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What Are Job Certification Programs?

Becoming a certified professional can help in seeking and keeping a job. Find out about job certification programs, including where to find them and how they work.

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Overview of Job Certification Programs

Job certification preparation programs teach work-related skills to students seeking certification in specialized areas. These programs can be found at community colleges and vocational schools. Once students complete these programs, they can seek credentials from professional organizations recognized by state and national agencies. Professional certification is a term of employment for some jobs, but even if it is not required, it can make job candidates more appealing to potential employers.

Types of Programs

There is a certification process for nearly every industry. Many information technology (IT) professionals take a series of Microsoft certification programs to prove their knowledge and enhance their chances of advancement in the field. Accountants are required to gain certification in order to perform certain job duties. An accountant must complete 150 semester hours of college-level coursework to sit for the certification exam. Other occupations, such as HVAC technology, require certification in the proper handling of refrigerants.

Nearly all states require certification for nurses, including certified nursing assistants, registered nurses and advanced practice nurses. Certification may be required for hospital employees that perform diagnostic tests or operate high-tech equipment as well.

How to Find Certification Programs

Career One Stop (, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), has a certification finder that is searchable by keyword, certifying organization and occupation. This site also allows users to search by training program. Simply input keywords and the finder locates schools that offer relevant certification preparation programs. The search results list the college, program length and number of miles from the inputted zip code. The website also provides salary and wage information, information on relocating and tips on unemployment insurance.

How to Become Certified

Certification examinations are often taken in centralized computer testing facilities. The exam, depending on the type of certification, may consist of a written, oral or practical test. On some occasions, exams may take several days to complete, particularly if they include both written and practical components.

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