Certificate programs are becoming more in demand by college graduates and job seekers. They’re seeing the value of a certificate program as more than another piece of paper to frame and put on the wall.

Instead, earning a professional certificate can lead to job offers, promotions, and salary increases.

Continuing education certificate programs offer you the opportunity to study in a specific area, either related to your existing job or in a field you are exploring. To earn a continuing education certificate from a college or university, you have to complete a number of required courses and electives. Most can be earned in one to two years.

No matter your profession, you’re likely to find a school offering a certificate for you and courses taught by professionals with real-world knowledge. There are certificate programs in everything from health care to law to management to nonprofits to technology.

Mary Walshok, dean of UC San Diego Extension, and co-author of the book Closing America’s Job Gap says:

“Unlike the 1950s through 1970s, when schools of continuing education and extension services were more like second-chance universities for adults who didn’t have the opportunity to get a college degree, these programs today are hubs of education and training providing the practice oriented credentials which combined with a solid liberal arts degree make for globally competitive careers.”

The University of California San Diego reports a 19 percent increase in students enrolling in certificate programs. In 2011, 3,841 students entered continuing education certificate programs at UC San Diego, compared to 3,217 during 2010. UC San Diego Extension offers 102 certificates, and for most of them, the entire program costs $1,875-$3,200.

The majority – about 85 percent – of students already hold a college degree. And employers are paying for the extra schooling, so it’s an option to inquire about if you’re currently employed.

Here are 10 areas where UC San Diego are seeing more students enrolling in certificate programs – and they reflect trends in other schools, too:

  • Lactation consultant
  • Biostatistics
  • Paralegal studies
  • Data mining
  • Lean Six Sigma
  • Leadership and management
  • Fundraising and development
  • Copyediting
  • College counseling
  • Reading instruction from research to practice

We’re seeing schools grow their certificate programs, too.

Lake Michigan College in South Haven, Mich., recently approved two new one-year Certificate of Achievement programs in logistics and energy production technology/line worker.

New certificates at UC San Diego include graphic design, in vitro diagnostics, career advising, mobile applications development, mobile device programming, and video and imaging technologies, clinical trials administration in Latin America, and global service entrepreneurship.

College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, N.Y., is offering career-focused certificate programs – a Pharmacy Technician Certificate Program and Medical Assistant Administration Program.

As you’re looking at college programs, you may be able to transition to a new job or more rewarding position by adding a professional certificate to your resume.

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