In most careers, some amount of education is required. You may need a four-year college degree to begin working in the field, or you may be required to attend a trade school or pursue an apprenticeship to be qualified.
But in many cases, this level of education will serve as a kind of introduction – a set of fundamentals on which you can begin growing your career. If you want to keep improving and remain at the top of your field, you’ll need to pursue continuing education – ongoing courses to teach you new knowledge and skills.
So why is this so important?
For starters, some careers require you to invest in continuing education if you’re going to remain qualified. For example, as a respiratory therapist, you must take continuing education courses to familiarize yourself with new technologies, new scientific findings, new treatments, and new techniques in the field. This is especially common in medical and scientific industries since the half-life of knowledge in these industries is so short. If you don’t take ongoing classes, you may lose your certification – or lose your job.
Continuing education also helps you stay up-to-date with the latest developments in your field. Developments can include:
- Technologies. If there’s a new piece of equipment or another new technology that can improve efficiency or reliability in your field, you need to know about it – and learn how to incorporate it into your practice.
- New science. Science is always advancing. If there’s a new finding or a new advancement that overturns a previous bit of knowledge, you’ll need to know about it.
- New standards and techniques. In some fields, new standards and new techniques are constantly emerging. You may need to know about new laws that affect your work or new trends and practices by thought leaders in your field.
If you’re interested in doing the best possible job and remaining competitive with others, this is a practical necessity.
Networking With Others
Attending continuing education courses with a group of people is also a valuable opportunity to flesh out your professional network. You’ll get to meet like-minded professionals who are also discovering these new items for the first time; you can swap tips, commiserate, and learn more about how other pros like you operate throughout the country. This is also a chance to meet experts and thought leaders responsible for education; if you’re lucky, this could even turn into a mentorship.
Raise and Promotion Opportunities
In many cases, continuing education can provide you with knowledge, skills, and credentials that build upon what you already have. It makes you more valuable to your organization, and therefore in a better position to earn a raise or a promotion. If you’re consistently adding new responsibilities to your job and you’re looking for other ways to add value, you should have no trouble continuing to advance your career.
Adding to Your Resume
If you’re like most professionals, you’re always eager to find new ways to improve your resume. While you may be comfortable in your current job and eager to grow with the company, it never hurts to be prepared for the possibility of a new job hunt. Noting your attendance and completion of continuing education courses is a valuable addition to your resume; it can give you a competitive advantage and demonstrate how much you care about your position (and your future). It also serves as a great talking point in interviews.
One of the best ways to advance your career is to establish yourself as a leader. It’s important to do more than your peers and stay at the forefront of the latest developments in the field. By enrolling in more education and establishing more credentials for yourself, you’ll distinguish yourself as a leader in your company – and in your field.
Preventing Disinterest and Burnout
Even if you’re personally passionate about your job and genuinely interested in your daily work, there’s a possibility that you could eventually suffer from burnout. Doing the same things over and over and dealing with high-stress situations can ultimately be too much.
But taking continuing education courses gives you new information. It can renew your interest in your career by giving you new goals to work toward and new skills to master. It can also help you rediscover what made you interested in this career in the first place and make you feel more satisfied with your career progress overall. If done consistently, it can stave off burnout indefinitely.
Whether you’re contractually required to pursue continuing education courses, or you’re just interested in advancing your career, continuing education can make you a better professional. Never stop learning new skills and new information that can help you succeed – and keep challenging yourself to advance.