Are Certificates Worth It?

EdWize is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission (at no cost to you).  Learn more.

Are Certificates Worth It?

Online learning is becoming a popular option for working professionals and students looking for more affordable education.

With so much flexibility and a lower price tag, it’s no surprise that online learning is such an attractive option – but are certificates worth it?

What Is An Online Certificate?

Online certificates are accreditation and recognition acquired by taking courses and learning via online educational institutions.

Online courses are often not the same as degrees.

Instead, they’re usually much shorter and more focused on a specific subject, and most online courses will focus solely on developing skills in a specific area.

Online courses are generally more condensed than college or university courses, so you can expect to pay much lower fees.

Online learning is popular with working professionals looking to expand their knowledge and students seeking a more affordable education.

Organizations also benefit from putting their employees through online learning, as they can reskill and upskill employees in a short time frame, which is beneficial to both the organization and the employee.

Online courses are usually done completely remotely, and students have a great deal of flexibility to choose how and when they learn.

This is what makes online learning so popular amongst working professionals and businesses.

Are Online Certificates Right For You?

If you’re thinking of taking an online course and gaining an online certificate, you’ll have a number of questions you need to ask yourself – especially if you’re considering online education over a traditional institution.

To help you decide whether your online certificate is worth the learning journey, try asking yourself the following questions:

What’s Your End Goal?

Before you embark on your online learning journey, ask yourself this – what’s your end goal?

What do you want to learn and why, and why do you think online education aligns with this goal?

You’ll benefit the most from your online education if you can identify how you want to progress your career.

Online certificates may not hold as much value as a traditional certificate or degree, but they will show employers that you’re committed to expanding your knowledge and growing in your sector.

So, if you’re looking to improve your skills and shoot for a promotion or even move to a new sector of your company, online certificates are a great way to demonstrate your commitment and capabilities.

Which Is Better: A Degree Or A Certificate?

Finding the answer to this question will depend largely on your first answer. You’ll also have a few other things to figure out, including:

  • How much time do you have to commit to learning
  • Your budget
  • What is your end goal is
  • What field you’re working in or hoping to work in
  • Your existing education

Online programs can take between a few weeks or a few months to complete, and you’ll have to commit less time to your studies (between 5-15 hours a week, depending on the course).

They’ll also have a more concentrated focus and lower fees, which makes them an attractive option for people already working.

However, as appealing as this is, it’s not going to be worth it if you need a complete college or university degree to reach your end goal.

This is why you need to put in the research first – take some time to figure out what education you need to reach your goal.

Traditional courses will often require more time (more than 20 hours a week); they’ll also have a higher price tag and focus on a much less concentrated field.

So if you’re looking to completely change careers, or you need a master’s degree to access the next level of your profession, attending a traditional institution and gaining a formal degree may be better for you than an online certificate.

Popular Online Learning Providers

Popular Online Learning Providers

If you’ve decided that gaining an online certificate is right for you, you’ll now need to choose the right learning provider.

One quick search in Google will throw up plenty of results for online learning providers, so how do you decide which one is good for you?

Here are some of the most popular online learning providers and what you need to know about them.

Linkedin Learning

Linkedin Learning offers students access to thousands of courses that can give them the creativity and skills they need to bolster their careers.

Linkedin Learning is targeted toward working professionals looking to improve their knowledge of their field.

You’ll get a Linkin certificate of completion to prove your participation in the course.

Study.com

Study.com (see also ‘How Much Is Study.com?‘) is ideal for working professionals, teachers, and students of all levels of education.

Study.com (see also ‘Is Study.com A Reliable Source?‘) provides courses and certificates for students of all levels, and if you use the college accelerator program, you can gain credits that can be transferred to a university.

Coursera

Coursera is another online learning platform website that allows students to start, switch, or progress their careers, with access to over 5,000 courses.

You’ll get a professional certificate from Coursera that can be used to prove your study to employers and help you access more in-demand jobs.

Hubspot Academy

Hubspot Academy offers its students plenty of online courses to help improve their career opportunities and upskill.

Many Hubspot Academy courses are completely free, and you’ll get a certificate of completion to place on your resume or Linkedin profile and to show off to employers.

Are Online Certificates Worth it?

Online learning is affordable and accessible, but are online learning certificates worth it?

If you’re passionate, willing to learn, and focused on upskilling – online certificates are almost always worth it. Just remember to make sure the certification and providers are legit before you waste your time and money,

Online certificates can make your job applications stand out from the crowd and provide you with valuable knowledge for a small price, the sort of knowledge that, in some cases, can help you climb the corporate ladder and get that promotion!

However, if the job you’re seeking requires formal education, don’t expect online certificates to be a suitable substitute.

Online certificates can rarely replace formal degrees, and they’re better utilized when paired with existing formal education, other online certificates, and work experience.

The Bottom Line

If you want to reskill or upskill in a specific field, online learning and certificates may be the extra accreditation you need to climb the ladder.

However, before you commit to online learning, we’d recommend thoroughly researching your preferred learning providers and establishing your career goals first.

Martin Barrett

Martin is the editor in chief as Edwize.org. He has taken more courses than cares to remember. If he’s not watching back to back documentaries he is geeking out in the E-Learning space.