Online Certificate Programs for Career Training

Many adults ponder what it would be like to change careers for a better salary or more professional fulfillment.

Yet they may believe that a degree, academic qualification or trade certification remains out of their reach. 

Did you know that you can become a dental hygienist or medical assistant by way of affordable night classes? Many local community colleges and board-certified institutions offer these opportunities.

In most cases, a simple high school diploma or GED qualifies you to enter into a hygienist school, which can turn your work world around in a matter of just a few months. 

Moreover, a dental hygienist salary sits near the top when it comes to professional certifications that can be achieved fairly quickly.

Online professional certifications in other fields, such as those associated with automotive mechanics, HVAC technicians and court reporters also offer career alternatives. Adults with busy lives can take advantage and the easiest road to speedy career advancement. 

1. How do I find a dental hygienist school that is right for me?

“How do I find a dental hygienist school near me?” may be the question causing you to hesitate in your pursuit of a new career. The first step to knowing which school to pick rests in knowing which schools are not accredited. 

Any school you consider should have the seal of the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). This is the only agency in the United States given license to approve and accredit dental hygiene programs via the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). 

Making sure that the dental assistant certification program you choose conforms to the highest standards for educational content and character will help you land a better job when you are done with your training. 

CODA provides a dental hygienist program search engine that will allow you to explore by city, state or type of program. You can also search for dental hygienist schools in both the United States and Canada using this same resource.

You should always look for the following things when evaluating any certification programs: 

  • Tuition costs, waivers and scholarship opportunities
  • Accreditation
  • Length and format of program
  • Available types of curriculum (on-site or online)
  • Affiliations with professional organizations

In order to make sure you choose from the best online certificate programs for dental hygiene, look for CODA accreditation and those that offer an asynchronous (or student-centric) curriculum. 

This will allow you to complete your assignments in no set order, and make it possible for you to tailor your work to your individual needs.

Course work may include practicums and branch out into specialized areas (such as pediatric dentistry) in some cases.

2. How do I find the best medical billing certification courses?

As one of the fastest growing industries in the world, medical billing is another beneficial career avenue. Obtaining medical billing certification promises not just steady employment, but the possibility for a wide range of venues to work in. 

Every private medical practice, hospital and walk-in clinic typically employs medical coders of one sort or another to keep accurate health records. M

any medical coding professionals also benefit from the added luxury of being able to work from home once they get established in their fields. 

This kind of medical assistant certification does generally require continuous professional development in order for certifications to be kept current/active.

You may also have ongoing certification requirements such as participation in exams, practicums to complete or industry memberships to maintain in order to keep your certification valid once you get it. 

3. What do medical billing and coding certification programs require?

Achieving medical billing and coding certification online still represents the fastest, and generally the easiest way to take the first step into the medical technology career field.

Aspiring coding professionals must specialize in at least one of the following three code sets in order to become certified:

  • Current Procedural Terminology (CPT)
  • Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System Level II (HCPCS)
  • International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM)

Depending on your previous level of experience in the medical profession, you may need more training in a given area. This can be determined once you decide which branch of the field you would most like to work in. 

It’s true that medical billing and coding certification is not a legal requirement in order to obtain a job in the medical coding field.

However, your likelihood of employment, quality of job opportunities and salary expectations will be dramatically higher if you do choose to become certified. 

Medical billing and coding programs typically take between 12 and 15 months to complete, depending on your previous experience. Experienced coders can often find options that allow coursework or exams to be completed in as little as 18 hours.

The three most common certifications available to potential medical coders include:

  • Certified Professional Coder (CPC).
  • Certified Coding Specialist (CCS).
  • Certified Medical Coder (CMC).

Each of these certifications must be obtained through a different provider. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) oversees CPC certification, while Practice Management Institute (PMI) remains in charge of CCS credentials. 

You can check with the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) for detailed information about specialized programs, courses, exams and other qualifications relevant to this field. 

4. What other online certificate programs for career advancement can I look into?

If online graduate certificate programs in other fields interest you, many career paths offer quick programs that can jumpstart your dream job.

Everything from Architectural Drafting to Information Security can now be sought online if you know where to look. 

You can begin by determining the region of the globe in which you plan to study.

Once you decide what kind of online certificate programs best suit your needs and career goals, follow these steps to find a school that fits:

  1. Ask at the local community college or conduct a search filtered by your desired certification and area. At the same time, check your local state university’s online choices.
  2. Research scholarship and tuition waiver options through your current place of employment or any local library.  Often, the company you already work for can help you advance your education even if you are making a career field change. 
  3. Contact the top-tier professional organizations associated with the field that you wish to study online. Ask what they recommend or suggest as best options for aspiring participants. 

Newer, fast-growing fields in which you might consider an online graduate certificate program include: Leadership Studies, Social Media Management and Cybersecurity.