Are you looking to expand your skillset or just transition into the IT field? An online certificate program in information technology can be exactly what you need to gain relevant skills. We’ll go into more detail about the various reasons why you might want to choose a certificate program over a full associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Online IT certificates might not be the best choice for everyone, but they can be a great move for many people interested in information technology. It all depends on your individual goals.
Most online IT certificate programs are offered through community colleges. This makes them, on average, much cheaper than degrees at private or even state universities. This ranking of the top 10 most affordable online IT certificate programs ranks the colleges from most to least affordable.
It’s also important to note that all the certificate programs featured here are fully online programs. Many community colleges offer hybrid and blended certificate programs that are mostly online, with some on-campus sessions required. If your local community college does this, then check it out. It will likely be much cheaper than going to a school outside your state of residence, and you won’t have to sacrifice too much convenience. The great thing about this ranking is that many of the colleges have tuition rates that are incredibly cheap even for students who live out-of-state. This is especially true when you compare the prices to private and even state colleges and universities! Check out the FAQ at the end of the ranking for more information and answers to common questions.
Reviewing the Cheapest Information Technology Certificate Programs Online
#1. Metropolitan Community College
Metropolitan Community College offers four online IT certificate programs. These IT certifications prepare students in:
- Business Intelligence Systems
- Computer Programming
- Data Center Technician
- Server Technician
Each of these information technology certificates includes a pathway to an associate’s degree in the computer science and technology industry. This makes building on the certificate easy if the student desires a more advanced training program. A high school diploma is required for admission. Students work at their own pace to complete coursework.
- In-State Tuition: $3,195
- Out-of-State Tuition: $4,680
#2. Vance-Granville Community College
Vance-Granville Community College offers many IT tracks for associate degree programs. There are also undergraduate certificate programs for aspiring IT professionals that include:
- Cisco Networking Certificate
- Cyber Security Support Certificate
- Healthcare Informatics Certificate
- Simulation Software Specialist Certificate
- Game Design Fundamentals Certificate
- Data Mining Certificate
- Web Development Certificate
Online students need a high school diploma or equivalent to be considered for admission to these certification programs. Once enrolled, they can make their own schedule of required coursework.
- In-State Tuition: $1,948
- Out-of-State Tuition: $5,168
#3. Harrisburg Area Community College
A fully accredited institution, Central Pennsylvania Community College offers an online certificate program in computer information systems. Students pursuing this undergraduate certificate can choose from concentrations in:
- Support Specialist
- Database Analyst
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Business Intelligence Application Developer
The IT certificate is 31 credits. Prospective students will take courses like:
- Client Administration
- Intermediate Database Management
- Information Security Fundamentals
- Database Programming
Financial aid resources may be available to qualified applicants to help fund these IT certifications.
- In-State Tuition: $5,328
- Out-of-State Tuition: $6,408
#4. Kapi’olani Community College
Kapi’olani Community College offers several different IT certificate programs with different credit requirements. These are the advanced professional certificate (18 credits), certificate of achievement (30-31 credits), and certificate of competence (18 credits). The IT subjects offered in at least one of these certificate forms are:
- Information Technology
- Information Security and Assurance
- Database Administration
- Data Mining
- Help Desk Services
- Full Stack Web Development
This technical school is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to award these various IT certifications.
- In-State Tuition: $3,284
- Out-of-State Tuition: $8,420
#5. Wayne Community College
Wayne Community College offers a college degree, diploma, and certificates in IT business support for the prospective IT worker. The business support-related certificate programs are:
- A+ Fundamentals Certificate
- Business Apps
- Business Support
- Cybersecurity Concepts
- Software Development
- Hardware/Software Support
- Operating Systems Support
- Systems and Hardware Support
- Systems Support
- Windows Operating Systems Certificate
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has accredited Wayne Community College to award these IT certifications.
- In-State Tuition: $2,524
- Out-of-State Tuition: $8,668
#6. Brunswick Community College
Brunswick Community College offers several online information technology certificates in areas like:
- C++ Programming
- Information Systems
- Java Programming
- Software Development
You can also enroll in an online certificate program to pursue industry skills and knowledge in internet marketing, software engineering, simulation and game development, and web development. Many programs can be good supplements to your information technology education. Brunswick Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to offer these IT certifications.
- In-State Tuition: $2,532
- Out-of-State Tuition: $8,676
#7. Haywood Community College
Haywood Community College offers online information technology certificates in Hardware Support Tech and in Cybersecurity. These certificates for future IT professionals feature online courses like:
- Network and Security Foundation
- Hardware/Software Support
- Linux/Unix Single User
- Introduction to Cyber Crime
- Security Concepts
- Security Administration
Transfer credits may be accepted, and career resources are available to distance learners. Certificate holders are well-prepared for entry level careers in information technology subfields.
- In-State Tuition: $2,580
- Out-of-State Tuition: $8,724
#8. Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College offers a large number of online information technology certificates in subjects like:
- Cisco Networking
- Database Administration
- Productivity Software
- Security Essentials
- Systems Administration
- Windows Administration
- Workforce Essentials
Each IT certificate program is featured online and may require proctored exams depending on the subject and format.
- In-State Tuition: $2,632
- Out-of-State Tuition: $8,776
#9. College of Southern Maryland
The College of Southern Maryland offers two online IT certificates. The first is a certificate program in information services that features introductory courses like:
- Computing Essentials
- Program Design and Development
- Systems Analysis and Design
- Introduction to Databases
The technical support certificate program offered by the online school features courses like:
- Computer Security
- Local Area Network Administration
- Information Technology Center Support
- In-State Tuition: $6,870
- Out-of-State Tuition: $8,820
#10. Cerro Coso Community College
Cerro Coso offers data analyst, information technology, and information technology plus online certificates for an IT career path. These certificate programs feature courses like:
- Principles of Project Management
- Data Analytics for Business
- Introduction to Programming Concepts and Methodologies
- Elementary Probability and Statistics
- Computer Network Fundamentals
- Information and Communication Technology Essentials
In terms of program length, the 12 and 13 unit certifications online can be completed in one semester. The 23-unit information technology certificate program can be completed in two semesters of technical skills training and hands-on projects. No prerequisite courses are required, and graduates have a competitive advantage in the field.
- In-State Tuition: $1,058
- Out-of-State Tuition: $7,567
Frequently Asked Questions About Online IT Certificate Program Options
What do certifications cost? Is an IT certificate program cheaper than an associate’s degree program?
Overall, yes, certifications online are often cheaper than associate or bachelor’s degree programs. This is because certificates are usually around ⅕ to ½ as many credits as an associate degree. Normally colleges and universities charge per-credit. So fewer credits means lower cost. The tuition rates used for this ranking of online IT certificates generally reflect the cost of one-year of full-time tuition at the college in question. This is roughly the most you can expect to pay for a 30-credit certificate from the school. Some certificates are only 12-18 credits and will actually be even cheaper than the tuition used in this article. Many of the schools featured in our ranking offer more than one online IT certificate, each covering different elements of the field. So we decided to use the the tuition cost students can expect to pay for the higher-credit (and therefore more expensive) certificates. The certificate you want may be even cheaper than the tuition used in this ranking! Or you may be able to get two 12-18 credit certificates for the posted price instead of just one 30-credit certificate. That hints at part of the answer to the next question!
What makes certificates a better choice than associate’s degrees?
There are many circumstances in which a certificate can be a better choice than an associate’s degree. For instance, certificates are more concentrated. You study fewer subjects that aren’t directly related to the skill set you are trying to develop. This is great for people who are already working and want to add new skills to their arsenal. Certificates are also a great choice for people who already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. These individuals can build on the skills they already have or broaden their skill set as experienced professionals.
Even if you don’t have a degree at all, certificates can still be a great choice. They can be earned faster than an associate’s degree. Take a 30-credit certificate as an example. This can be earned in just a year. Most associate’s degrees contain 30 credits of general-education credits, and 30 credits of major credits. So a 30-credit certificate essentially just strips out those general education credits. You get the same level of IT education in half the time at half the cost! If you want to expand on the skills you get through the larger certificate, you could then earn two smaller and more specialized certificates to complement the first one. This gives you twice as much IT education as you might have gotten from an associate’s degree in the same amount of time. IT is a field that is more interested in what you’re able to do on the job, not your level of education. The best part? If at some point you decide your lack of an associate’s or even a bachelor’s is holding you back, you can transfer your credits from your certificates into a program and finish out your degree. This means even if the certificates end up not being enough to get you where you want to be, you can still get there and won’t have wasted any time. And you will have actually saved money in the process! That’s a pretty good deal.
Plus, prospective employers in the IT field often scan resumes looking specifically for certain in-demand certificates! Thus, your certificate program could very likely land you an entry-level position in the information technology subfield of your choice.
The tuition rates still seem pretty expensive. Can I get financial aid?
This can be a little confusing, but yes! If your school is a regionally accredited college, then undergraduate level certificates make you eligible for federal financial aid. And even the smaller grants and loans offered through FAFSA are generally more than enough to cover community college tuition. This is especially true if you are attending in-state. Please make sure you contact the financial aid office of your target schools and get any necessary information you can from them. And remember to submit your FAFSA application as early in the application season as possible!
If you work full-time (or sometimes even part-time) for a company, then you may also qualify for financial ais in the form of tuition aid benefits available to prospective employees. Make sure you talk to human resources and find out if there are any such benefits available to you, as they can help cover extra costs.
Books can be expensive if you buy them through the school’s store. But did you know sometimes schools have previous editions of course textbooks available through their libraries? There are also ways to get books second-hand online for much cheaper than MSRP. Be careful though. With IT related subjects, it’s important to have books that are pretty current, as technology is changing constantly. An outdated book can contain old information that doesn’t apply, and can also lack important new information.
I’m not sure if online learning is a good choice for me. Are online certificate programs worth it? How can I tell without wasting my money?
Transitioning from a traditional classroom to an online degree or certificate program can be challenging. The good news is that there are many online college courses offered for free through websites like Coursera and EdX. Some of these courses cost money if you want to get a certificate of completion and have the course potentially count as college credit. But if you just want to try out the online flexibility while learning relevant skills, there should be free classes you can take. Taking one of these, especially something to refresh your high school math or even get you started on college level math or writing can also be beneficial to you in preparing to earn your online certificate. So definitely check out these higher education resources for working professionals!
- Best Degrees for the Future
- Best Online Certificate Programs
- IT Degree Online
- Online Information Technology Degrees (Bachelor’s)
- Online Bachelor’s in Computer Networking
- Best Online Colleges Near Me (AL-MO)
- Cheapest Online Colleges
- Free Online Colleges
This concludes our coverage of cheapest online IT certificate programs.