Best Online Certificate in Technology Programs
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Certificates in technology perform many functions for current and aspiring professionals. The training provides students with access to entry-level careers, specialized technology training, and professional advancement opportunities.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 13% growth in computer and information technology occupations between 2020 and 2030, faster than the average projected growth rate for all occupations. Furthermore, the 2021 median annual salary of $97,430 for these professionals is more than double the median annual salary for all occupations.
Here, we examine the type of training provided by an online certificate program in technology and what paths it opens within this promising sector. We also highlight our ranked list of programs offered by the top online schools in the country and the process and requirements for entering them.
What Is an Online Certificate in Technology Program?
An online certificate in technology provides condensed training in a general or specialized technology discipline at the undergraduate or graduate levels. Certificate programs typically focus on career-based skills and training, preparing students for fast and direct entry into a specific profession.
While the terms are used interchangeably in some cases, certificates, certifications, and licenses can differ substantially, primarily based on who provides the credentials. For example, certificates come from colleges and universities, featuring overlapping courses with bachelor's and master's programs. Conversely, certifications come from professional organizations, and licenses come from state governments.
What Can I Expect From an Online Certificate in Technology Program?
The structure of an online certificate in technology program varies by school. They usually feature between 12-18 credits and take students 3-6 months to complete. Learners can find certificates in many topics, including general computer science programs and specialized programs in web development, networking, and programming.
Certificates in technology may also help professionals from other industries, such as healthcare and business, add technological skills. Certificate programs usually emphasize vocational training, equipping learners with the fundamental knowledge and the practical skills necessary for the field. Students also complete college and university credits in certificate programs that they may apply to degrees at a later date.
While many certificates feature coursework only, they usually have a heavy emphasis on practical training. Technology certificate courses feature extensive hands-on training and applications. Students may also encounter internship-based certificate programs or certificates with practicums embedded in them.
A certificate in technology is typically too condensed and focused to have concentrations built in. Students can, however, use certificates as their own concentration. For example, after completing a general technology degree, learners can pursue a certificate in a specialized discipline that complements their previous training.
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Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Certificate in Technology Program?
In this course, students learn how to secure various computer systems using the latest cybersecurity technologies and strategies. Learners also explore methods for vulnerability detection and risk assessment.
Enterprise Computer Systems
Students in this course may learn how to manage or even design complex enterprise computer systems. They may explore the networking, security, and administration components of these systems.
Front-End Web Development
In this course, students learn how design professionals build intuitive systems and applications that users want to engage with. They look at strategies and practices for designing, testing, and building interactive media on various mediums, such as websites and mobile applications.
Students in this course study the Python programming language, learning how to create readable and functional code for various purposes. They learn to create the basic structures, integrate data structures, and apply graphic elements to their designs.
What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Certificate in Technology Program?
The application process varies by school and certificate program. For entry into an online certificate in technology at the undergraduate level, prospective students typically need a high school diploma or a GED certificate. Schools may require candidates to have a competitive GPA or submit college entrance exam scores as well.
At the graduate level, the admission requirements usually include a bachelor's degree, often in a specific discipline. Like undergraduate programs, graduate programs may only admit applicants with strong GPAs and test scores. Prerequisite courses may also be required in certain disciplines.
What Can I Do With an Online Certificate in Technology Degree?
In an online certificate in technology, learners receive training in many areas of the technology sector. Professionals can develop new skills or expand their expertise in in-demand segments of the field, including data science, cloud computing, cybersecurity, and design.
The BLS projects 13% growth in computer and information technology occupations between 2020 and 2030, five percentage points higher than the average projected growth rate for all occupations. That works out to more than 660,000 new jobs in the field over the decade, many of which certificate-holders are qualified for.
The wages in this field depend on numerous factors. As per the BLS, the median annual salary for computer and information technology professionals was $97,430 in May 2021, more than $50,000 higher than the median annual wage for all occupations. Learners should note that many of these high-paying positions may require a bachelor's or master's degree.
Discover where an online certificate in technology can lead. Learn more about technology careers.
Computer Support Specialist
Computer support specialists provide technical support for computer users. They perform tests and maintenance and may specialize in certain areas, such as networks, security, or hardware and software components. Computer support specialists may access entry-level positions with a certificate in technology.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $57,910
Computer programmers write and test the code for computer software and applications, using multiple languages or specializing in just one. They look for problematic code and areas they can improve and make more efficient. Programmers typically need a bachelor's degree at minimum, but certificates in technology can help them expand their skill sets.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $93,000
Broadcast, Sound, and Video Technician
Broadcast, sound, and video technicians operate and repair audio and visual equipment such as speakers, projectors, recording devices, and monitors. They may work on equipment used for presentations, concerts, lectures, and screenings. Certificate-holders have the appropriate skills to pursue careers in this field.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $49,050
Network and Computer Systems Administrator
Administrators manage the network and systems for organizations, including installation, support, and troubleshooting. They oversee network security and perform any upgrades when needed. These professionals usually need a bachelor's degree for entry into the field, but a certificate in technology can expand their training in this area.
Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $80,600
Technology Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.
In addition to lucrative careers, a certificate in technology can lead to a large number of continuing education opportunities. Certificate programs prepare students for further training and can even provide transfer credit to put toward degrees and other certificates.
For example, graduates may decide to expand on their undergraduate certificate training with a bachelor's in computer science or a bachelor's in computer programming. They may pursue an undergraduate or graduate certificate in technology to help prepare them for graduate-level training, such as a master's in computer science.
How Do I Choose an Online Certificate in Technology Program?
When looking at the cost of certificates, prospective students should compare online and on-campus costs to see how they differ. For working professionals, the true program cost can highlight how the different types of training impact their income while they study. Online students can also compare private and public schools and in-state and out-of-state tuition costs.
When searching for the right program format for their study needs, prospective students should weigh the pros and cons of asynchronous and synchronous programs to find the right course structure. They might also compare full-time and part-time studies or look at accelerated programs to find the appropriate study schedule.
All students, regardless if they attend college online or on campus, should think about their ideal location. On-campus learners have obvious location requirements, but online learners may want to find a school nearby as well. Location can affect tuition prices and residency requirements, plus online learners may want to access campus facilities and extracurriculars.
Online college accreditation assures students that schools provide federal financial aid, adequate employment opportunities, and accepted credits and credentials. Programmatic accreditation varies and is not always required, but for technology certificates, it may come from organizations like the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
Prospective students should also consider the extras a school and program provides, including student services. These may include academic support and tutoring, career services and mentorship programs, and mental health resources. In-program extras like college internships can also make a difference in the experience. Online students should check for specific online student services.
Best Accredited Online Certificate in Technology Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Certificate in Technology Programs
Is a certificate in technology worth it?
Yes. Students and graduates can benefit greatly from a certificate in technology. These credentials can be one of the quickest and most direct routes to various careers in the computer and information technology sector. Experienced professionals can also use certificates to boost their expertise, advance within their fields, or change careers altogether.
An online certificate in technology offers accessibility and flexibility that few programs can match. Working professionals can complete them without sacrificing their jobs, and the short completion times make them much easier to commit to than a full degree.
What can you do with a certificate in technology?
A certificate in technology can take graduates down many different paths. The training can grant professionals access to entry-level careers in the field, even competing with complete degrees in technology. Experienced professionals may use the training to update or expand their skills, even using certificates to pursue better positions.
Graduates can also use a certificate in technology to prepare for further education. Not only can the training in these programs get students up to speed before pursuing a technology degree, but the credits can often be used as transfer credits to reduce the time and cost of the intended program.
Is a technology certificate program hard?
The difficulty of a certificate in technology depends entirely on the program and the student. Some disciplines, such as data science or software engineering, can be challenging in the early stages of the program. Once students develop a foundation and learn the fundamentals, they should be able to advance more easily.
The difficulty of the program also depends on the level of the training. Graduate training covers more advanced materials, but students are more familiar with the discipline, whereas undergraduate students may be encountering topics for the first time. No matter what type of program they choose, students who commit to their studies and give their full effort should be successful.
How long does it take to get a certificate in technology?
The length of time required to complete a certificate in technology depends on the student and the program. In general, these programs take between 3-6 months to finish. Students may, however, choose to complete their studies part time, which could extend the program length to more than a year.
Schools may also offer self-paced or accelerated study options, which could lead to much shorter completion times. Aspiring students should check with their prospective schools to see what options they have and what type of studies their schedules can accommodate.
What's the highest paying job you can get with a certificate in technology?
The highest-paying job for graduates with a certificate in technology is in computer and information systems management. According to the BLS, professionals in this field made median annual wages of $159,010 in May 2021, more than $110,000 higher than the median annual wage for all occupations.
While certificate-holders also need at least a bachelor's degree to access that profession, they may be able to acquire other high-paying positions with a certificate only. For example, they can become computer support specialists. These professionals earned median annual wages of $57,910 in May 2021, as per the BLS.
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