10 Best Short Certificate Programs That Pay Well [2024 Guide]

By Joy Cromwelle
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on July 4, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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Short certificate programs that pay well could help you quickly launch a lucrative career in an appealing industry.

Best Short Certificate Programs That Pay Well

You may be interested in choosing a certificate program instead of a full college degree so that you can enter the workforce more quickly. Many certificate programs provide sufficient preparation for exciting jobs with high earning potential.

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As you consider the following popular certificate programs, you can think about which one might lead to the career that’s right for you.

Best Colleges Offering Online Short Certificates That Pay Well

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

1. Borough of Manhattan Community College

The Borough of Manhattan Community College offers a Clinical Dental Assistant Certificate program. It is fully online and includes vouchers for portions of the Dental Assisting National Board examinations. It can potentially be finished in just 1 year. Clinical dental assistants may earn as much as $40,000 per year.

BMCC is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

2. California State University – Long Beach

California State University – Long Beach offers a Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate. Coursework is self-paced and consists of 140 hours of online curriculum. It also requires the completion of an externship at a local clinic. The certificate qualifies students to take CCMA national exams.

CSU Long Beach is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

3. City College of New York

City College of New York offers a Pharmacy Technician Certification. The program is fully online and lasts for one semester. It requires around 75 hours to complete. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board certification exam. Course topics include pharmacy law, pharmacology, human anatomy and physiology, and medical dosage.

CCNY is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

4. Cornell University

Cornell University offers several certificates for students who want to enter the real estate field, including Real Estate Development, Property Management, and Commercial Real Estate. All programs are available fully online. Each program requires six or more courses, and each must be completed in a specific order. Courses are 2 weeks long.

Cornell is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

5. Lehman College

Lehman College in the Bronx, New York City, offers an EMT certificate. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for EMT exams and certification through the NYSDOH. The program is available in online and hybrid formats. It typically takes 172 hours to complete the program.

Lehman College is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

6. Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City

Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City offers a Pharmacy Technician course. The program is entirely online and may be completed in just 1 year. It requires the completion of an externship. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) National Certification exam. Pharmacy technicians can make on average $37,000 annually.

Oklahoma State University – Oklahoma City is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

7. Purdue University

Purdue University offers a Medical Assistant Certificate. All courses are fully online, and there are start dates each month. The program consists of 13 courses and may be completed in 18 months. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for several certification exams, including the CMA and the RMA.

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

8. San Diego State University

San Diego State University offers a Clinical Dental Assistant Training course. The program is fully online and may be completed in 1 year. Upon completion, students receive vouchers for some sections of the Dental Assisting National Board examinations. The course can be started at any time.

SDSU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

9. Tyler Junior College

Tyler Junior College offers a Phlebotomy Technician Certification program. It is entirely online and self-paced. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for state and national certification exams. TJC offers career resources to help students find jobs as phlebotomy techs. Online labs are included in the program.

Tyler Junior College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

10. University of California – Los Angeles

The University of California – Los Angeles offers a Real Estate Certificate. The program is available online or on campus and designed to prepare students for licensure in California. Courses may be added to prepare for careers in brokerage, investment, and commercial real estate. The program is offered full-time and part-time.

UCLA is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

11. University of California – Santa Barbara

The University of California – Santa Barbara offers Emergency Medical Technician Certification courses. These courses meet Title 22 Guidelines and State Health and Safety Code for EMT -B certification. The program is offered in a hybrid format and includes a CPR course. Courses may be added to fit chosen careers in the field.

UC Santa Barbara is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

12. University of Houston

The University of Houston offers a Phlebotomy Technician Certification program. All coursework can be completed online, but there is a 3 day required stick workshop on campus. All coursework is self-paced, and accepted students may enroll at any time. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the CPT exam. Phlebotomy technicians are in high demand.

The University of Houston is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

13. University of Massachusetts – Lowell

The University of Massachusetts – Lowell offers a Certificate in Website Design and Development. The program may be completed entirely online or on campus. The curriculum consists of 6 courses. Credits earned may be applied to a BS in Information Technology.

The University of Massachusetts – Lowell is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

14. University of North Dakota

The University of North Dakota offers an HVAC/R Certification program. It is fully online and may be finished in 12 months. Students may earn NATE and HVAC Excellence certifications.

UND is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

15. Wake Technical Community College

Wake Technical Community College offers an HVAC/R Technician Certification program. It is entirely online. Students may earn their NATE or HVAC Excellence certification in just 12 months. The demand for HVAC/R technicians is expected to increase by 13%, and certification typically increases chances of employment.

Wake Technical Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Short Certificate Programs That Pay Well

Yes, high paying certificate jobs do exist. In just a few months or a couple of years, you can earn a certificate that demonstrates your knowledge and capability in a particular field. Check out these promising certificates, along with related salary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Select the program that most interests you to jump to that section of the guide:

You can explore these programs to see which ones best match your interests and goals.

Emergency Medical Technician Programs

Emergency Medical Technicians preparing for a rescue mission

Median salary: $36,680
Time to complete
: 6 months to 2 years

As an emergency medical technician (EMT), you may have countless opportunities to help during healthcare crises. Your work will save people’s lives.

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In a shorter EMT program, you’ll study how to assess patients’ conditions, perform CPR, and use medical equipment. Longer programs may include courses on medication and IVs. EMTs typically work for ambulance companies, hospitals, and local municipalities.

Dental Assistant Programs

Dental Assistant assisting the dentist

Median salary: $44,820
Time to complete: 1 year or less

Dental assistants work alongside dentists and dental hygienists. In preparation for this career, you’ll study the teeth, tongue, gums, and jaw. The classes will cover medical terminology and oral hygiene practices. There may also be hands-on clinical experiences involved in your training.

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Most dental assistants work in dentist’s offices. They interact with patients and perform supportive tasks during dental procedures.

HVAC Technician Programs

HVAC Technicians working on a commercial ventilation project

Median salary: $51,390
Time to complete: 6 months to 2 years

As you study to be a heating and air conditioning technician, you will learn how to work with electricity and read blueprints. You’ll study furnaces, air conditioners, heat pumps, and radiant heating.

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Depending on your program, there may be classes on refrigeration as well. HVAC training could help prepare you to work for a contractor or pursue self-employment.

Medical Assistant Programs

Medical Assistant answering phone call at the clinic

Median salary: $38,270
Time to complete: 1 to 2 years

While studying to become a medical assistant, you’ll learn about the human body and how it works. You will also have courses that teach you about procedures and terms used in medical settings.

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In addition to coursework, you’ll have hands-on clinical experiences. The majority of medical assistants work in doctor’s offices. Some work in hospitals and outpatient surgical facilities.

Medical Billing & Coding Programs

Medical Coder working on hospital data

Median salary: $47,180
Time to complete
: 11 to 14 months

To launch a career in medical billing and coding, you’ll learn the diagnostic and procedural codes used in healthcare settings. You’ll also familiarize yourself with medical terminology, human anatomy, insurance reimbursement, and healthcare privacy laws.

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Most medical coders work for doctor’s offices or hospitals. Some are employed by health insurance companies.

Nursing Assistant Programs

Nursing assistant checking a patient

Median salary: $35,760
Time to complete: 1 to 6 months

If you’re looking for 6-month certificate programs that pay well, you might consider becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

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The curriculum will cover CPR, anatomy, wound care, vital signs, and infection control. You may gain experience through clinicals, in which you work with real patients. CNA jobs are often available in hospitals, nursing homes, and skilled nursing facilities.

Pharmacy Technician Programs

Pharmacy Technician assisting a customer

Median salary: $37,790
Time to complete
: 1 year or less

If you want to become a pharmacy tech, you’ll study customer service, medication classifications, human anatomy, and patient privacy. Your certificate curriculum can also give you practice with the mathematics used in pharmacy settings. There will be some lab and clinical experiences as well.

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Many pharmacy technicians work in retail pharmacies, whether standalone or within larger stores. Others work in pharmacies within hospitals.

Phlebotomy Technician Programs

Phlebotomy Technician taking a patient's blood

Median salary: $38,530
Time to complete: Less than 1 year

Phlebotomists are healthcare professionals who draw blood. For a phlebotomy certificate, you’ll learn how to safely collect blood samples and use collection equipment. You will also study the rights that patients have, including the right to have their medical data kept private.

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Phlebotomists often find jobs in hospitals, doctor’s offices, laboratories, and other healthcare settings.

Real Estate Programs

Real Estate agent guiding property buyers

Median salary: $52,030
Time to complete
: Less than 1 year

Real estate agents need to be licensed, and a certificate program can help you meet the licensure requirements.

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The courses may cover real estate terminology, laws, and practices. For example, you may learn how to advertise a property and complete closing paperwork. Programs are often state-specific. Real estate agents may be self-employed or work for real estate agencies.

Web Design and Development Programs

Web designers building a website

Median salary: $80,730
Time to complete
: 3 months to 1 year

In a web design and development program, you will learn how websites work and what improves visitors’ experiences with them. You will study how to use HTML, incorporate images, collect data, and present information in an organized fashion.

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Web designers and developers may work for stores, financial companies, advertisers, or computer companies. Some are self-employed.

How Long Is Trade School?

students attending Trade School

Most trade school programs last less than 2 years, and some are significantly shorter. In many cases, you can find 6 month and 1 year certificate programs.

How long your program is may depend largely on the field you’re hoping to enter. For example, you can expect to spend about 1 year learning auto mechanics, but it’s necessary to dedicate 1.5 years to the process if you want to go into aviation mechanics.

If you’re looking for 3 month certificate programs that pay well, medical assisting or commercial truck driving are just a few options to consider.

What Are the Highest Paying Jobs That Only Require a Certificate?

Highest Paying Jobs That Only Require a Certificate

Fast certificate programs can lead to profitable careers. If you’re hoping to complete your schooling quickly and then make good money, here are several top jobs to consider.

The listed median annual salaries are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Web developers and digital designers — $80,730
  • Construction and building inspectors — $64,480
  • Court reporters and simultaneous captioners — $63,560
  • Industrial engineering technologists and technicians — $61,210
  • Drafters — $60,400

You can enter each of these fields with only a certificate. Individual salaries can vary based on location, employer, training, and experience.

Earning Certificates Fast That Pay Well

certification programs that pay well

There are many quick certifications that pay well, and one of them might be right for you. Whether you’re interested in a career in healthcare, computers, sales, manufacturing, or repairs, you can get started with a certificate program.

For those who aren’t interested in dedicating several years to college studies, a certificate program could be a strategic choice. You can learn invaluable skills that set you apart as a top job candidate. Plus, you may soon be making good money—and your training won’t have put you into serious debt.

If a certificate is right for you, then why not start looking at training programs at accredited schools today?

Ready to start your journey?