11 January

What Is an Accredited Online Certificate Programme?

Continuously developing skills through education or training is essential for professionals seeking to advance in their career, change fields or improve their job performance. And while there are various types of professional development programmes out there, accredited online certificate programmes are an affordable, flexible and effective option. But what exactly are accredited online certificate programmes?

In this article, you’ll discover what an accredited online certificate programme is, the benefits of completing one, and how you can choose a programme that is best suited to your goals and circumstances.

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What is an accredited online certificate programme?

An accredited online certificate programme is a type of distance education that has been audited for standards and is officially recognised by an accrediting body. The programmes are typically no longer than a year in duration, and are often tailored to working professionals.

While some specialised accredited online certificate programmes require prior knowledge or skills, many are open to learners with varying education and career backgrounds. Some of the main reasons that learners choose to complete an accredited online certificate programme is to advance their career, change fields, upskill, diversify their skills, or just to take on a new challenge. 

Accredited online certificate programmes are often vocational and are targeted towards professionals in a specific career area. For example, the accredited online certificate programmes offered by Digital Learning Institute are specifically designed for learners interested in advancing or pursuing a career in instructional design. However, depending on the specific certificate and provider, there are programmes available in a vast amount of skills areas, such as marketing, automotive technology or coding.

Although accredited online certificate programmes are completed fully online, you can expect variances in learning models from programme to programme. Some accredited online certificate programmes are cohort-based, which means that students meet in a virtual classroom for lectures, discussions or tasks at particular times. However, other accredited online certificate programmes may be self-paced in which the learner has flexibility in managing their own schedule and pace of learning.

Benefits of an accredited online certificate programme

Regardless of whether you are hoping to break into a field, advance in your current career or just try your hand at something new, there are many advantages to taking an accredited online certificate programme. Below are four of the top benefits.

  1. Reputable credentials

One of the main advantages of completing an accredited online certificate programme is that the education is credible. This means that future employers have the assurance that the programme was high-quality and had passed rigorous standards. If your employer is sponsoring your development, it can also improve the chances that the course will be approved for funding.

Since there are so many different programmes out there, it can be hard for the prospective learner, current employer or prospective employer to decipher which ones are reputable. So for this reason, a seal of accreditation takes out the guesswork and is evidence of programme quality and rigour.

  1. Career advancement

In today’s ever-evolving world, professionals need to be continuously upskilling in order for their skills and knowledge to stay relevant. In fact, 55% of workers participate in some learning to maintain or improve their job skills. And for this reason, an accredited online certificate programme can be such a benefit. It can give you the skills you need to improve your performance in your current role – or take your career to the next level.

But completing an accredited online certificate programme not only provides you the skills you need to advance to the next stage in your career, but also demonstrates your commitment to continuous professional development. It shows your current employer or prospective employers that you are an agile professional that won’t become complacent about your skills.

  1. Confidence boost

Many professionals have experienced the dreaded imposter syndrome at one point or another in their career. And for career changers or recently-promoted professionals, mustering up confidence in a new role can be particularly challenging. So for this reason, an accredited online certificate programme is a great way to boost your confidence.

An accredited online certificate programme can provide you with the skills and knowledge that may otherwise take years of work experience to acquire. This foundation is demonstrable evidence of your qualifications that can directly lead to a higher level of confidence in your professional abilities.

  1. Networking opportunities

Since the benefits of social learning are so well-established, many accredited online certificate programmes include social components. Group presentations, discussions, breakout rooms and group projects are all examples of social learning that may be incorporated into an accredited online certificate program. But supporting learning isn’t the only purpose of these social activities. They also come with the added benefit of providing networking opportunities. 

Like upskilling, networking is another important factor of career success. And while many professionals would like to network more, they lack opportunities to do so. So for this reason, participating in an accredited online certificate program can provide the extra benefit of enabling you to meet professionals outside of your current professional circle.

How to choose an accredited online certificate programme

There are a myriad of accredited online certificate programmes out there. So it can be tricky to narrow down your search to determine which one will provide the most value for you. However, since professional development is so influential to career advancement, you’ll want to make sure to do due diligence and focus on the four areas below. 

  1. Establish your goals

One of the most important first steps when deciding which accredited online certificate programme to take is establishing your goals. This will help you ensure you get the most benefit from your chosen programme. 

Some examples of goals include gaining foundational knowledge and skills to change careers, building on your existing experience to advance your career, or diversifying your skill set. Once you’ve established your goals, you’ll be better able to target your search and determine which course is best designed to help you reach those goals.

  1. Consider the time commitment

Most professionals lead busy lives. Between a full-time job and family commitments, it can be hard for many to find the spare time to develop professionally. So for this reason, it’s vital to determine how much time you will realistically be able to devote to a professional development programme. 

If you are planning to take an accredited online certificate programme that is directly beneficial to your current role, it may be worth enquiring if you could spend an allocated amount of time during your workday on coursework. Many companies are supportive of employees spending some of their working hours upskilling when it will lead to them adding more value in their current role.

  1. Determine how much you want to spend

Accredited online certificate programmes generally cost less than academic degree programmes, such as a bachelors or masters. However, they do require a financial investment – either from the individual or from a sponsoring employer. So it’s important to determine your budget prior to starting your search.

There are many factors that go into deciding how much you should spend on a course. Your individual situation, whether you receive funding from your employer and whether the programme offers financial aid or payment plans are all factors that should be considered. So make sure to not overlook the financial aspects and whether the programme will lead to a high enough return on investment.

  1. Research former learner experiences

One of the best ways to determine the suitability and quality of an accredited online certificate programme is by learning about the experiences of former learners. This way, you can get a better understanding of what your experience and outcome may be – and whether it is the right course for your goals.

Many course providers include student testimonials and experiences on their website. However, if not, reaching out to former students on LinkedIn is another effective way to research learner experiences. Simply type the name of the course provider into the LinkedIn search bar to find former learners. You’ll most likely be surprised to discover how many learners are delighted to share their insights with prospective programme participants.

Final thoughts

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s more important than ever for professionals to continuously develop their skills. However, committing to a full-time, long-term degree programme is not always feasible – or even beneficial. But with an accredited online certificate programme, you can reach your goals with a form of education that is flexible, affordable and tailored to professionals. 

Whether you’re seeking to accelerate your career, transition into a new field, or learn a new set of skills, an accredited online certificate programme can help you reach your goals. And if your goal is to advance in the field of instructional design, Digital Learning Insitute’s accredited online Professional Diploma in Digital Learning Design and Professional Certificate in Instructional Design can take you to the next step.