15 High-Paying Certifications
Many people believe that you need a four-year degree from a top university if you want to qualify for a high-paying job. While this may be true for some professions, there are several rewarding careers that pay well and only require employees to have certification from an accredited trade school program.
Most certificate programs cost a fraction of a longer two-year or four-year degree and only take a few months to complete.
Certified candidates often become attractive prospects to potential employers, which can help them find work faster and earn higher salaries than non-certified job seekers.
Wondering what certifications can help you earn high wages? Check out this article to learn about the top-paying certifications in the following fields:
- Healthcare and Medicine
- Construction and Building Maintenance
- Transportation and Auto Mechanics
Healthcare and Medical Certifications
Medical field jobs are almost always in demand for men and women who enjoy helping others, have exceptional focus and attention to detail, and thrive in fast-paced environments. If you have those traits, you might consider completing a vocational program and getting certified in one of these well-paying professions.
Average Salary: $60k
An EKG tech performs and reads electrocardiogram tests, which measure heart rhythms to detect irregularities that may indicate a possibility of heart disease or heart attack. During these tests, the tech communicates with patients and monitors their blood pressure to help them relax and keep them stable.
Once you have a GED or high school diploma, you can enroll in an EKG certification program and spend four to six weeks taking classes like cardiac anatomy and physiology, electrical conduction in the heart, and identification and interpretation of EKG tracings. Then, you can take the certification exam and start applying to work at hospitals, doctor’s offices, labs, and outpatient clinics.
Medical Billing and Coding
Average Salary: $47k
Another high-paying job for certified professionals in the medical field is medical billing and coding specialist. These workers help process medical insurance claims and ensure medical professionals get paid by using specialized software to collect patient data and input it into electronic health records.
Training programs for medical records specialists like billers or coders typically take less than six months to complete. However, if you plan to earn certification in both billing and coding, courses may take as much as a full year or 15 months. Having both credentials can give you an advantage over other applicants and help you secure a higher salary of roughly $50k or more.
Average Salary: $37k
Essentially, a medical assistant helps doctors and nurses attend to patients. Similar to patient care techs and CNAs, these trained professionals take patients’ vitals, administer medications, and perform other preliminary medical duties. However, they also have administrative tasks like answering phones, setting appointments, and checking inventory for their clinic or department.
Some accelerated medical assistant courses take about six weeks to complete, while others can take six months, nine months, or even two years. During these training programs, students learn various medical and administrative skills, including:
- Medical terminology
- Pharmacology and medication administration
- Human anatomy, physiology, and pathology
- First Aid
- Recordkeeping and accounting
- Office practices
- Keyboarding and computer applications
- Patient relations
- Medical law and ethics
If you’re a tech-savvy person who likes creating websites, playing computer games, or surfing the internet, getting a technology-related certification is a smart way to turn your hobby into a lucrative career. To get started, think about becoming certified in one of these tech-specific areas.
Average Salary: $78k
Both small businesses and large corporations hire full-stack developers to do the digital coding for their websites, web and mobile apps, and company software. Workers in this role double as web developers and digital designers, building all the necessary parts of the applications and user interfaces.
Some full stack developer certification schools prefer students to have some basic experience with coding and particular software programs. Depending on your experience and how quickly you learn, you may be able to complete a course within one to four months. Once you complete your course and pass the certification exam, you’ll become qualified for a wide range of well-paying industry careers.
Video Game Designer
Average Salary: $79k
Many gamers become certified video game designers when they want to pursue a fun, competitive career that lets them be creative. With this certification, you can get a job coming up with characters, storylines, levels, and everything else that goes into making video games. You then work with a video game developer to bring your ideas to life.
While most people prefer to complete their video game design certification online, you can also find in-class instruction at vocational and trade schools. To get certified, you’ll need to complete a one-year to two-year program that emphasizes coding skills, offers experience with 2D and 3D animation, and teaches you how to understand programming languages and different game design engines.
During your video game design program, you’ll need to build a portfolio that can show your coding and design skills to potential employers. You can create your portfolio by participating in internships, getting a job as a junior designer at a small video gaming company, or even taking part in video game design and development competitions.
Average Salary: $51k
Graphic designers use their artistic abilities and technological know-how to create eye-catching, effective marketing materials. Certified professionals in this field work on advertising campaigns for large companies and individual clients and help them market their business or products by creating logos, brochures, webpages, newspaper or magazine articles, and more.
Aspiring graphic designers should become certified in various digital design programs, which they can complete at a vocational school or online through a software product vendor. Trade school courses can take anywhere from one to four years, while an alternative program might only take a few months to complete.
Construction and Building Maintenance Certifications
Those with a talent for completing odd jobs around the house can attend school and become certified maintenance workers. People who earn these certifications often get high-paying jobs consulting and working with architects and construction crews. Some may even go on to start their own businesses.
Average Salary: $60k
Licensed electricians install, repair, and maintain electrical control systems to provide power to homes and businesses. When power outages occur, these skilled technicians work to restore electrical power to the affected areas. People with the proper license and certification can establish their own electrician business or find electrician jobs with electric companies or their local governments.
Electrician certification programs give you the theory, technical and safety training you’ll need for this career. Some people skip school and get hands-on experience working under a licensed electrician. After your schooling or apprenticeship, you can take the certification and licensing exams. Usually, it takes between two and five years to complete the program, gain experience, and get licensed.
Average Salary: $49k
An HVAC technician installs and repairs heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. With the proper certification, these techs can also work on refrigeration units and equipment, which can help them attain higher-paying jobs in commercial settings like warehouses, hotels, restaurants and office buildings.
Similar to electricians, HVAC techs can choose to enroll in a training program or undergo an apprenticeship. However, where the apprenticeship can take up to five years, you can complete an educational program and get certified in as little as six months. Also, your state may require you to become a licensed contractor in addition to getting your certification.
Average Salary: $60k
Some people might prefer to become a certified plumber instead of an HVAC tech or electrician. These professionals install the necessary pipes and fittings to carry water, gas, and other fluids throughout schools, homes, businesses and more. Unclogging drains, repairing leaks, and ensuring pipes are both airtight and watertight are part of a plumber’s daily duties as well.
Plumbers often complete a two-year trade school certification program and a two-year or three-year apprenticeship to learn local plumbing codes and regulations, blueprint reading, and proper safety and technical procedures of the job. Depending on your state’s requirements, you’ll then need to complete the proper exams to obtain your journey-level or master plumber license.
Transportation and Auto Mechanic Certifications
Transportation and auto mechanic certifications are great for those who enjoy driving or working on cars, boats, trucks, and other vehicles. If you want to qualify for a high-paying job at a garage, dealership, or a trucking or shipping company, consider getting one of the following certifications.
Average Salary: $47k
Automotive service technicians and mechanics complete a wide range of repair and maintenance tasks to keep vehicles running smoothly and safely. On any given day, these workers may perform duties such as:
- Oil changes
- Brake repair
- Suspension and alignment checks
- Tire rotation, repair or replacement
- Engine, carburetor, and transmission maintenance
- Fixing various automotive parts and systems
Most employers require their mechanics to have a certificate from an accredited trade school education program, which can take two or three years to complete. If you plan to work on luxury vehicles at a high-end dealership or garage, you may also need to obtain certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
CDL Truck Driver
Average Salary: $48k
Those who like to travel might prefer to get their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) and become certified long-haul truckers. Drivers transport shipments of various goods across the country and may be on the road for days or weeks at a time. Other duties for these workers may involve inspecting their truck trailers, taking inventory and securing cargo, and reporting to dispatchers when necessary.
CDL training and certification programs generally take about three to twelve weeks. During that time, students receive roughly 160 hours of classroom instruction and hands-on training behind the wheel. Some truckers get additional HazMat certifications so they can make more money transporting hazardous materials.
Average Salary: $48k
Freight brokers maintain communication between cargo shippers and carriers to ensure that the shipper’s products arrive safely and on time. Using their exceptional organization and negotiating skills, these professionals choose transport routes, arrange pick-ups and drop-offs, and handle financial exchanges for deliveries.
Depending on which trade school you attend, your freight broker certification program could take anywhere from six months to two years. You can also complete several years of experience and networking within the industry instead of attending school. Whichever path you choose, you’ll need to apply for a broker authority in order to receive your federal license and certification.
Service Industry Certifications
Service jobs are often in high demand, and becoming certified in some aspect of the industry can make it easier to start a business or increase your chances of finding a well-paying career. Get one of the following certifications to turn your talent and love of helping others into a fun, rewarding way to earn a living.
Average Salary: $30k
With a vet assistant certification, you can work with animals at a veterinarian’s office, animal care clinic, or lab. Duties involve feeding, bathing, and exercising the animals in your care. Vet assistants also restrain pets during examinations, administer medications and immunizations, and monitor animals after surgical procedures.
Some veterinary assistants start as vet techs and work under the veterinarian for a few years until they get promoted to assistant. However, if you’re looking to start this career as soon as possible, you can complete a trade school program and become a certified vet assistant in less than a year.
Average Salary: $41k
If you’re passionate about health and fitness, consider becoming a certified personal trainer. Having this credential can give you an advantage when applying for jobs at gyms and health clubs. It can also help you land a position as a private trainer, a physical education teacher at a school, or an athletics coach for a local sports team.
Most personal trainer certification programs take three to six months to complete. During the process, you may take classes on health, exercise science, anatomy and physiology, kinesiology, nutrition, and sports medicine. Some gyms and employers require their trainers to be CPR and first aid certified as well.
Makeup Artist, Hairstylist or Barber
Average Salary: $30k
Cosmetology certifications can help you get a job as a hairdresser, barber, nail technician, or makeup artist. Wages and tips for these professionals vary depending on the salon or barber shop where they work. However, those with exceptional skills can earn roughly $100k per year working in theaters, on film sets, and in other areas of the entertainment or modeling industry.
Most cosmetology schools and barber colleges have nine-month certification courses. Students learn various aspects of the industry, including hair cutting, nail care, makeup application, color, and texture services. You also practice the customer service skills you need to gain and retain clients. You can then take your certification test and receive a license from your state’s Cosmetology and Barber Board.
Choose Your Certification
Certifications are an excellent option for those who want to qualify for a well-paying career but lack the spare time and money to undergo a lengthy degree program. Along with helping you earn a decent salary, becoming certified in your chosen field can give you the foundational education and experience you need to go back to school when you want to further your education or earn even more money.