type of certificate, diploma, or degree you pursue depends
mostly on what you are studying and your career plans. Some
careers require on-the-job training and others may require
an Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or advanced degree.
Regardless of your educational or previous work experiences,
the employer will give you some form of on-the-job training.
are descriptions of the various types of certificates
and degrees that are required for various careers:
Certificates and Diplomas
A postsecondary certificate or diploma is designed to give
students’ practical "hands-on" experience
as well as theoretical knowledge in a specific technical/occupational
area. Certificates and diplomas are offered for non-degree
programs usually in a vocational or technical area to prepare
students for entry into or advance in jobs requiring specific
occupational skills. A certificate or diploma indicates that
a particular person has completed coursework in a focused
area of study, which can add value to your resume and provide
a solid background in a given subject.
Technical certificates/diploma programs are often offered
to meet the needs of businesses and industry to assist employees
in meeting certification requirements for their job. Examples
include: automotive maintenance, accounting assistant, pharmacy
diploma will take at least two years
to complete and will usually include a job placement.
certificate program is generally shorter,
less than two years, and places a greater focus on applied
learning. Typically, students receive a certificate
and not a degree upon completion of the program. However,
some certificates are part of an associate degree program,
in which case the credits earned in the certificate
program may be used towards an Associate’s degree.
Apprenticeship offers applicants an opportunity to learn a
highly skilled trade within a specific field through on-the-job
and classroom training. The applicant enters into an agreement
with an employer in which the employer assumes the responsibility
of teaching the trade to the apprentice. Under the apprenticeship
program, the apprentice is paid while learning the practical
and theoretical aspects of the trade. All on-the-job training
is under the supervision of a skilled (journey-level) worker.
The length of the apprenticeship program is dependent on the
trade, which usually takes two – five years to complete.
Upon completion of the apprenticeship, the apprentice will
receive a certificate(s). There are hundreds of apprenticeship
programs available in construction, service, mechanical, and
Associate’s Degrees can be attained at two-year colleges,
some four-year colleges and universities, and technical schools,
which usually takes at least 1-2 years to complete. The curriculum
for an Associate’s Degree program includes general education
courses, specialized courses in your chosen field of study,
and elective courses. Associate degree programs are typically
designed to prepare students for a technical occupation. Depending
on the program, some credits for an associate's degree are
transferable to a four-year college or university that can
lead towards a bachelor’s degree.
are several types of Associate’s degrees:
in Applied Arts Degree (A.A.A.) is primarily designed
to prepare students for employment in jobs in fine arts,
music, and photography.
in Applied Science Degree (A.A.S.) is designed to prepare
the student for employment immediately following graduation.
in Arts Degree (A.A.) is awarded for the completion
of two-year program in Fine Arts, Liberal Arts, and
Music, and the courses can transfer to a four-year college
or university for the completion of a Bachelor of Arts
in Science Degree (A.S.) is awarded for the completion
of two-year program in a variety of pre-professional
programs, and the courses can transfer to a four-year
college or university for the completion of a Bachelor
of Science (B.S.) degree.
Bachelor’s Degrees are attained almost exclusively at
four-year colleges and universities, which usually takes at
least 4 years to complete or 2 years beyond an Associate's
degree. A high school diploma is usually the main prerequisite.
The curriculum for a Bachelor’s Degree program usually
includes general education courses, specialized courses in
your chosen major or field of study, and elective courses.
most common types of Bachelor’s degrees are:
of Arts (B.A.) degrees are usually awarded in the humanities,
social sciences, and arts.
of Science (B.S.) degrees are typically awarded in natural
sciences, professional, and technical fields.
First Professional Degrees
Professional degrees are awarded upon completion of programs
of study that prepare individuals to work in certain professions
such as law, medicine, or architecture. It generally takes
two or more years beyond a Bachelor's degree to complete.
Though the degree may contain the term doctor, a professional
degree is the initial degree awarded in that area. Higher
degrees may be available, including Masters degrees and Ph.D.s.
There are several types of First Professional degrees such
• Dentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.)
• Law (L.L.B. or J.D.)
• Medicine (M.D.)
• Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.)
• Pharmacy (Pharm. D.)
• Theological Professions (B.D.,
Master’s Degrees are offered at select four-year colleges
and universities. This degree usually requires 1-3 years of
study after obtaining a Bachelor's degree, which is dependent
on the program. The curriculum for a Master’s Degree
program is much more focused than that of the Bachelor's degree.
Most Master’s degree programs require students to complete
a thesis and/or take a comprehensive exam.
There are several types of Master's degrees:
• Master of Arts (M.A.)
• Master of Science (M.S.)
• Master of Laws ([L.L.M.])
• Master of Fine Art (MFA)
• Master of Business Administration
• Master of Education (M.Ed.)
Specialists and advanced masters degrees. (Ed.S.,
Specialists and advanced masters degrees represent study beyond
the masters degree but less than the Doctoral degree. They
are most often offered in education, but may be available
in other areas.
Doctoral degrees are the highest degrees awarded to students
completing a specialized program. It usually requires 3 additional
years of study after obtaining a Master's degree, which is
dependent on the program. It also requires original research
to be conducted and written up in the form of a dissertation
and the defense (check spelling for word) of that research
orally and/or a comprehensive exam. In many cases, students
need a Master's degree for entry into a PhD program, although
some programs allow students to enroll in a PhD program and
obtain a Master's degree as a part of their program.
There are several types of doctoral degrees, the most common
• Doctor of Philosophy Degree
• Doctor of Psychology Degree
• Doctor of Education Degree (Ed.D)
Post doctorates are not really degrees, but simply advanced
study/research/training in a particular area.