Is Earning a Graduate Certificate Worth It?

Is Earning a Graduate Certificate Worth It?

Numerous people wish to attain further education once they earn their bachelor's degree. Some individuals aim to stand above the crowd when it comes to being considered for a promotion or applying for jobs. 

Other people are looking to switch careers and understand that an advanced credential will help them solidify their move. Some individuals have a perpetual drive to continue their education post-graduation. 

Unfortunately, many students abandon their goals when they consider what it takes to go for their master's degree. There are a variety of reasons to tackle an advanced degree; however, it isn't for every person. It is going to cost you time, energy and cash. Some of these realities can be hard to tackle and make you want to opt-out. 

You will need to honestly assess the effort, money and time that attending school will take.  Your education and future career are not an investment to undertake lightly. Thankfully, there are other options available if taking a master's degree isn't in the cards. You can still maintain a competitive edge by seeking a graduate certificate. 

What Is a Graduate Certificate? 

A graduate certificate is earned after one takes a short study course that is designed to meet the supplemental requirements of professionals. This is a special type of university-level training. Typically, a graduate certificate focuses on a certain job title or industry. There are plenty of options available for those who wish to earn one in their specific field.

The Differences Between Graduate Certificates vs Master’s Degrees 

Typically, Master's degrees take approximately 2 years to finish. These are commonly full-time commitments within a certain field of study. The financial investment and time required to earn a master's degree are often much higher compared to a graduate certificate. 

This is related to the coursework scope. It is best to take your personal goals into account if you are assessing which route is best to take so that you can figure out which study option can best help you achieve your goals. 

What are the Benefits of Earning a Graduate Certificate? 

Certificates are the fastest-growing type of post-secondary credentials according to the Chronicle of Higher Education in the USA. There are significant benefits associated with earning a graduate certificate that is appealing to those who wish to further their education. Some of the most important factors to consider include:

Higher Pay

If earning higher pay is your main motivation for deciding to earn your graduate certificate, you are in good company. Those who decide to take this route can earn an extra 15 to 25 percent salary increase after they earn their graduate certificate. This is a high return on investment considering the short time it takes to finish the program.

Additional Job Security 

Certain jobs including healthcare and education require graduate certificates to prove continuing education and extra training that is required for promotions and advancement. 

These certificates can also make it easier to climb up the ladder into a management role. You can meet those requirements and expectations by earning your graduate certificate. This will help you keep your skills and industry knowledge relevant and up-to-date. 

Stay Competitive In the Job Market

As the competition in the job market expands, it is vital to advance your education as much as possible. The competitive workplace is seeking those with advantages. Employers are always on the lookout to hire people with advanced skills. 

Some industries including project management may have employers wanting professional designations and certifications such as those offered by the Project Management Institute or PMI. The graduate certificates are ready to prepare you to meet professional certification standards.

You will be able to stay competitive in your role and expand your skills by earning a graduate certificate. It can give you the advantage of getting into a position that has greater responsibility or even transitioning into an entirely different role. You can learn valuable fresh skills that employers are depending on. 

Fast Return on Investment 

Earning an advanced degree or a master's degree may take two or more years to finish. Certain master's degrees come with additional benefits; however, sometimes you need or prefer an immediate ROI or return on investment, making the Graduate Certificate a wiser option. Look into your options and do the math to see what makes the most sense. 

Depending on your specific program, you may be able to earn your graduate certificate in under a year. The course may require 12 to 18 credits which can take about a year to finish; however, you may be able to complete it sooner. 

Preparing for a Graduate Certificate

Lots of people choose to earn a graduate certificate to "try on" the idea of what it takes to earn a master's degree. Some people use these programs to expedite themselves into a certain industry since it involves significantly less time. 

If you choose to continue with your full degree after you have earned your certificate, you can continue at a later time. This ensures that you are not committing yourself to a complete degree program before you are totally sure it will be the best choice for you. 

Note that there are plenty of graduate certificate programs that have been specifically designed to be stacked into a master's degree. If you choose to take on a graduate degree later, you will have earned so many credits that can be applied to the degree. This will prevent you from having to retake credits down the road. 

Is it Worth it to earn a Graduate Degree? 

There are numerous people who feel that earning their master's degree is the next logical step for them once they finish their undergrad studies. Graduate certificates play a vital role in helping workers meet employer demands. 

If you are looking to continue your education once your undergrad studies are finished, earning a graduate certificate may be the perfect step to help you attain your career and personal goals. 

Additionally, providing a boost to pay and job security, this option delivers an immediate payoff and faster education along with growing your professional network. These steps help you to prepare for a complete degree down the road. 

Establishing a wider Professional Network 

Like earning any kind of degree, when you earn a graduate certificate, you will be connecting with people you may not have otherwise crossed paths with. From advisors to professors to other students, these people are excellent connections to utilize to expand your professional network. This can be very helpful in the future when you are looking to change careers or apply for positions. 

The Big Picture

Don’t let finances or timeframes dictate your future goals. If you have a dream, strive for it. If it takes you an extra year or you need to access some loans, that is okay. Once you are doing a job you love every day, it will be easier to deal with any residual debt. Stay true to your goals and look at the future. Try not to get lost in the minor details along the way.