If your career is not advancing quickly enough to meet your goals, then it is time to look for ways to give your job a boost. One key tool for climbing the career ladder is continuing your education.
Benefits of Continuing Education
Like it or not, the world is constantly changing, and you need to change with it. Skills you haven't used in years can become stale, and even the skills you use every day can lose their relevance as new technology and new ways of doing things change your industry and your job. Continuing education and certifications can keep you up to date on the latest tools and methods of your industry. Increasing your knowledge base also makes you more valuable to your employer. The more you are able to do, the more you are able to offer, and the more your company benefits. This can lead to promotion and raises. Finally, continuing education lets you branch out into other areas, making it easier to move laterally within your company or find a new job in a related field.
Types of Continuing Education
Continuing education is a relatively informal process. You find classes you would like to take that will teach skills that can benefit you in your career, and sign up. There are a number of types of classes available. Options range from multi-year degrees to weekend classes. If you are unsure of what type of continuing education would benefit your career, try reaching out to other people in your industry.
Community College Courses
Many community colleges offer adult education courses covering everything from first aid to computer programming. If you are looking to pick up a few extra skills, such as navigating Microsoft Excel, writing press releases or even changing the oil on your car, this is the place to go. Courses can run for a single weekend or for several months and are often available in the evenings.
You can learn a lot online right now. MOOCs (massive open online courses) allow you to take online classes alongside other students. Usually, enrolling in a MOOC will grant you access to video lectures, assignments, and discussion groups where you can ask questions and interact with fellow students and TAs. Webinars are increasingly popular, offering the equivalent of a live lecture from the comfort of your home. And of course, traditional long distance learning has adapted to the internet through email courses. You can find courses for anything online.
If you have the time and energy to invest, you can always go back to college for your Masters or Doctorate. These degrees can advance your current career, or springboard you into a new one.
Professional certifications are a formal demonstration of your skill and knowledge. A professional certification says that you are working at or above industry standards. Some careers, like electrician, are closed to anyone who doesn't have a professional certification. Others, like web programming, are much easier to get into and advance in with the relevant certifications. Each career and industry has their own certifications. For accountants, the bare minimum certification is a CPA (certified professional accountant) but they also get the FAIA (Fellow of Association of International Accountants). An IT professional might want to pass relevant CompTIA exams. Getting their CHA (Certified Hotel Administer) can be an important step for anyone in the hospitality industry. All professional certifications have certain requirements. Many require applicants to demonstrate either a certain number of hours worked in the field or spent in relevant classes, and almost all require applicants to pass an exam demonstrating their knowledge. Other requirements include previous certifications (for instance an EMT student needs to get their first aid and CPR certifications before they can be certified as an EMT.) Many certifications also require ongoing education. A national certified massage therapist will need to take 44 hours of continuing education, including at least 2 hours of ethics related courses, in order to re-certify after four years. Continuing education and professional certifications take some effort to get and maintain, but their benefits for your career can be enormous. Given the wide variety of options available, with some research, you will be able to find a course or certification that is right for you.