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10 Best Paying Certificate Programs
Certificate Programs that Pay the Most

1. Surgical Technologist

The median pay for a surgical technologist is $47,300 or $22.74 per hour. Employers prefer people who have participated in certificate programs because they specifically focus on the courses that surgical technologists need to perform their duties. These include courses in anatomy, surgical procedures, surgical microbiology, pharmacology and anatomy. Although most programs focus on medical background and clinical practice, they may also include a few general education courses. Examples of the general education courses include algebra, English composition and communications.

Also known as an “operating room technician,” you will be qualified to get the operating room ready for surgery, place the equipment in its rightful location and assist the surgeon with operations. Surgical technologists also work in physicians’ offices, dental offices and outpatient care services.

It looks great for surgical technologists. The Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that the job of surgical technologist will grow 12 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is faster than the pace that any other occupation is projected to grow during these years. Surgery is so safe these days that an increased number of operations are being performed, so growth in this industry can be expected to continue.

Someone with training to be a surgical technologist is also qualified to apply for the jobs of dental assistant, medical assistant, medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians, and licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.

2. Industrial Engineering Technician

The industrial engineering technician makes an annual salary of $53,860 to $59,630. The industrial engineering certificate allows you to go into the industrial engineering field without having to obtain a four-year degree. In this job, you will be an assistant to the industrial engineer. Therefore, it is everybody’s job to implement designs that will allow factories, companies and other organizations to use their machines, staff and equipment in the most efficient manner possible. Part of an industrial engineering technician’s job is to interpret the engineer’s drawings so that the company can improve its operations.

Postsecondary education for the industrial engineering technician is valuable because it means that your employers can spend less time training you for your job. These programs require that you take trigonometry or algebra courses as well as science courses. A program within a vocational school also gives you the opportunity to learn the industrial engineering technician’s job with hands-on experience. The best candidate for these types of programs is someone who is known to be a very good communicator. You are also very creative and can work well within a team, but critical thinking is a talent that you must possess because you must help the engineers determine why things are not working.

After you complete your education and training to be an industrial engineering technician, you will be able to be a part of a team that helps build layouts, analyzes production costs, performs statistical studies and plans the flow of work. You will also have your place in research and development. In this capacity, you may make prototypes for designs, collect and calculate data, and build and set up equipment. In the beginning, your first job will require you to work under a supervisor, but as your experience grows, you may be able to become the supervisor one day.

Other occupations that are similar to the industrial engineer technician are quality control inspectors, logisticians, health and safety engineers and cost estimators.

3. Web Developer

The median pay for a web developer was $69,430 last year. Certificate programs for web developers present students with a wealth of valuable information. In these programs, you will learn the best practices of web design, the best practices of web development and the best practices of debugging. The most complete programs will offer you more than a creative education; you will also be introduced to the technical side of web development as well as business communications. With a certificate, you will be able to join a team, but your certificate may also enable you to work independently.

The certificate program is the best option for you if you wish to seek an entry-level position in web development. If you have been a web developer for a time without earning a certificate, obtaining a certificate now would allow you to update your skills. Certificate programs are best for you if you do not want to pursue a four-year degree at this time. These programs are offering you education as well as experience, and these two factors are enough to get you started in the field of web development. This field is always evolving, so you can expect additional changes in the future.

After you earn a web developer’s certificate, you can expect to apply for entry-level positions. Generally, this means that you will be working at the front end, but experience will make it possible for you to move into the back end. This will mean that you can obtain a senior position. Some of these senior positions include software engineer and project manager. Some people even opt to become freelancers and web business analysts or project consultants. Some developers have even been able to maintain a clientele that is outside of their own states or the country.

You can certainly begin your career as a web developer without a certificate, but earning a certificate increases your chances of being hired.

4. HVACR Technicians

HVACR technicians make between $46,040 and $51,050 per year. A certificate for Heating, Air Conditioning or Refrigeration Mechanic & Installer requires that you enter into a program that lasts six months; some last as long as two years. This education allows you to work with an experienced HVACR technician, and they start with the most basic roles. These include cleaning furnaces and insulating refrigerant lines. As you gain more experience, you will be able to solder and cut pipes and check electrical circuits.

Once you have earned your certificate in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration, you will be able to perform very important tasks. For example, you will learn how to keep accurate records and know what needs to be done to make an air conditioning system work. You will also be able to repair or replace worn out parts on heating or air conditioning systems.

You also learn how to install these systems and help your customers maintain them. You will know how to install the wiring and the electrical components. Lastly, you will be able to inspect these systems and test them. As you are training, you will be able to become specialized. For example, some people decide to specialize in commercial refrigeration, solar panels and radiant heating systems.

People who opt not to pursue an HVACR certificate have the option of becoming apprentices. The problem that you may have with this option is the fact that apprenticeships last for three to five years. Once you have completed your certificate program, it will have taken you less time, and you will also be more attractive to employers.

Your training as an HVACR technician will prepare you for several other similar jobs, including wind turbine technician, stationary engineer and boiler operator, solar photovoltaic installer, general maintenance and repair worker, electrician and boilermaker.

5. Sheet Metal Worker

Sheet metal workers make a median $48,460 per year or $23.30 per hour. You can become a sheet metal worker without going to school, but you will not necessarily learn how to install sheet metal, maintain sheet metal, fabricate sheet metal and design sheet metal. This means that it will be advantageous to you to enter into a certificate program.

When you are in a certificate program, some of the courses you will be introduced to will be duct system design, sheet metal welding principles, sheet metal fitting techniques, traditional and computer-aided drawing, and sheet metal design and fabrication. You may wish to choose a sheet metal specialty and become certified in that specialty. If you wish to be licensed, you could pursue this as well.

Sheet metal workers create products that are made from thin metal sheets, and you will also install these products. Some of them include the ducts that form a part of heating and air conditioning systems. You will also be able to choose sheet metal to find the most appropriate one for each particular job. This requires that you measure and mark the sheet metal. Sheet metal workers also install the metal and make alterations on the construction site as they are needed. You may also be called upon to solder, rivet or weld the seams or joints.

Someone trained to be a sheet metal worker could also be qualified to apply to be a welder, cutter, solderer or brazer. You can also be a roofer, a metal and plastic machine worker, machinist and tool and die maker, an insulation worker, a glazier, a boilermaker, and an assembler or fabricator.

6. Court Reporter

A court reporter can make between $46,020 and $66,430 per year. Court reporters transcribe legal proceedings that include trials and depositions. They must record everything word for word to maintain complete accuracy. The court reporter’s workplace is the courtroom or in legislatures, and this is where the majority of court reporters work. The second largest group of court reporters work in business support services, and the third largest group performs its duties for local governments. A small segment of the population works independently.

Court reporting programs offer several courses, including technical writing, English grammar and the law. Because a court reporter needs to have excellent listening and writing skills and the ability to multitask, court reporting programs train students to perform these activities competently. You will also be introduced to the different court reporting techniques, including voice writing and electronic reporting. The stenography equipment that court reporters use was created to give court reporters an advanced ability to transcribe and type. This equipment also includes steno masks and stenotype machines.

Some additional courses that you will be required to take for a court reporting certification include legal terminology, legal procedures and phonetics.

Training in court reporting also gives you the training you need to become an interpreter or a translator. Interpreters translate one language into another language, but interpreters can also perform their duties in sign language. The other job that training in court reporting prepares you for is translation. In this case, you will translate the written word into another language. Medical transcriptionists also fall under this group of people. Medical transcriptionists listen to the spoken word and create physical documents, such as discharge summaries and patient medical histories.

Court reporting programs last a year, but some may last as long as 18 months.

7. Construction and Building Inspector

Construction and building inspectors make between $56,420 and $60,820 per year. A construction and building inspector can be expected to determine that the construction adheres to all of the national and local building codes and ordinances. They ensure that contract specifications and zoning regulations are being met as well.

A building inspector isn’t required to have postsecondary education, but as has been the common theme throughout this list, a postsecondary certificate places you ahead of those who do not have them. The reason is that employers know that if you have a certificate, you received an education in drafting, home inspection, construction technology and building inspection.

As a building inspector, your duty will be to examine the builder’s plans to ensure that the state’s standards are being met. You will also need to return to the building as it is being constructed to ensure that construction proceeds as was planned. You will also be required to inspect buildings that already exist before a building can be sold. There may also be code violations or an emergency at the site, and you will be needed to inspect these instances.

Certification programs require that you take courses in communications and business, but they also include several other topics related to building inspection. These include materials and methods, wooden frame construction inspection, structural concrete, and surveying construction plans and specifications.

Training in construction and building inspection gives you several opportunities to apply for several different careers. Real estate appraisers and assessors can use the education that construction and building inspectors receive. Architects, carpenters and construction managers also benefit greatly from certification in construction and building inspection. Electricians, electrical and electronics engineering technicians, and electrical and electronics engineers obtain construction and building certificates to perform their duties. Lastly, surveyors and occupational health and safety specialists make very good use of the construction and building inspector education as well.

8. Pipefitter and Plumber

Pipefitters and plumbers install and repair pipes in every type of building. This is an excellent choice because the median salary for a pipefitter or a plumber is $53,910. That equals $25.92 per hour. As with the other options on this list, you can train to be a pipefitter or a plumber through an apprenticeship, but as with the other jobs listed here, you will have an easier time obtaining an entry-level position if you complete a certificate program.

The pipefitting/plumbing certificate requires that you take several courses, including low/high pressure boiler, intro to the welding processes, pneumatics/logic, hydraulics, piping print reading, plumbing codes, pipefitting/plumbing, piping systems, maintenance tools/equipment, building print reading and applied industrial mathematics.

Pipefitters and plumbers perform similar types of work. For example, they repair and replace worn out parts and identify the problems that a client is having so that they can be fixed. They also inspect pipe systems that they have installed to ensure that they are in proper working order. They prepare the equipment and the tools that will be needed to perform a job and read blueprints and make sure that all of the state and local building codes are being followed. They also estimate the cost of a job and present these to their customers.

Someone with training to be a pipefitter or a plumber is also qualified to be a boilermaker. This job is advantageous because you can make $62,150 per year. Another high-paying job that you will be prepared to apply for is construction and building inspector. The most ambitious may be able to obtain a job as a construction manager. This job places you at the construction site from the start until the job is finished, but you will earn $93,370 per year.

9. Heavy Vehicle and Mobile Equipment Mechanic or Service Technician

The heavy vehicle and mobile equipment mechanic makes a median $50,320 a year or $24.19 per hour. This type of mechanic’s job is highly complex. The vehicles you will be working on contain computerized and highly sophisticated equipment. For this reason, employers prefer that you have training in an educational setting before they will consider hiring you.

The programs for heavy vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics put you in the room with experienced instructors, and they are very thorough. You will learn how to troubleshoot problems that present themselves so that you can repair them. You will also learn how to maintain the various systems on these vehicles, including the hydraulic, drive train, mechanical, electrical, steering and suspension systems on all kinds of big rigs. The types of vehicles you will be qualified to work on will be construction equipment, off-road equipment, heavy-duty machinery and trucks.

When you are in school, you will have the opportunity to work directly with the advanced equipment that you will be working with when you are on the job. That means that you will have access to the computerized diagnostic equipment as well as the tools that go along with this profession while you are in school. You will also be at the forefront of taking apart transaxles, transmissions and engines and reassembling them. These will be from bulldozers, backhoes, excavators and tractors. Lastly, you will learn how to repair and replace rubber and steel track systems, kingpin suspensions and brake systems.

Similar occupations include small engine mechanics, industrial machinery mechanics, diesel service technicians and mechanics, automotive service technicians and mechanics, and aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians.

10. Architectural and Civil Drafter

The architectural and civil drafter makes a median $55,550 per year or $26.71 an hour. You can become an architectural and civil drafter by obtaining a certificate.

The architectural and civil drafter prepares the drawings of buildings and topographical relief maps. These drawings are to be used in civil engineering projects that may include public works, bridges and highways. To perform this job, you will need to have extensive knowledge of mathematics, engineering practices and building materials. Architectural and civil drafters take the designs that engineers and architects create and feed them into software that creates technical drawings.

The program that you will be a part of will prepare you to be an architectural and civil drafter. The courses include sketching, computer-aided design or CAD and design fundamentals, and you may develop specialized skills in these areas. For example, you may specialize in mechanical drafting or architectural drafting.

The architectural and civil drafter takes courses in several areas, including graphic design, computer technology, science and mathematics. Depending on the program, you may also be required to take general education courses, but you will definitely receive significant training in drafting with less of an emphasis on other subjects.

Similar occupations to the architectural and civil drafter position include water transportation workers, small engine mechanics, industrial machinery mechanics, diesel service technicians and mechanics, automotive body and glass repairs, and aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians.

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