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Adults looking to advance their career are often torn between the decision to enroll in a degree program or take time away from their obligations of family, work, and community. Online degree programs make it easier than ever for adults to take time to devote to both continuing their education and remaining an active participant in other aspects of their busy lives. Earning a certificate or degree online has the inherent benefit of being convenient to complete from home on your own time as well as being more affordable than attending traditional classroom courses. The most difficult decision for students is perhaps choosing weather to complete either a full degree program or a certificate program. Learning the pros and cons of each will help you to decide which option is right for you.

What Are Online Degree Programs?

Online degree program credentials have drastically improved over the years, with both traditional and online-only universities offering degree programs completely online. Some of the most popular online degrees are in business administration, criminal justice, nursing, and psychology. Online degrees include associates, bachelors, masters, and doctorate levels. Obtaining a college degree is still an accomplishment that is held in high regard by employers. Students who complete an online degree while maintaining part-time or full-time work stand out to employers because of their work ethic and ability to multi-task. The initial investment in tuition and books is worth it to many students who want to remain competitive for high-paying jobs in the market.

What Are Online Certificate Programs?

Online certificates are offered by many different institutions at various education levels. Dental assistant, vet technician and healthcare administration are all certificates that can be obtained by students without a college degree. Graduate certificates on the other hand, are reserved for students that hold a bachelors or master’s degree. Both may be obtained online in one’s spare time. Depending on the career goals of the individual, one may be necessary to obtain over the other. Online certificates of all levels are a great option for students interested in a specific area of study. Students usually seek a certificate in a particular field to earn a promotion, build their skills or qualify for a management position.

Increasingly, more students are choosing to enroll in an online certificate program to put off the time commitment of a full degree program. With just a certificate, a student can still be a more attractive candidate for a job than someone that did not receive specialized training. Still, some careers, such as those in the medical field, require some time of certification. Certificate programs are usually shorter in duration, lasting anywhere from a few months up to one year. Certificates are the fastest growing credential for higher education. Many people who do not have the time or money to devote to several years of study for a degree are inclined to sign up for a certificate program to advance their career and earning potential sooner rather than later. Having a specialized certificate can help you stand out in a job market filled with people with bachelor’s degrees.