When it comes to furthering your career, there’s no better and more effective way to build your qualifications than taking continuing education courses. Extending your education, either through classes, seminars, or other types of training, can further prove your commitment to your career and boost your resume to make sure you’re the next in line for that big promotion – not to mention most licenses require continuing education to maintain them.
While there are many courses offered, it’s essential that you choose the right continuing education for your particular career and license. Whether it’s the right type of licensing to begin with, or a deep dive into a specific area of expertise to expand your certifications and knowledge, you need to make sure the course is a perfect fit for you and the best course to help you achieve your career goals.
So how do you choose the best continuing education courses to accelerate your career?
There are several aspects to consider when preparing for continuing education. In order to get the desired outcome, you have to plan ahead and do your research on all of the courses offered for your particular vocation. We’ve broken down some of the main items to consider before signing up for class.
Consider how the continuing education courses align with your professional goals and needs.
Before you do anything else, be sure to determine your professional goals and needs that you would like to accomplish.
If your goal is to be promoted to a management position, what sort of qualifications or experience is required? Would you need to take a leadership class? Do you need a certain type of licensing? Or perhaps you’d like to become an expert on a particular area of your job. All of these things must be considered when deciding what type of education would be helpful for your career ambitions.
Ask yourself, “What are the problems and issues I face at work that education can solve?” This is an especially important question since the outcome of the course should be an improvement of your professional skills, as well as gaining skills that you can apply immediately to your current job.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your direct manager or leader and ask what they would recommend for your career in order to boost you to the next level. They may even have recommendations based on their previous education and experience.
Who is this continual learning course geared toward?
Continuing education courses often have an in-depth course description. When doing your research, consider the course description and decide who the target audience is. Do you fit the target audience? Is the course geared towards individuals such as yourself? The target audience for the class should help determine whether or not it’s the right one for your career goals.
Learning Outcomes. Speaking of the course description, be sure to look for stated learning outcomes. This will help you to decide what the goal of the course is and whether or not that goal aligns with yours. Is this class more of an overview or an deep dive into a particular segment? The last thing you need is to spend several hours, days or weeks learning the minutiae of a subject that doesn’t pertain to you or vice versa.
Learning Style. Lastly, see if you can find out what the instructional methods are for the course. Is it more of a hands-on experience? Is it lecture-style? By choosing a course that is taught in the right learning format for you, you’re already setting yourself up for success.
What credentials or licensing could you gain from this course?
This depends on your determined professional goals and needs. If it’s crucial that you receive a certain type of licensing in order to get that promotion, then you need to be absolutely sure the outcome of this course will provide that. Narrow your search by determining which continual learning courses satisfy the requirements you need for certifications and licensing.
Another aspect to consider is cost. Continuing education is not free so before signing up for classes, determine if the cost of the course is reasonable (compared to similar classes), and find out if your current employer would be willing to cover the fees. You might be pleasantly surprised to find that many employers are willing to invest in an employee in order to make him or her a more valuable member of their team, so don’t be afraid to ask!
To recap the steps for choosing the right course for your career…
- Determine your educational and professional goals and needs
- Will the course improve upon my professional skills? Will I be able to use what I have learned in the workforce?
- Do I fit that target audience that the course describes?
- Are the learning outcomes of this course clearly stated?
- Instructional methods – are they described? Do they require audience involvement/participation?
- Credit – does the course offer a license or certificate upon completion? Will it satisfy the requirements of the particular certification you might need?
- Registration fees – are they reasonable when compared to similar programs? Will they be covered by your employer? Don’t be afraid to broach the subject.
By identifying clear goals and objectives, researching the main purpose and audience of the course, the faculty, the fees, and the credentials or licensing you could receive, you will be prepared to choose the continuing education courses that are exactly right for your career needs.
Not sure if continuing education is right for you, or even where to start? Download The CEU Group’s comprehensive guide to continuing education courses and mastering your career success. Jumpstart your career by downloading today.