What Is a Career Diploma?

A career diploma is a piece of paper awarded after you complete a vocational or technical training program. Read this article for in-depth information on career diplomas.

Career Diploma Defined

Career diplomas are awarded for completing postsecondary vocational or technical training programs, and they are not the same as a college diploma or degree. Career diploma programs focus on providing specific education for job opportunities or advancement. Completing a diploma program may be formally required for employment or professional licensure, or it may be an optional way to acquire and demonstrate professional skills. Schools may refer to a career diploma as a certificate of completion or achievement.

Career diploma programs are typically shorter than degree programs, and you can usually complete most in a year or two, though some may be only a few weeks. Many programs are structured so that you can continue working while pursuing an education. Most career diploma programs combine traditional classroom learning with hands-on training to practice skills. Some programs include work experience opportunities and job placement assistance. You may also be able to transfer credits earned in a diploma program toward completion of an associate's degree in a related or relevant field of study.

Important Facts About Career Diplomas

Business Health Care Technical & Industrial
Programs Accounting assistant, business management Pharmacy technology, surgical technology Home inspection, diesel and heavy equipment technician
Common Courses Payroll accounting, business mathematics Medical terminology, pharmacology Electric systems, inspection procedures
Possible Careers Payroll clerk, accounting clerk, office manager or supervisor Pharmacy technician, surgical technician Home inspector, diesel mechanic
Online Availability Fully online Blended Fully online for home inspection, not available for diesel and heavy equipment program

Program Options

Below, you'll find examples of programs in fields that commonly use or require career diploma training.


Business-related programs can prepare you to handle the demands of a professional office environment. You can learn administrative, accounting and marketing skills, as well as computer skills used in offices. Some programs may be geared toward human resources and management training.

Health Care

Not all careers in health care require an advanced degree. You can gain medical and dental assistant or nurse's aide training through career diploma programs that provide the required education for professional licensure in these fields. States often mandate that you complete a short-term emergency medical technician or first responder program to begin the licensure process as an EMT. You can also pursue optional career training in clerical and administrative aspects of health care with health care office management, billing and coding career diploma programs.

Technical and Industrial

You can find a large variety of training for technology-based jobs, including air-conditioning technology, electrical systems maintenance, automotive repair and welding. Technical and industrial career diploma programs incorporate a substantial amount of practical learning and may require you to purchase some of the tools you'll use in labs and on the job after you earn your diploma.

Where to Earn a Career Diploma

You can find most career diploma programs at two-year colleges, technical institutes and vocational schools. These programs may be structured as a single course or several classes that you take in sequence. You may find some programs that are offered on a part-time basis or with an option of day or evening hours.

Popular Schools

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. Next »