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Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

The Pros and Cons of Continuing Education Courses

As you plan your career, there are so many things you can invest your resources in – taking continuing education courses, working towards a certification or advanced degree, getting involved in a professional group, expanding your network, attending conferences, getting published, looking for better jobs. The decision on whether to choose a continuing education course needs to be weighed against all these other options. It will depend on what you want to get out of the course and your career overall.

Continuing education is good to expand your skill set without the commitment and expense of an all-out certification program or additional degree. You can pick and choose exactly what captures your interest or what you feel will most benefit you right now. Company tuition reimbursement plans are often capped, and continuing education courses can be selected to fall below the maximum. On the other hand, a course here and there will not have the weight of completing a certification or advanced degree. Many companies will reimburse only for full programs, not a select course.

Continuing education gives you perspective outside your current field. A quantitative analyst might exercise her right brain with a film studies course at night. An IT manager might build better appreciation for company strategy by taking some business courses. Don’t just think of continuing education as a smaller alternative to an all-out program. Use the flexibility of taking a course here and there to get introduced to things you might otherwise not because your work is so specialized.

Continuing education does not preclude other investments in your career. The people you meet at your class expand your network. Your class work might inspire an article to publish or a workshop for a conference. The skills you learn may enable you to lobby for space on a project outside your determine or a job with wider responsibilities. The benefits of continuing education don’t have to stop in the classroom or accrue only if you attach them to a terminal degree.

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