It’s no secret that college degrees are expensive. In fact, the average graduate from a four-year program owes around $30,000 in student loans. Plus, it takes years to get one.
Not everyone has the luxury to be able to attend university. And degrees aren’t necessary for all jobs out there.
Many people are turning to short-term certification programs or training courses that can be completed in weeks or months. If you’re looking for a new job that pays well and provides fast results, this might just be the right option for you!
If you want to change your career, but can’t afford the time and cost of a degree, you’re in the right place. In this article, we are going to see some of the certifications you can get within weeks or months for jobs that pay well.
Degrees vs Certifications
It’s normal to wonder: “but if I can get a high-paying job with a certification, why bother with a degree?”. It’s a good question. After all, you’re saving plenty of time and money by getting a cert.
But there are huge differences between the 2.
A degree is a starting point for your career. It’s an entry ticket to the job market, and opens doors that would otherwise be closed to you without it.
Yes, degrees do open more doors than certifications because they’re generalized rather than specific skills. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it’s the reason why degrees are so valuable.
Degrees give you a broad understanding of everything related to your field. This gives you more flexibility in the jobs you can apply for and take on as well as better prospects when switching from one job to another because they provide transferable skills.
Certifications, meanwhile, teach very specific skills that are not necessarily applicable to other jobs. You can’t move around much with certifications compared to degrees.
But don’t get it wrong – there’s nothing stopping you from taking courses in your spare time and getting a degree down the line if you’re interested in upgrading your career. This is what many people do when they want advancement in their job, but don’t have the time or interest in getting a new certification.
Which Certifications Are Right for You?
To decide which cert is right for you, it’s important to know your requirements. What are you looking for from this career path? Do you need flexibility and freedom at work so that you can spend more time with your family? Or are you looking for the security of a long-term job that requires little to no training and can be done anywhere in the world?
When choosing which certifications to get, it’s important to think about what kind of career opportunities will open up as well as how easy they’ll be to find. There is some overlap between job roles, but each certification will be most relevant to those that require the same skills and knowledge as your training.
7 Quick Certifications for Jobs that Pay Well
You can get all certifications on this list in 6 months. That’s what we mean with “quick”. And they all pay reasonably well: between $40,000 and $110,000 a year for most positions.
Certifications are quickly becoming the new standard in the job market because of how fast you can get them compared to degrees. Plus, many people find that having certifications makes their resume stand out more as it shows dedication and commitment to their career.
Let’s take a look at some of the quick certifications you can get, what they are and how to get them.
1. Real Estate Sales Agent & Broker
Real estate brokers sell and buy properties and help people find new homes. They also negotiate the price and sign contracts with clients to finalize a sale or purchase of property.
To become a broker, you need to take courses in real estate principles and pass an exam from your state or province’s governing body for brokers. You can find this information on their website.
You can also take an online course to prepare for your exam or complete it through a school. You’ll need around 120 hours of training and must pass the final exam, which is $125 in most states/provinces. Usually, it takes about 4-5 months to get a real estate sales agent license, which is enough to get up and running.
You will then to get a broker’s license after 1 to 3 years of experience (varies by state).
To get a broker’s license in most states, real estate brokers must have experience working as a licensed real estate sales agent. Requirements vary by state, but most require 1 to 3 years of experience.
Pay-wise, the median salary in 2020 for these occupations was $51.220. But this is definitely one of those fields where incomes are extremely elastic. If you put in lots of work and keep improving you can easily break into the six-figures income bracket.
Phlebotomists are the unsung heroes of medicine. They draw blood and perform other lab tests that keep doctors informed about their patients’ health.
To become a phlebotomist, you’ll need to take an accredited training course at a community college or technical school. This is where you will learn basic medical procedures such as drawing blood and performing lab tests. You’ll then need to take a certification exam that costs $200 (varies by state).
These training courses typically last between 90-120 hours, which you can complete in about six months or less with full time study. Even if you don’t have that much time on your hand, most people can complete these programs within a year.
Once you get your phlebotomy license, most places will train you on the job for a few months before assigning you to work independently.
Phlebotomists earned a median annual salary of $36.320 in 2020. However, this is one profession that has been growing extremely fast over the past decade or so and expected to grow even faster into 2030 as more people have their lab tests done and more companies and clinics need phlebotomists.
Most people don’t know that there are different types of welding besides just “metal on metal.” Soldering is one type where you melt solder (a kind of alloy) to join two objects together.
To become a solderer, it’s best to take an apprenticeship course at the community college level with some work experience or get your GED. You can then take a soldering certification test, which costs around $125.
You’ll need to complete about 50-150 hours of training depending on the level you are interested in (usually found at community colleges or local job centers). These courses usually only last up to six months and include your hands-on work experience so there isn’t much time lost to training.
You’ll receive a lot of training on-the-job too. Since solderer is one of those jobs that few people want to do, most employers will happily hire you even if you are inexperienced.
It’s hard to give a good salary estimate, since the Bureau groups solderers with cutters, brazers, and welders. The median salary for this entire category was of $44.190 in 2020. Salary.com gives $33.440 as a median yearly salary, that can go up to $55.967 for the most experienced workers.
Not bad for something that requires only a few months of study!
4. Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers
A HVAC technician installs and repairs heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in homes or commercial buildings. They also provide maintenance on those systems to make sure they’re running efficiently.
To become an HVAC technician or installer, it’s best to take some type of training at community college level (usually takes six months on average) and then take a certification test. The cost of the test is around $125 (varies by state).
You’ll need to complete about 150-200 hours of training, depending on your level (usually found at community colleges or local job centers).
You’ll receive a lot of training on-the-job too with an average HVAC company, which is why this occupation has very low turnover rates. The median annual salary for HVAC technicians was $50.590 in 2020.
Editor’s note: The certification for this job could take up to 2 years, depending on the state you are in. Research your state’s licensing regulations and schools before committing.
5. Fitness Trainer
A fitness trainer helps their clients get in shape through diet plans and exercise programs. This is a great job for someone who loves to help other people reach their personal goals, either weight loss or just getting into better cardio health.
There are many different places a fitness trainer can work, including health clubs, YMCAs and other community centers, gyms (such as Gold’s Gym), college campuses (usually during the summer time to help students get in shape before or after school starts)
Most employers prefer that you have some type of certification from an accredited program (generally around $500-1500). The cost will vary depending on the school, but you can expect it to take around six months of full-time training.
You’ll need about 50 hours of internship experience (most gyms or clubs offer this for free) and then get a certification test from an accredited program that costs between $100-$500. The median salary for fitness trainers in 2020 was $40.510.
Editor’s note: Employers might prefer people with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in fields related to fitness. Knowledge in subjects like kinesiology and physical education will give you a heads up. But they aren’t necessary.
6. Computer Support Specialist
A computer support specialist helps their clients fix any technical issues they are having with their computers. This is a great job for someone who loves technology and problem-solving, without the hassle of working in IT (which requires them to be on call 24/hours per day).
What certifications are good for a computer support specialist? There are two options that can help you in this career path. The first is the CompTIA A+ certification which shows your proficiency with Windows operating systems and basic hardware troubleshooting.
The second option includes training from Microsoft, Cisco or other tech companies to become a Certified Systems Engineer.
You’ll need about six months of training and you can expect to pay anywhere from $500-$2000 for your certification tests, depending on how many certifications you are getting.
Warning: The more technical you want to be, the higher your education should be. For highly technical position, you’ll still need a degree. But for the simplest tasks, the certifications will be more than enough.
7. Medical Records and Health Information Specialist
Also known as medical coder, the medial records and health information specialist helps other people organize medical data. This is a great job for someone who loves working with numbers, organizing things logically, and has an interest in the healthcare industry.
What certifications are good for this position? Certifications available for medical records and health information specialists include the Certified Professional Coder (CPC), the Certified Coding Associate (CCA), and the Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT).
Getting this certification takes slightly longer than most other ones on this list. You are looking to spend at least 9 months to get one, but 1 year is the most common time frame. Still, it’s way faster than a degree.
If you don’t have the 6 to 12 months necessary to get the above certifications, there are other options for you. These are certifications that take less than one month. These jobs won’t earn you as much, or don’t give the same job security, but are still viable career choices.
- Truck driver
Getting your commercial driver’s license should take about 2 months of full-time training. It takes up to 6 months if you can’t dedicate that much time to it. The median salary for this position was of $47.130 in 2020.
The main issue with truck driving is that it requires a lot of flexibility. Building a family as a truck driver is extremely hard, and you won’t have much time to spend with your loved ones. It’s why it pays so well, but it’s also why not many people want to do it.
- Data Analytics
Data analysis is a gigantic field. There are many different courses available on Udemy and Coursera, aimed at people of all skill levels. But what’s interesting is Google’s partnership with the latter to bring a course for those who want to enter the world of data analytics.
Here is the course. It takes less than 6 months and has Google’s name on it, which is arguably better than some no name colleges. After all, Google is a massive brand world-wide. Employers know it and trust it, as it’s likely they use it in their daily lives.
Now, some employers will not take this certificate seriously. That’s just life. You’ll have to dig a little deeper to find a job within the field with this certification.
- Construction Inspector
Construction inspectors help construction companies run smoothly and safely. They inspect the site to ensure that everything is going as planned, and oversee work being done by others.
The median pay in 2020 was $62.860 per year. You may be wondering why these are faster than the previous ones, and that is because the bulk of the training is done on-the-job.
Warning: Sure, you can get a certification in about 2 months and start working. But then you’ll spend months learning the ins and outs of the trade while working. Also, it’s likely that you’ll need more than 1 certification. And last, you’ll probably not earn anywhere as much as advertised by the Bureau for the first couple of years.
Many people are looking to reskill and enter a new job field. But they don’t have the resources to get a degree. That’s where the certifications in this article come into play.
If you can spare the ~6 months they take, you’ll be equipped with a certificate that will make you palatable to the employers’ eyes. The great thing about these certifications is that they are affordable, fast to get, and give you decent job security.
Companies need their job vacancies filled now. Now in 3+ years. That’s why accredited schools offer these certifications. They are a way to quickly get started into your field of choice.