4 Reasons to Go Back to School | But Maybe Not For a Degree

Have you been bitten by the back to school bug? Whether you’re enthusiastic about heading back or are still on the fence, we’ve put together a few reasons why going back to school is a great idea—though you may want to consider a non-degree (or certificate) program among your options.

Reason 1: There are jobs to be had.
Did you know that 44% of college graduates nationwide are underemployed or unemployed? This somewhat depressing little factoid begs the question of why. It’s largely because the areas with the most growth often don’t require a college degree!

The U.S. Department of Labor puts together lists every few years of the top 20 fields and occupations that are growing the fastest and that are expected to generate the most new jobs. There are over 6 million new jobs represented by the occupations on these lists, and 13 of the 20 on the fastest growing list and 19 of the 20 on the list of those with the most new jobs require 2 years or less of education.

This is great news if you’re looking for a fast way to get into a new career because you can be trained and ready to start taking advantage of all those opportunities relatively quickly. These fields are also great choices for military spouses because their high growth usually means there are lots of opportunities nationwide.

Reason 2: Streamlined, job-focused training is available.
So where do you get that 2 years or less of education? Back in the day, many of these professionals filling these positions were simply trained on the job. However, non-degree, or certificate, programs are becoming a popular alternative to on-the-job training because they ensure you already have the skills employers are looking for before you even apply for the job.

For example, consider medical administrative assistants (who are on both of the U.S. Department of Labor’s lists). If an employer is choosing between two applicants—one who has taken a training program and earned the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant credential and one who has no previous experience in a medical office—the choice is obvious. The candidate who’s taken a training program is already familiar with basic medical office procedures, medical terminology, and possibly even electronic health records software, drastically reducing the time the office will have to spend training them for the specific position.

Job-focused training helps you stand out in the job market by ensuring that you’re ready to start positively contributing in your new job from day 1.

Reason 3: You can be career-ready in just a few months.
We’ve already talked about how many hiring fields require two years or less of education—but often you can be trained and working in just a few months. For example, with Career Step’s Medical Administrative Assistant program many students have graduated and found a job in just 3 months.

Certificate programs offer streamlined training, which means you’re focusing all of your time and effort on developing the most important skills—those you’ll be using every day on the job. Instead of taking classes in subjects you’ll never use, you’re spending your time where it matters most. And this brings us to our reason number 4 because less time = less money.

Reason 4: There are affordable education options.
Tuition has gone up 500% in the last several decades. Student debt has outpaced inflation, and the average student is graduating college with more than $29,000 of debt. Programs like MyCAA and the GI Bill can help offset some of these costs, but they’re not an option for everyone.

The good news is that there are affordable education options out there. Because certificate programs are shorter than traditional degree options, they’re often a fraction of the cost as well—though of course this varies by program and school.

In the case of the Career Step programs, our students are provided everything they need to be career-ready for less than $4,000. That covers everything—curriculum, textbooks, instructor support, graduate placement assistance, everything. For less than $4,000, students are prepared to start earning average salaries of $25,000 to $50,000 a year, which is an excellent return for your investment of money, time, and effort.

Whether your reason for returning to school is on our list or not, education is one of the very best ways to improve your life. Learn more about how you can start training for a new career today through Career Step’s MyCAA-approved programs at CareerStep.com/military-spouse.

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