The best online certificate programs have the potential to transform your career and help you prepare for the future of work. This post will explain why you should be seeking out your own training and certifications, how you can pick the right qualifications for your line of work, and which certifications will ultimately lead to the biggest pay bump. Scroll straight to the bottom for a list of certifications that will prepare you for the future of work, and help you to demand a higher rate in nearly any industry!
Why you need to start training yourself
If you want to start charging more money for the work you do, or progress through the hierarchy at your organization, bulking up your resume is one of the very best things you can do. By accruing qualifications and certifications, you demonstrate a level of expertise in your field that might put you ahead of the competition.
The best online certificate programs let you take matters into your own hands and invest in yourself.
So what do you do? Do you wait for your employer to send you off on a course? While that option will work for some, it is too reliant on the goodwill of said employer. Not only do they need to have the right mindset to consider training a worthwhile investment for their staff, they also need to believe that training you specifically is a good investment. Why would they pay for you to bulk up your CV when they could offer that same training to someone who already has more experience and responsibility? Or when they could just train you “on the job.”
Likewise, you might not get offered the kind of training that you want – especially if you hope to transition to a different role or even a different organization.
The best online certificate programs let you take matters into your own hands and invest in yourself. They let you decorate your CV to the point that you can become a “superstar” in your field, at least on paper, and then start to demand the salary that you’re worth and taking the jobs you will enjoy the most. They also demonstrate a proactivity that is almost frighteningly efficient.
Consider as well that the world of work is changing at a rapid pace. More and more companies are outsourcing work to freelancers, and more jobs are being replaced by AIs and automation. If you don’t prepare for this future, you risk being left behind.
Simply put, in the future of work, training yourself online is going to become a requirement for success. Stop waiting for good things to happen, and get proactive!
Choosing the best online certificate programs
Before you start an online certificate program, you first need to decide what kind of certification would serve you best. What skills do you want to level up? What qualifications will serve you best?
Should you aim to double down on the skills you already have with a directly complementary certificate? Or should you focus on something that will help to add more strings to your bow, such as IT certification, management, or an MBA?
What you want to learn
The main thing to keep in mind is to focus on your own goals and agendas. Where do you ideally see yourself in X years time? Do you want to be in the same line of work? Or would you rather be doing something entirely different? For obvious reasons, this is going to affect your choice.
If you want to remain within your organization, then you should have a very good idea of what might impress your superiors and what would make you more of an asset to the team. The same goes for looking for work in the same field.
If you’re remaining in your organization, then getting a qualification in what you already do could be somewhat redundant. You should be able to demonstrate your skill in that area with your work. But by expanding your skill set, you can make yourself more valuable to your employer.
By expanding your skill set, you can make yourself more valuable to your employer.
When transitioning, it makes sense to try and make use of your current experience, while building on that with something more focussed. Maybe that means upgrading your current qualification with the next level-up, or maybe it means choosing a specialty. Either way, this will help you to negotiate a higher salary.
Some other pointers:
- Ask colleagues from a higher pay grade which skills and qualifications they found most useful
- Ask your employers what they look for
- Look for job listings and see what qualifications and certifications they mention
One option is to use this certification finder that will provide a selection of options, based on the terms you enter.
And of course, check out the list below in a minute to find some of the highest paying and best online certificate programs.
Type of qualification
Once you know skills you want to train, the next step is to identify the specific qualification within that field.
What is the equivalent level of certification you need? How much free time do you have to study – is this a realistic goal? And how much money can you invest? The higher the qualification the better, but you will likely have other factors that you’ll need to consider as well. You may also find there are entry requirements for some of the top online certificate programs.
For instance, if you are looking for a general business certification/qualification, then you might think an MBA would be the very best option for you. However, this is a full Masters course that will involve a huge commitment of time and money.
So instead, you could try a “micro Masters.” This qualification is much more affordable (free even in some cases) and actually counts toward a full Masters should you decide to pursue that later on.
Choosing the best learning institutions
When choosing the best online certificate programs, you also need to think about the format of the course, the quality of the materials, and the amount of time you get with tutors. This will largely come down to the school or organization.
Think about the format of the course, the quality of the materials, and the amount of time you get with tutors
Look for reviews online and try to get a sense of the reputation of the institution. Likewise, make sure to read about the number of hours, what happens should you fail a module, whether the entire course can be handled online, etc.
Ideally, look for a certification that is issued by an organization accredited with the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education. Likewise, consider accreditation with any governing bodies within your industry or subject matter. For example, if you wish to become a physical therapist, then you will need a program approved by the Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education. Some certifications, such as Unity certification, are direct from a recognized organizations within the industry.
Don’t waste money on online certificate programs that won’t be recognized by any external governing bodies.
Don’t waste money on online certificate programs that won’t be recognized by any external governing bodies, employers, or clients.
A selection of the best online certificate programs for higher wages
With all that out the way, here are some of the best online certificate programs that anyone could consider if they were looking to boost their salary and future-proof their career prospects. Keep checking back here, as we’ll be adding to this list over time and even adding whole new career options!
Online business certifications
Getting a business certification is one of the best ways to enhance your career in any field. Understanding how businesses operate will give you greater insight into your organization, regardless of industry.
While there are many online certificate programs in business available, the most prestigious are the MBA courses.
An MBA is a Masters in Business Administration, and is one of the most highly sought-after and well-respected qualifications in business. Believe it or not, you can actually now get an MBA entirely online and in your spare time. Here are just a few places that offer online MBA certification programs:
- Boston University
- The University of Florida – Warrington College of Business
- University of Virginia – Darden School of Business
- University of Minnesota – Twin Cities – Carlson School of Management
There are many more available too. When choosing an online MBA program, look for accreditation the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International (AACSB).
You can increase your chances of getting onto one of these courses by taking the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).
An alternative is to take a “micro Masters,” which is a respected certification in itself, and which will often count toward a full Masters degree should you decide to take your learning further. Here are two courses that will provide that certification:
- MicroMasters Program in MBA Core Curriculum from University System of Maryland
- Business Fundamentals from the University of British Columbia
Data analyst/scientist certifications
Data analysts manipulate data for a living – a role that will be increasingly in-demand over the coming decades, especially with the advent of the Internet Of Things (IoT). The average salary for data analysts is an impressive $64,975, while data scientists earn $120,730 on average.
Data scientists earn $120,730 on average.
No matter your role, there’s a good chance your organization works with data. In that case, this will be a hugely beneficial skill.
One good certification for data analysts is Google Analytics Certification. The following course from Udemy will provide the training to get this recognized certificate, and help you pass the exam:
For those with more time, or who are just starting out in the field, the following online certificate programs are more comprehensive and will give you the grounding you need:
- The Certification of Professional Achievement in Data Sciences from Columbia University
- Cloudera Certified Associate (CCA) Data Analyst
- Certified Analytics Professional from INFORMS
- Machine Learning and Data Science Certification Bundle
Data security analyst certifications
As a data security analyst, your job will be to ensure the security of systems in order to keep sensitive information secure. This will often mean “testing” those systems via white hat hacking, and then providing reports with information on how to fix security flaws.
Data security analysts can earn anywhere between $98,710-$151,500 per year.
Data security analysts can earn anywhere between $98,000 to $151,000 per year, according to ZipRecruiter.
With data being the currency of the digital age, this is a skill that almost all employers will be looking for. The good news is that there are a number of industry standard online certifications programs that you can take in order to ensure your skills will be recognized.
- Pentest+: Comptia Penetration Testing
- CYSA+: Cyber Security Analyst
- Security+: Comptia Security Analyst
- GIAC: Global Information Assurance Certification
- CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker
- CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional
If you want to work as a software developer, then your first job is to choose the type of developer you want to be and the languages you need to do that kind of work. From there, you need to find the best online certificate programs to demonstrate that expertise to your potential employers.
There are countless options. For example, those looking to become Android developers might choose:
Web developers could also consider Adobe Certification.
A more general degree in computer science can also serve as a useful grounding for a wide range of development jobs:
In short, there are countless ways to develop your skills and qualifications online, and many of these can help you earn more and climb the hierarchy within your organization. We’ll be adding more to this list of the best online certificate programs over time, so keep checking back here. And be sure to let us know if there are any you’d like to see featured!