UAA introduces Fast Track Career Certificates

by Austin Osborne  |   

UAA now offering Fast Track Career Ceritificates

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered everyday life and impacted the economy in unprecedented ways. Virtually every industry has been affected, creating new obstacles and challenges but also introducing new opportunities. In response, the University of Alaska Anchorage will offer a suite of Fast Track Career Certificates this fall to help Alaskans retool quickly and acquire new skills to reenter the workforce or energize their current career.

These certificate programs were developed based on current and emerging state economic trends. University leaders have been listening to feedback from industry partners, state and local officials regarding real-time employment needs. The Fast Track Career Certificates were born from these collaborative efforts.

Denise Runge led this initiative at the request of Chancellor Cathy Sandeen. Previously the dean of UAA’s Community and Technical College, Runge started as UAA provost on July 1.

“UAA evaluated current data on job openings, as well as longer-term information about employment trends pre-COVID, to determine areas where hiring is most likely to continue both during and after the pandemic,” said Runge. “The focus of the effort was to design short-term programs that could lead to immediate employment.”

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports Alaska’s job count was down 12.2% in May from the same month last year, a loss of more than 42,000 jobs. Some jobs have been impossible to perform during the pandemic due to workplace restrictions on in-person staffing. Demand for other services dwindled as individuals limited their activities only to those deemed essential, such as purchasing groceries and household supplies.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, new job opportunities have unexpectedly emerged, particularly in health care. Other jobs, such as those in IT, have remained in demand; hiring increases in other sectors are expected as organizations across the state continue to reopen.

The new certificates focus on areas like petroleum production, bookkeeping, entrepreneurship, construction, infant and toddler development, automotive repair and maintenance, web engineering and more. The fields were chosen based on careers anticipated to remain in-demand in Alaska with average salaries ranging from $25,000 to $62,000.

The new certificates were developed using current resources, meaning they do not cost the university additional funds. Academic leaders identified and sequenced existing courses to facilitate efficient, time-sensitive delivery and expedite education, training and workforce entry.

“At a time when the university's budget has seen several years of decline, it was important that we utilize only existing courses and faculty,” said Runge. “This required faculty to take a very interdisciplinary approach, which is ultimately an extremely efficient way to create new programs.”

Admission and registration for these programs are open now. Students can apply for admission until the late application deadline of Aug. 15. For the Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 terms, applicants are also eligible for awards in the amount of $500 for part-time enrollment and $1000 for full-time enrollment. 

For more information about the Fast Track Career Certificates, including program descriptions, course listings, salary data and more, visit

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