Every year at the end of December, before I go on vacation, I think about what I want to accomplish professionally in the following year. In the past, coming up with a list was relatively easy to accomplish. I was part of a company. I had an established role so my goals revolved around what it would take to get a promotion. When I worked in the startup, my goals were around developing personal skills to help and expand the company.
This year is different though. I don’t have a company dictating my professional decisions. Now, it’s all about me. My friend was recently accepted into an online certificate program at a university on the west coast. That gave me the idea to look into online certificates. The problem is, what do I get a certificate in?
There are so many interesting things to study. Do I get something that compliments my current career path or do I go crazy and study something that sounds fun but may not equate to a job? Now I sound like a college Freshman trying to decide a major.
I like the idea of getting a certificate because it’s not as big of a commitment as a full-blown graduate program. Doing a course online gives me the flexibility I need to take care of my son. However, my dad said that companies aren’t necessarily looking for people who have certificates. They prefer people with graduate degrees as their continued education. Although, that was for engineering specifically. I’m not sure how true that is for business and technology. When I worked in IT consulting, my superiors told me an MBA wasn’t worth it. One manager at the time asked, “What do you need that for?”.
On the flip side, that company paid for two of my certificates. Then, it made sense. I increased my knowledge in a specific skill set and added a reason to get a promotion and a raise. My employer now had someone who knew a specific area and provided that certified value.
My dad asked me why I didn’t consider taking his product design and engineering class. While I’m not an engineer, it would be interesting to take a class in product design – especially after working in a startup. The downside is that his class isn’t really set up for a remote student and it’s not as valuable for the resume as having a certificate from a university.
Online University Certificate Pros
- Professional education
- Interesting topics
- Flexible Hours
- Potential credit towards a masters degree
Online University Certificate Cons
- Questionable ROI
- Time commitment with an infant
I think you can’t go wrong any time you decide to continue your education. Whether that be an online class, a weekend power workshop, or a university level program. It’s also important to consider the cost, time, and scope of what we’re signing up for.
Did you earn an online certificate? Did you enjoy the experience? Let me know in the comments below!