There are countless career options you can pursue depending on your financial needs, values, interests, skills, education and training. While some jobs require a college degree, others may call for a high school diploma and specialized certificate. Many certificate programs offer the opportunity to increase your earning potential over time as you advance in your career.
In this article, we list 10 six-month certificate programs, high-paying certificate jobs and other fast certifications to consider for a fulfilling career.
High-paying six-month certificate programs
There are many certificate programs you can complete depending on the jobs you want to pursue. Some certificate programs can last two or more years while others can be completed in six months or less. While longer certificate programs can sometimes earn higher wages, six-month programs allow you to find and acquire jobs faster so you can begin earning more quickly. The following positions require a certificate from programs that can be completed in six months:
National average salary: $14.65 per hour
An emergency medical technician is one of the best certificate programs that may provide you with prerequisite training for other careers that require a certificate. Emergency medical technicians typically have a high school diploma or equivalent but must complete postsecondary educational programs and some other training programs, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.
As the field continues to grow and become more competitive, it could possibly become one of the highest paying certificate programs. The chance of earning a desirable position in emergency medical services is better with more certifications and a 6-month EMT training program.
Being an emergency medical technician is a mentally and physically demanding job that requires empathy and compassion. Most of the workday involves responding to and caring for injured and ill individuals in emergency situations, so it's important to be able to operate effectively in a crisis.
National average salary: $18.90 per hour
A funeral director is a high-paying job that requires little education beyond a high school diploma or equivalent, though some employers may require an associate's or bachelor's degree in funeral service or a related field. Funeral directors can earn a high salary with extensive experience.
The U.S. requires licensure for funeral directors, and some individual states require an apprenticeship, job shadowing or completion of a short-term certificate program. The National Funeral Directors Association offers a variety of training and certification programs, though several colleges and universities also have in-class or online funeral director certificates.
Funeral directors typically offer to counsel grieving family members and help to prepare the funeral service. This type of work can be challenging for some people, so it's important to be comfortable with supporting people during a difficult situation.
3. Brick Mason
National average salary: $20.51 per hour
If you want to learn a trade in 6 months, becoming a brick mason is a great option. Brick masons must have a high school diploma or equivalent, to start, though extensive apprenticeship programs and coursework may also be required. You can also earn a masonry certification through the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA). Candidates with previous construction experience are preferred since they require less training before they can begin work.
During an apprenticeship, you'll learn masonry practices, construction basics, measurement calculations, safety procedures and other practices to construct walls, fences and structures out of bricks. A typical workday could include reading blueprints, cleaning surfaces with power tools, gathering materials and lifting heavy objects.
Brick masons work long hours in a fast-paced and physically strenuous environment with a high risk of injury. Important skills for this job include physical strength, hand-eye coordination and attention to detail.
National average salary: $21.00 per hour
Personal training is a high-paying career with the potential to earn more by building your client base, working for a high-paying organization or by training higher-paying clients.
This career will require qualifications to teach physical fitness techniques to clients, and many personal trainers have backgrounds in exercise science, nutrition and other related fields. Certification programs are available for personal training including three-month certificate programs, six-month certificate programs and other short certificate programs. Several online certificate programs are available as well, which combine print, online and in-person education.
Generally, successful personal trainers are physically fit themselves, stay up-to-date on fitness and nutrition trends, and have the appropriate attitude to motivate and encourage others. Personal trainers may work at public gyms, private fitness facilities, in clients' homes or through virtual coaching, giving you different options for income. They should also have a strong work ethic, as it requires time and dedication to build a client base.
National average salary: $21.64 per hour
Medical coder is one of the more popular certifications that pay well for those looking for interesting educational opportunities. Medical coders are in demand as healthcare organizations continue to need qualified individuals to translate and communicate medical content. If you want to become a medical coder, you need a high school diploma or equivalent, as well as medical coding certification through the AAPC.
Medical coders type up detailed reports on procedures and bill the insurance company for the amount they owe to medical offices. Specific training programs are necessary to learn how to use the software for this position. It's also helpful to have an in-depth understanding of health records, database management and medical terminology.
National average salary: $44,505 per year
Firefighting is one of many rewarding jobs that require certification and training. Prior training and experience in emergency medical services are beneficial.
This position involves a physically demanding training program, as well as some certification and short-term career training programs. For most states, you must earn emergency medical services and paramedic certificates and pass fire science training. You can also begin with emergency medical services or other related jobs that only require a certificate. Then, once you've earned your certificate, you can transition into firefighting. This will give you plenty of options for high-paying jobs that only require a certificate in the future.
Firefighters must have exceptional strength and stamina, as well as an understanding of standard field equipment, such as hoses and ladders. You must also have proficiency in emergency medical care and the proper procedure for managing hazardous materials. Firefighters who work with wildfires may earn more due to the increased risk involved.
National average salary: $47,202 per year
Another high-paying job that doesn't require formal education or certification is an air traffic controller. This position can quickly earn well above $100,000 without a degree, depending on your location. The field, however, is quite competitive and previous work experience is highly desirable. Generally, the top applicants have a combination of formal education in a related field and extensive experience.
Air traffic controllers also undergo rigorous training and extensive testing by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), including health and wellness checks and mental stability tests. This testing process must be initiated prior to turning age 31.
It should be noted that air traffic controllers are subjected to high-stress scenarios and often work nights, weekends and holidays. A typical workday includes monitoring and directing air traffic, including arrivals and departures, and providing guidance to pilots during in-air emergency scenarios. This is often a source of stress in the position.
It's important to have strong organizational and critical thinking skills, as well as exceptional communication skills. Air traffic controllers must also be able to keep calm and avoid panic responses in high-stress situations. As it's such a competitive field, it's helpful to know someone in the industry to get the job.
National average salary: $23.59 per hour
An automobile service station manager is a high-paying job with minimum education requirements. Though a high school diploma or equivalent is all that's officially needed, some employers may prefer a degree or certification. You can also earn a certificate through the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE).
For most people, the best way to get this job is to work their way up through the company by gaining on-the-job experience, since this provides the skill set necessary to run the day-to-day operations of a service station successfully. The scope of the job includes setting the gas prices for the day, making the employee schedule, training employees, managing inventory, maintaining safety regulations and managing employees.
Customer service, interpersonal and managerial skills would be helpful for this position, as well as some accounting experience.
National average salary: $71,287 per year
Real estate brokers have the opportunity to earn six figures with the right experience and skill set. To become a real estate broker, you only need a high school diploma or equivalent, though a college degree in a related field could be beneficial.
Earning your real estate certification involves a few classes and some testing. The courses and testing are much less expensive and time-consuming than a traditional four-year college. Certification requirements vary by state, but many colleges have real estate certificate programs, both online and in-class.
Real estate brokers earn money by selling houses and filing the paperwork for the transactions, as well as guiding homeowners through the process. It's important to have flexible hours and good interpersonal skills to be successful in this position.
Though a finance or accounting degree isn't required for this position, a basic understanding of the processes involved is necessary to become a margin department supervisor. Generally, this position has extensive training and shadowing to prepare for the role. You can also get certifications in finance or accounting through in-class or online programs through many colleges and universities.
National average salary: $74,845
A margin department supervisor is a great example of a high-paying job you can earn with on-the-job training and minimal education requirements. Margin department supervisors oversee a company's credit department, manage customer credit accounts and approve or deny credit to customers.
Though a financing or accounting degree isn't required for this position, a basic understanding of the processes involved is necessary to become a margin department supervisor. Generally, this position has extensive training and shadowing to prepare for the role. You can also get certifications in finance or accounting through in-class or online programs through many colleges and universities.
This position requires some technical skills such as performing basic mathematical calculations and performing debt analysis. You should also understand basic accounting principles and the general processes involved in a credit department. If you happen to have a degree in this area, you may earn a higher salary.
Plenty of soft skills are also necessary for this position. Customers won't always be happy with a credit decision, so strong skills in communication, negotiation and customer service are important. You must also be able to communicate effectively with your employees and ensure all employees adhere to federal policies and regulations.
As you can see, there are numerous options for interesting, fulfilling work in a variety of industries with minimal education requirements and high salaries. Many of these jobs place a high value on skills you may already possess, such as interpersonal skills or organizational skills. You can also increase your earning potential with more training and experience on the job.