Although a sizable percentage of jobs in the market require a college degree, there are many quick certifications that pay well in 2021.
It’s a fact that one’s choice of what to pursue in college depends on many factors, including financial needs, skills, values, interests, educational qualifications, and future career plans.
However, choosing a career that pays well is also important.
Luckily, there are tens of short certificate programs that pay well, and it takes as short as 3 months and a maximum of 12 months to complete.
You can also choose to advance your career by pursuing a diploma or degree program if you feel there’s a need to do so.
Quick Certifications That Pay Well in 2021
Below are the top quick certifications that pay well in 2021 that you can complete within 3-12 months.
1. Makeup Artists (Theatrical and Performance)
This is arguably the best-paying quick certification program. Makeup artists in theatrical and performance settings apply makeup to performers to reflect the setting, period, and situation of the roles.
You can work with motion picture and video companies, performing art companies, and personal care service providers.
Makeup artists’ (theatrical and performance) median annual wage is $106,920 while the top earners make more than $157,680 a year.
Here is a short video about what you can do and where you can work as a makeup artist (Video credit: Career One Stop)
2. Radiologic Technologists
This is one of the few high-paying hospital jobs you can do without having a bachelor’s degree, but you will need an associate’s degree.
There are also postsecondary education programs that lead to graduate certificates, and if you wish then you can pursue a bachelor’s degree later on.
Radiologist technologists perform x rays and other diagnostic imaging examinations on patients using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners.
The median annual salary for radiologic technologists is $61,900 while the experienced top earners receive as high as $92,660 a year ($44.54 per hour).
3. Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians
The course is one of the quick certifications that pay well in the medical field and takes about a year to complete.
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians work under cardiologists’ and physicians’ directions and get to use machines such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check heart problems.
Among the things they learn include the use of EKGs, ambulatory monitoring, stress testing, and how to interpret the results.
You need a postsecondary certificate or an associate’s degree for entry into this career field.
Although colleges are universities offer both associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs in these fields, you can opt for a one-year certificate program available in colleges and some hospitals.
If you opt for the one-year certificate programs, then make sure to only enroll for a program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
The median annual wage for Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians is $59,100 while the top earners get as high as $96,790 a year.
4. Flight Attendants
This certificate program is closely related to Air Traffic Control but takes way less time to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The program is suitable for people who love to travel, and you will get countless opportunities to visit different countries and continents across the globe.
Some of the tasks you will have to do include serving aircraft passengers food, drinks, and providing necessary assistance during flights.
It’s worth noting that some flights will happen during the day and others at night, hence you need to be flexible enough to work at night, on weekends as well as holidays.
Some requirements to become a flight attendant include:
- Must have a high school diploma or the equivalent
- Should be at least 18 years old
- Must have a valid passport
- Must pass a background check and drug test
- Should have a vision correctable to at least 20/40
- Must conform to airline-specific height requirements
- Must pass a medical evaluation
- Should have any visible tattoos, body piercings, or unusual hairstyles
- 1-2 years of work experience in a service occupation e.g. in restaurants, hotels, or resorts
- Fluency in a foreign language for those working on international flights
- Some airlines prefer applicants who’ve taken college courses
Note: Some of these requirements are not compulsory.
The median annual wage of a flight attendant is $59,050 while the top earners with years of experience earn as high as $84,790 per year.
5. Hearing Aid Specialists
This is one of the quick certifications that pay well without the need of pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Your roles include evaluating the extent of a patient’s hearing loss by carrying out various hearing tests.
You will then recommend the ideal hearing aid based on test results. You can also help fir the device in the patient’s ear.
Their median annual wage is $52,630 while the highest earners receive more than $81,170 a year.
6. HVACR Technicians
Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVACR) certificate program takes at least 6 months to complete, with advanced levels taking up to 2 years.
With a mean annual salary of about $53,410, it is one of the quick certifications that pay well. An HVACR technician’s tasks include:
- Cleaning furnaces
- Insulating refrigerant lines
- Soldering and cutting pipes
- Checking and installing electrical systems
- Repairing or replacing worn-out parts on heating or air conditioning systems
An HVCAR certificate prepares you for different jobs such as stationary engineer, turbine technician, general maintenance and repair worker, solar photovoltaic installer, boiler operator, and even electrician.
Many HVACR technicians receive postsecondary training from technical and trade schools as well as community colleges. The programs last between 6 months and 2 years and can lead to a certificate or an associate’s degree.
Due to the increasing complexity of HVACR systems, more employers are leaning towards hiring applicants with postsecondary education or those who have completed an apprenticeship.
Some states and localities also require HVACR technicians to be licensed and one may be required to pass a background check before getting employed.
The median annual wage for HVACR technicians in the United States is $50,590 while the top-paid professionals earn as high as $80,820 a year.
7. Solar Photovoltaic Installers
Another quick certification that pays well is to become a solar photovoltaic installer. Your tasks will include assembling, installing, and maintaining solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, roofs, or other structures.
Most PV installers need a high school diploma and training courses are available in technical institutes, trade schools, and community colleges.
Some PV installers also receive on-the-job training for up to a year working alongside an experienced installer where you get to learn about safety, tools, and PV systems installation techniques.
If you already have construction experience, you can enter this field by taking online training courses.
The median annual wage for solar photovoltaic installers is $46,470 and the top-paid experienced experts earn more than $64,600 a year.
Choreographers specialize in creating new dance routines and often lead the rehearsal performance of the routines. They may also direct and stage presentations.
A sizable percentage of choreographers start as dancers and rise the ranks. Others choose to pursue post-secondary education and enroll in colleges and universities for bachelors’ and master’s degree courses.
You can start by join dance programs in high schools or attending summer training programs organized by professional dance companies.
Such companies often have intensive summer training programs where they get to select candidates for admission to their regular full-time training programs.
The median annual wage of choreographers is $43, 680 while the highest earners earn more than $101,250 per year ($48.68 per hour). Choreography is also one of the fun jobs that pay well without a degree.
9. Massage Therapists
Massage therapy is one of the low-stress professions that pay well without a degree. To become a massage therapist, one is required to complete a postsecondary program of 500 hours of study, although some programs require 1,000 hours or more.
A high school diploma or equivalent is usually required for admission to a massage therapy program. The programs cover subjects such as anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, and pathology.
Standards and requirements also vary greatly by state and most states require massage therapists to have a license or certification.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor‘s growth forecast, the field is likely to grow by 23% by 2022, creating more jobs and opportunities for certificate holders.
The median annual salary for massage therapists is $43,620 and the top earners earn as high as $80,000 a year. This makes massage therapy one of the quick certifications that pay really well.
10. Travel Agents
It is quite easy to become a travel agent since completing a 4-year education program is not a requirement at all.
You need a high school diploma unless an employer is looking for someone with additional formal training such as a college degree or who has taken classes related to the travel industry.
There are many community colleges, vocational schools, and industry associations offering technical training in professional travel planning.
Most employers also offer on-the-job training or technical skills such as how to use the latest reservation systems in the industry.
As a travel agent, your roles include planning and selling transportation and accommodations for customers and determining destinations, travel dates, modes of transport, costs, and accommodations required.
Other tasks could include describing, planning, and arranging itineraries and selling tour packages to travel clients.
The median annual wage for travel agents is $42,350 with the top-paid agents earning as high as $73,360 a year.
Do you have a good eye for details and taking photos of places, buildings, animals, or nature sounds like something you can pursue as a career?
If that’s the case then you can pursue a career in photography. Postsecondary education is not a prerequisite for a successful career as a photographer unless you want to pursue a photography career in certain fields such as scientific/industrial photography, medical photography, and photojournalism.
You can take classes to earn a certificate, diploma, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree in photography. Photography programs are offered in community colleges, vocational-technical institutes, private trade & technical schools, and also universities.
Alternatively, you can choose to become a freelance photographer and get paid per gig or contract. The median annual wage for photographers in the United States is $41,280 while top earners get as high as $86,850 a year.
12. Dental Assistants
With an average salary of $42,310, a certificate in dental assisting is one of the few quick certifications that pay well. It’s a program that prepares students to work alongside dentists to promote oral health and hygiene.
As a dental assistant, you will help educate patients on how to take care of their teeth. The program also equips students with the necessary skills to evaluate and control dental infections and diseases.
The certificate program takes a minimum of 6 months and up to 12 months to complete. Programs are offered at community colleges and also vocational or technical schools.
Dental assisting programs that take up to 1 year to complete lead to a certificate or diploma while programs that last 1-2 years lead to an associate’s degree.
Upon graduation, you qualify to become a professional dental assistant and work closely with certified dentists.
According to the Dental Assisting National Board, certified dental assistants earn an average of $20.76 an hour, $2 more than non-certified dental assistants.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, dental assistants’ median annual wage is $41,180 and the top earners receive more than $58,390 a year.
13. Fitness Trainers and Instructors
Certificate in Fitness Instructing is one of the short-term courses with high salaries, largely due to the increase in the number of people seeking help to lose weight or get into shape.
As a fitness trainer or instructor, you could work in hospitals, gyms, dance studios, wealthy homes, sports facilities, and many other places.
There are accredited online certificate programs that you can enroll in and complete the course within 6 months depending on your speed.
Typically, a high school diploma is required for entry into this career field but you can also pursue an associate’s degree to boost your chances of landing better-paying jobs.
The median annual salary for fitness trainers and instructors is $40,510 while the top-paid professionals earn as high as $76,550 a year.
14. Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)
A paramedic certificate program is one of the many quick certifications that pay well, some earning as high as $60,000 a year.
It involves learning how to stabilize patients, deliver cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), insert IV lines, deliver babies, manage fractures and injuries, and provide oxygen to patients among other life-saving skills.
This line of work needs someone who can respond to and care for patients in emergencies and is not for the faint-hearted.
Paramedics sometimes go through some of the most mentally, psychologically, and physically demanding situations that call for someone with empathy and compassion.
Nonetheless, it’s a fast-paced career that provides a different kind of excitement and personal fulfillment rarely enjoyed in other common workplaces.
The importance of what paramedics do justifies why the course is one of the few quick certifications that pay well, with the potential of earning more than $60K a year.
Both a high school diploma or its equivalent and CPR certification are needed for entry into postsecondary educational programs in emergency medical technology.
Most of the programs are nondegree award programs that take less than 1 year to complete, although a few can take slightly more than that.
You can enroll in emergency medical technology programs in community colleges, technical institutes, universities, or facilities that specialize in emergency care training.
The median annual wage for Emergency Medical Technicians is $36,650 while the top earners receive more than $62,150 a year.
15. Phlebotomy Technicians
Phlebotomy technicians (phlebotomists) draw blood for lab tests, transfusions, research, or donations.
They are tasked with preparing a patient’s blood for lab testing as well as attending to patients who have adverse reactions after their blood is drawn.
To become a phlebotomy technician, one has to undertake mostly hands-on training, which often takes between 2-6 months to complete.
Some of the tasks they do include:
- Draw blood from blood donors and patients
- Verify their identity to ensure proper labeling of the sample
- Label the drawn blood for processing
- Enter the patient or donor’s information into the database
- Assemble medical instruments such as test tubes, blood vials ad needles
The median annual wage for phlebotomists is $36,320 with the top earners getting more than $50,740 a year.
Quick Certifications That Pay Well in 2021
In conclusion, there are many other quick certifications that pay well without the need for a 4-year degree program. The most important thing to consider would be your passion, interest, future career opportunities, and financial abilities. These programs can act as a springboard for advanced careers.