BlogCareer DevelopmentHealth CareersCertificate Programs Can Be a Stepping Stone to a Healthcare Career

Certificate Programs Can Be a Stepping Stone to a Healthcare Career

Are you considering a career in the medical field but wondering if it is the right choice for you? You might also be thinking about gaining experience in healthcare—if just exploring careers—or how to add experience to your resume without the time or expense of a degree program. Consider enrolling in a healthcare career training program that provides a certificate in a specific field in the medical arena and prepares you for a certification exam, providing a pathway to reach your overall professional goals.

What to Consider

Both certificate programs and degree programs are options to help you enter the healthcare career field. Key differences exist between certificate programs and degree programs. The distinctions center on the cost of education and training, the time to complete the program, the requirements to enroll in the program, aspects of career advancement and professional influence, and future potential salaries and job opportunities. It’s important to understand which type of program will work best for you.

Consider your career goals, time availability, commitment, and prospects for future employment.

Certificate programs are offered through accredited career training schools online and provide job-specific training and coursework in an educational setting.

Many employers in the healthcare field and other fields hire individuals with specialized credentials to prove that a potential employee has the knowledge and skills to complete the job requirements successfully.

According to a Career Karma article, “Certificate programs are also instrumental when switching careers or advancing your specialization within the same profession. You can even obtain some certificates while pursuing a formal degree.”

Degree programs require more time commitment and may not be self-paced like a career training program can be. An undergraduate degree (associate’s or bachelor’s) typically takes two to four years to complete. Graduate degrees (master’s, doctorate) can take three years or more to complete.

A career training program issues you a certificate upon successful course completion. Also, certificate programs can be completed in months rather than years.

Benefits of Certificate Programs in the Healthcare Career Field

As mentioned previously, certificate programs are, in general, less costly and require less time commitment to complete than a degree program. Completing these programs can increase your chances of finding a job in your chosen career. Obtaining a certificate means that you have received training for specific skills that are needed and are qualified to perform duties required for a particular job.

Career training programs also offer flexibility in your schedule since you can opt for a fully online and self-paced program. These programs can prepare you to take exams for certification. Obtaining certification in a specific healthcare career field can also create opportunities for future professional growth and advancement as well as job security. According to Emerge Education, “Healthcare certifications enhance job security by showcasing an individual’s commitment to professional development and competence, making them more marketable to employers.”

In addition to offering prospects in the medical sector, earning a certificate from an accredited school opens doors for you to further your knowledge, education, and skill development to stay up to date with developments in your chosen healthcare career.

Certificate programs also allow for more work-life balance and can prepare you for an entry-level job in the healthcare career field within two years or less.

Finally, healthcare workers with certification frequently earn more than healthcare workers without certification because of their increased knowledge and skills.

Be Sure to Research Certificate Programs Before Enrolling

Since numerous organizations and schools offer online career training programs leading to a certificate, be sure that the school you choose is accredited. Accreditation means the institution has met the required educational standards to provide the coursework and correct training to prepare students for their chosen careers.  Also, ask if and how the school prepares students to sit for certification exams.

Blackstone Career Institute (BCI) is an accredited school that offers a variety of career training programs that can generally be completed in under a year. Multiple of BCI’s programs are aligned with a certifying credentialing organization. BCI is a leader in online education that includes healthcare career training for a certificate through their Pharmacy Technician Program, Medical Billing and Coding Program, and Medical Office Assistant Program as well as other programs.

Pharmacy Technician

The Pharmacy Technician Program tuition is $2,493.00 at BCI, but 18-month and 24-month payment plan options are available. The program can usually be completed in four months to one year and prepares students to sit for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCE). This exam is administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB) and provides the opportunity to earn national recognition as a CPhT (Certified Pharmacy Technician).

Pharmacy technicians are a vital part of the healthcare team, whether working in a retail pharmacy, general retail store, hospital, or outpatient clinic. BCI’s Pharmacy Technician Program includes a required 160-hour externship for real-world experience in the industry. After successfully taking the program and completing the externship, you receive the exam voucher to take your examination.

Medical Billing and Coding

BCI’s Medical Billing and Coding Program can be completed in eight to 12 months and offers foundational topics to prepare students for an entry-level position as a medical billing and coding specialist. Through the school’s partnership with the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC), BCI’s program includes a voucher for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) exam. Tuition costs $2,995.00, but 19-month and 29-month payment plan options are available.

Medical billing and coding specialists are a critical part of a hospital, clinic, or physician’s office practice, especially relating to financial and health insurance matters. Salaries for medical billing and coding specialists can be high-paying. The Occupational Outlook Handbook cites that the median salary is $48,780 annually, with the top 10 percent earning greater than $77,810. Of course, salaries can vary by region and practice.

Medical Office Assistant

BCI’s Medical Office Assistant Program provides students with the fundamentals in their career training program including medical terminology, the role of medical office assistants as part of the healthcare team, and their role in patient care. Medical office assistants work primarily in doctor’s offices, but their roles have expanded to other settings, including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and even insurance companies. Tuition for the Medical Office Assistant Program is a one-time payment of $2,493 but 18-month and 24-month payment plan options are available. The online training program can be completed on average in four to 12 months. BCI’s program also includes the registration cost to sit for the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA), sponsored by the National Healthcareer Association®.

Final Thoughts

All these careers are in demand in the healthcare career field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of pharmacy technicians is projected to grow six percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations. Medical billing and coding careers are expected to increase eight percent between 2022 and 2032, and medical office assistants are projected to grow 14 percent from 2022 to 2032.

Certificate programs allow you to see if a healthcare career field is for you without a lot of expense and time commitment. You can always switch careers. Also, having certification in a specific healthcare career area will help you if you decide to pursue a degree program. Some suggested tips:

  • Decide what skills you already have and what area ignites your interests and passion.
  • Use career assessment tools to explore and identify your skills and interests.
  • Request to shadow or volunteer in a healthcare career area that appeals to your interests.
  • If making a career change, decide why you want to change careers.
  • Maintain positive relationships and explore professional organizations in your field of interest.
  • Research open job opportunities in the healthcare career area that you are considering. Remember also that although some job titles sound similar, there are significant differences between their daily responsibilities.
  • Obtaining a certificate through a career training program followed by certification in a specific healthcare career field can be a path to continuing education and advanced career opportunities.


Written by Jo Gambosi

bio of blogger Jo for Blackstone Career Institute

Disclaimer: Blackstone Career Institute, an accredited school, cannot guarantee employment, job promotion prospects, or income increases.