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Fast Track To Better Pay With These Short Certification Programs

Fast-track your way to a well-paying job with these quick certification program options in a variety of industries. Learn new skills and improve your job opportunities in just a few months.

Jill Caren
By Jill Caren
Updated February 8th, 2024

We consider quick certifications those that you can complete in less than one year. Some of the certifications listed below you can even complete from home.

Many of these certifications are a great first-step for bigger career opportunities.

For example, becoming a life coach requires less than one year of education to earn a certification. This certification will allow you to start acquiring experience in the field. You may love it and want to continue on to get your Associate’s or Bachelor’s in psychology.

Certification programs are a great way to build a future and separate yourself from the competition.

10 Quick Certifications That Pay Well

1. Death Doula Certification

Estimated time to completion: Under 3 months
Average death doula salary: $45-$100 per hour

Death Doulas help families prepare for the death of a loved one. They will provide families and loves ones physical, mental, and spiritual support. It is a growing field due to the interest from families in getting help during this difficult time.

Death doulas do not require education or certification. To become a death doula you will need to become certified to improve your skills and job opportunities. Death doulas can be self-employed or work as a contractor with another organization.

2. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certification

Estimated time to completion: Under 6 months
Average EMT salary: $39,410

Emergency Medical Technicians require licensing in most states. Becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT) is not a long process, but the training is intensive.

As an EMT, you will be responsible for providing care to those that are sick or injured. A 911 operator will dispatch you to an emergency location based on the need.

EMT-level training usually includes about 150 hours of instruction, a test must be passed to become a certified EMT. You can take classes in a technical school, community college, or medical facility. An EMT certification can be a first step to other medical careers.

There are many other high-paying medical certifications you should look into if the medical field interests you.

3. Flight Attendant Certification

Estimated time to completion: Under 6 months
Average flight attendant salary: $63,760

Flight attendant training can take up to a few months. When the training is completed, you can test for the FAA certification you need to be an attendant. The job requires a lot of travel and long periods away from home.

Flight attendants are not self-employed and will work with a private or public airline company. The outlook for jobs is excellent as people travel in larger numbers.

4. Life Coach Certification

Estimated time to completion: Under 1 year
Average life coach salary: $62,500

If you want to become a life coach, there is no formal certification or training required. It is highly recommended you take the Certified Life Coach (CLC) training. This will help you stand out from other life coaches and show your excellence to your career.

This certification means you have completed an accredited course with a recognized body such as The International Coaching Federation (ICF). If you are not ready to get a full-fledged formal accreditation, you can take the Life Coach certification course through the International Association of Professions Career College (IAP). It is a course for just a couple of hundred dollars that can give you more insight into whether you will enjoy this job.

A life coach averages about $62K annually, as per the International Coaching Federation. But how much you make can vary based on your success with clients, marketing, and whether you work with a company or on your own. There is no reason this job cannot be a $100K career!

Visit IAP Career College to learn more about their life coach certification program.

5. Phlebotomist Certification

Estimated time to completion: Under 1 year
Average phlebotomist salary: $37,380

Phlebotomists are skilled professionals who draw blood from patients. The blood is then most commonly tested to see if a patient is ill. But there are other reasons that blood my be needed to be drawn.

Taking an accredited course to get certified as a phlebotomist is required. You will learn various medical procedures and practice drawing blood so you can make a patient’s experience a great one. If becoming a phlebotomist sounds like your thing, check out our phlebotomy career guide.

6. Real Estate Agent Certification

Estimated time to completion: 3-6 months
Average salary: $49,980 with the opportunity to earn 6-figures

You can complete real estate agent certification within 3-6 months. Buying and selling houses is a career for those who are outgoing, creative, and can offer exceptional customer service skills.

But there are plenty of agents making well over 6-figures. The area you live in, your ability to market yourself well, and, of course the state of the economy can really affect your income. So, if you need a stable income, a real estate agent may not be a good fit.

Real estate certification requirements vary by state, but in most cases, you will need to pass a licensing exam which can be pretty hard. (I know, I took one in NJ!)

Attending a local real estate school is the first step to becoming a real estate agent. Some areas may have online real estate school options as well. Once you complete the course, you can take the test and then find a broker to work with.

7. Truck Driver Certification

Estimated time to completion: 2-6 months
Average salary: $50,000 with the opportunity to earn 6-figures

Truck drivers are in huge need right now, with many companies offering huge sign-on bonuses. With an average salary of about $50,000 annually, it is a good-paying job with many unique opportunities. Many truck drivers make well over $100K per year.

You can work locally, cross-country, or even internationally if you want to see the world. Transporting goods is a significant part of our economy and daily lives, so truck drivers can enjoy job security. Truck drivers can deal with long stretches away from home, stressful driving conditions, and safety concerns.

You can learn more about how to become a truck driver here.

Getting your commercial driver’s license (CDL) can take just a few weeks, but sometimes, it can be up to a few months, depending on the type of program you take.

8. Medical Records Specialist Certification

Estimated time to completion: 6 months
Average salary: $55,389 with the opportunity to earn 6-figures

Medical records specialist certifications cover a variety of job types. Medical coders and billers are some of the more popular options. Medical coders assist medical facilities with their billing and insurance processes.

Courses and testing for certifications are available through AAPC. There are several types of certifications available that can impact on your earnings. Certified Professional Biller (CPB) certifications are the more common lower-level certifications. With some experience, you can earn your Certified Professional Compliance Offer (CPCO) certification and earn upwards of $80,000 annually.

9. Graphic Design Certification

Estimated time to completion: various
Average salary: $57,990 with the opportunity to earn 6-figures

Graphic design certification programs require no official education. You can take many of them when have the skills needed to pass. Coursera, Pratt Institute, and Adobe are a few options for graphic design certification.

Adobe Certified Professional (ACP) is one of the most recognized certificates that can attest to your skills. The graphic design field is huge, and there are opportunities to work in agencies and companies or be self-employed.

10. Locksmith Certification

Estimated time to completion: 2-6 months
Average salary: $47,400 with the opportunity to earn 6-figures

Locksmith certifications do not require that you attend a training course, but they can help. Each state will have different certification requirements and standards for becoming a locksmith.

Locksmiths can be employed by companies or work on their own. Those who are self-employed often make well over six figures annually.

Certification Career Salaries

When we talk about certifications that pay well – it can be subjective.

The certification jobs listed below are less likely to bring in those six-figure salaries you are looking for. The jobs listed above are well-paying based on the low barrier to entry.

These jobs require very little education or training but a salary that is fair for the investment. Many of these careers can also turn into businesses. As a business owner you can control the salary for any of the jobs listed.

How Much Will A Certification Course Cost?

Certification programs can range from $1,000 – $5,000 on average. Truck driving programs may be more.

You can also reach out to see if the classes you will be taking for your certification are eligible for financial aid. You can see if your employer will cover the costs if you are currently working. 

A fast certification program is a great way to kick-start a better life. I hope you find some of these options appealing.


Jill Caren is an international SEO consultant and founder of 2Dogs Media. She is also a trainer, journalist, and speaker who helps brands increase their organic search visibility, traffic, and conversions. She is also the co-founder of Blue Collar Brain, a resource for those looking to enter a trade career.

She has been featured on MSN, Wealth of Geeks, Hubspot, SEO Powersuite, and other publications for her work as an SEO and advocate for skilled trades.