Whether you’re a real estate agent, respiratory therapist, or accountant, continuing education is one of those things you have to do. But what if, instead of treating it like a box you check off, you maximize these learning opportunities to develop your skill set and advance your career?
The Value of Continuing Education
If you study the difference between average professionals in your field and the ones who advanced up the industry food chain at an accelerated rate, you’ll find that they value learning. Not only that, but they prioritize it. That’s because they understand how continuing education can:
- Broaden skill set. With every continuing education course you take, you’ll acquire a new skill (or at least more knowledge about an existing skill). For example, if you’re taking respiratory therapy CEUs, you’ll find course topics like: Ethics and the Use of Social Networking, Human Trafficking, Medical Errors and Patient Safety, and Diabetes and the RT.
- Increase chances for promotions. As you add new skills to your skill set, you become a much more proficient employee. This leads to better chances for promotion (either within your company or in the form of job offers from other organizations).
- Increase salary. Promotions lead to salary increases. The exact amount will depend on other factors, like your career and number of years in the field, but every little bit helps in the long run.
Truth be told, that’s just the start of it. The more you invest into continuing education, the more you’ll get out of it. Over time, you’ll build relationships, improve your resume, and position yourself as a leader in your industry.
Finding the Right Continuing Education Program
With so many different continuing education programs to choose from, it pays to know which ones are best. Here are several tips for selecting the right ones:
- Learning Type
Consider the type of continuing education program. In other words, what are the different types of learning that are made available to students? Common options include classroom-based learning with a live instructor; online learning with a live instructor; on-demand learning with recorded teaching; and hybrid options that include multiple options baked into one program.
Nobody takes continuing education classes for fun. They’re almost always required in order to maintain your professional standing or license. And the only way to get credit for these classes is to take approved and accredited courses that your respective board or licensing body recognizes.
When researching different options, be on the lookout for badges/icons and specific language that indicates the program is accredited. You can also check with your national or state regulatory bodies to verify that what a company says on their website is true.
- Course Selection
Continuing education isn’t something you do once and then forget about. In most cases, you have to take multiple classes every 12 to 24 months. And it’s helpful if you can use the same CEU provider.
As you compare different providers, look at their full list of courses available. Do they have enough course variety to allow you to continue taking courses from them in the future? Any reputable CEU company should have at least a dozen or more courses in your specialty or niche.
Price is definitely something to consider. And while there will be some variation, you’ll find that most are pretty competitively priced from one provider to the next. Online classes will tend to be cheaper than classroom learning, but there usually won’t be any significant differences from one course to the next.
Honestly, the easiest way to find a good continuing education program is to ask your peers in your field. Ask them which programs they’ve used and liked (as well as the ones they’ve had negative experiences with). This will give you a feel for which ones are best for your individual needs.
You can also go online and do your own due diligence. A quick Google search will usually give you access to dozens of reviews about a particular CEU provider. Be sure to read through both the positive and negative reviews to get the complete picture.
Advance Your Career With Continuing Education
Continuing education is just one ingredient to building a successful career – but it sure is an important one. By taking it seriously now, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor tomorrow (including a superior skillset, more frequent promotions, and a higher average salary than your peers).