Best Online Business Certificates 2021
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Business certificates prepare students for administrative roles by covering fundamental financial planning, accounting, business operations, and financial reporting skills.
Earning a business certificate online builds key skills for careers in business. During business certificate programs, learners take courses in areas like entrepreneurship, financial accounting, and management. They also strengthen their analytical and decision-making skills through real-world case studies and projects.
With a business certificate, professionals can work as financial clerks, loan officers, and auditing clerks. They also pursue careers in administrative services and facilities management. These fields all offer entry-level opportunities for people seeking careers in business. Professionals can also pursue specialized certificate programs to move into new roles in their current careers.
Our list includes the top online business certificate programs to help prospective students find the best fit for their interests, budgets, and career goals. This article also covers common business certificate courses, career paths, and certifications.
The Best Online Business Certificate Programs
Online Business Certificate Programs Ranking Guidelines
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Featured Online Business Certificate Programs
What Is an Online Business Certificate?
An online business certificate offers focused training in core business areas, such as finance, accounting, and management. During a business certificate, learners study strategic planning, organizational behavior, and business decision-making. A certificate also teaches enrollees to create business plans, analyze financial reports, and manage staff.
In addition to gaining foundational knowledge in business, learners strengthen their analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills through projects and assignments. A business certificate also covers communication and research abilities.
Many colleges offer online business certificate programs, and earning a business certificate online offers more flexibility than a traditional degree. Learners can complete coursework around their other responsibilities, which appeals to working adults seeking career advancement. After gaining foundational training through certificate programs, graduates can pursue business degrees or enter the workforce.
What's the Difference Between a Business Certificate and an Associate Degree in Business?
Business certificates and associate degrees in business both train students in foundational business areas, like entrepreneurship, accounting, and management. However, a certificate offers more focused coursework without general education requirements. A certificate also takes less time than an associate degree.
Most certificate programs take around one year or less, while an associate degree typically requires two years. With an associate degree, graduates can work as financial clerks, account managers, and administrative assistants, and they can transfer directly into bachelor's programs.
After completing a certificate, graduates can transfer into associate programs. Many schools offer both certificates and associate degrees in business.
Choosing an Online Program
When choosing an online business certificate program, students should consider factors like enrollment options, course schedules, and certificate specializations. Each student has unique goals and needs, so which business certificate is the best fit will be different for everybody. Learn more about choosing an online program at the links below.
Accreditation for Business Programs
Prospective students should always choose accredited schools for their business certificates. Accredited colleges meet the highest standards for educating students. Accredited colleges also meet the requirements for federal financial aid awards. For business education, regional accreditation is the gold standard.
In addition to school accreditation, applicants should also seek out accredited business programs. Several accrediting agencies evaluate business programs, including the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Accreditation demonstrates that a business program follows the best practices for training business professionals.
What to Expect From a Business Certificate
During a business certificate, online learners build foundational skills in accounting, management, and marketing. They also take courses in business ethics, strategic decision-making, and entrepreneurship. Some certificates offer focused coursework in a particular area, like finance, public accounting, or leadership. Below are a few common courses in online business certificate programs, though the exact curriculum varies by school.
- Accounting: Basic accounting skills help professionals in every field. This course covers financial accounting systems, creating financial documents, and evaluating accounting statements. Students learn about inventory, revenue, income statements, and balance sheets.
- Business Strategy: Business decision-makers use a variety of strategies to solve problems. In this course, learners consider strategic alternatives, learn to implement business strategies, and assess strategic plans for their effectiveness.
- Business Ethics: In this course, learners examine ethical obligations and problems for businesses. The course introduces students to ethical decision-making, company responsibility conflicts, and personal integrity in a business environment.
- Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurs launch businesses. This course covers the business planning process, marketing for new companies, and expanding organizations. Students also learn core principles needed for success in new ventures.
- Fundamentals of Marketing: Marketing courses introduce learners to core principles and concepts in marketing. Topics include market research, pricing strategy, and competitor research. Coursework blends lectures with case studies and real-world projects.
- Principles of Management: Learners explore theories and best practices for managers. The course covers organizational needs, corporate responsibilities, and management roles. Students also learn about planning, management analysis, and decision-making.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Business Certificate Online?
Earning a business certificate online typically takes around one year. Program length depends on several factors, including the number of required credits, the student's enrollment status, and the program format.
Short certificate programs may only take a few months, while a longer certificate can exceed one year. Part-time enrollment extends completion timelines. Some online business certificate programs offer an accelerated schedule, where learners complete coursework in shorter terms.
What Can You Do With a Business Certificate?
A business certificate trains students for entry-level roles as financial clerks, bookkeepers, and accounting clerks. Graduates also use their business training to launch new companies, run small organizations, or work as office managers.
Training in accounting, management, and finance helps professionals in a variety of careers. In addition to the following fields, earning a business certificate can lead to opportunities in marketing, accounting, and financial services.
Entrepreneurs develop business ideas and establish new companies. They research demand for new products and services to identify potential customers and gaps in the market. An entrepreneur can then create a business plan, raise capital, and launch a business venture.
A business certificate with a focus in entrepreneurship helps prospective business owners gain the necessary knowledge to form a business plan and launch a business.
Office managers oversee support services within an organization. They manage administrative needs and coordinate services like mail distribution, record filing, and printing. In some organizations, office managers plan budgets, purchase office supplies, and manage facilities.
Some employers prefer office managers with bachelor's degrees, but most will hire office managers with administrative experience or certificates. Similar titles include administrative services manager, business unit manager, and records and information manager.
Financial clerks perform administrative tasks in brokerage firms, accounting offices, and other business settings. They manage financial records, calculate charges, and assist customers. Some financial clerks also carry out transactions for customers or clients.
This career path typically requires a high school diploma, plus college-level business courses, like those offered in a business certificate program. Many financial clerks complete on-the-job training to strengthen their specialized knowledge.
A business certificate prepares graduates for entry-level roles as accounting clerks, bookkeepers, financial clerks, and administrative assistants. Professionals who add business certificates to their college degrees can advance into administrative and management roles. For example, the specialized training in a certificate can lead to a career as a general manager, management analyst, or human resources manager.
The following median salary data pertains to business careers for individuals with certificates but no degree.
|Career||Median Salary (2020)|
|Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks||$42,410|
|Secretaries and Administrative Assistants||$40,990|
Frequently Asked Questions
Voluntary certifications — like PMP, certified supply chain professional, and chartered financial analyst credentials — help professionals demonstrate specialized skills on the job market. Which certification is the best depends on your field.
Business certificates offer a fast, less expensive route to specialized training in business. A certificate helps professionals transition into business careers or advance their careers.
After completing a business certificate, professionals can work as entrepreneurs and small business owners, financial clerks, and office managers. Current business professionals can also move into specialized roles using graduate certificates.
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