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Choosing between Certificate and Degree Programs – Which Is Best for You?

When a high school student is nearing senior year, the one thought that is predominantly on his or her mind is whether or not they can ‘suffer’ through another two to four years of education before even considering getting a real job in their chosen profession. Not only are they at a loss for what they want to really do for the rest of their lives, they are simply anxious to be over it! They have spent 13 (counting kindergarten) of their 18 years in a classroom and the thought of another 4 to 6 or more years is beyond what many care to think about.

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There is another option, however, as one program in Minnesota clearly proves. EPPA Scribes can complete their education in much less the time than they would spend at university and they walk out the door with a certificate that entitles them to work within IT in the field of healthcare. No matter what your ultimate trade will be, a trade school might be worth looking into if college doesn’t appeal to you.

Work Study Programs akin to Apprenticeships

One of the main benefits of attending so many trade schools around the country is that you can actually get your proverbial feet wet in the industry while gaining a certificate that qualifies you as a professional in the field. In fact, many institutions have agreements with local colleges as well and students who at some point wish to get a college degree can also use their certificate and field work towards college credit. These work/study programs are akin to apprenticeships of days gone by but are still very practicable in today’s culture.

Quicker Entry into the Workforce

Because of the shorter duration of most trade school certificate programs, it is possible to get out into the workforce much quicker than when studying for a degree that can take 4 to 6 or even more years to attain. The combination of being tired of the restrictions of a classroom and the want/need to make money quickly entices many high school grads to seek a certificate as opposed to a degree of a longer duration.

Cost of an Education

Then there is cost to be considered. It has been estimated that the cost of getting a certificate is somewhere between $30k and $35k whereas a college degree can cost much, much more than $130k. Cost alone is the main determining factor for many students and their parents, and that’s why more and more industries are accepting trade certificates in lieu of college degrees.

So, which is best for you? Some students are seeking careers such as chemical engineering that will take a minimum of 6 years to achieve because a master’s degree is typically required even for entry level jobs. You need to realistically assess cost and time before choosing one over the other and when you’ve settled on the path that best suits you, you can rest assured knowing that a career is waiting for you at the end of a long journey through academia.

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