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12 Career Boosting Certificates

by Christina Couch
Provided by ClassesUSA.com

Whether you're climbing the corporate ladder, fine-tuning your skills, or breaking into an entirely new field, certificate programs offer a measurable way to build your mind and expand your marketability. Check out 12 careers in which specialized degrees and programs are opening doors and creating opportunities.

1. English As a Second Language
If you can read this, you may have a job just around the corner or across the sea. English is the international language of business, medicine, commerce, technology, and tourism, making English language teachers an invaluable professional commodity, domestically and abroad. Julie Jaskol, public affairs manager for UCLA Extension, the continuing education branch of the University of California, Los Angeles, says that those holding a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate have a distinct advantage over those without.

"Many language schools, community colleges, and companies look upon our certificate programs as strong positive factors in hiring and offering promotions," states Jaskol. "We expect our program to continue to grow because of the increasing opportunities for English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers." With an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 English teaching jobs currently available around the world, that's probably a safe bet.

2. Medical Transcriptionist
As long as there are doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, and dieticians, there will always be a need for those trained in writing concise, well-organized medical reports. Ranked as one of the 20 fastest-growing occupations by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, skilled transcriptionists have the freedom to work in nearly any aspect of health care, and in some cases, create their own hours or even work from home.

Tired of the morning commute? With as little as one year of office experience, a veteran transcriptionist can easily switch to a freelance career, making you the boss and giving you the ultimate job flexibility.

3. Nonprofit Management
If you want to mix passion with your profession, start building a career with one of the 1.4 million nonprofit organizations in the United States. For the past four years, the annual growth of nonprofit agencies has exceeded that of business or government organizations, creating a demand for management personnel with a background in fundraising and community development.

Besides learning the basics of budgeting, planning, evaluation, and marketing, a specialization in nonprofit management sets you apart by showing an acute knowledge of grant writing, social issues, and the framework of international non-governmental organizations. Since nonprofit opportunities exist across the globe, your next career could be in California, Chile, or the Czech Republic.

4. Terrorism and National Security
When Kirk Rockwell, a baggage screener for the Transportation Security Administration at Miami International Airport, enrolled in the online Terrorism and National Security certificate program at Kaplan University (Boca Raton, FL), he wanted to learn more about the history and structure of international and domestic terrorism. When he graduated, his ability to educate others on how to identify different forms of terrorist threats led to an almost immediate promotion.

With terrorism at the forefront of nearly all outlets of the federal government, those with specialized knowledge of the social, religious, and political earmarks of terrorist groups are highly sought after by both private and public sector employers. "[The program] got right to the nuts and bolts of what I do every day," says Rockwell. "I can actually divulge more information and give a better understanding of what's going on."

5. Desktop Publishing
Before reaching your hands, your favorite magazines pass through a team of computer-savvy writers, editors, graphic designers, production personnel, and marketing agents, whose job it is to make sure they are accurate, well-written, elegantly designed, and delivered on time. It's called desktop publishing and it includes everything from editing copy for book manuscripts, to setting page layouts for corporate newsletters, to choosing the proper font for promotional calendars.

The market for those trained to use the latest publishing software is expanding and will continue to grow as more companies cut the cost of printing and publishing by hiring their own in-house staff. A certificate in desktop publishing will introduce you to the major computer programs used in publishing and teach you how to create your own professional portfolio.

6. eCommerce
Let's face it - we live in a world where love is found, bills are paid, and careers are both made and broken with the click of a mouse. Welcome to the age of electronic commerce, where anything imaginable can be bought and sold in the realm of cyberspace. In 2004 alone, Total e-commerce sales for 2005 were estimated at $86.3 billion, an increase of 24.6 percent from 2004, according to the Department of Commerce, opening up fresh opportunities in the areas of electronic marketing, sales, and management. With revenues soaring to $25 billion per quarter, both stand-alone e-enterprises as well as traditional businesses with eCommerce outlets are actively seeking individuals with a background in Web-based business management. Thanks to the Internet, the world is quickly becoming a smaller place; it's up to you to capitalize on it.

7. Dental Assistant
For the next eight years, one out of every four new jobs created in the United States will be in the fields of health care or education. By 2012, health care alone will add 4.4 million jobs to the United States economy, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A dental assistant certificate will give you the credentials to immediately begin work as a dental assistant, front office receptionist, or dental office manager. "Our Administrative Dental Assistant [certificate] course will prepare students to handle the administrative duties of a dental office, such as dental insurance, billing, and coding," states Sarah Karr, operations manager for Gatlin Education Services (Ft. Worth, TX), the world's largest provider of self-paced online certificate programs. A program of dental assistant study will introduce you to the clinical, laboratory, and administrative aspects of dentistry and prepare you for a career in a rapidly growing industry.

8. Paralegal Studies
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the paralegal job market is projected to increase up to 35 percent within the next eight years, creating 70,000 more jobs in the areas of criminal law, health care, intellectual property, and environmental law. If you're looking to break into the legal field, a certificate in paralegal studies will provide you with an excellent introduction. If you want to specialize or move up, a certificate will prepare you for your next career move.

Evelyn Rawley, a paralegal for the U.S. Department of Justice, the largest employer of paralegals in the federal government, used her online certificate from the University of Maryland University College (UMUC, Adelphi, MD) as a bridge between her current job and law school. Rawley says that the experience gained through UMUC provided her with a taste of law school. "A lot of the classes I took within this program were duplicated in law school as required credits."

9. Network Security
In 1988, the Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) reported six incidents of deliberate attacks against computer systems. By 2003, there were more than 137,000. Cyber-terrorism, the ability to penetrate and destroy computer systems and programs, is a relatively new phrase in law enforcement jargon. Creating protected networking systems that secure customer confidentiality is crucial in safeguarding both commercial and governmental operations. A certificate in network security will give you the ability to recognize different forms of security threats, detect system weaknesses, and implement disaster recovery strategies.

10. Forensic Nursing
Want to enter the world of "CSI"? A bit of deductive reasoning and a certificate in forensic nursing could put you there in a heartbeat. No pun intended. As of 1995, the American Nurses Association recognizes forensic science as an official nursing specialty. Since then, the field has exploded with membership in the International Association of Forensic Nurses rising 400 percent and careers springing up in hospitals, nonprofit agencies, and private investigation organizations.

From collecting evidence to giving courtroom testimony to examining victims, crime scene health care technicians play the part of medical expert as well as investigator, and work hand in hand with detectives to solve cases. For current RNs, a specialization in forensic nursing will provide you with a legal, medical, psychological, and social framework for working with hospitals, law enforcement, protective services, and/or assault counselors.

11. Disaster Management
In the wake of the tsunami tragedy and a war on terror, the demand for professionals trained in managing and diffusing disaster situations has skyrocketed. This certificate not only outlines response procedures for environmental catastrophes ranging from earthquakes to accidents involving radiation, but also provides guidance on how to assess and administer relief efforts for multifaceted disasters.

As a result of the 2003 California wildfires, Captain Daniel Finkelstein, chief of transit police for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office, used his security background as well as his online disaster management training through Touro University International (Cypress, CA) to implement an emergency management system. Captain Finkelstein says, "Having this 'formal' background allowed [me] to make more sense and evaluate the tons of information we all receive daily through avenues such as CNN and other media outlets."

12. Leadership
For enterprising individuals who want to solidify their ability to plan, prepare, and execute business initiatives, a program such as the Studies in Proactive Leadership certificate offered through eCornell may be just the thing to separate your røRmîWrom the hordes of other administrative professionals'. Leadership programs focus on developing the critical thinking skills necessary in devising and implementing business plans and corporate initiatives for private, public, and nonprofit organizations.

"Organizations today place increasing value on employees with a demonstrated ability to execute organizational initiatives - to get things done," comments David Shoemaker, eCornell's director of learning solutions. "It's not enough in an organization to be a thinker - truly effective employees are those who couple thinking with doing."

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