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7 Cheap Certification Courses That Will Help You Earn More

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I have held many (many, many) jobs. From nonprofit executive director to secretary, advertising manager to receptionist, my business/marketing degree doesn't begin to cover the different roles my finances have required me to play. In fact, this is what certification courses are for! I have earned special certifications in sales, public speaking, software and more. What I have discovered is that sometimes the least expensive certification courses can bring the most value in the job market. Here are some affordable transcription courses that can help you earn more in your chosen field.


As you consider your options for advancing your career through various certification programs, always keep one word at the forefront of your awareness: accreditation. "Accreditation" means that the institution has submitted voluntarily to a rigorous review by the governing entity in that field to ensure coursework and materials meet certain standards. You can read more about accreditation here.

While the majority of the following certification courses are designed to stand alone—i.e., to help graduates launch or further a career in that field—the First Aid/CPR and Dale Carnegie programs in particular can be of value to you in an existing career or position as well. You may even be able to apply to your employer for tuition reimbursement—and also qualify for a raise after completion!

1. Medical transcription certification

There are a few ways to go when earning your transcription certification. With the ongoing revisions to the nationwide healthcare system, medical transcription is a growing field today. You can expect to find career opportunities in hospitals, clinics, physician offices and public health facilities.

  • Accredited: Yes
  • Average cost: $615 (pay in full – save $180) – $795 (installment payments)
  • Average time to certification: a few months (self-paced online learning)
  • Online course: Penn Foster

2. Medical billing and coding certification

Medical billing and coding is another fast-growing field in today's ever-changing healthcare industry. With this program you can set up your own independent billing and coding contracting business, work for a doctor's office or clinic, work in a hospital or care facility, or work for a private billing services company.

  • Accredited: Yes
  • Average cost: $740 (pay in full – save $200) – $940 (installment payments)
  • Average time to certification: a few months (self-paced online learning)
  • Online course: Penn Foster

3. CPR/First Aid certification

Every employer has a need for employees trained and certified in CPR and first aid. While this certification may not relate directly to your position (although then again, it may!) you will stand out during job interviews and performance evaluations as an employee who is willing to take on extra responsibility on their own time. As well, every company needs employees who can lower their insurance premiums and increase their safety ratings.

  • Accredited: Yes
  • Average cost (CPR): $24.95
  • Average cost (first aid): $24.95
  • Average time to certification: 45 – 120 minutes
  • Online course: CPR Today

4. Dale Carnegie online certification

The Dale Carnegie institute taught me invaluable skills in public speaking, sales strategy and networking. Today their course list is greatly expanded from when I first attended—and includes online as well as in-person training options.

  • Accredited: Yes (most programs)
  • Average cost: Most courses range from $99 – $299.
  • Average time to certification: Most courses range from 1 – 4 hours.
  • Online courses for individuals: Dale Carnegie

5. Personal training certification

If you have a love for fitness and want to get paid to work out and get fit, you may consider becoming certified as a personal trainer. Job options include setting up shop as an independent consultant, working at a fitness center or gym, gaining a specialty certification (youth, moms-to-be, etc.), or even working as an in-house trainer with a non-fitness company.

  • Accredited: Yes
  • Average cost: Most courses range from $499 – $699
  • Average time to certification: 12 weeks
  • Online courses: ACE Fitness

6. Wedding planner certification

With the average cost of special events and weddings today in the $26,000/event range, this certification is lucrative. While many professionals begin without specialized certification (and accreditation typically doesn't apply in this field of study as of yet), earning your certification gets you into professional associations and earns client trust—as well as ensuring you are fully prepared to put your best foot forward in your new career.

  • Accredited: N/A (Penn Foster is accredited regionally and nationally)
  • Average cost: $519 (pay in full – save $280) – $799 (installment payments)
  • Average time to certification: a few months (self-paced online learning)
  • Online course: Penn Foster

7. Special event/meeting planner certification

Becoming a special events and/or meeting planner does not require formal education in a specific program—although training can certainly help! Rather, to become certified, you need to take one of the exams, which typically requires a minimum number of years working in some facet of the planning industry. There is no accreditation as such in this industry, but achieving certification can set you apart from local competitors.

  • Accredited: N/A
  • Average cost (exam): CMP – $700 (Application + Exam fee) / CSEP – $600
  • Average time to certification: Whatever time you need to study for the relevant exam
  • Online (exam): CMP or CSEP


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