Hate your job?
Want a promotion?
Need to bring home more bacon?
What do all these situations have in common? They can all be remedied or at least improved by getting yourself a certification. This is one of the best ways to make a change in your career path. And surprisingly, it doesn’t have to entail a major commitment of time and money.
Quick certifications can be completed in a matter of a few weeks to a few months. And these days, most can be either partially or fully achieved through self-study online in your free time. There’s no reason for you to quit your current job just yet – you can get certified while still holding down a job.
So, if you’re looking to make a change and move up the ladder, it’s time to look at some quick certifications that pay well.
What is a Quick Certification, Anyway?
To me, a quick certification is one you can achieve in less than six months. In just half a year, you can gain the tools and knowledge it takes to make a career change or simply move up in an industry you’re already involved in.
I’m talking about programs that help you train and study for work in a field that requires less than a college degree. A certificate program is an alternative form of education and one that costs a lot less and takes a whole lot less time to complete.
But once you’re certified, you can enter a field that can pay well and be very rewarding.
What Certifications Pay Off the Most?
If you’re looking for quick certifications that pay well, you probably have three main priorities. Most people are looking for a short study period and a low-cost program that helps them get into a well-paid industry with satisfying work. So the certifications that have the highest payoff are those that don’t cost a lot or take a lot of time but help you pull in a significant salary.
So then, which certifications are the fastest to get?
- First aid certifications
- Language certifications
- Software certifications
- IT certifications
- Forklift operator’s license
- Software certifications
- Certification as a notary public
Getting certified in these areas generally takes less than three to four months. If time is your major concern, as in, you want to change careers yesterday, these are some of the fastest areas you can focus on. They also include some of the fastest growing fields, which means that jobs are going to be available.
After all, what use is getting a certification in something and then not being able to find a job to use it in?
The quickest certifications take only two to four weeks, but that doesn’t mean they will be the best choice. Something like a First Aid Certificate may take just two weeks to complete and cost less than $100.
This might be a qualification you need to hold to get involved in all sorts of jobs, from lifeguarding to EMT work. However, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be guaranteed a job at the end of your training. It’s simply a step towards several careers, and you might need a lot more training on top of this.
How Much Do Quick Certifications Cost?
I realize you want to know how much quick certifications cost, but the answer is not all that simple. It varies widely between different programs.
As we just saw, a simple first aid cert could cost $100 or less. However, in general, most career-starting programs are going to require an investment of anything between $2,000-15,000. It might be even more if textbooks and other materials are needed.
Why is there such a spread?
There are two main reasons to consider. First, some programs are really just information-based and can be presented quickly and easily with a minimum of resources. A course to help you get your real estate broker’s certificate can be studied online, which makes your life a lot easier.
Most courses are offered for something between $100-300; then, you can pay a small fee to take a state test and get your license.
Studying to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), on the other hand, takes longer (about three months) and costs a lot more ($1000-2000). Of course, it makes sense why.
While you can study some information from books or online, becoming an EMT requires a ton of practical on-site training. You need access to equipment, most of which is expensive. You also need experienced trainers there to teach you how to perform multiple tasks. And, of course, all of this takes time and money.
Fast and Easy Online Certifications
More and more certification programs are going online these days, as much as they can, anyway. With improved connectivity, and better information technology available, it just makes sense. For students, online learning can present great benefits but also some tough challenges.
Studying online is great for people who are already busy working full-time or have part-time jobs but still have some free time to study. You can work through material whenever you can squeeze some study hours in, making online courses super-flexible. You can also go back and review things again and again until you master the material. A live classroom teacher or trainer has no rewind button!
These programs can also be provided for a lot less money. To make a program, an institution makes a one-time investment in developing the online course, rather than having to pay for trainers’ salaries and maintaining classrooms. And because you’re studying from home or wherever you want, you can save on transportation costs and time.
However, studying online on your own time requires one thing above all else: DISCIPLINE! Just like working out at home, you need to set your own hours and commit to doing the necessary work. This can be tough. Just like buying a gym membership and hiring a trainer, some people need external motivators to keep them on track.
Free Online Certification Courses
Another consideration to make is that many online certification courses are now offered for free. But be careful with that word ‘free’!
Websites like Allison.com offer courses in a huge range of fields. These include Health, IT, Management, Language, Sales, Business, Engineering, Teaching, and Personal Development. These courses are free to study, and if you pass their exams at the end, you can get your grade and study record.
While this might be enough to show an employer to help you gain a promotion or even a pay rise, it’s generally not enough to get you a new job in the field. But these sites give you the option of paying for your certification, meaning you get an official diploma or certificate.
So while there are oodles of ‘free courses’ out there, ‘free certifications’ basically don’t exist except for a very small number of rare government-sponsored development programs.
Top Quick Certifications that Pay Well
It’s no secret: gaining a certification takes time and money, but it’s an investment in your own future. These days, it’s nearly impossible to get by on just a high school diploma. Most jobs out there require far more specific training and practical experience, but luckily that’s what certification programs provide.
Here are some of the best certifications for getting into well-paid careers in fields that are stable or growing, ensuring that your investment in yourself will be a worthwhile one.
Patient Care Technician
Training Period: 23 – 36 weeks
Median Salary: $36,500
PCTs assist doctors and nurses in their work. They can work in hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, and other locations with people with physical and mental health concerns. This job requires a lot of patience and a lot of empathy, but if you’re good with people, it can be very rewarding work.
A patient care tech (PCT) is also sometimes called a “carer.” Although the job definitely has some technical aspects which of course require training. In this program which takes a little less than six months to complete, you’ll be trained how to take samples, including drawing blood, monitor patients’ conditions, monitor food and liquid intake, check heart rate and blood pressure, and much more.
This is also a field that is growing as the population ages. According to some stats, PCT jobs are set to increase by 17% by 2024. This can also be a stepping-stone job to becoming a registered nurse as you get to learn the basics of medical care and technology while working as a PCT.
Training Period: 9 weeks
Median Salary: $36,000
Another job in the medical field that involves working directly with patients is that of a phlebotomy technician. This job primarily entails drawing blood samples, so be sure you can stand the sight of blood before you even start to consider this as a job!
Phlebotomy technicians normally work in hospitals and clinics that have blood testing facilities. They may also work at blood banks collecting blood donations. In addition to collecting blood samples and preparing them for analysis, they can also collect urine and fecal samples. They also have to sterilize equipment, talk patients through the blood drawing process, and apply bandages afterward.
This job requires a high school diploma as well as a short training course where you learn the tricks of the trade, like how diet interacts with blood sampling, methods for finding tricky veins, and more. Like PCTs, phlebotomy technician jobs are expected to increase as blood sampling becomes more and more common. So this can be a very stable job or a step to a career in health.
Physical Therapy Aide and Assistant
Training Period: 4 weeks (aide) / 1-5-2 years (assistant)
Median Salary: $28,450 (aide) / $59,770 (assistant)
This time I’m looking at two somewhat different jobs in the same listing. Both involve working closely with professional physical therapists and patients to help with treatment programs.
So how do these two jobs differ?
As a physical therapy aide, you’re responsible for less contact with patients and more with equipment and administration. Your tasks could include helping patients to move between treatment areas, cleaning and setting up therapy equipment and linens, scheduling sessions, and even answering phones. Because this is a less technical job, the pay is a lot less, but an online course can be completed in just one month.
Compared to an aide, a physical therapy assistant requires a whole lot more training (two years) as they work directly with patients under the supervision of a therapist. Their tasks include observing patients and recording their progress, helping patients through specific exercises, treating patients with massage or stretching, helping patients learn to use support equipment such as walkers, and discussing therapy programs and home care with patients and families.
An assistant requires a lot more training, and it’s not what I would call a quick certification. However, I’ve added this job here anyway because you can start as an aide and work your way up to the level of assistant later if you’re ready to take on more responsibility and much better pay!
Training Period: 24 weeks
Median Salary: $35,100
If working directly with medical therapies isn’t for you, but you’re still interested in helping sick people get well, pharmacy may be a great fit. As a pharmacy technician, you’re responsible for dispensing medications and filling subscriptions. You also handle most interactions with patients except for giving advice and explaining the medications, which is the pharmacist’s job.
States vary widely in how much training you require to become a pharmacy technician. Some allow you to start with no certification at all and train on the job, while others require a course in pharmacy technology that can take on average six months to complete.
Once you’ve got your certification, however, you can usually work in any state you want. The pay is decent, and working conditions are definitely not as stressful as in other health-related jobs.
Training Period: 20 weeks
Median Salary: $51,840
If you’re surprised to see “professional coder” in the medical section rather than IT, then join the club. I thought a professional coder was another name for a computer programmer, but in fact, this is a job that involves assigning codes to patients’ diagnoses and treatments for use in medical databases.
The job of a professional coder falls into the larger category of Medical Records Specialists, of which there are many types. A coder generally works with patient records and databases, assigning codes to help manage data for use by researchers, hospital management, and insurance companies.
This is a field that requires basic computer skills and a good head for organization. However, even though you would work in a hospital or clinic, a professional coder wouldn’t have any direct contact with patients.
Like most jobs in the medical industry, this one is on the rise. This one can expect a 9% increase in jobs by 2030.
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Paramedic
Training Period: 3-11 weeks (EMT) / 2 years (Paramedic)
Median Salary: $36,650
Just like with physical therapy aides and assistants, emergency medical professionals can have different levels of training. While both are associated with ambulance driving and stabilizing patients, EMTs have more basic training, while paramedics can do a lot more.
EMTs can study a course for anywhere between 3-11 weeks to get certified, depending on the state. They need to hold a CPR certification as well as pass a licensing test to be able to work in this field. EMTs learn about airway clearance, CPR, resuscitation, treatment of trauma wounds, and even how to deliver babies safely. This is an action-packed job that puts you as the first line of medical care on the scene.
Paramedics have to study all the same things, but their courses are much longer – up to two years. This is because paramedics must learn more about physiology. They have greater responsibilities that can include stitching wounds, administering medications and IVs, and even reading and assessing x-rays and electro-cardiograms.
While the median (middle-level) salary is $36,650 annually for these jobs, there is a big range depending on your level of certification, from $24,650 up to $62,150. Paramedics, of course, make more, but they have to train for a lot longer. But you can start in this field as an EMT and train up to be a full paramedic later as time and money allow.
Training Period: 12-24 weeks
Median Salary: $43,620
Massage therapists are quite often shown in movies and on TV, but the actual job can be quite different from what you’d expect. While some therapists make appointments and meet clients in their homes, the majority work in massage clinics or hospitals, providing therapeutic massages as well and just relaxing ones.
Becoming a massage therapist can take anywhere from three to six months, or sometimes more, depending on the region. A course for a massage therapist is going to include some theory and physiology, but the majority of it will be, dare I say, “hands on”! These courses can also be somewhat expensive because close instruction is needed as well as space to perform and teach techniques. This is not a simple stay at home, simple online certification!
However, massage therapists can earn good money and work flexible hours. This job does require professionalism, people skills, and most of all stamina as it’s a physically demanding job that has you work with your body every day.
Training Period: varied
Median Salary: $77,200
A web developer is the type of coder we were probably thinking of before. This job entails constructing and maintaining websites, as well as building online infrastructure like shops and galleries.
The beauty of these certs is that you can pick them up through testing if you’re already comfortable working in these languages. Otherwise, you can take a course to get your certification.
Web developers have more and more opportunities open to them each year as more of the world’s marketplaces go online. That’s why this is an area projected to grow by 13% by 2030. With just a few weeks of study and passing a test, you can get this quick certification that pays well or even superbly in the long term.
Welder (Cutter, Solderer, or Brazer)
Training Period: 36 weeks
Median Salary: $44,190
Now we’re getting into a few trades, and one that continues to grow is the area of welding, cutting, soldering, and brazing metal. These different but related jobs involve the manufacture and repair of tools and equipment and even building construction.
You can become a certified welder by taking, on average, a nine month or 36 week course. You’ll learn how to handle and manipulate metals and also to work in difficult environments. Welding can be highly physically demanding and also dangerous work, so courses also take great pains to teach safety regulations.
After gaining certification, you’ll have to apprentice for years (varying according to state) as part of your on the job training. Once your apprenticeship is finished, you can start your own business.
Welding jobs are expected to increase by 8% by 2030. This means about 50,000 new jobs every year will open up, so after a fairly quick certification course, you can get into this field easily and expect it to be a career that will last.
Training Period: 20 weeks
Median Salary: $49,520
Carpenters work with wood in just about every situation you can think of. This can include rough construction work to fine furniture making and everything in between.
To become a carpenter, you’ll normally need to take a roughly 20-week or five month course to get certified. This course will teach you the tools and techniques necessary to work with wood, and of course, the safety equipment and regulations applicable to the field. You’ll also learn to work with computer-controlled tools such as CNCs, which have revolutionized the carpentry industry.
As with welding, certified carpenters also go through apprenticeship programs for years before being able to branch out (was that a tree pun?) on their own.
Training Period: 16 weeks
Median Salary: $56,900
Becoming an electrician is a lot like the other trades we’ve seen already. To get certified, you’ll need to study a roughly four-month course. Following that, you would apprentice with a professional electrician to learn the job hands on.
And what’s the job?
Electricians work with house and building wiring, outdoor wiring, and also installation and monitoring systems for things like gadgets, security cameras, and more. This is a job that requires a good head for numbers as well as handiness. It also includes some danger, which means you have to be highly responsible and a safe worker, on top of being certified.
However, electricians are always in demand, so this is a very stable field to get into. Estimated growth in this industry is 9% which is a little above average, and that means taking the time to get a quick certification now can have a big payoff with a long career into the future.
Training Period: 3 week
Median Salary: $48,500
If you’re surprised to find flight attendant on a list of quick certifications that pay well, I have to admit I was surprised to put it on. I had no idea that it was so easy to become a flight attendant. You can get into this line of work with just a three-week certification course!
Now there are other things needed to become a flight attendant than just a course. You also need a CPR certification as well as a high school diploma. You also need to meet the minimum height requirement for the airline or flight area in which you would be flying. This can vary, but for major airlines, the minimum is 5’2” (nope, not in your high heels!).
Training for flight attendants involves service, safety, and the general workings of air travel. This job requires you to be safety and regulation conscious and responsible, and also personable. Travel can be physically taxing, but you can also reap the benefits of free trips around the country or the world!
Looking for More Quality Job Options?
Then check out our comprehensive look at the Best Remote Jobs that Pay Well, the Best Jobs for College Students, the Best Paying Jobs in Energy, 15 Part Time Jobs that Pay more than 40 per Hour, 20 Part Time Jobs that Pay more than 20 per Hour, as well as the Best 6 Figure Jobs out there in 2022.
Plus, when it’s time for that all-important interview, you can’t go wrong by investing in a good book such as Answering Tough Interview Questions For Dummies or the superb Interview Like A Pro. Or check out our comprehensive guides on the best way to answer common interview questions such as Answering Tell Me About Yourself in Interview, Why We Should Hire You? how to respond to Why Do You Want to Work Here? or How to Answer What is Your Greatest Strength!
The Top Quick Certifications that Pay Well
These 12 recommendations are some of the best ways to get certified quickly and easily and get into a good, reliable job. Some require more time and money for training. But the general rule is that the more you have to invest in your certification, the higher the salary you can command in that job.
So why not think about getting certified for a new or better job than what you’re in right now? In many cases, you can even do it in your spare time so that you don’t have to quit your current job while you train for something new.
Who knows – you might just find yourself making the kind of money you always knew you were worth in no time at all!