What are the differences in certificates and diplomas offered by online trade schools?

Online trade schools offer students the opportunity to transition into the real-world workforce much faster than those attending the traditional degree program, either through an online or on-campus format. Generally, you can complete a vocational school program in one to two years. For some occupations, your coursework can be completed in as little as four to six months. But, what will you get for your hard work and training? Do employer’s accept certificates, prefer a diploma, or should you obtain an associate degree? And, what are the differences in each award?

Certificates or diplomas earned through a vocational school or online program are great ways to showcase your talents, skills, and knowledge in a specific field. The prerequisite for beginning a trade school program typically requires you to have earned a high school diploma or GED.

A certificate is given when a student has completed an educational program in some capacity, such as a program that focuses on a specific trade. This type of certification is often awarded in trades related to business applications, mechanics, electricians, medical coders, or perhaps an emergency medical technician, among many others. As you would fully expect, the above occupations require a hands-on approach to training, as opposed to, extensive amounts of formal classes and bookwork.

Through an online trade program, you may be expected to provide practicum training yourself to meet the expected requirements of your certification; however, if you are attending on-campus, your on-hands training opportunities are provided. Depending on your trade choice, you can expect to earn your certificate within one year or less.

If your vocation of choice requires a more in-depth educational experience, such as formal coursework, as well as, extensive hands-on training, you will most likely be awarded an official diploma, such as in the fields of nursing, computer programming or as a dental assistant. Diploma programs are designed to assist students in learning the fundamentals of their chosen trade without having to endure the additional core classes, such as English, math, history and science coursework that’s required through an associate degree program.

Diploma programs, like certificate programs, also require you to have a high school diploma or GED before enrolling. Since diploma programs demand an in-depth look into a vocation, naturally they take a little longer to complete; typically, between one to two years. Again, if you are participating in an online program, you may need to provide your own practical training opportunities, and if you are studying at your own pace, it could take you longer than two years, depending on your dedication.

When does a student need to forego the certificate or diploma program and acquire an associate degree instead? As most students would prefer to get out into the workforce as soon as possible, it may not be feasible. Certain occupational choices require more than a certificate or diploma to enter; some do call for an associate degree, at the very least.

Associate degrees can be earned and completed within two years and is generally offered at your local community college or through an online format, depending on your subject choice. However, through an online associate degree program, you will be required to meet the undergraduate program credits for subjects such as English, science, math, history, and others if necessary.

Through an associate degree program, you should expect a more comprehensive learning experience, as well as, more significant rewards for your hard work. Employers are prepared to offer prospective employees better career opportunities and a more substantial compensation and benefits package if you hold an associate degree, compared to the competition who have certificates or diplomas only.

If you are earning your associate degree through an accredited program, you most likely can easily transfer earned credits into a bachelor’s degree program. Also, in some instances, you may be able to shift credits earned through a two-year vocational diploma program into a bachelor’s degree program at a college or university at a later date, depending on your school’s regulations. An associate degree program has similar prerequisites as the certificate or diploma program; however, some may also require SAT or GRE test scores.

Keep in mind that all trade schools have various vocational classes to offer, in addition to, time restraints for completion. With careful consideration and research, you can assuredly find one to fit your needs and busy schedule.

For more information, see OnlineSchoolsCenter.com’s Trade School Directory or the 30 Highest Paying Trade School Degrees and Jobs. If you are interested in the exhilarating world of home and land sales, check out our best options for the Top Online Schools for Real Estate Programs.