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The Benefits of Online Certifications

Career • April 9, 2020 • Connor Peoples


What you’ll learn

  • How to take advantage of online certifications
  • Why online certifications are important
  • How to stand out in the workforce


Whether you’re a professional looking to bolster your skillset and resume, a high school graduate looking to the next step in your higher education journey, or you’re just looking for an additional opportunity to exercise your mind in your free time, an online certification can be a viable solution for you.

Online certifications are slightly different than the typical online classes. They don’t require any prerequisites and allow participants to earn qualifications in a particular field, or area of expertise, without spending the same amount of time, and money, it takes to achieve a traditional degree.

Here are some of the top benefits of online certifications:

They’re cost-effective

Perhaps the most enticing benefit of online certifications is the cost, which is lower than your typical two- or four-year degree program. In some cases, you can actually find free access to lectures, assignments, and discussions in your field of study.

For example, in light of COVID-19, the software company Oracle, specifically their training division, Oracle University, said it will make its content and certifications, including more than 50 hours of online training and six certificate exams free.

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are also good options if you’re looking for free resources. These courses have unlimited participation and are open access via the internet. Some courses can be started at any time while others start every few weeks or months.

Additionally, Google recently launched a cost-effective, professional IT support certificate program. At $49 per month, the program takes about six to eight months to complete. More than 100,000 people have already enrolled in the program and are taking the opportunity to get IT-certified at a fraction of the cost of a college or university.

There are options for flexible learning

Another attractive feature about online certifications is the flexible learning schedule. A decent amount of the certifications offered are considered asynchronous, meaning that the classes aren’t happening at a set time every week, and students can access pre-recorded lectures and course materials at their own pace. Whether your pockets of free time exist before work, during your lunch breaks, after work, or on the weekends, asynchronous classes allow you to have access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so you can knock out your lectures and coursework whenever is most convenient.

Some courses even have a mobile learning feature, so you can access coursework and lectures from your phone. Your after work schedule might involve you walking your dog around the neighborhood, helping your kids with their homework, or utilizing the nearest piece of exercise equipment, but having the ability to access coursework right from your cell phone means you can tackle a few lectures anywhere!

The ability to focus on areas of improvement

Whether you want to learn a new language, improve your management skills, develop a strength in graphic design, or become proficient in statistics and accounting, there are resources out there to help you develop your craft. Just like any other professional, I’m always looking for ways to finetune my skillset. The key to my success is completing an online certification specifically tailored toward my areas of improvement, whether that be public speaking, leadership, or something else, to make the most out of my free time.

If you’ve done your research and found the perfect online certification for you, but you need extra help to complete your coursework, there are services that can help. Chegg Study, for example, provides access to online tutors and access to thousands of textbooks and study questions. If you are a Sallie Mae customer, access to Chegg Study is free.

Certifications can be completed relatively quickly

The six to eight-week Google professional IT support certificate program I mentioned earlier is just one example of how quickly you can get certified in an area of expertise. In a world where an associate degree takes about two years to complete, and a bachelor’s degree takes about four years, achieving a certification in a few months will mean you can move onto whatever’s next in no time. Relatively speaking, you could complete two or more online certifications in the same time it would take to earn a degree.

Companies like Coursera, an online learning platform, offer professional certificate programs that can be completed in less than a year to help you get job ready. Some of their programs have hands-on projects that can also be added to your résumé to showcase your understanding of the subject matter.

Certifications can have a positive career impact

Whether you’re looking to start a new career or to jump in the market to find a new one, an online certification can help you get your hands on in-demand jobs skills to kickstart your career. According to a recent survey from Coursera, 87% of people learning for professional development report career benefits like a promotion, a raise, or the opportunity to start a new career.

Depending on your field of interest, there may be popular certifications that can go a long way. For example, the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification, the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) Certification, the Lean Six Sigma Certification, and the Society of Human Resource Management Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) certification, can hold a substantial amount of value on your résumé in the corporate world, especially as companies are looking to fill open positions with professionals who have received industry-oriented training.

Online certifications offer a unique path to help you find success. With a good amount of focus and determination, you can make the most of your career and put yourself on a path to master your own craft, or even become proficient in another.


Connor is a Sallie Mae employee and a graduate of the University of Delaware. In his free time, you can find him cheering for Philadelphia’s professional sports teams and exploring the world with his dog, Moose.


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