Career and Education Definitions
Career: The work part of your life, paid or unpaid. Can include being a parent, caring for the home, being a student as well as all other paid or unpaid work.
Occupation: A type of paid work.
Industry: A type of workplace, each industry exists for a specific purpose: to produce a “good;” transport, store or sell “goods;” provide a service; or govern and protect society. Industries are sometimes referred to as sectors.
College Degrees and Training Options Explained
College Degrees and CertificatesCollege degree and certificate programs are typically divided into two categories:
- Undergraduate degree and certificate programs, and
- Graduate degree and certificate programs.
Undergraduate College Programs
- Bachelor’s Degree
- four-year degree* including:
- area of study (major),
- optional minor (second area of study, but take fewer classes than a major), and
- general education (specific course requirements in areas such as communications, humanities/fine arts, social studies, math and science).
- Associates Degree
- two-year degree*
- two years of general education and beginning major courses, then transfer to four-year college to complete Bachelor’s, or
- career program, with plans to enter the workforce in that field of study.
- Certificate Program
- fewer courses than an Associate Degree, usually completed in less than two years.*
- complete major coursework, to enter or advance in a career area.
- MCC offers Associate Degrees and Certificate Programs and Joint Agreements for additional Illinois community colleges AAS and Certificate programs
* Number of years to complete a degree or certificate is based on full-time attendance.
- Attending full-time in college means being in class about 12 to 18 hours per week (usually taking four to six classes at a time), with about 24 to 36 hours of reading, homework, and studying on your own time.
- Students can usually choose to attend part-time (usually one to three classes) with three to 11 hours in class per week and with six to 22 hours of out-of-class work, and will therefore take longer than the typical number of years to complete a degree or certificate. Your advisor will recommend a number of classes to take based on your hours of employment and other responsibilities.
Admission into a graduate program usually requires completion of a four-year Bachelor’s degree first.
- Master’s Degree – about two years of study in a chosen major.
- Certificate of Advanced Study – typically less than two years of study in a chosen major.
- Professional Degree – typically four to eight years of study in areas like law or medicine.
- Doctorate Degree – typically four to six years of study in a chosen major.
Other Education and Training Options
- Apprenticeship Programs – learn a trade through an apprenticeship, usually paid while in training. Requires application process similar to applying for a job. See Earn While You Learn
- Military Training – prepares people to work in the military, and some types of military programs provide training for future civilian careers as well. Resources are available that show the link between military and civilian careers. See Military
- Trade Schools – learning a trade typically means more “hands-on-training” such as auto body repair, cosmetology, small engine repair, etc. Such learning can take place either at a community college, a trade school or through an apprenticeship program. Some of the hardest jobs to fill as reported by the employment agency Manpower Group in 2012 were the skilled trades.
- Professional Certifications and Continuing Education – short courses, seminars, workshops, certification exams may be offered through colleges, professional organizations, private companies or other training providers. Such offerings help workers expand their skills and expertise, which may lead to promotions, higher wages and more flexibility in the job market.
What does certificate and certified mean?
A certificate means different things in different situations. A few examples:
- If you complete a specified group of classes in college (typically fewer classes than would be required for a college degree), you may earn a certificate to prove you completed that group of classes. Learn more about college certificates.
- If you attend a seminar, workshop or training program, you may receive a certificate to verify you attended or that you acquired knowledge or skills that might be verified by a test.
- Being professionally certified is required for employment in some occupations. Certification (or licensure) requirements may be determined by the state or a professional organization. Certifications (and licensure) have specific and various requirements such as completion of certain courses, completion of supervised or unsupervised experience, an age requirement, passing an exam, continued professional development or a number of other requirements.
- Whenever you are considering completion of a certificate, find out what the certificate means. If you are considering an occupation that requires certification or licensure, find out what the requirements are to enter and remain in that occupation.