Think of a business as a ship sailing off to find treasure. What does that ship need in order to reach that treasure quickly, safely and before anyone else? More than a sturdy structure, abundant resources, smooth sailing conditions and a confident captain, that ship needs a clever, skilled and experienced crew that will lead the vessel to victory. And while there are plenty of people around who know how to steer a boat or swab a deck, what a captain with their eyes on the prize wants is a group of professionals who know the ins and outs of each role on the ship, who have proven their expertise and have something to show for it.
In the nautical world, such a badge of honor might take the form of a cutlass or a golden tooth. In the business world, professional certificates are the marks of skill and expertise that captains—or employers—can rely on.
The following institutions of higher education all offer certificate programs ranging from health care to hypnosis, sending into the workforce a combined thousands of professionals with specific sets of unique skills that go beyond the average academic degree.
Bergen County Community College
Bergen County Community College offers nearly 50 certificates and certificates of achievement, according to Managing Director of Public Relations Larry Hlavenka Jr. Some of these programs include a Computer Technical Support course which assists students in preparing for CompTIA A+ certification, a three-course Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate program, an advanced one-year Radiation Therapy certificate program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology and certificates of achievement in subjects such as catering, sports management and real estate.
“Thanks to the diverse partnerships Bergen maintains with industry, the College has crafted programs that reflect the demands of today’s workforce,” Hlavenka says. “Bergen students are ready to contribute to the economy and a company’s growth from day one.”
This is in part due to Bergen County’s many additional career programs that “enable students to enter the workforce immediately after graduation” according to Hlavenka. Last year, 2,200 took advantage of these career programs.
Berkeley College offers several specific certifications within the health care profession, including EKG certification from the National Career Association, Professional Billing certification from the American Academy of Professional Coders, Patient Care Assistance certification and certification to become a Registered Medical Assistant, as accredited by the American Medical Technologists agency.
Most of these programs are included in students’ tuitions, and students can even receive some of these certificates, including EKG and phlebotomy certification, while still enrolled, opening the opportunity for them to take on career-relevant part-time jobs, gaining even more experience and expertise along the way.
“Before they’re even done with the program, they have two certifications that they can utilize for future employment,” said Eva Skuka, dean of Berkeley’s School of Health Studies, about Berkeley’s approach to certifying its students.
One Berkeley alumna, Juliana Lopez, credits the school’s certificate programs with her success in joining the dental health industry and she says she will return to school to complete more certifications to move forward in her career. “With each certification, I can advance in my role at the company and eventually will be working more hands-on with the patients,” Lopez said.
Skuka says that health care certification will only grow more important in the next few years, as the employment of medical assistants is expected to grow 23 percent over the next decades. She adds that students benefit not only from the curriculum of these certificate courses, but from the instruction of a highly experienced and diversely skilled faculty.
“The faculty body that we have here at Berkeley contains a mix of every professional that is part of a medical team or a health care team out there in the field,” Skuka said. “We provide the students with a real understand of the dynamics of a health care team.”
Fairleigh Dickinson University
Fairleigh Dickinson University offers professional and post-graduate certificate programs in a wide range of fields, including business, law, administrative science, education, allied health, computers, and many more. According to Deborah Fredericks, associate dean of Continuing Education and College Learning Outcomes Assessment, these programs are utilized by hundreds of students each year and are regularly updated.
“Students receive valuable advice and insights from accomplished instructors through an interactive and dynamic format,” Fredericks told us. She also explained that FDU’s professors “bring concepts to life through real world examples and practical application to assist students in the assimilation of concepts.”
One certification available at FDU is the American Bar Association accredited paralegal certificate. This certificate has been available at FDU for 25 years and is highly regarded in the legal industry, the school says.
“We don’t just tell students about concepts,” Diana Marin, associate dean of Legal Studies at FDU, told NJ.com. “We give them the tools they need to make an immediate contribution, so when they are hired they do not need to be trained.”
Ramapo College offers over a dozen different certificate and licensure programs with several new programs being added in recent years. Some of the programs that Ramapo offers are a business essentials certificate program, which is included in the core curriculum of all business students, a project management certificate and online web development certificate course.
Two of Ramapo’s newest programs are a series of non-credit courses for management certification with the option to pursue general management, hospitality/restaurant management or retail management specialization and a children’s yoga teacher certificate program to complement the school’s already successful yoga teacher certificate program.
“The Ramapo yoga teacher training certification program improved my instruction and classroom management, as well as helped build a community among my colleagues,” stated Kathryn Hess, a kindergarten teacher. “Mindfulness in education is rapidly growing in popularity and many schools are beginning to utilize yoga and mindfulness practices in the classroom.”
Rosa Diaz-Mulryan, the assistant vice president of the Center for Innovative and Professional Learning at Ramapo, pointed out that many certificate students take advantage of the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to receive grants for their enrollment in such courses. Ramapo gives these learners, who are often unemployed, the boost they need to achieve the job they deserve.
“These individuals have met rigorous requirements to complete their certificates,” Diaz-Mulryan said of all Ramapo certificate earners. “Employers should feel confident that these prospective hires are equipped with the most up-to-date knowledge and necessary skill sets to immediately contribute in their area of expertise in the workplace.”
William Paterson University
William Paterson’s set of certificate program courses is constantly evolving to meet changes in demand.
“What’s going on in the workforce is really essential so that we’re not providing training just for the sake of training,” explained Bernadette Tiernan, the executive director of the School of Continuing and Professional Education at William Paterson. ”It means that we have to really be able to adapt quickly as business needs change.”
As industry trends shift, some courses, such as the school’s supply chain management, HR management, medical assistant and Microsoft Office certificate programs, remain popular while others, such as social media marketing and lean enterprise certificate programs, become more popular as demand for these skills grows. William Paterson even created its own non-profit management certificate program after working with non-profits and identifying these organizations’ need for specialized skills.
William Paterson offers these programs not only to enrolled William Paterson students, but to corporations all around New Jersey, where instructors give customized training to employees and provide them with skills and certifications that will benefit their business. In addition, those who participate in these programs as enrolled students are often connected with business through externships and internships where they gain both work experience and employment opportunities.
“If somebody who is unemployed and taking our course is able to leave here confident and accomplished and get a new job—that is the best,” Tiernan said.
The Meadowlands region has plenty of options for businesses looking to train their crew or recruit new members with the right credentials to join them on their quest for success. Specialized certificate courses can give both employers and potential employees the extra edge they need to stand out in a sea of competitors.
Laura French is a freelance reporter and writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.