Suggestions for Short-Term College Programs

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Earning a bachelor degree is not the only way to benefit from college education. Diplomas, certificates, associate degrees, even individual courses can be worthwhile for certain students. Below are just a few examples of noteworthy, one and two-year college options.*

Online Program in Bookkeeping and Payroll Accounting

Bookkeepers earn a median salary of $35,170 per year in 2012.[i] That’s not a bad take-home, after completing a one-year, career diploma. Full-time students may complete this program in eight months. Even better, bookkeepers may eventually choose to pursue accounting degrees or HR credentials that could lead to expanded job options.

Web Design & Development Program

Web developers in 2012 earned a median pay of $62,500 a year according to the BLS.[ii] Employers usually prefer to hire developers with a bachelor’s degree, but if you already have a degree in another field, or you want to explore web design/development without yet committing to a full degree, you may want to try an online certificate in web design & development. It’s offered by the University of Massachusetts and earned credits may be counted toward a degree at UMASS, if you decide to keep going with your studies.

Medical Assisting Program

Over the next eight years, America will need another 162,900 medical assistants.[iii] That’s a 29 percent growth rate for the field and a promising number for anyone who’s considering breaking into healthcare. As a medical assistant, you might enjoy the job security of a booming industry without having to perform some of the stressful or unpleasant tasks that come with nursing roles.

Medical Billing, Coding & Transcription Program

Medical technicians organize and maintain data for clinical databases and registries. Medical Records and Health Information Technicians held about 186,300 jobs in 2012, most were located in hospitals or physicians’ offices. This number is expected to grow by 22%, over the next eight years, which is much faster than average. [iv] The demand for health services is expected to increase as the population ages.

Certified Nursing Assistant Program

Certified nursing assistants make a median salary of around $24,000 per year, or $11.73 per hour.[v] They work to provide basic care for patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Nursing assistants must complete a state-approved education program and must pass their state’s competency exam to become certified. In addition, nursing assistants typically complete a brief period of on-the-job training to learn about their specific employer’s policies and procedures.

Pharmacy Technician Program

Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists dispense prescription medication to customers or health professionals. Pharmacy technicians typically learn through on-the-job training, or they may complete a postsecondary education program. Most states regulate pharmacy technicians, which is a process that may require passing an exam or completing a formal education or training program. The median annual wage for pharmacy technicians was $29,320 in May 2012, and the job is said to grow by 20% by 2022. [vi]

EMT and Paramedic Program

Emergency medical technicians (also known as EMTs) and paramedics care for the sick or injured in emergency medical settings. All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed; requirements vary by state. The median annual wage for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics was $31,020 in May 2012. Their employment is projected to grow 23 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.[vii]


*Keep in mind, one or two years is the approximate amount of time these programs were designed to span. Some students may complete these programs in shorter or longer timeframes, depending on their enrollment status and passing grades.

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