Guide to Online IT Certificates and Courses

Do you want to learn about machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, cryptocurrency or IT management? If so, there’s an online IT certificate or course for you. This guide details the most common online IT certificates and their benefits, from convenience to cost-savings.

Topics in Systems and IT Online Courses

You can attend online courses and earn certificates in dozens of technology-related disciplines including management, machine learning, cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, programming languages and artificial intelligence, to name a few. Classes are generally self-paced and only require a few hours of studying per week, which make them ideal for adult learners who are in the workforce. 

These programs allow working adults the opportunity to expand and extend their degrees with courses designed to solve a particular need or problem. For example, if your company wants to explore blockchain technology, there are plenty of courses available that cover that topic and give you the flexibility to learn after business hours.

Online short courses can also be more business-oriented and practical than standard university courses and they are taught by those who have business experience in a particular field. 

Online Systems and Information Technology Certificates and Courses

There are many types of high-quality online systems and IT courses and certificates you can pursue. Well-known universities have developed online programs that can lead to certifications and degrees.

Here’s a breakdown of various online IT courses and certificates and what you can expect to learn from each.

Online Machine Learning Certificates and Courses

Machine learning is a facet of artificial intelligence. It involves creating computer systems that have the ability to automatically learn and improve without being explicitly programmed. Online machine learning certificates and courses focus on the principles and coding concepts necessary for developing and managing computer programs that can access data and use it to learn for themselves.

Online Artificial Intelligence Certificates and Courses

Some online artificial intelligence certificates and courses are created for those whose goal is to dive into coding their own artificial neural networks and gain foundational technical skills. Other AI courses focus on broad applications on artificial intelligence that don’t require a lot of technical expertise. 

Online Blockchain Certificates and Courses

Blockchain was designed to keep financial records for Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The blockchain technology used today is part of a larger digital world that doesn’t just cater to finance and insurance industries, but is useful across many industries. 

Online blockchain certificates and courses can teach you how different industries such as manufacturing, healthcare and even advertising use blockchain applications for processing transactions. Tracking of order shipments and recording of health insurance claims can all be done with blockchain technology. 

Online Cryptocurrency Certificates and Courses

According to a report from Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, approximately a third of small and mid-sized U.S. businesses accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment. You can find a number of online cryptocurrency certificates and courses that are generally made up of online weekly modules that cover topics such as the basics of cryptocurrency, blockchain technology, cryptocurrency laws, types of cryptocurrency and data mining.

Online IT Management Certificates and Courses

Online IT management courses or certificates can help you learn the fundamentals of security, data storage, hardware, software, networking and IT management. Additionally, students may learn skills for managing teams, projects and processes in a business IT environment.

An online IT management course can vary depending on the types of technology you wish to work with and security methodologies you want to learn. If your career goals include an IT management career, a certification may be a beneficial addition to your resume.

Online Systems Analysis Certificates and Courses

Online systems analysis certificates and courses may offer a deeper look into business analysis and give you tools and techniques for a career with a systems analysis focus. Through a course, you may learn about the parts of a business system, how to perform analysis and how to engage stakeholders at your organization. Curriculum for systems analysis may cover topics such as business systems concepts, modeling techniques, product scope and impact analysis.

Is an IT Course or Certificate Worth It?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), computer and information research scientists earned a median salary of $122,840 in 2019. Employment for this occupation is expected to grow 16% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than average. The BLS notes that a master’s degree in a related field is typically required for these jobs.

If everyone in a group of applicants has a master’s degree, advanced study and certificates might help set you apart. An online IT certificate or course could help you advance your career, as they show you’ve maintained a competitive knowledge base in the industry. Companies may even be willing to pay for training to get a competitive edge. 

Learn more about IT careers and salaries.

IT Certificate vs. Master’s in Information Technology

Instead of thinking of it as certificates vs. degrees, consider viewing them as complementary to one another. 

Online IT certificates are a way to gain technical knowledge and specialized skills that may be valuable for current or aspiring IT professionals. A master’s in information technology, on the other hand, provides general skills and knowledge that can help you kick off a career. When considering a degree or certificate, you should take into account your level of experience, what area of IT you’d like to specialize in and your career goals. People who complete an IT certificate might go on to earn a degree in IT.

Many employers actually prefer applicants to have both a certificate and an IT degree. For example, the BLS reports that a certification/degree combo may be preferred for many IT positions, including network systems administrators information security analysts and computer network architects.

IT Management Certificate vs. MBA

Much like a master’s in information technology, a master’s in business administration may offer more general business knowledge. An IT management certification, on the other hand, may offer specialized knowledge tailored to the information technology industry. Both an MBA degree and an IT management certificate are valuable in different ways.

A certificate may showcase your ability to manage an IT environment, enhancing your resume compared to applicants with a more general business understanding. You should also keep in mind that the relative program cost, time commitment and specialty will vary greatly between certificate and MBA programs.

Certificate programs tend to have fewer prerequisites and admission requirements than MBA programs. Certifications also may appeal more to working professionals looking to enhance their current skills, while an MBA program could be helpful for those looking to start a new career.

3 Benefits of an Online IT Certificate or Short Course Program

Vendors, universities and third-party training centers offer an array of online courses that cover many aspects of business and professional growth. You have multiple format options for online classes; some are instructor-led, fully recorded and self-paced, or a hybrid of the two. Regardless of the program format you choose, there are three primary benefits to an online IT certificate or short course program: cost, convenience and time.

1. Cost of Certificate

The general cost of on-campus learning can be more expensive because it may room and board, transportation, parking, and tuition expenses. Online classes only require tuition, books and ancillary fees.

2. Convenience

Many online classes are self-paced, which means you can be a student in addition to a full-time employee. When you have on-demand access to course material and flexibility to complete assignments at your convenience, it may be easier to balance your studies and work. Since you don’t have to go to class on campus, you also can study from anywhere there’s internet connectivity. 

3. Time Saved

Online and short courses are concentrated learning, which means that rather than spending 16 to 18 weeks in a single on-campus class, you can complete a program in only one to 10 weeks. The smaller time commitment makes online IT certificates and short courses a great option for working adults.

Online IT Courses to Consider

Below you’ll find online IT courses offered by a variety of schools, with the length of study, cost, learning level and course description.

Last Updated August 2020