There are a lot of professions where continuing education is an absolute necessity. For professionals providing financial or legal services, for instance, it’s often a legal requirement to take a class every year or two. Even if it isn’t legally required, though, continuing education can be very useful. It allows you to stay up to speed in your field, which can be an important deciding factor if you’re trying to get hired by a new employer or want to take on a new type of project.
For web workers, though, finding opportunities to continue our educations can be a little harder. Where some employees have access to educational materials on-site or may even be required to attend classes at work, we’re a little more on our own. That doesn’t mean we’re out of luck, though.
If we work online, why can’t we study online? A number of organizations are offering online classes these days, from colleges to professional organizations, as well as thousands of free options. The real question is if you need a certificate or another method of proving that you actually attended the class. If you’re learning for the sake of knowledge, you can download lectures from iTunes or even find a curriculum you can follow on your own at Wikiversity.
If, however, you need that piece of paper, you will likely need to enroll in a course through an educational institution or professional organization. Depending on your profession, you may find that a professional organization already has a continuing education program in place; all you have to do is take the courses listed. Otherwise, you may find that you need to determine which classes are the most useful for you.
Conferences and Seminars
If you’re willing to devote a few days to attending a conference on the topic you’re interested in, it can get you up to speed on a topic — fast . Depending on where you’re living, you may be able to find a relevant conference nearby. There are also a growing number of conferences and seminars that you can attend virtually. In some cases, you can list these sorts of educational opportunities on your resume, but you can also discuss them in the context of a new project or job to win over a prospect.
Balancing Continuing Education
Even if you don’t have a set number of continuing education hours you must complete every few years, it’s often worthwhile to set your own goals for continuing to learn about your area of expertise. Not only will it make you a more valuable candidate for a project, but it can also make your own work easier to complete.
One of the biggest factors keeping web workers from furthering their education is the fact that classes and conferences have price tags. The fact of the matter is, though, that the cost may not be exactly what you expect. In many countries, you can deduct continuing education expenses on your taxes as long as they relate to your profession. You may also qualify for discounts or scholarships, depending on the professional organizations you belong to.
How are you continuing your education?
Image by Flickr user Avolore