in project management. She knows she'll finish fast.
"I'm expected to get laid off from my current position, and I wanted to expand and broaden my skill set," Kimberly says.
Amit Seth wants his certificate to compliment the masters degree he already earned. "This is a very fast track program and it, it gives a lot of information, in depth you know, what tools, techniques."
Mark Schneider is Vice President of the American Institute for Research. He says soaring costs for education at 4-year colleges and an uncertain job market make certificates very attractive. "They are designed to be relatively fast to get, faster even than a two-year associates degree. They are much more focused on the, on skills and they can be much cheaper than even associates degrees from community colleges."
Enrollment is sky high. Last year, the number of students earning one to two year certificates increased by 56%, compared to a 15% increase in the number of bachelor's degrees, and a 25-percent increase in associate degrees. Research shows those holding a certificate may earn more than graduates of other types of programs, depending on the field.
"The highest paid certificates in all the states we've been looking at are in high tech manufacturing, healthcare and, and construction," Schneider explains.
However, there's concern about the lack of industry-based standards. Jennifer McNelly is President of the Manufacturing Institute. She says, "Certificates across the education institutions in this country have no consistency. There is no standard and even within states there isn't necessarily the same content being delivered."
Education and manufacturing groups are working toward more uniformity. In the meantime, Amit is banking on the benefits. "It will give me all the knowledge which I need and I would definitely recommend this to whomever I know."
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to certificates-- some programs are created quickly in response to trends or changes in the economy.