Life Hacks

How to Find a Continuing Education Program That Fits Your Needs

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There you are walking down the aisle to grab your college diploma. YOU ARE DONE!

Well not so fast. Just because you’ve complete your college degree, that doesn’t mean your learning is over.

As businesses and industries change and develop, and technology advances are made, additional learning and education is often required. For example, the healthcare industry has many coding changes that entail additional learning and knowledge on a recurring basis.

If employees want to advance their careers and add numerous skill sets to their repertoire, or even just want to be competitive in the job market, participation in continuing education programs is typically a prerequisite. So how do you know what type of continuing education program you should participate in? And what about the cost of the program? Let’s look at a few suggestions to help you find the right fit.

Which Program Is Right for You?

There are many types of continuing education programs designed to encourage adult learning. The first step in finding the right program for you is to thoroughly assess your needs and personal and professional goals. Just like participating in an interview for a job, evaluating your purpose for obtaining further education is important to choosing the right program.

Some companies mandate continuing education as a part of overall employee training and development, and they delineate the number of hours you must complete. You need to determine if you are able to participate in these programs during work hours, or if you will be directed to attend the program after normal work hours. This can have a major impact on the program you select.

Once you know when you will participate in the educational process, the next step is choosing what type of program you will join.

One way to access continuing education programs is through online portals. The nice thing about this option is you can usually complete your continuing education credits, or CEUs, at your own pace.

You will also need to choose which format helps you learn best and aligns with your time constraints. Will it be an online or in-person environment? Some people choose in-person because the face-to-face communication better facilitates learning, while others choose online programs due to convenience.

Another great way to evaluate programs that may be right for you is to explore industry-specific education. This can be accomplished by looking at your particular company’s resources. Depending on what industry you hail from, there may be several organizations that can help you reach your continuing education goals.

Employer Support for Education

Sometimes employers offer education or support opportunities for employees to participate in additional training and development programs. For example, a business may provide continuing education classes with earned credits at their location because this program is less expensive than paying for the entire group of employees to engage in off-site education. Check with your company’s human resources department to see what the prospects are for your particular discipline.

Since the cost of participating in professional development can often be expensive, convincing your employer to defray some of these costs is a win-win scenario. If it’s not already directly provided by the company, include it when you’re negotiating your employment contract. This can help you achieve your personal and professional development objectives — and employers will benefit by having a more educated employee base.

Education is a continuous process. Finding the best education program for your professional and personal needs takes some thought, but it’s definitely worth the time. Advancing your skills and your career are positive outcomes associated with continued learning. So now it’s time to prepare — again — to crack those books.

Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career blogger. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, where she shares advice about finding happiness and success in your career. Follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum and subscribe to her blog newsletter for more great tips.