Certificate studies increasing in popularity

WASHINGTON — A college degree has long been regarded as a pathway to success, but more and more students are choosing a different track into today’s job market.

The Wall Street Journal reports that occupational certificate programs — many offered at community colleges — are the fastest growing segment of higher education.

Certificate studies can last from a few months to four years preparing students in various trade, vocational, technical and business fields.

A few of the areas in which certificates are awarded include health care, auto and aircraft mechanics, cosmetology, office management and police and protective services.

Certificates could be gateways to good jobs. But a Georgetown University study concludes the benefits of certificates vary widely.

The Georgetown study says the number of certificates awarded more than tripled in six years, reaching one million in 2010.

The study also indicates that while certificates cost less than college, they produce salaries higher than for those with high school diplomas.

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