Continuing Education: What It Does For Your Career

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This very instant, you are likely looking for fast and easy ways to boost your career in one way or another. You might be unhappy with your employer, stuck in a dead-end path, bored with your current responsibilities, or confused by changing trends. You might just be looking for a better way to make a buck. If this sounds like you, the answer should be obvious: You need to continue your education.

Continuing education sounds like a difficult chore, but in truth, just a few months of school can mean a lifetime of better pay, improved efficiency, and more meaningful work. If you are eager to enhance your career prospects, earn a higher salary, and more, you should learn more about continuing education.

What Continuing Education Means

Kids continue their education into their teens. Plenty of high school grads continue their education in college. Yet, this isn’t what most people mean when they discuss continuing education. Rather, continuing education tends to occur after you have left school for your career, but you still require education to maintain employment or advance.

Most often, the term continuing education is used in relation to professions that are frequently gaining new insights and techniques, like those jobs in the health care industry. Physicians, nurses, and others often participate in continuing education courses to stay up-to-date on life-saving strategies; in fact, many health care professionals must retake exams to prove that they are maintaining and enhancing their knowledge and skill. Professionals in the construction industry, including architects, as well as teachers in many states must also engage in continuing education.

Furthermore, continuing education can apply to professionals who simply wish to boost their career potentials. For example, returning to business school for advanced degrees in management or marketing is a form of continuing education. While advanced degrees are hardly mandatory, they certainly do equip you with the knowledge and skill to excel in higher-level positions. They also put you in touch with potentially powerful movers and shakers in your industry and others, expanding your network and giving you more opportunities to establish a successful career. Thus, even if you aren’t heading into a profession that requires lifelong training, continuing education is a worthwhile endeavor.

Who Offers Continuing Education

You can find continuing education programs at nearly every center for higher learning. From local community colleges to private, ivy-covered institutions, continuing education programs are relatively common, but not necessarily equal. Where you go should depend on your field as well as your goals for your continuing education experience.

For example, professionals seeking advanced degrees to enhance their careers should strongly consider enrolling in online programs. Online education has progressed by leaps and bounds in recent years, providing online students with nearly identical educations to traditional, on-campus students — but with added flexibility and lower cost to make continuing education more attainable. Therefore, by going to school over the web, you can maintain your current employment while preparing for your future career.

Why Bother With Continuing Education

Just as a college degree is far from a waste of time or resources — earning college grads at least $1 million more over their lifetimes than high school grads — continuing education is well worth the investment. Even ignoring those professionals who must engage with continuing education endeavors for their jobs, continuing education provides overwhelming benefits to those who achieve it.

For one, continuing education qualifies you for more employment opportunities. Often, continuing education, at the bare minimum, informs you of existing and emerging industry trends, so you will have valuable and relevant knowledge in your chosen field. Advanced degrees prove both ability and commitment to a field, so employers are more likely to hire master- and higher-degree-holders for upper-level jobs. Further, additional education often provides broader experience, which is useful in solving problems with creativity and innovation.

However, perhaps most importantly, it’s likely that after completing a continuing education program, you will feel higher satisfaction at work. According to a 2008 survey from the National Opinion Research Center, 93 percent of workers with an advanced degree reported themselves satisfied in their jobs, compared to just 40 percent of workers without even a diploma. By preparing yourself for your career, you could find a newfound appreciation for what you do.

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