In the modern world, the push to get a college degree is ubiquitous. It seems as
though every high school graduate has either committed to a university, or is planning to
attend community college. However, most universities are 4-year programs; requiring not
only a time commitment, but a financial commitment as well. Attending class and
allotting time to study is especially difficult for those individuals who have responsibilities such as caring for their children, starting a family, or working a full-time job. For example, only 14% of all students who start at a community college go on to earn a bachelors degree in 6 years (1). With so many distractions and responsibilities, earning a college degree inevitably becomes more of a risk than an advantage. Similarly, universities force students to take general education classes, many of which have nothing to do with the student’s profession of choice. For this reason, there is an
enormous population of individuals who wish to educate themselves, but may not
necessarily have the time or monetary resources to attain a 4-year degree.

Fortunately, certificate programs are able to fill this void by educating students
through flexible, cost-effective programs. Credentialed Mobile Device Security
Professional (CMDSP) is one such certificate program that prioritizes education, cost,
and time. At 2% the cost of a typical college education, and at 67% of the salary right
away (versus waiting 4 years to start one’s career) certificate programs offer immediate
benefits, without requiring a 2- or 4-year commitment (2). Furthermore, this new wave of
education is not only financially beneficial, but is geared towards student learning
preferences. For example, many students now wish to learn in smaller chunks, rather than
spending 4 months to earn 3 credits – the typical time it takes to complete one college
course in a semester. Executive Research Director at the National Student Clearinghouse,
Doug Shapiro, states that students prefer “taking stepping stones along a path to a broader
educational goal” as opposed to taking all courses at once (1). CMDSP’s course has a
corresponding philosophy, requiring only 2 days of training to learn the material.
While certificate programs have been around for decades, researchers have only
recently begun observing and recording the influence of certificate programs. Di Xu* and
Madeline Trimble* are two researchers who contribute to the Community College
Research Center. In 2016, they conducted research that estimates the relationship
between earning a certificate and students earnings and employment status after exiting
college. By taking into account students from 2 geographical areas, and by recognizing
the variances between individual students, Xu and Trimble were able to accurately depict
how certificate programs fare when compared to earning a college degree. Essentially,
the results indicate that certificates have positive impacts on both student earnings and
student employment rates (3). Additionally, the benefits of earning a certificate have
abundant short-term rewards when it comes to income and job attainment, especially in
IT programs (3). By recognizing these abundant benefits, programs like CMDSP are able
to excel careers, instead of cultivating debt.
Earning a certificate shows that you are a dedicated individual who has a
commitment to excellence. The skills learned through programs such as CMDSP offer
pupils the opportunities and credentials necessary to climb the corporate ladder. By
taking advantage of the flexible schedule and frugal prices that certificate programs offer,
students are creating their own path to success; one step at a time.


1. Mapping Pathways to Attainment: Certificates Offer More Than Meets the Eye
-Doug Shapiro

2. US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014)
PayScale Human Capital (2015)

3. What About Certificates? Evidence on the Labor Market Returns to Non-degree
Community College Awards in Two States
-Di Xu, Madeline Trimble

4. Another Kind of Higher Education

5. Data Matters: The Earning Power of Certificates

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