How to Choose Between a Fast-Track Training Program and an Associate Degree

Choosing Between Fast Track Training and Associate's Degree

You may be at a point in your life where you are thinking about furthering your education. You may not be interested in going to college for a four-year degree, so you are considering other options.

You need a program that can get you working in your desired field as soon as possible. You want lower costs, convenience, and flexibility. You also want many of the same benefits you can receive from a bachelor’s degree program, such as networking, student support services, and hands-on training opportunities.

Both a fast-track training and associate degree programs can offer you all of these and more.

The next step is to choose between the two. Answering the questions below can help you determine which program is best.


Why Are You Getting More Education?

The reasons behind why you want to obtain additional education is a key factor in deciding between fast-track and associate degree programs. Are you looking to get a job that requires specific training? Or do you simply want to learn a new skill? Is your employer requiring you to acquire a certificate or license?

Your answers to questions like these can guide you. For instance, if you need to gain education to obtain a promotion at work, your employer can give you a specific amount of education required. If you need a certificate, you may consider a fast-track training program. If the promotion requires getting a diploma, an associate degree will be needed.

The more questions you ask about why you want to attend college, the more answers you will have to help you decide.


What Are Your Future Educational Plans?

When you think of yourself getting an education, how many years do you envision yourself attending classes?

If you love to learn, you may have a goal to obtain as much education as you can throughout your lifetime. You may get excited just thinking about taking classes for years to come. If so, choose an associate degree program.

In two years or less you can obtain a degree that can help you enter the field in which you are interested. And, an associate degree program can provide a foundation of courses that can transfer into a bachelor level program.

You may want to get only the required amount of education needed to advance your career and never sit in another class. In this case, choose a fast-track training program, which can help you reach this goal in less than a year, depending on the program.

Understanding your future educational plans can help you choose between fast-track training and an associate degree program.


What Are Your Future Career Plans?

Most people start their careers in entry-level positions and work their way up to more desirable positions. Working your way up can mean acquiring additional education and training to prepare you for the upper level job duties.

If your goal is to rise to management or executive level status within a company, begin your educational path with an associate degree. You will be able to obtain the prerequisite courses needed for the future education you will need to earn.

Your goal may not be to climb the corporate ladder. You may find satisfaction in one job and want to stay in that job for as long as you can. If so, you may want to complete a fast-track training program to get you into that job as soon as possible.

Think about all your career goals and compare the two programs to see which one can help you reach them.


How Much Do You Want to Earn?

Both fast-track training program certificates and associate degrees have the potential to raise your income. However, an associate degree will typically bring in more money than a certificate.

For instance, in the nursing field, someone working as a vocation nurse, which requires a certificate, will make less than someone working as an associate degree level nurse.

Reports show that some associate degree level nurses can earn as much as registered nurses.

If you are looking for an increase in pay with no additional job duties, obtaining a fast-track certificate may be best. If you are looking for a significant increase in pay that also comes with more challenging duties, choose an associate degree program.


Do You Like to Be Bossed or Be the Boss?

It is some people’s goals to be a leader within a company. They want to supervise other employees, motivate staff, improve productivity and resolve problems within a program. Some even enjoy the responsibilities of hiring and firing staff, training new employees, and evaluating staff performances.

All these duties, in addition to the regular duties of their jobs.

If this sounds great to you, focus on getting an associate degree. Your diploma could help you apply and possibly obtain leadership type roles.

If this does not sound good to you, then maybe a certificate program is ideal. With a fast-track training certificate, you can enjoy your job responsibilities and it is doubtful you will have to supervise anyone. Most certificate holders are supervised by someone with a higher degree.

Consider how you handle authority. If you do well working under the authority of someone else, great. Go for the certificate.

Attending college can affect all aspects of your life, from your current working situation to your spouse to your children. Paying attention and giving thought to the needs of your lifestyle can help you decide if you want to pursue fast-track training or an associate degree.

While both offer online classes, an associate degree may also require additional in-class education and hands-on training activities. Many fast-track training programs can be completed online. However, local colleges offering certificate programs also provide opportunities for practice as well, just not as much as an associate degree program.

Assess your short and long-term personal goals, desires for future education and career, current your finances and lifestyle needs. Doing so will make it easier to choose between these two great programs.