Ready to start a new career but don’t have the time or money to get an expensive degree?
There are a number of jobs with easy certifications that can be completed in a short amount of time, and some of them could earn you $100K or more per year.
Coursera has 7,000+ courses that can be completed in less than six months for just $39 a month after a 7-day free trial.
Here is our list of 10 quick certifications that pay well:
1. Bookkeeping certification
- Preferred course: Bookkeeper Launch
- Cost: $2,499+
- Course length: 90 days
- Potential pay: $100,000+ per year
A bookkeeper tracks and records financial transactions for a small business or large corporation.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for bookkeepers is $45,560 per year or $21.90 per hour, though rates for experienced bookkeepers can range from $60 to $126 per hour.
Between 2021 and 2031, the growth rate for bookkeeping is expected to decline by 5%. However, the demand for bookkeepers is expected to remain steady, with just under 200,000 jobs open annually through 2031.
You can earn a bookkeeping certification in less than one year. There are several legitimate bookkeeper training programs online, but our favorite is Bookkeeper Launch, which gives you the tools to kickstart your own bookkeeping business.
We also like Bookkeeper Launch because:
- Program can be completed in 90 days
- A+ Better Business Bureau rating (accredited since 2020)
- Course goes beyond bookkeeping skills to help you market yourself and build a successful bookkeeping business
- Access to an exclusive community of bookkeepers for networking and career advice
At over $2,499, the course is expensive, but it has a proven track record of successful graduates who swear it’s worth the investment:
You can also take a self-paced bookkeeping certificate course on Coursera.
2. Proofreading certification
- Preferred course: Proofread Anywhere
- Cost: Starts at $397 for lifetime access
- Course length: 30 days (self-paced)
- Potential pay: Up to $92,000 per year (pay varies by industry)
Proofreaders are responsible for finding spelling and grammar errors in books, newspapers, magazines, marketing copy, online, and anywhere else text appears.
You can get hired as a proofreader at a media organization, marketing firm, or publishing house, or you can build a client list and work remotely as a freelance proofreader.
According to BLS data, the median salary for proofreaders varies by industry, ranging from $37,180 to $60,870 annually ($17.88 to $29.27 per hour).
Proofreading jobs that support newspapers, books, and periodicals tend to be on the lower end of the salary range, while financial service companies and merchant wholesalers tend to pay more.
At a rate of 2%, the projected growth of this profession is slower than the average of 5% between now and 2031.
If you want to become a professional proofreader, Proofread Anywhere offers plans starting at $397 for lifetime access to its courses. We like Proofread Anywhere because:
- A+ BBB-rated course
- Includes tips for setting up and growing your business
- Self-paced, so you can learn on your own time at your own pace
- Free 7-day e-course to see if it’s the right fit
Check out our full Proofread Anywhere review and learn more about how to become a proofreader.
While there’s no nationally recognized certification for proofreading, you can earn certificates on learning websites like Skillshare and LinkedIn Learning to show potential clients and employers.
Skillshare has an annual membership for $165, while LinkedIn Learning has plans that start at $19.99 per month. You can take classes at your own pace.
3. Birth and postpartum care certifications
If you want to work with pregnant and postpartum women, these are some certifications to consider:
- Preferred course: DONA Doula Training
- Cost: Starts at $400
- Course length: 16 hours
- Potential pay: $92,000+ per year
Birth doulas help women navigate the physical and emotional impact of pregnancy, labor, and the birthing process.
A birth doula’s median salary is $57,295 per year or $28 per hour. The growth rate for this job is expected to hit just over 6% over the next decade (ZipRecruiter, Future Market Insights).
Doulas of North America International (DONA) offers birth doula training among other courses relevant to this career path. DONA certifications require at least 16 hours of class time and start at $400.
- Preferred course: International Doula Institute (IDI) Postpartum Doula Training
- Cost: Starts at $790
- Course length: Six to 12 weeks (self-paced)
- Potential pay: $92,000+ per year
Postpartum doulas support new mothers after delivery, helping them adjust to life with a new baby. They offer non-judgmental support, extra help for the family, and share evidence-based techniques to help the mother. They may provide services for the first year after birth, if needed.
A postpartum doula’s median salary is $71,120 per year or $34 per hour. The growth rate for this job is expected to hit just over 6% over the next decade (ZipRecruiter, Future Market Insights).
A postpartum IDI certification takes six to 12 weeks on average and starts at $790.
- Preferred course: IDI Certified Breastfeeding Counselor
- Cost: $814
- Course length: 18-90 hours of training, depending on role
- Potential pay: $100,000+
A lactation consultant works with mothers who are expecting to prepare them for breastfeeding after the birth of the child.
Lactation consultants are usually nurses, doulas, nurse midwives, OB/GYNs and other highly-skilled, certified professionals. However, you can still get certified as a lactation counselor or breastfeeding educator if you do not have a professional medical background.
A lactation consultant’s median salary is $73,291 per year or $35 per hour. The growth rate for this job is expected to hit 12% through 2028. (ZipRecruiter, Zippia).
IDI offers coursework specific to the role you will take as a lactation consultant:
- Professional (nurses, doctors, nurse midwives): requires 90 hours of lactation education and 300 to 1,000 clinical practice hours
- Certified (doulas, breastfeeding educators): requires 20-120 hours of classroom training
- Peer (WIC peer counselor, La Leche League): requires 18-50 hours of classroom time
4. Childcare certification
- Preferred course: Child Care Lounge
- Cost: $150
- Course length: A few hours to one week, depending on the certification
- Potential pay: $70,000+ per year for home daycare providers and nannies in big cities
Childcare workers take care of children in:
- Daycares and preschools
- Elementary and secondary schools
- Recreation/entertainment venues for children
- Civic and social organizations
- Private homes
You can work in a facility, travel to people’s homes, or even start your own daycare business.
The average salary for a child care worker is $27,490 or $13.22 per hour, according to the BLS.
Over the next decade, demand for the job is expected to grow by 6%.
Here are few child care certification providers to look into:
- Council for Professional Recognition
- National Early Childhood Program Accreditation Commission (NECPA)
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
We like Child Care Lounge, an online learning program where you can get your Child Development Associate (CDA) certification, recognized in 40 states. It’s an affordable way to get started in your career working with children. Courses are self-paced and cost $150 to earn your CDA, which has a 120-hour requirement.
Also check out these related job posts:
5. Health care certifications
While health care degrees take years to obtain, there are some careers in the healthcare field that only require a certification to get started:
- Preferred course: AHIMA CCA
- Cost: $199-$299
- Course length: 16 weeks
- Potential pay: $80,000+ per year
Medical coders keep track of patients' insurance information, invoices, and payments for health care facilities.
As a medical coder/biller, you can expect to make an average of $46,660 per year or $22.43 per hour, according to BLS data. This career is expected to grow by 7% over the next decade.
The American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) offers a 16-week Certified Professional Coder (CPC) prep course for the CPC exam that starts at $2,870.00. The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) offers the Certified Coding Associate (CCA) exam for $199 for members and $299 for non-members.
Home health aide
- Preferred course: ACA certification
- Cost: Starts at $99
- Course length: 2-3 days
- Potential pay: $42,000 per year
Home health aides assist clients with daily personal care tasks, such as bathing or dressing, but may also run errands, perform light housekeeping duties, or prepare meals.
Home health aides make a median annual income of $29,430 or $14.15 per hour (BLS). The rate of growth for this career is expected to reach 25% through 2031, indicating a great need for people in this role.
The American Caregiver Association (ACA) certification starts at $99, and courses can take as few as two to three days to complete.
Certified nursing assistant (CNA)
- Preferred course: Local courses offered by community colleges and technical institutes
- Cost: $600+ on average
- Course length: 90 days to 12 months
- Potential pay: $55,000+ per year
CNAs help clients in medical facilities, assisted living, nursing homes, or private homes with personal care and medical conditions.
The CNA median salary is $30,290 per year or $14.56 per hour. Over the next 10 years, the growth rate is expected at 5%, which is average for most professions (BLS).
It can take three to 12 months to get certified as a CNA and costs for courses vary since many of them are offered by colleges and universities.
On average tuition costs range from $600 to $2,000 according to Zippia, an online career resource platform. The American Red Cross offers CNA training in some states.
- Preferred course: NHA CPT
- Cost: On average, $300+
- Course length: 4 to 8 months
- Potential pay: $65,000+ per year
Phlebotomists collect blood samples from patients in hospitals, clinics, and other facilities for lab testing.
The median salary for a phlebotomist technician is $37,380 per year or $17.97 per hour (BLS). The growth rate over the next decade is an estimated 10%.
The National Healthcare Association offers the Certified Phlebotomist Technician (CPT) credential through an exam. To get ready for the exam, you can find accredited courses at community colleges, technical schools, and trade schools. Training can take four to eight months. You might pay anywhere from $300-$1,400+ for tuition, according to Indeed.
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6. Project management certification
- Preferred course: Coursera Google PM certificate
- Cost: $39 per month
- Course length: 6 months
- Potential pay: $156,000+ per year
If you can effectively multitask, manage priorities, delegate work, communicate, and have superior organization skills, project management could be a great career path for you.
As a project manager, you’ll oversee a project from beginning to end, making sure it is carried out properly and stays within the budget. You’ll work with people on your project team, vendors, and others to accomplish project goals. Project managers work in multiple industries, from IT to construction.
According to BLS data, the median salary for management jobs across different industries was $97,500 in 2021. The expected growth over the next decade is 7%.
Coursera offers a Google Project Management certificate that takes six months to complete. You can get started with a 7-day free trial. After the trial period, you’ll pay $39 per month until you complete your course.
The leading certification for this field is the Project Management Professional (PMP) Certificate issued by the Project Management Institute. You can get it by successfully passing the 180-question PMP exam.
7. IT certification
- Preferred course platform: Coursera
- Cost: $39 per month
- Course length: 3 to 6 months
- Potential pay: $175,000+ per year
Web and software development are two popular IT career paths that don’t require prior experience or a degree to get started.
As a web developer, you’ll create and maintain websites, whether you work for yourself and take on clients or find a more full-time role working for one company. Software developers design programs or applications in the computer, web, and cloud space.
According to the BLS, these are the annual median salaries:
- Web developers – $78,300 or $37.65 per hour
- Software developers – $109,020 or $52.41 per hour
Both fields are expected to grow by more than 20% from now through 2031.
Coursera offers web and software development courses and certificates such as the IBM Full Stack Developer and Meta Front-End Developer. Courses are self-paced, and you can complete them in about three to six months.
Also, check out our post on learning how to code.
8. Social media marketing certification
- Preferred course platform: Coursera
- Cost: $39 per month
- Course length: 7+ months
- Potential pay: $162,000+ per year
A social media marketer uses social media platforms to promote a company, product, or person.
You can work with a company as an in-house social media marketing specialist or build your own client list. The in-house role is usually referred to as a social media manager.
The annual median salary for social media marketer is $112,188 or $53.94 per hour, according to Salary.com. The BLS estimates a 10% growth rate for jobs in advertising, promotion, and marketing over the next decade.
To excel in this career path, you’ll need to:
- Understand marketing and advertising skills
- Know multiple social media platforms inside and out
- Learn how to use tools to create, test, schedule, and track content
- Gain skills in content creation and design
You can learn these skills and more by earning a Meta Social Media Marketing certificate from Coursera. On average, it takes seven months to complete. No degree or experience is required.
9. Real estate certification
- Preferred course: Notary.net
- Cost: $45
- Course length: Varies, self-paced
- Potential pay: $230,000+ per year for real estate brokers in major cities like New York and Los Angeles
If you want to work in real estate, there are multiple roles to consider, including:
- Real estate agent
- Real estate broker
- Notary signing agent
Real estate agents and brokers help clients buy and sell homes and earn a commission, typically 5% to 6% of a home’s listing price. Some work for an agency, others are self-employed.
Real estate agents and brokers earn an annual median salary of $48,770 per year or $23.45 per hour. Through 2031, this job has an average growth rate of 5% (BLS).
To become a real estate agent, you’ll need to take a state-approved real estate course and pass a licensing exam.
You’ll need to be a licensed real estate agent with experience before you can take an exam to become a real estate broker.
Your state real estate commission is a great place to start in learning what is required.
Some options for training, licensing and certification include:
- Kaplan offers a comprehensive real estate education program. The program has earned an excellent rating on Trustpilot. The school has an A+ rating on BBB. Online courses start at $329, and you have six months to complete the training.
- The National Association of Realtors offers continuing education to license realtors for certifications and other designations to help you advance in your career.
Learn more about the steps it takes to become a real estate agent:
Notary signing agents are often freelancers that specialize in handling loan documents, deeds, and other property closing documents. They get paid each time their services are required at a loan signing or closing.
Notary signing agents earn a median annual salary of $39,692 per year or $19.08 per hour according to Salary.com. Since agents are needed in many states to validate certain documents, the need for them remains steady.
One of the most affordable ways to become a certified notary signing agent is through Notary.net’s self-paced training. The course costs $45 and provides guidance on what requirements are necessary based on the state in which you reside.
10. Fitness certification
- Preferred course: NCSF certification
- Cost: Starts at $59 per month
- Course length: Varies, self-paced
- Potential pay: $115,000+ per year
If you enjoy working out and helping people reach their fitness goals, you should look into acquiring a fitness certification.
There are so many fitness certification options, including:
- Personal trainer
- Group fitness instructor (yoga, Zumba, Les Mills, etc.)
- Health coach
- Nutrition coach
Earnings vary depending on which career path you take. You can also get certified in more than one area to provide more benefit to your clients.
The BLS reports that the median salary for fitness trainers and instructors is $40,700 per year or $19.57 per hour. This profession is expected to have a 19% growth rate over the next decade, much higher than the average of 5% growth across all industries.
Check out these certifications:
- National Council on Strength & Fitness (NCSF) offers personal trainer and strength coach certifications with payment plans starting at $59 per month.
- Akasha Yoga Academy has an in-depth, 200-hour online certification course that meets Yoga Alliance requirements, with payment plans starting at $300 per month.
- International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) provides multiple certifications including options for certified personal trainers, certified personal trainers/online coaches, and health/nutrition coaches. Tuition starts at $69 per month.
11. Legal certification
- Preferred course: None
- Cost: Varies, starts at $170
- Course length: Varies
- Potential pay: $82,000+ per year
These are some career opportunities in the legal field that don’t require years of schooling:
- Accredited legal professionals (ALPs)
- Court reporters
According to the BLS, the median salary for paralegals and legal assistants is $56,230 per year or $27.03 per hour. The growth rate is expected to reach 14% through 2031.
The BLS reports that court reporters have a median salary of $60,380 per year or $29.03 per hour, but the growth rate (1%) is very low.
To get started in any of these careers, you’ll need to find a reputable certification course.
The National Association for Legal Support Professionals (NALS) offers legal certification exams:
- Professional paralegal – $295 for non-members, $247 for NALS members
- Certified legal professional (CLP) – $245 for non-members, $220 for members
- Accredited legal professional – $195 for non-members, $170 for members
The National Association for Court Reporters and Captioners (NCRA) offers multiple legal certifications but they are meant for people who are already in the profession.
If you want to learn how to be a court reporter, check out NCRA-approved training programs.
Plus, check out this video to learn more about the court reporting profession:
I love this post. It gives so much information on a lot of different professional careers. I am looking for another job right now so this has helped tremendously to look into furthering my education for a better chance with a different career. Thank you very much!