With such a wide range of courses available these days, some of which do not require a very high educational qualification, it often becomes hard to decide which one to pursue. Out of a sea of training and educational programmes, you have to select only the one(s) that would suit you the most and would be meeting your professional demands. You might also choose to do a certain course in order to earn better skills and knowledge on a particular subject to get admission to some higher education qualification.
Whatever your choice of career is, you need to consider the importance and value a particular course would have in your near future. Always remember that you cannot afford to waste any time in doing a course that wouldn’t be much beneficial for you in the long run. It’s the matter of your future job prospects, and you need to make your decisions wisely.
Difference between a Diploma Course and a Certificate Course
The primary difference between a diploma and a certificate is the scope of the programme and the duration of the course. Here are some major aspects to consider while choosing between a diploma and a certificate course.
A certificate course is a short-time study programme. It is considered the least expensive kind of an academic qualification, providing you with a fundamental understanding of the particular subject matter and enabling you to develop competency in your line of career. In other words, by doing a certificate course, candidates will be able to get a relatively simple idea about the subject in as short time as possible.
A certificate course would generally last anywhere between a single day to six months. For example, a Marketing or a Hospitality Management Certificate Programme in the United Kingdom might last up to 3 months. The knowledge or skills obtained by doing a certificate course would be very minimal. However, the candidates will at least learn some basic skills, which would act as a driving force to push them towards taking a more in-depth course on the same subject. A certificate course can also be done as a part of a larger programme that might require one to gain more knowledge on a particular area of study.
A certificate course is available for a range of diverse subjects, and it can be about almost anything. Be it teaching, babysitting, plumbing, or leadership development programme, you can do a certificate course in your desired field, while a diploma course might not be available for such an extensive range of subjects.
A diploma course is similar to a certificate course and is often awarded through technical or community schools. For example, a diploma course in nursing is offered only by hospitals as an alternative to a Bachelor’s or an associate degree. It is provided along with speciality programmes and training.
A diploma course, however, offers a more in-depth study as compared to a certificate course. Most of the diploma courses are professional and job-based, and offer training to prepare the candidate for a similar job or professional role. A diploma would generally last for 1-2 years.
After the successful completion of a diploma course, a candidate would be able to acquire more complex skillset as compared to a corresponding certificate programme. You can choose a graduate, or postgraduate diploma course, depending on your highest qualification. Candidates can get to have a more comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the subject that would actually be helping them to get a considerable position at the professional level. Diploma courses are designed for those who have the capability to learn more than one skill, even though one might be an average student. This is at least a lot better than a certificate course and carries more weightage in almost every field of career.
Diploma versus Certificate Course
You might choose to do a basic or advanced diploma or a certification course as per your career requirements. Do consider the pros and cons of each.
Advantages of a Diploma Course
- Shorter than a degree
- Cost-effective compared to a full-fledged degree course
- There won’t be any rigid prerequisites or complex admission procedures
- Flexible class schedules
- Courses focus of the exact skillset you want to acquire
- Increases the network for job opportunities
Advantages of a Certificate Course
- Multiple start dates round the year
- No waiting lists for taking admission
- Timings of the classes offered are as per the convenience of professionals
- Programmes offered are specific to one’s field of interest
However, both the certificate and diploma courses generally have lesser significance and value as that of a corresponding degree course.
Diploma or Certificate?
It depends upon the extent of knowledge you want to gain, the highest qualification you have gained so far and the learning environment you prefer. All types of industries do offer various graduate, undergraduate and vocational certificates and diplomas. While some are designed for training the students for a specific job role, others are beneficial for upgrading one’s professional skills to increase one’s wages. Some of the sectors include healthcare, education, business studies, technology, security, hospitality and agriculture.
You need to consider your career goals, your interests, your job prospects and your budget before choosing the course. Make sure that the course you want to pursue has good accreditation and is well recognised amongst employers or higher study institutes.
Why and When to Seek a Diploma or a Certificate Course
Of course, the higher level of education, the more job prospects and options of making money. About 44% of the people who have done a diploma or certificate course have better employment opportunities than those who don’t. It doesn’t matter whether you do a certificate or a diploma course, your earnings are bound to boost. Of course, you probably won’t be getting similar income for both of them, yet at least you would get a considerable job. Taking either of the courses would also lower the rates of unemployment by increasing one’s knowledge and skills of a particular area.
You can seek a diploma or a certificate course whenever you feel the need for acquiring new skills on a specific subject for progressing with a new career line. Also, you can take such a course when you need to meet certain national or state licensing requirements.
Now that you are aware of how a diploma course is different from a certificate or even a degree course, choose your desired option carefully. Set your priorities right and head on towards better future opportunities.