BlogCareer DevelopmentStudent LifeGet Certified in Your Gap Year

Get Certified in Your Gap Year

Taking a gap year between high school and college is becoming an increasingly common practice. A gap year has been shown to have mental health benefits and can give you time to decompress from 13 years of elementary, middle, and high school and to consider what you really want out of your college experience.

But gap years aren’t just for rest and relaxation—you can use a gap year to be super productive and set yourself up for handling the financial burden of college. Keep reading to learn about how going through a short career training program during a gap year can set you up for success in college and later in life!

Why Get Certified Before Starting College?

It is no secret that college is expensive. The financial burden of attending a university has increased drastically over time. In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, average college tuition in the U.S. has risen from $4,336 in 1963 to $13,677 in 2021—and those numbers account for inflation!

Students nowadays must get creative to avoid crippling student loan debt. This is where a career training program can come in. Some programs are aligned to a certification and help you prepare to take a certification exam, given by a recognized certifying body. By gaining a certification during your gap year, you could work a high-paying job while you attend college!

Many jobs that require certification have substantial annual salaries and excellent flexibility, and some even have the possibility of working remotely.

Blackstone Career Institute’s Career Training Programs that Lead to Certification

Blackstone Career Institute offers affordable online career training programs for a variety of careers. Our programs are 100% remote and very affordable. The programs listed below are aligned to a certification and include the cost of the certification exam in the tuition. All of these programs can be completed within a one-year timeframe during you gap year, depending on how quickly you pay your tuition.

Legal Assistant/Paralegal

Blackstone’s Legal Assistant/Paralegal Program can be completed within 6-12 months on average. The only entrance requirements are a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent. The entire program can be completed online from the comfort of your home. Upon completion of the program, Blackstone covers the cost to sit for the Certified Paralegal (CP®) exam given by the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA).

Working as a paralegal during college could mean avoiding student debt entirely. The median salary for paralegals in the U.S. was over $60,000 in 2023, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook!

Plus, paralegal positions that are fully or partially remote could becoming increasingly more common, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic opened up the door to virtual paralegal work. This means that you could attend in-person classes and even live on campus while working virtually as a paralegal. To learn more about the life of a virtual paralegal, check out our blog article: “Is Becoming a Virtual Paralegal for You?

Paralegals are important members of legal teams. They assist attorneys with a large variety of tasks, interface with clients and organizations, and work on a variety of cases. Work ranges from administrative tasks to legal research to trial preparation. This can be an engaging and fun job and is an especially strong career choice for people studying to become lawyers.

Pharmacy Technician

Blackstone’s Pharmacy Technician Program can be completed in 4-12 months on average and requires a high school diploma or equivalent. The program includes a 160-hour externship at Walgreens or CVS Pharmacy. Upon successful completion of the program and externship, you will receive an exam voucher for the Pharmacy Technician Certification Examination (PTCE), administered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

Pharmacy technicians earned a median salary of over $40,000 in 2023. Pharmacy technicians work alongside pharmacists and are an essential part of running a pharmacy. There are pharmacies in every college town in the country, meaning this career offers extreme location flexibility.

No matter where you decide to attend college, finding a local job as a pharmacy technician is a potential option.

Medical Billing and Coding

Blackstone’s Medical Billing and Coding Program can be completed within 8-12 months on average and only requires a high school diploma or equivalent. The career training program prepares you for the Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) exam, and the program includes a voucher to take the exam as well as the Practicode course offered by the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC).

The median salary for this career is more than $48,000. Medical billing and coding is an excellent career choice for someone attending college. Since the work can be done 100% remotely, you have full flexibility to live on-campus and attend in-person classes.

The job entails coding for various services and treatments done at a medical hospital or clinic, preparing and sending invoices, communicating between patients and insurance companies, and more. Medical billing and coding specialists are an essential piece of making sure a doctor’s office runs smoothly!

Medical Office Assistant

Blackstone’s Medical Office Assistant program takes 4-12 months to complete on average and requires a high school diploma or equivalent. Upon completion of the program, you will have the opportunity to sit for the Certified Medical Administrative Assistant (CMAA) certification, given by the National Healthcareer Association (NHA).

The median salary for medical office assistants was over $42,000 in 2023. Medical office assistants are found in almost every doctor’s office in the country, meaning this job affords you extreme location flexibility. You may be able to find open positions wherever you look at attending college.

The career entails interfacing with both patients and medical staff, operating office software and other equipment, updating medical records, and more. Medical office assistants are key players in making sure healthcare offices run smoothly and efficiently.


Written by Adam Wernham

bio of blogger for Blackstone Career Institute

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