University and college can be expensive. In fact, the average private institution’s four-year degree cost as much as $37,600 per year in the 2020-21 school year, leaving some students paying more than $150,000 for their degree. Thankfully, you can earn a considerable living without the four-year investment or spending six figures. These certifications can be earned in a year or less and can help you earn salaries that are similar to, or even higher than, what you’d make if you had gone to a university.
Medical Coder or Biller
When doctors chart a patient’s information, the information they write typically requires translation to ensure that insurance companies can understand the charges. That’s where a medical coder comes in — their job is to translate doctors’ notes into universal billing codes, which are used by insurance companies across North America.
Working as a medical coder requires a keen eye for detail. It also takes a person who’s able to work well under pressure, as the pace of work is typically fast and deadlines can sometimes be tight.
Medical coding and billing certification programs usually take six months or more to complete. Once working, a full-time coder earns an average salary of $27 an hour.
Medical assistants take on a variety of roles in hospitals, clinics and even long-term care facilities. Depending on the setting, they might be responsible for updating patient records, cleaning and setting up examination rooms and administrative duties, such as billing, scheduling appointments and tracking inventory of medical supplies. In some cases, they may even be directly involved in patient care, handling tissue or fluid samples, administering medications or dressing wounds.
While most of the work performed by medical assistants is administrative, it’s important for anyone considering this career path to possess excellent communication, organizational and customer service skills.
In the United States, most medical assistant certification programs can be completed in as little as one year, and the average hourly salary for those working in a full-time position is $18 an hour.
Phlebotomists are an important part of the healthcare industry. They collect blood from patients in medical laboratories, and in some cases, may also be responsible for also handling urine, sputum, stool and hair samples, depending on tests ordered by a patient’s physician. Phlebotomists also work with donors, collecting higher volumes of blood for transfusion.
Any person working in this role needs to be comfortable working with needles and must be able to portray a good bedside manner.
Most programs offer phlebotomist certification in under one year, with on-the-job training opportunities often available for under $1,000. Phlebotomists earn an average income of $18.49/hour.
Physical Therapy Assistant
Patients who’ve sustained injuries or who live with medical conditions that inhibit their mobility often work with physical therapists to regain their strength and flexibility. Physical therapists often require assistants who can help patients practice their stretches and exercises, provide instruction for at-home practice and ensure those with severely limited mobility are safely lifted, transferred and positioned when necessary.
Assistants are often required to work directly with patients while operating under the supervision of certified physical therapists.
Physical therapy assistant certification can usually be obtained in two years; however, many schools offer fast-track programs that enable students to complete their certification faster. It’s also necessary to complete on-the-job training once school is complete. The average physical therapy assistant earns $29.20 an hour.
Flight attendants have a unique opportunity to travel almost daily. Many get to travel from state to state or province to province, visiting major cities throughout the United States and Canada. Some even have the chance to travel overseas regularly, taking in other cultures and enjoying experiences that most don’t get to enjoy in their day-to-day lives.
Although training varies depending on the airline, flight attendant certification can usually be obtained in as little as six weeks and, in most cases, is provided by the hiring airline. That said, some technical schools provide universal flight attendant certification programs that may improve your chances of finding lucrative job opportunities. These programs are generally completed in one year.
As a flight attendant, you can expect to earn an hourly salary of approximately $39/hour.
Carpenters often work in residential and commercial construction. They’re responsible for building structures and fixtures, including walls, flooring, decks and fences. They may work with a variety of materials, such as wood, concrete and, occasionally, steel.
Becoming a carpenter requires a mixture of schooling and on-the-job training, which is provided through apprenticeship programs. As an apprentice, a new carpenter is required to work under the supervision of a journeyman who’s successfully completed four years of training. As the individual progresses through the program, pay and independence increase.
While carpentry does require four years of training, the opportunity to start earning money exists within the first few months of learning. Once the apprenticeship program is complete, carpenters earn an average hourly salary of $26.53.