The path to earning a technical certificate is generally a more direct, and less time-consuming process than pursuing the typical two-year or four-year program in higher education. Community colleges are often institutions that offer technical certificates. Technical certificates can also be achieved through professional associations, government entities, and field training exercises. These programs focus more on techniques for doing things, rather than on a more academic approach found at a traditional college or university.
The emphasis is on hands on training. Those who have worked in the field are frequently the instructors. An example of a technical certificate would be a boating construction school that teaches specific techniques in composite manufacturing. Instruction may be completed in months as opposed to a program spanning more than a year.
Technical certificates are also awarded through professional associations and government entities. For example, a paramedic who took a technical course on how to respond to biohazard contamination would likely receive a technical certificate as proof of the paramedic's credentials in this area of expertise. Many employers often announce and offer opportunities for technical certificates. Sometimes, completing a technical course is a job requirement.
A good place to begin a search for an appropriate technical program would be to consider areas in which the student has a demonstrated talent or interest. This may be through a hobby, a side business, or employment. A technical certificate can be a good idea for those who are already working in the profession as a layman to achieve career advancement.
Many technical programs operate more flexible class times in order to accommodate students who are already in the work place. Night or weekend classes are common. Technical programs may be measured in hours, courses, or simply as a credential on a certificate.
Technological changes in the workplace often provide an impetus for the employer to require an employee earn a technical certificate. Another factor affecting the growth of technical certificate programs are regulatory requirements. Still another is occupational safety.
For example, to acquire a technical certificate in operational safety in the oil and gas drilling industry, an employee might attend classes or engage in a field training exercise in understanding the hazards of petrochemical contamination. There are technical programs that consist of apprenticeships, with some offering paid training.