What is it, and why do I need it?
There really is not an exact definition for continuing education, which is why the term may be confusing to some people. It is generally accepted, though, that continuing education refers to education that is received after high school (or after a college undergraduate degree) in which there is formal training or education given, but a degree is not given. Some examples of continuing education include non-degree career training, degree credit courses by non-traditional students, formal personal enrichment courses, workforce training, experiential learning, and self-directed learning which is done through online interest clubs and groups or personal research activities. One thing that is common for all continuing education courses is that registration is required. There are courses which are offered to the general public at community centers and maybe even public colleges, but they would not be considered continuing education since anyone can attend without formal registration.
Continuing education is similar to adult education, and in some cases they may be the same thing; although, not all post-secondary educational and training programs are necessarily considered to be continuing education, such as vocational training. These days, more and more colleges and universities are offering continuing education courses. These courses may be offered on their main campuses, but usually universities also have extension schools which offer these courses. Extension schools are usually in places and locations which make it more convenient for adults who are working and have busy schedules to be able to attend classes.
Another common area of continuing education is classes that are offered to professionals who need to keep their knowledge and skills up-to-date. For certain professions, such as real estate professions, health professions, etc., it is required that professionals take continuing education courses in order to renew their licenses. If they don’t take a certain amount of continuing education courses within a certain period of time, they are unable to renew their licenses. This is done to ensure that professionals stay current on information, techniques, and skills in their fields. Sometimes these courses are taken through a college or university, but they may also be taken by attending conferences or special classes that are set up by organizations within the industry.
As was hinted at above, there are various platforms for continuing education. They may be offered in a classroom, on a job site, at a conference, and/or over the internet. Due to recent advances in technology, more and more continuing education classes are being offered over the internet. This trend is namely due to two reasons, it is more convenient for people to attend classes online, especially those who have full-time jobs, and online classes are cheaper for colleges and other institutions to administer.
It used to be that classes which were taken at home were administered through CD-Rom and DVD’s, but most institutions have done away with that since most everything can be put online and accessed through a special login. Some classes may be broadcast over the internet, so students may attend live classes from the convenience and comfort of their own homes. It’s more common, though, for classes to be recorded and placed on a website for future viewing.
In recent years, more and more companies are offering to pay for their employees to take continuing education courses. There are usually stipulations, though, one of which is that most companies require that the continuing education courses are somehow related to employees jobs and/or careers. Before registering for these types of continuing education courses, employees should check with their employers to make sure that the courses they want to take are allowed under their guidelines.
Salary and career outlook data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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