Earning a bachelor’s degree or even an associate’s degree requires a sizable investment of both time and money. Fortunately, many colleges offer another option: in just a few months and for the cost of a relatively low number of college credits, a student can earn a college certificate that has the possibility of greatly increasing his or her earning potential.
Our list of the top ten money making certificates is based on the salaries reported on payscale.com. The number of certificate programs offered nationwide (based on information from collegenavigator.gov) was the secondary piece of information used in our ranking. We required a minimum of at least 90 programs in the field. This method of ranking the certificates resulting in an interesting mix of certificates in hands-on trades and certificates in business- and technology-related disciplines.
The top 10 money making college certificates are:
- Construction Management
- Heavy Vehicle/Equipment Operation
- Information Technology
- Human Resources
- HVAC /HVACR
- Website Design
- Landscaping /Groundskeeping
- Architectural/Civil Drafter
Best Paying College Certificate Programs Reviewed
10. Architectural/Civil Drafter
Those wishing to work as an Architectural Drafter have various options of certificate programs to jumpstart their career. Drafters work with architects and engineers to design and plan based on rough sketches, both using computer software and drawing blueprints by hand. Programs can range from 6-credit specialized programs, to more common 1- to 2-year programs with a more extensive curriculum. Students often have the option to choose an area of specialization, such as architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical.
Average Yearly Income: $51,318
Landscaping or Groundskeeping comes in at #9 on our list of money making college certificates. It is a profitable career choice for those who have no education after high school. A certificate program will provide students with the necessary foundational understanding in areas such as horticulture, sanitation, seasonal planting, and pest management. Additionally, students will learn to operate basic landscaping tools and equipment. Certification is all that is needed to secure a good job in the field. Most programs can be completed in less than a year, and some in as little as one semester.
Average Yearly Income: $54,499
A paralegal certificate program can be completed in as little as 6 weeks, while some programs take up to a year. The job market for paralegals is expected to grow in the coming years, and the choice to earn a certificate can demonstrate to prospective employers a commitment to the profession. Certificate programs also offer the opportunity to master related skills such as legal procedures, ethics, and substantive law. Certificates are not required to be a paralegal, but choosing certification will enhance both credibility and income potential, as is often the case for these money making college certificates.
Average Yearly Income: $55,395
7. Website Design
Website Design can be an exciting career to pursue, and certificate programs generally take 6-9 months to complete. Combining art and technology, website design certificates can open the door to vocations such as a programmer, software engineer, developer, web architect, and web developer. Choosing certification will help website designers stand out during a job search, and it is a great starting point for entry-level positions. Conveniently, many of the available certificate programs in website design can be completed entirely online.
Average Yearly Income: $55,816
HVAC and HVACR technicians deal with heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration systems. A certificate in either of these fields can be earned in as little as 4 months, with most programs averaging 2 or 3 semesters. Students will learn the principles and applications needed to design new systems as well as maintain existing ones. Job placement is much easier after certification, and certificates often include a specialization, which can give the worker a niche as well as an opportunity to earn a higher salary.
Average Yearly Income: $59,861
5. Human Resources
There are many reasons why earning a certificate in Human Resources could be a wise career choice. Certification can lead the way to advanced development, as well as opening the door to a higher salary and quicker career success compared to uncertified counterparts. Although they can be expensive, certificate programs pay off quickly with their ability to boost a career, and usually take no more than a few months to complete. HR certification can lead to jobs such as Benefits Coordinator, Recruiting Specialist, or Development/Training Specialist.
Average Yearly Income: $61,697
4. Information Technology
A certificate in Information Technology is a great starting place for a successful IT career. A certification will serve as an easily recognized benchmark for employers seeking to hire. While some choose to pursue a degree in IT, certification is a more direct option, allowing for quicker entry into the field. An IT certification can lead to both entry or mid level job opportunities as a Media Technician, Help Desk Analyst, Computer Support Consultant, Web Developer or Project Manager.
Average Yearly Income: $61,906
3. Heavy Vehicle/Equipment Operation
Earning a certificate in Heavy Vehicle Operation is an attractive option, as most of the courses can be completed in a few months or less. Certificate programs cover all needed information on how to operate vehicles such as backhoes, bulldozers and excavators, and often offer specific machinery certification, as well. Program participants need only a highschool diploma or GED, and will often learn additional skills such as construction site preparation, landscaping, and excavation, all of which can help boost their future careers. This career earns a spot on our list of money making college certificates.
Average Yearly Income: $66,500
The job outlook for pipefitting and plumbing is better than average, and the road to success can be fairly easy through a certificate program. A plumbing certificate can be completed in as little as 6 months, and requires only a high school diploma or GED. Certificate programs focus on only the skills needed for the workplace, all relating to plumbing and pipefitting. Certification can insure a higher salary and job security, and can be used as a career boost as well. This career comes in just second on our list of top money making college certificates.
Average Yearly Income: $67,372
1. Construction Management
A certificate in construction management is a pathway to a high paying career, without the time commitment needed for a degree. It’s #1 on our list of money making college certificates. Construction management certificate programs are usually designed for those who already have some experience in the field and wish to assume greater leadership, change areas of interest, or increase their salary. Certification programs place an emphasis on leadership and technical skills for effective management, and many of them can be completed online. Construction Management certificate programs can take anywhere from 9 months to two years to complete.
Average Yearly Income: $78,468