Taking certificate and diploma courses online is a valuable way to improve your job prospects, and ultimately your chance of moving up in a current job or finding a better-paying position.
For single mums who have put their careers on hold to raise a family, it’s also helpful for keeping skills fresh and showing initiative that will impress prospective employers. You can build upon a degree or job experience you already possess or branch out into another field that interests you.
Some top online degree courses provide helpful training in various fields, giving you more flexibility when looking for a job.
Digital jobs are needed in just about any company or organisation. At the other end of the spectrum, jobs that involve hands-on services are also in demand. For example, if you check job openings, you’ll see many nursing and health support positions available at any given time.
When considering which course of study to pursue online, it’s best to balance current job market needs with your own skills and interests.
Further reading: 10 Strategies to return to work if you can't find a job.
Degrees with a High Rate of Return
Recent graduates that are the most satisfied with the relevance of their degrees have mostly graduated in either technical or people-oriented fields. Academic degrees and those in the humanities like social sciences, architecture, and creative arts are less likely to provide as many job opportunities in today’s job market.
Here are the top five degrees from the past few years with their levels of graduate satisfaction:
- Nursing (87%)
- Health Services (86%)
- Education (80%)
- Law/Paralegal (79%)
- Business/Management (67%)
Distance Learning to improve job prospects
Returning to school is a challenge for anyone, especially for a single parent. Luckily, the ability to take classes online makes it easier to continue your education or make a career switch.
Distance education allows you to communicate with classmates, form study groups, and connect with faculty members in a cyber-learning environment. Chat rooms, online forums, e-mail, and video-conferencing are available to help online students stay connected in a virtual learning environment.
The time saved by not having to drive to campus and sit through classes can help working single mums move ahead. Part-time programs are available, and most online courses are self-paced with a flexible time frame for completing assignments.
Whether for career advancement or re-entry to the workforce, getting an online certificate or diploma can be a positive step in the right direction for a single mum.
Based on the job fields with the best prospects, here are some suggestions for certificate and diploma programs:
Technical skills are needed across all five disciplines that rate highly for job availability.
Learning to be a programmer is a career path you can continue building on by upgrading your skills. Today, it is a male-oriented field that includes more women than ever before, and programmers are needed in Australia.
A Certificate in Programming will teach you the fundamental programming languages. This is a good foundation for an entry-level position in tech, such as an assistant programmer or web designer.
If you are interested in math and logic, programming might be the right course of study for you.
One of the most in-demand jobs during the first half of last year was executive administrative assistant.
Professionals in business, construction, real estate, sales, and many other fields rely on administrative assistants for support.
A Certificate or Diploma in Business Administration will prepare you to use office systems, prepare documentation and work as a team member.
This could be a good career choice if you’re organised and enjoy composing correspondence, assisting with presentations and preparing reports. A vital component of customer service is involved, so excellent interpersonal skills are a plus.
Like an administrative assistant, a paralegal secretary supports professionals, such as Barristers and Solicitors.
With a Legal Administration Certificate, you can apply for a legal secretary or administrative assistant job in a law firm.
If you previously worked in this setting, a current certificate will give you an edge when you begin looking for jobs in the field. It can also be a springboard for transitioning from a current job as an administrative assistant into a paralegal position.
The health field includes jobs in nursing, radiology, counselling, and other patient support areas.
For busy mums, enrolling in distance learning courses instead of attending a physical campus can make or break the opportunity to get a nursing degree.
Throughout Australia, you can take classes for a Diploma in Nursing online. Some job opportunities with a nursing degree include positions in hospitals, doctor’s offices, rehabilitation facilities, and elder care homes.
A nursing degree could be a good choice if you’re a compassionate person with good communication skills.
If you’re interested in getting a counselling degree, online counseling courses are nationwide.
Courses can be completed via distance learning, and hybrid programs that include some class time are also available. Individual and family counselling is needed in Australia, which is an excellent opportunity for a new career.
Various branches of counselling include working with children and adolescents, bereavement counselling and vocational counselling. This type of degree is also beneficial for human resources positions.
A Diploma of Counseling could be worthwhile if you empathise with others and want to help the community.
Early Childhood Education
There’s a need for early childhood education professionals in Australia because of our expanding population, and you can get a Certificate or Diploma in Early Childhood Education through distance learning.
Online courses prepare you to be a teacher or administrator who provides a caring and intellectually stimulating environment for young children. Certified online classes can be completed part-time, preparing you to work in a school, daycare centre or community organisation.
If you enjoy working with children in an educational setting, you could find childhood education a highly satisfying career choice.
Success with online courses to improve your job prospects
If you decide to take online classes to improve your job prospects, a few things will help you along the way.
One of the most important is your support network. Don’t hesitate to rely on friends and family for help when needed.
Planning ahead and staying organised will be another saving grace. Put everything on your calendar, including school-related deadlines, and don’t forget to check it daily. There’s a lot to remember between home and school; keeping a running to-do list is also a great help.
Reach out to other single mums who are going back to school. When times get tough, you can be each other’s sounding board and stress relief valve.
Wanting to learn and grow is half the battle. Your kids will benefit from your improved prospects, and you’ll be a role model for them with your perseverance and hard work. As long as you start with a plan and stick to it, you can do this ... with a little help from your friends.
Further reading: Tips to write a perfect job application letter.