Whether your child is thinking about taking a few classes before college, in between semesters, or even jumping right in post high school in lieu of a bachelor’s degree, there are dozens of specialized, comprehensive certificate programs out there for students to choose from, including intro programs for teens and high schoolers.
Certification classes cover abbreviated courses of study in specialized fields, often providing essential career skills for specific professions and specialties. From art and design to business and technology, there is something for everyone.
Programs are offered by a multitude of companies including Microsoft and Adobe, and many of them are even free.
What Certifications Can You Get for Free?
Starting January 20, your teen can participate for free in the University of Michigan’s certificate program Programming for Everybody (Getting Started with Python). The course aims to teach the basics of computer programming and covers Chapters 1-5 of the textbook Python for Everybody.
Starting January 20, Google is offering a free Google IT Support Professional Certificate that promises to be a launchpad to an information technology (IT) career that will have your child ready to be on the job in three to six months. No degree or previous experience is required for this course.
Learn every step of iOS App Development, from creation to submission, with a free tutorial featuring online video content from the App Dojo. Keep in mind that the free course does not include a certificate of completion the way the paid version does. Paid courses also include Q&As and messaging with instructors.
Hubspot offers a free certification course in Content Marketing that takes approximately six hours to complete. Sign up to learn how to create and repurpose content that both humans and search engines will love.
Master the basics of digital marketing with a free self-paced 40-hour accredited course from Google Digital Garage, culminating in certification.
Starting January 20, enroll in the free IBM Data Science Professional Certificate program and kickstart your career in data science, which takes approximately ten months to complete.
IBM also offers a free IBM Full Stack Cloud Developer Professional Certificate.
A free Machine Learning Specialization certification program is available from the University of Washington on building intelligent apps. The course begins January 20 and the course takes approximately seven months to complete.
A free three-to-four-hour certificate course on the Fundamentals of Virology is available from Columbia University.
A free Yale University certification course on Financial Markets is open for enrollment starting January 20, featuring flexible deadlines and taking approximately 32 hours to complete.
More additional free certification courses are available through the frequently-updated Coursera online certification programs database. Search for topics that interest your child.
What Other Certifications Are Available?
For those interested in working in music, post-production, film, television, and broadcast facilities, Avid Education offers various audio, media composer, media storage, asset management, system administrator, newsroom, and support representative certifications. Course fees are set independently by Avid Learning Partners. Students are required to purchase a coursebook, which includes the cost of the course exam and a single retake, if required. Additional retakes are chargeable.
Unity 3D offers five types of certifications focusing on visualization and gaming development. Specifically for high schoolers and beginners, there are three entry-level Certified User programs: Programmer, Artist, and VR Developer. Exams may be purchased separately.
Programming, IT & Tech
CompTIA has certifications available for entry-level students in a variety of IT areas such as A+, CASP+, CySA+, Cloud+, Linux+, Network+, PenTest+, Security+, and Server+. These exams and exam prep bundles cost $338 and up, with some bundles in excess of $800.
Microsoft offers a variety of certification exams ($165) and prep courses, including free online programs and paid instructor courses in everything from Microsoft Power Platform Developer to Dynamics 365 Finance Functional Consultant Associate. You can also take exams and courses in Microsoft Office specialties like Microsoft Word 2016 and Excel 2019, to name a few.
AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner certification exams are available for $100 (including $20 practice exams), though they are recommended for candidates with at least six months of experience with the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud in any role, including technical, managerial, sales, purchasing, or financial. AWS does provide sample questions and preparation guides to go along with each exam.
Cisco offers a variety of certification exams, including an entry-level Cisco Certified Technician (CCT) course that is available online and can be completed in multiple short sessions. The course is equivalent to 12 to 14 hours of classroom instruction.
Oracle has certifications on many of its platforms including Java programming language.
Marketing & Social Media
Hootsuite Academy has certification courses ranging from free training to full certification for $99 for its Hootsuite Platform Certification Course. Other programs range in price from $199 to $999.
Facebook Blueprint Certifications offers, among others, an entry-level Digital Marketing Associate program that teaches foundational competency in creating, managing and reporting on ads across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Exams are 90 minutes long.
CDC Environmental Public Health offers an online and on-demand package of e-learning programs for aspiring environmental public health practitioners. Keep in mind the target audience is someone with a science major bachelor’s degree.
HR Certification Institute – Human Resources (HRCI®) is an independent non-profit that offers various certification programs in Human Resources, including an Associate Professional program for beginners with a $100 application fee and a $300 exam with prep bundles included.
Amazon Advertising offers certification programs in everything from Sponsored Ad Foundations to Amazon Retail for Advertisers.
More paid certificates are available through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard’s edX university-level programs.
Certifications can help your child land coveted internships, work part-time while studying, or jump into the workforce with a resume loaded with industry-recognized credentials.
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