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Trades Hub provides what you need for every step of your career journey
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When you look at the Trades Hub career training board you’ll see three types of awards offered for various programs – a certificate, a diploma, and an associates degree. These might be confusing terms when you think about taking your first career step. We’ll do our best to explain below what each of them means and help you figure out what is right for you.

The first point we want to make as strongly as possible is that it is incredibly smart to invest in yourself through continued training and education! Regardless of how you start your formal training, be on the lookout for opportunities to build both technical and management skills so that you can advance your career and develop as a person. Thankfully, many employers are willing to help you do just that through tuition reimbursement and other training opportunities.

The second point to note is that generally the more education you receive in this broad field the higher your lifetime earnings will be. This is certainly not a hard and fast rule, but it is usually the case. Having said that, don’t be afraid to start with a small but important amount of formal education to get your foot in the door of a good employer; just be sure to commit to building on that education over time.

Finally, the types of technical awards we discuss below do not include certificates which can be earned through registered apprenticeships. To learn about those programs, please see the Apprenticeship: What is it? article.

A certificate is a document stating that you have completed a certain amount of training and are qualified to do a specific skill. Certificate programs typically take one year or less to complete. The education is usually focused only on skill development (like welding or car repair, for instance), generally does not include much outside learning, and has less classroom time than a diploma or a degree.

Diplomas generally take 1-2 years to complete and are nearly always focused on a particular technical skill, without some of the general education coursework required by a degree. In a way they can be viewed as an expanded or more in-depth certificate.

An associate’s degree is typically a two-year program focused on a particular skill or perhaps a slightly broader career area than offered through a certificate or diploma program. Also, an associate’s degree nearly always requires the student to complete general education coursework such as English or math.

Some things to consider and questions to ask:

  • Do you have your high school diploma or GED? This is usually required for diploma and degree programs.
  • How much time do you have to devote to formal education now? How much money can you spend on it? If money is an issue, have you looked for all available scholarships and/or employers willing to pay for your education?
  • Have you researched the organization providing your certificate to make sure it is recognized by employers as a good training provider?
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Did you find a career you’re interested in? If you’re not sure, check out the Careers section of the website where we currently have seventeen featured. Be sure to explore the videos for each.

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