Certificate Programs: Education's
Best Kept Secret
(Continued from 1)
Who Enrolls in Certificate Programs?
A wide range of students participate in certificate
programs, but according to Howard Deckelbaum, director
of the Information Technologies Institute at NYU
School of Continuing and Professional Studies, students
can usually be divided into three categories.
The first type is often an entry-level professional
seeking enhanced skills. Deckelbaum notes that the number
of such professionals in certificate
programs rose significantly during the dotcom craze.
The second type is the professional who needs or wants
new skills to make a job change. Students constantly
need to retool so they can be diversified in business,
says Michele Vaccaro, MBA program advisor at Fairleigh
The third type of student must
acquire advanced skill sets for his or her current position.
Students often realize they need to improve in
other areas as well, which forces some competitive edge,
What Can You Get out of a Certificate Program?
The obvious answer is a credential on your resume without
the time and cost involvement of a masters degree.
Then again, most of the benefits will be
ones you dont read about in catalogues or on Web
sites. New job skills will allow you to market yourself
Pamela Rittelmeyer will testify to that. She enrolled
in NYUs Making a Digital Movie, an intensive,
three-week certificate course. There she wrote a short
script, filmed a live-action sequence, added digital
effects, and later found work in the camera department
of the blockbuster movie, Planet of the Apes.
Along with being credited in the movie, she was promoted
to the head camera position of the visual effects unit.
With an invitation from NYU, she spent the next summer
making a documentary of the Making a Digital Movie course.
I partly credit [my success] to my knowledge
of visual effects that I gained from the NYU course,
said Rittelmeyer. Of course, she added, the credit should
also be attributed to her many years of work experience
and her ability to marketor show offher
new skills effectively.
With industry-driven certificate programs taught by
professors working in the field, students are able to
demonstrate that they have learned the latest career
skills from the best in the industry. And with information
technology skills in the greatest demand, its
no wonder that IT certificate programs are the most
popular programs being taught at NYU School of Continuing
and Professional Studies. Unlike day-length seminars,
certificate programs, contends Deckelbaum, provide
a fundamental core of knowledge.
And, adds Vaccaro, even non-IT courses at FDU enhance
technology skills and encourage new strategic
techniques. Some students who enter a mode of
study work on multiple certificates, she explains, with
individuals completing three or four certificate programs
over a short period of time.
Take the Road Less Traveled
Whether planned or not, certificate programs can take
your career in a new direction. Barth Healey, senior
staff editor of the foreign news desk at The
New York Times, recently completed NYUs Certificate
in Conflict and Dispute Resolution. His study was not
prompted by a desire to improve his current
position, but rather to prepare himself for a post-retirement
career as a mediator.
[I] will be retiring or going to shorter hours
in a couple of years, Healey explains. I
see an opportunity to stay active, andwho knowsmaybe
even get paid for a good number of years beyond the
basic three score and ten. He has already started
scoping out both private and court mediation opportunities
Sign Me Up!
The hardest part of certificate programs may be locating
information about them. Many schools carry such programs,
but they admit that they do not market them satisfactorily.
When searching through a schools Web site, you
will find most certificate programs described in Continuing
however, some schools also list their programs within
Special Programs, Admissions, and within individual
curriculum departments. When requesting
information on the phone, ask for Continuing Education
or the department in which you are interested.
over 350 online
courses and certificate programs.
Anglea Leeper works as an independent educational consultant
and freelance writer and editor in Wake Forest, North
Carolina. She has also contributed to Multicultural Review,
The Book Report, American Careers, and Succeed Magazine.
Her upcoming book, Juneteenth: Celebrating African-American
Freedom will be published in 2004.