How a Professional Certificate Can Advance Your Career  - #LatinaGeeks™


How a Professional Certificate Can Advance Your Career 

Just because you’re not in school doesn’t mean you have to stop learning! In fact, continuing education—whether in a classroom or the field—is one of the best ways to advance your career and pave the way for new opportunities. 

California State University, Fullerton, (CSUF) Human Resources (HR) Certificate alumna Juanita Arreola now works as a successful recruiter in human resources, but she didn’t always have that option available to her. In fact, it wasn’t until she looked into postsecondary education that she was able to find a route that worked for her. 

Feeling Stuck 

Juanita was in her fourth year of working at Cal State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) as a faculty affairs specialist. Although she was technically working in human resources, her role was too specialized for her to expand into the larger field as a whole. 

“I reviewed the documents and did the process for faculty hiring,” she explained. “It was only a small piece of the HR puzzle.” 

Making a Change 

Juanita was passionate about her work and eager to advance in her field, but she knew she needed additional training to proceed. 

During this time, she transferred to Cal State Fullerton and registered for their Human Resources Management Certificate program through CSUF’s Extension & International Programs. 

“The course encompassed everything HR-related,” she said. “It gave me the knowledge and a broader understanding of human resources, including federal and state law.” 

Juanita quickly dove deeper into her HR courses and built connections with her fellow classmates, increasing both her knowledge and her network at the same time. 

“The instructors made it interesting. Most owned their own businesses or were HR advisors. They’re in the field, and teaching based on those experiences,” Arreola recalled. “We also got case studies to review and discuss in groups, which we would later present to the class.”

Thanks to her instructors and the interactive class format, Juanita was able to successfully complete the program while working full-time. After receiving her certificate she transitioned into the role of HR recruiter for California State University, Fullerton! 

Choosing Your Own Path 

A professional certificate does more than just spruce up your resume. It also gives you the confidence and clarity you need as you move forward in your career. As you consider your own ambitions and career goals, here are some questions to ask yourself before pursuing a professional certificate and/or other continuing education options: 

  1. Workload: Will I be able to balance work and classes at the same time? Is this something I will be able to actively learn and participate in at this moment in my life? Working full-time and going to school is doable, but it takes planning and dedication to be successful in doing so. Many certificate programs are offered online, letting you choose your own schedule. In-person programs are often held in the evenings or on weekends.

  2. Cost / Tuition: What are my options for paying for this certificate? Will I pay out of pocket, or will my current company cover the tuition cost since it is professional development? Many companies are happy to pay for certificate and workshop courses for their employees, as these learning opportunities only make them better at their jobs.

  3.  Class Length: Some professional certificates can be earned in as little as a day, while others can take a year or two to complete. Decide what length of time you’re willing to dedicate to your program. This can help you narrow down your options during your initial research. 


Professional certificates are useful in a wide variety of industries: law, technology, crime, teaching, business, design, healthcare—the list goes on. Whether you’re looking to advance your career in your current field or hoping to transition to a new industry altogether, earning a professional certificate is a relatively fast and affordable way to accelerate you towards your goals. 

This article was written by California State University, Fullerton staff.

California State University, FullertonAbout Cal State Fullerton Extension & International Programs: 
Extension and International Programs (EIP) creates programs for every stage of life, extending the University’s resources into the community and around the world. Programs include professional certificates, online degree completion programs, international student services, and much more.