Disclaimer/Cred: I've been an instructor at a for-profit "tech" school, and at a NFP community college from 2008 to present.
While teaching at a nationwide chain of tech schools, I personally found the certificate programs to be of dubious value based on their high-cost, almost $14,000, and the mandated grading structure in which students that completed software guided "labs" and had daily attendance were mathematically incapable of receiving a failing grade. I also felt like admissions/recruitment staff overstated the value of the program, but that most students had more sober expectations than our marketing hype suggested.
(Note: I've found the actual degree track AS/AA or BA/BS or Masters programs to be of significantly higher quality. Granted, having gone to a large Midwestern university, I find the for-profit "college" experience to lack some of the extra-curricular qualities that I think heavily contribute to quality college education. Particularly at the AS/AA level, I find the career-ed (tech) coursework to be similar to accelerated CC offerings.)
While I felt the program was not in the interest of the student (and eventually resigned), I will admit that it did serve a population that would have been likely to fail in the community college environment. Additionally, it did give them minimal exposure to the industry that they would have otherwise had a difficult time getting. The most valuable service was career placement, in which most of them got jobs at very rudimentary scripted help desks, which could get them enough "experience" to get past the HR goons and maybe get some attention with vendor certs or good interviewing toward more hands-on tech gigs.
Granted, as I've sat on hiring boards, I would find the certificate alone to be of minimal value, and would identify more strongly with an untrained applicant who showed similar skills through self-education (e.g. repairing family computers, experimented with Linux, authored simple web pages) on the basis that self-education can be extremely valuable with a good on-the-job training program.
I try to make it a point to discourage college certifications (and to set realistic vendor certification expectations) and push the AS as being far more valuable to employers that also opens the door to 4 year schools should they decide to go. Most of the counselors at the for-profit or non-profit community colleges generally tend to encourage students to simply do whatever they've already chosen to do, which is usually certification as a low-hanging fruit, as most simply want to avoid the general education courses.
Unfortunately, the for-profit schools are doing a far better job of providing instruction of any quality that is often more ideal for working individuals. Working two jobs (FT programmer, PT instructor) and living fairly far from any university, has made me use University of Phoenix for my MBA program. As a student, compared to other peers taking programs in low-middle quality state-schools, I find UOP's offering to be comparable on content. That said, I do think that the accelerated nature does cause some topics to be handled superficially, and without proper self-motivation, promptly forgotten.