Those who are "stuck" in a dead-end career, or a job that lacks client contact, often want to retrain – to take courses leading to a certificate or degree that will qualify them for their dream jobs. Judging from some of those who have done just that, it seems to be a wise choice: Now, instead of getting the Monday morning blues, they love their jobs.

We polled more than a dozen colleges and universities to find these paths to dream jobs.

DeVry

DeVry University (DV), 630 Route 1 North, North Brunswick 08902; 732-435-4880; fax, 732-435-4856. Harold Y. McCulloch, Jr., PhD, president. Home page: www.nj.devry.edu

New for the rapidly growing area of healthcare technology are three DeVry programs: biomedical informatics, biomedical engineering technology, and health information technology. Course topics include biomedical instrumentation systems, telemedicine and medical informatics, and computer techniques in medical imaging. The first class of students in these new majors will graduate in 2007.

Based in Chicago, DeVry is a four-year, accredited, private co-educational university with more than 20 campus nationwide. The North Brunswick campus has just over 1,500 students who are pursuing careers in technology, business, and healthcare.

Full time tuition is $6,170 per term (including 12 to 18 credits). Per credit tuition, $525. The admissions office (732-435-4877) is open weekdays, weeknights, and Saturdays, and financial aid is available.

Other degree programs include electronics engineering technology, electronics and computer technology, network communications management, computer information systems, business administration, and technical management.

DeVry prides itself on turning out students well grounded in practice as well as theory. The bachelor’s degrees require nine terms full time or 15 terms attending on a part-time basis, and associate’s degrees require five terms full-time, nine-terms part time.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison State College, 101 West State Street, Trenton 08608-1176; 888-442-8372; fax, 609-984-8447. Dr. George A. Pruitt, president. www.tesc.edu

Thomas Edison State College offers online certificate programs that prepare students for a wide variety of professions in the fastest growing industries.

The Professional Certificate in Gerontology: Senior Health and Fitness prepares fitness professionals to cater to the oldest 14 percent of the nation’s population.

The five-course certificate costs $495. Offered completely online, it is designed to be finished within six months. It takes a multidisciplinary approach to the study of aging with an emphasis on senior health and fitness. One course guides the student into creating a business plan for programs for older adults. Students also design group exercise programs, strength training and aerobic conditioning programs, develop recognition strategies to encourage participation, and learn how to advertise and market to the senior population.

Video Game Design and Development requires 500 hours and costs $2,795. Billed as an "up-to-date, tightly focused method of driving your career in video gaming to the next level," it teaches game play, or what makes the game compelling and entertaining. Though suggested for people already in the industry, such as game programmers, artists, or animators, it could also be a key "career-switching" course.

"You will be exposed to the entire game development process, from brainstorming the ideas, to establishing the focus, to writing the storytelling, to documenting the design," says the brochure. "Further, you will learn more advanced 3D graphics programming techniques, including mesh optimizations and hierarchical animation techniques, the use of level of detail (LOD) algorithms to improve application performance by reducing polygon counts in distant objects, skeletal animation systems for realistic character animation, and more."

A more basic course is the Graphic Design Certificate, which costs $1,295 and takes 80 hours. Gatlin Education Services delivers this course online and promises it will get a student into the job market. It covers the rules of design (and when to break them), marketing strategies, and information about art in the electronic age.

Certificates in the medical field include Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative and Medical Transcription, both for $1,395. Also Veterinary Assistant or Pharmacy Technician, both $1,595. Medical Coding: Preparation and Instruction for Implementation or Administrative Medical Specialist, both $1,395.

Fairleigh Dickinson

Fairleigh Dickinson University, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison 07940; 973-443-8800; fax, 973-443-8808. Admissions, 973-443-8500. Also at 1000 River Road, Teaneck 07666, 201-692-2000. School of Administrative Science, 201-692-7366. www.fdu.edu

"We are seeing more and more working professionals taking advantage of our educational programs as they seek to improve their marketability and/or change career tracks," says Jim Barrood of Fairleigh Dickinson University. "More boomers are interested in taking courses or attending seminars so they can be better prepared for retirement and possible part-time work and entrepreneurial pursuits."

Fairleigh Dickinson has two types of certificates – a certificate in business program on the undergraduate level, which costs $772 per credit, and post-MBA certificates on the graduate level, costing $839 per credit plus a technology fee that ranges from $137 to $286. The 10 graduate level certificates include entrepreneurial studies, marketing, pharmaceutical-chemical studies, international business, and health systems management.

Health Systems Management can be a 12-credit graduate certificate or a concentration in the MBA program. It offers the conceptual and practical knowledge needed to effectively manage health care organizations within a rapidly changing marketplace.

The Institute for Forensic Science Administration, a new program with FDU’s College of Business, aims to reduce error rates by applying the rules of business and social science to the workload of forensic scientists and technicians.

Holy Family

Holy Family College, 1 Campus Drive, Newtown PA 19114; 215-637-7700; fax, 215-824-2438. Christina Machler, director, professional & community education. www.hfc.edu

Holy Family College is a professionally oriented liberal arts-based college for men and women with undergraduate, graduate, certificate, personal enrichment, and professional development offerings. Its Newtown site, located just off I-95 at Newtown Yardley Road, has an accelerated MBA program for working professionals with at least three years of management experience. Tuition is $16,350 for the 10-course, 30-credit program ($1,635 per course or $545 per credit). Graduate certificates in finance, public administration, or health care administration are also available, as is an overseas seminar.

Classes meet once a week, and MBA students may enter at the beginning of any eight-week session. Those who want to finish in 15 months can take three-credit "weekend intensives" twice a year on such topics such as innovation and entrepreneurship.

Undergraduate credit or non-credit certificates are offered in accounting, administration, finance, human resource administration, information systems management, international business, marketing, and project management. Undergraduate courses cost $1,290 or $430 per credit. Accelerated bachelor’s degrees in business administration and nursing are offered.

La Salle

LaSalle Bucks County Center, 33 West University Drive, Silver Lake Executive Campus, Newtown PA 18940; 215-579-7335; Charles Diamond, director. Also at 1900 West Olney, Philadelphia PA 19141, 215-951-1040; fax, 215-951-1886. www.lasalle.edu

"Today’s adult students have families, they have jobs, they have other responsibilities, so it’s important for them to earn their degree as quickly as possible," says Joseph Ugras, dean of continuing and professional studies at LaSalle University.

There is plenty of evidence, says Ugras, that adult students learn differently. "They are more focused and goal oriented. Most of our graduate students are adult students, but they’re different from an adult who is earning first degree, or one who needs professional development certification."

New is the certificate in fraud and forensic accounting, which can be completed in 10 months and can earn graduate credits. Directed by Leon La Rosa Jr., it consists of five courses plus a basic accounting course that can be waived. Noncredit tuition is $750 per course, including four CEUs. Applied toward a graduate degree, each course is $1,695.

"It prepares participants for a career in the exciting field of forensic accounting by providing them with skills and tools to both prevent fraud from occurring and discovering fraud after it has occurred," according to the catalog. Topics include complex financial investigations, compliance and financial audits, money laundering, net worth analysis, the psychology of white-collar crime, financial statement fraud, and more.

ACHIEVE, an evening and weekend program at the Bucks County campus, is for career changers who want to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Credits in this program cost $410.

Master’s programs available part-time in Bucks County are in such areas as business administration, computer information science, information technology leadership, education, clinical-counseling psychology, professional communications, theology and ministry. and a combination of master of science in nursing and a master of business administration (MSN/MBA) degree. Graduate credits generally cost from $530 to $695 per credit hour, and the MBA program is $655 per credit.

Mercer College

Mercer County Community College: Continuing Education, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor 08550; 609-586-9446; fax, 609-890-6338. Yvonne Chang, director. www.mccc.edu

MCCC specializes in preparing adults for new careers. One of its offerings, the Certificate in Drug Development and Clinical Research, retrains those with a background in nursing, pharmacy, chemistry, biology, medical technology, or related fields for jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. The core of this program consists of three classes, foundations of clinical research and study design, regulatory and legal issues in drug development, and data management/biostatistics.

Each course meets twice a week, in the evenings or on Saturdays, and takes approximately two months. The cost for the courses ranges from $810 to $990. A free information session about this program and the job opportunities in this field takes place on Wednesday, September 13, at 5:30 p.m. (Call 609-570-3311 to reserve a seat.) Classes begin on Wednesday, September 20.

Another certificate program that prepares career changers for a job in a healthcare-related industry is the Certificate in Medical Billing/Coding. This program, which leads to entry-level positions, is popular with people who would like to work from home as it is often possible to do, either as an employee or as an independent contractor.

Required courses include basic anatomy, medical terminology, Medisoft (billing software), and coding. Classes, which meet in the evenings, begin on Tuesday, September 12. They range in cost from $142 to $256.

In addition to certificates in the medical field, MCCC offers career changers certificates in everything from fitness to interior design, child care to web design. In many cases, it is possible to earn a career-changing, life-changing certificate in less than a year.

Middlesex College

Middlesex County College, 2600 Woodbridge Avenue, Box 3050, Edison 08818-3050; 732-548-6000. Admissions (732-906-4243) or E-mail: admissions@middlesexcc.edu. Noncredit programs (732-906-2556). Home page: www.middlesexcc.edu

New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey allows prospective teachers to begin his training in the summer at community colleges all over the state. The graduate-level program runs in two stages: an intensive six-week summer program, followed by classroom work in the evening during the school year (see page 43).

Students can choose to complete the certification requirements to become a teacher in New Jersey, or to apply 15 credits toward a master’s in teaching degree from New Jersey City University.

The alternate route program is for people who did not major in education while in college but would like to teach. They work toward certification while they are teaching.

Program candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree with either a major in an arts and sciences field (for elementary education) or a major in the appropriate field (for subject area license). They must have a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher for the last degree earned and hold a passing score on the appropriate Praxis II exam.

Information Systems Security, which was developed with advice from industry, other colleges, and the FBI, will prepare students to protect the nation’s critical information infrastructure. It trains entry level technicians to protect computer systems from hackers, corporate spies, and terrorists. The certificate program, which can be completed in a year, is for those with at least one year of college experience.

Help Desk Administration graduates will staff computer help desks and call centers. Computer support is one of the top 20 growth areas in Middlesex County, and help desk administration is a significant part of that field.

Paralegal Studies. Under the supervision of an attorney, the paralegal assistant does legal research, office management and preparation of legal documents. This program allows you to earn an associate’s degree, or, if you already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in another area, a certificate.

The credit programs begin on September 5. The cost is $107.05 per credit, plus $50 in registration fees. If the student does not need to take remedial classes, most of the degree programs can be completed in two years. The time needed for certificates vary, but most can be finished in two or three semesters. Non-credit program costs vary.

NJIT Podcasting

New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights, Newark 07102-1982; 973-596-3000; fax, 973-596-1525. Robert A. Altenkirch, president. Home page: www.njit.edu

Though NJIT is bringing some graduate level classes to Trenton, it also employs new methods of distance learning, such as podcasting, to make it easier for working professionals to return to college. Undergraduate credits cost $346 plus fees or $1,459 per three credit course ($2,701 for two courses). Graduate credits cost $648 plus fees or $2,369 per three-credit course.

The NJIT Weekend University Program combines distance learning with brick-and-mortar opportunities, 90-minute classes on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. The classes meet either once a week or every other week, and they deliver the same quality and content as "regular" NJIT classes because they are supplemented by distance learning and on-line study. Fall classes for Weekend University start August 30 (cpe.njit.edu/weekend).

"Programs like Weekend University that mix traditional learning with the newest methods in distance learning such as podcasting are called hybrids," said Gale Tenen Spak, associate vice president of continuing and distance learning education at NJIT. Hybrid classes, she says, represent the future of higher education. Students can listen and view classes on their computers or iPods. Professors can post or update content and allow students to upload their own material to their on-line courses.

Choose from one of three 24-credit undergraduate certificate programs: information security, information systems management or professional communication. Once completed, these certificate credits can be applied to an NJIT bachelor’s degree. Or begin a master’s degree in engineering management with a 12-credit graduate certificate in project management.

NJIT, a public technological research university with six colleges and 100 degree programs, brings some of its classes to Trenton. A master’s of science in transportation can be obtained at the DEP on Parkway Avenue, and a course in transportation economics starts Tuesday, August 29, at 5:30 p.m.

All the needed courses for master’s degrees in environmental science or environmental policy studies may be taken at the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection at 401 East State Street. A class on sustainable transportation starts Wednesday, August 30.

Raritan Valley

Raritan Valley Community College, Route 28 and Lamington Road, Box 3300, Somerville 08876-1265; 908-526-1200; fax, 908-725-2831. Continuing education, 908-218-8871; fax, 908-526-3576. www.raritanval.edu

Health information technology is one of the 20 fastest growing occupations, according to the federal labor department, and jobs in this field are expected to grow 47 percent in six years. Salaries are good. Registered Health Information Technicians (RHIT) start at up to $50,000 a year.

Raritan Valley Community College offers a medical coding certificate and an associate’s degree in health information technology. Classes start Wednesday, September 6. Tuition is $84 per credit, plus additional fees.

Those with two-year degrees can sit for a national certification exam to be an RHIT and seek jobs in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient centers, doctors’ offices, health insurance companies and local, state and federal health agencies.

With a one year certificate, students can take an exam to be a Certified Coding Specialist. They can determine appropriate medical codes, process coding information, and maximize medical reimbursements.

A new arrangement allows adults to work full-time, attend classes on weekends or online, and earn an associate degree in 30 months. Traditional classes are held on Friday nights in 10-week blocks. Some courses combine online work with five Saturday mornings of classroom instruction.

With its new $2 million Institute for Biotechnology Education, boasting two wet laboratories and a cell culture room, RVCC aims to educate employees for the more than 150 biotechnology firms in the state. Because of RVCC’s partnerships, students can get internships with leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Graduates of the two-year program can transfer to Kean University to receive a combination BS and MS in molecular biology or biotechnology. (www.raritanval.edu/biotech).

Rider University

Rider University College of Continuing Studies, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Library 137, Lawrenceville 08648-3049; 609-896-5033; fax, 609-896-5261. Boris Vilic, dean. www.rider.edu

Rider University offers several ways to gain "people skills" in various industries – public relations, school counseling, scientific leadership, and industrial hygiene.

Rider’s PR certificate costs $305 per credit or about $9,500 for the full 24 credits. Courses include writing for the media, publication design, feature writing, publicity methods for organizations, and speech communication. Full-time students can earn this certificate in two semesters.

A master of arts in counseling services – for working in schools or the community – is a two-year program costing $525 per credit.

Rider held its first three-day leadership seminar for scientists in June at the Doral Forrestal, and it was so successful that it will schedule a second Applied Leadership Institute seminar this winter. Two dozen scientists, nominated by 10 pharmaceutical companies attended the $2,500 seminar.

"Members of our science advisory board helped identify the participants, typically those scientists who were just starting to lead small teams," says Boris Vilic, Rider’s dean of continuing education. "They enjoyed the exposure to the CEOs and executives in residence – hearing their stories, and hearing from their peers how the other companies operate. Several of the presenters were Rider alumni."

Rider’s new occupational safety and industrial hygiene (OSIH) certificate combines classroom instruction by industry professionals with hands-on training. Purpose: "to improve job safety, decrease the rate of work related injuries, and advance industrial safety management." The 15-credit certificate costs $395 per undergraduate credit or a total of $6,000.

Rutgers Mini MBA

Rutgers Center for Management Development, 94 Rockafeller Road, Janice Levin Building, Suite 215, Piscataway 08854-8098; 732-445-5526; fax, 732-445-5665. Abe Weiss, director. www.cmd.rutgers.edu

Earn three credits and get a taste of what it would be like to get an MBA at Rutgers with the "Mini MBA" program. Twelve different faculty members teach a module in their area of expertise, starting with business strategy, and ending with organizational change.

"The main purpose is for the student to be a better business partner within an organization," says Claudia Meer, program director for mini MBA and associate professor at the School of Management and Labor Relations. "ETS, for instance, has a highly educated workforce, many with PhDs, but often they don’t have much business background – yet they are operating in a business."

"We run 10 open enrollment classes a year, throughout the state, and we also run three or four `onsite deliveries’ (classes held for a company’s employees) each semester," says Meers. Sometimes she schedules one-week sessions.

The Mini MBA costs $2,795 for 12 three-hour classes. Though it is a certificate program, taking an optional exam can yield three credits toward a master’s degree or an MBA.

Stevens Institute

Stevens Institute of Technology, Castle Point on Hudson, Hoboken 07030; 201-216-5622; fax, 201-216-8044. www.stevens-tech.edu or howe.stevens.edu

"Managing sophisticated technological environments is no longer the sole responsibility of any one department," says Joel H. Dobbs, program director of the pharmaceutical technology management program at Stevens Institute’s Howe School. "Technology management is a discipline that focuses on the intersection of business knowledge, leadership, and the practical application of technology. Leaders are needed who can work comfortably in this space."

Taking four courses in this program will earn a graduate certificate, or the credits can be applied to a 12-course master of science in management, of a 20-course MBA in technology management. After three basic courses, students can choose between a course in pharmaceutical manufacturing or one in regulation and compliance.

"We are planning to run the program at an `open site’ at a hotel in the Princeton area in the fall, as well as at a similar site in the Bridgewater area," says Dobbs. "In addition we run the program on our Hoboken campus and at several large pharmaceutical companies in New York and New Jersey.

Classes start in Hoboken campus on August 28, but at the off-campus sites they begin after Labor Day. The tuition is $825 per credit hour.

Other certificates are offered in security management and forensics, engineering management, entrepreneurial IT, global innovation management, information management, IT for the financial services industry, IT outsourcing, management of wireless networks, project management, technology management, telecommunications management, and IT for the pharmaceutical industry.

Temple University

Temple University Fox School of Business & Management, 1810 North 13th Street, Speakman Hall LL5, Philadelphia PA 19122; 215-204-4721. Graduate admissions: 215-204-5890. Also at 1515 Market Street, Philadelphia; and 401 Commerce Drive, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. www.fox.temple.edu

The Professional MBA offered by the Fox School of Business and Management is a part-time, evening program, tailored to fit the lifestyle of working professionals. The two-year full-time program can be finished on a part-time basis in three years, but students have up to six years to complete the program.

Credits cost $531 for Pennsylvania residents, $788 for those out of state, and 54 credits are needed to graduate. Application deadline for the spring semester is September 30.

The cornerstone of this degree is the enterprise management consulting practicum. Students are divided into groups and provide real consulting services to actual clients. "Guided by faculty mentors, students experience the demands of starting a new venture, developing a new product, entering a new market or analyzing a business problem or opportunity," according to Julia Straker, a spokesperson for the college.

William Paterson

William Paterson University, 300 Pompton Road R-8, Wayne 07470; 973-720-2237 Home page: www.wpunj.edu.

Special Event and Meeting Management. With media attention and prime time shows showcasing event and meeting managers, the special events industry has exploded. As a result, there is a growing demand for well-trained individuals who understand the complexities of the industry.

A seven-week workshop-style course costs $975 and starts Wednesday, September 20, 6 to 9 p.m. It repeats in the spring beginning March 7.

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