Students with an interest in investing, economics, cash flow, and money management often consider pursuing a career in the financial realm. According to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), not only are there a plethora of finance careers available to people in this field, but there are also several educational opportunities available as well. Depending on their long-term plans, students can opt to earn a formal degree in finance or enroll in one of the various finance certification programs online.

Offered at the vocational and post-master’s levels, certificates suit the specific needs and goals of individuals not looking to commit to a four-year degree program. It is important to note, however, that the curriculum students will encounter is just as rigorous and thorough as the content they would find if they were pursuing a finance degree at the same level. Specific course topics depend on the particular certificate in finance one chooses to pursue, but on average they take about a year to complete.

Types of Finance Certificates

Vocational Certificate

A vocational certificate in finance is an ideal choice for those looking to jump-start their careers. Not only can it help students land positions as loan officers or some other profession that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree, it can also help them prepare for a bachelor’s degree in finance. Before students are allowed to enroll in a certificate program, they must meet the admission requirements of a specific institution, which may include some or all of the following list:

  • Completed application
  • High school diploma or its equivalent

Programs for vocational finance certificates typically last about a year, but this will vary depending on the academic institution’s setup and a student’s course load each semester. Since this type of certificate prepares students for a wide-range of jobs, the curriculum usually touches on a variety of topics including tax law, real estate practices, business ethics, and more. Bookkeeping and investment courses are also commonly featured.

Post-Master’s Certificate

Students pursuing certificates at this level are generally aiming to hone and develop their finance expertise by delving deeper into the subject. While most finance careers only require a bachelor’s degree, going above and beyond helps impress employers and secure raises and promotions. If you aspire to one day run a company or be the one making the important business decisions, a post-masters certificate in finance might be a wise investment. Admission requirements for this certificate vary by institution, but generally, students will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Completed master’s degree
  • Completed application
  • Letters of recommendation

This certificate can take anywhere from one to two years to complete. In their program, students will study portfolio management, international markets, and numerous other subjects to prepare themselves for the ever-changing world of finance. Most programs offer a balance of educational instruction and hands-on experience to ensure students receive a well-rounded certificate experience.

What’s Next for Certificate Holders?

Certificate graduates have a wealth of career options awaiting them once they complete their studies. Those at the vocational level can find entry-level positions in the field, or use their academics to pursue a higher degree. Post-master’s certificate students, on the other hand, can either go on to advance their careers, or opt to enroll in a Ph.D. program. The subjects and skills covered in the post-master’s program adequately prepare students for that next level of study and research.