Even though you may have gone to school for several years to get your degree and then put in many more hours of work in on-the-job training once your career began, chances are you will still not be done with your Ongoing Education. Throughout your career, you must expect to take at least one or two courses or seminars per year to maintain your education. As the times change, so too do the ways we in which we do our jobs.
Mandatory Continuing Education in some Fields
Mandatory continuing education programs first began in the education and healthcare fields but have spread throughout the full spectrum of occupations and is now commonly required by employers all over the world. Fortunately, the methods of delivering said education are evolving rapidly and have arrived at the point where students seldom have to leave home to get their continuing education credits, since the vast majority of it can be done online. Today, it is not just teachers and healthcare professionals who need to complete continuing education requirements on a regular basis, but also architects, emergency services personnel, administrators of all descriptions, insurance agents, community health and social workers, drug company representatives, sales reps of all types, engineers, tax preparers, lighting designers, and many more.
Every profession changes with the times, which makes it necessary for most people to continually upgrade their education. An accountant has to keep up with the latest tax law, a doctor needs to be aware of current medical information, a lawyer must be up-to-date on the ever-evolving system of laws, and all of them need periodic refreshers so that they don’t forget what they worked so hard to learn in the first place.
Why is it so important ?
Even fifty or sixty years ago, the world’s knowledge didn’t change as fast as it does today. Many years ago, what a doctor learned in medical school would still be mostly relevant years later, but today’s doctors are dealing with a world where information changes very rapidly and keeping up with the latest developments can be really difficult. It used to be a doctor’s personal responsibility to keep up with new developments in medicine by reading medical journals, and while that may still happen, those journals are likely online and reading them is even more necessary now than it was fifty years ago.
For many years, continuing education requirements were filled by trainers coming to the workplace to present a course to employees, which was somewhat effective, but expensive and time consuming, since employees who were in the education seminar were not working, and not everyone could be spared from their duties, so the seminar would have to be presented twice, with half the work force participating each time.
Using Seminars to upgrade
Another way that companies got their employees to meet their continuing education requirements was with large seminars where workers traveled to a resort (often in beautiful locales around the globe) to stay in a luxury hotel, attend classes during the day, and enjoy themselves at night. These seminars still go on today, but with the advent of online seminars and courses, they are becoming much less frequent.
Using Online Courses
In recent years, there has been a huge increase in the number of ways you can maintain or upgrade your education. Universities offer online courses that serve to upgrade your degree and keep it current, so your alma mater may be able to offer ongoing education that is relevant to your career, and you will be able to complete the courses on your own time from your own home. You can study at universities all over the world and never leave home, or you can attend evening or weekend classes at a school or training facility near you to keep up with your continuing education requirements.
Whatever your occupation, you will need to know what the requirements are for continuing education in your field, and in your state. Requirements vary by state, by employer, and by profession, and it is important that you keep up on the latest rules so that you don’t end up losing your license to practice, or falling behind your peers.
Finding the Right Online School
When you are ready to sign up for online courses, you will need to look for institutions that offer short courses that can be completed in a reasonable length of time. Most employers ask for less than 40 hours of continuing education credits yearly, so a course that requires 200 hours of your time may be more than you want to do. Almost very profession now has some CE requirements in place and looking for resources that allow you to meet those requirements can take nearly as long as actually completing the courses. The first place you should look for CE courses is the school you got your degree from. They may offer yearly update courses that are specifically tailored to your degree, or courses that are relevant to your career.
Pennsylvania State University is one of the oldest universities in America and has a long history of innovation. This university was one of the first to offer correspondence courses as far back as 1892. Today they are again in front of the curve in terms of online offerings but finding courses that are short enough to fit well with continuing education requirements may not be easy.
Stanford University prides themselves on offering online learning courses in a wide range of subjects. You can shop for courses by duration as well as by subject, so finding a relatively short course should not be a problem.
Harvard University also offers online courses on subjects ranging from architecture to statistics, and many of them are free.
McGill University’s School of Continuing Education provides online courses that may meet your needs. They offer courses on a wide range of subjects, including business management, finance, and engineering.
There are dozens of other colleges and universities that offer online courses, but it may not be easy to find courses that are relevant to your work, and that don’t take a long time to complete. Your best bet when looking for continuing education courses may be to look for dedicated websites that offer precisely what you need. There are websites that offer CEU courses for almost every profession there is, all you have to do is find the one that is right for you. You will almost always be able to find a website dedicated to your profession. There are websites that offer CEU courses for everything from dental assistants to human resource managers, and usually at a reasonable price.
Franklin Covey is a site that offers everything from live seminars presented at your workplace, through webinars that you can access by computer, to online-only courses that can be completed on your own time.
Online Schools for the Medical Field
In the field of medicine, the requirements for continuing education have been in place for a long time. This has resulted in the creation of a lot of websites that cater specifically to the health care professional who needs a prescribed number of Continuing Medical Education (CME) hours and has no time to take long courses. There are dozens – perhaps hundreds – of websites offering continuing medical education, so there isn’t room in this article to list many of them, but this one is worth noting: rn.com is a web-based education resource that offers short (mostly 2 hour) medical courses and allows you to print out a certificate after you complete the course. This format means that students can choose how many hours to do, and don’t have to spend more time than necessary accomplishing their CME requirements. The format also works well in that it allows students to complete most courses in one session, making it much easier to move ahead with their education hours instead of having to go back and reread what they did last session. This makes getting your CME hours an easy and straightforward procedure.
For most occupations, finding continuing education sites can be simply a matter of googling “CE courses for ……” and following a link to a site that suits your needs. For example, if you are an accountant, you might find that a site like Accounting Tools meets your needs. It is important to check with your employer before you sign up for any courses, though, to make sure your employer accepts education credits from that particular site. It would be a shame to put in forty hours of work only to be told that those credits are not accepted and you have to start all over again.
Your continuing education courses can not only enhance your work performance, they can also look good on your resume. Should you ever want to get a promotion, or change jobs or even careers, your chances of landing the job you want might be improved by the fact that you have consistently made an effort to enhance your skills and knowledge. You should always select your continuing education courses with the goal of improving your work life as well as improving your chances for advancement.