Earning a bachelor’s degree used to be seen as the best way to guarantee getting a good job, but many students are now turning to certificates as an accessible, more-affordable route to professional opportunities.
Certificates are diplomas geared toward particular occupations. It takes less time to earn one than it does traditional post-secondary degrees — many certificates take several months to earn, compared to two years for an associate degree or four years for a bachelor’s. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, obtaining a certificate can help people increase their earnings later in life. Its report, “Certificates in Oregon: A Model for Workers to Jump-Start or Reboot Careers,” analyzes the effects of an academic certificate on the lives of their recipients in Oregon. The report found that the benefits of a certificate vary for workers depending on career, age and gender, but completing a college certificate typically boosts workers’ overall earnings by almost $5,000, or 19 percent, compared to their previous wages.