If you have a passion for learning, you’re not alone. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, most adults see themselves as lifelong learners. Whether for personal or professional reasons, 73 percent of those surveyed consider learning to be a lifelong pursuit. Of the working adults surveyed, 63 percent indicated that they had taken some form of professional development in the previous year.
The message is clear. For most of us, learning never stops. Despite demanding work schedules and family commitments, the majority of working adults value ongoing professional development. Why? Here are some of the most popular reasons.
On-the-job experience is valuable but to build skills and acquire in-depth new knowledge, it takes a formal, structured approach. Professional education enables you to develop new expertise and deliver immediate workplace impact. For example, Brian Brown of Concurrent Computer Corp. completed the Scrum certification program at Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) and, with his team, implemented Agile software development processes that enabled the company to win contracts it was unlikely to have won before. “The fact that we use Scrum sends a strong message about cutting-edge practices at the company,” he said. By developing expertise in Scrum through professional education, Brian and his team were able to make a game-changing contribution to their organization.
In today’s competitive job market, credentials count. Savvy professionals know that credentials valued in their fields set them apart from their peers. Rick Givens, for example, an environmental, safety and health professional completed every certificate program offered by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at GTPE. “My career has been significantly boosted,” said Givens. “My peers and supervisors recognize the value of knowledge and skills at the operational and executive level.”
Many professions require evidence of ongoing professional development. By taking courses or certificate programs in your field, you can earn continuing education units (CEUs) to meet the requirements of your profession. In 2017, GTPE learners earned more than 43,500 CEUs. We offer more than 300 professional development courses, many of which lead to CEUs.
Staying on top of change is essential for career success. Taking a course is an ideal way to stay current with new developments and make sure you’re keeping up with the latest tools, techniques, and practices in your field. IT professional Tania Allen, for example, took GTPE’s Cyber Security Certificate program to update her knowledge following a break in her career to raise her children. Not only did she become current in her field by taking the program but also uncovered a business opportunity. “The program gave me the confidence to start my own company,” she said. “I’ve used what I’ve learned to create service products for small businesses and home networks that I can market to potential clients.”
Building a network of peers, influencers, and leaders in your field outside your organization is vital to your career. When you take a course or program, whether in a traditional classroom or online, you gain access to a rich network of professionals. If you nurture these relationships, they could lead to your next career step or a solution to a professional challenge.
In a professional education environment, you have the opportunity to interact with learners from different backgrounds and broaden your perspective. Anargyros Antonopoulos, who was the first GTPE learner to complete the Advanced Problem Solving Certificate program, shared his view, “I found it valuable to be exposed to other mindsets and to see how classmates from other industries see the same topics and approach similar problems.” These types of interactions often spark fresh ideas and lead to innovative new solutions.
Whether you’re aiming for a raise or a promotion, or both, taking professional education to upgrade your skills sets you on the path to achieve your objectives. For Brian Brown of Concurrent Computer Corp, for example, the Scrum certification he completed at GTPE led to a promotion within three months. It also enabled him to transition from a manufacturing background to establish his expertise in software development.
If you’re looking to change jobs, professional education offers you a way to develop the expertise and credentials you need to appeal to prospective employers. It also helps to boost your confidence in your abilities. When U.S. Army Plans Officer Vincent Hoover decided to transition to the civilian workforce and attended his first job fair, he found he was well prepared because he had completed the VET² Lean Six Sigma program offered in Georgia Tech-Savannah “Hands down, I was one of the best candidates there because of the Georgia Tech Lean Six Sigma Black Belt program,” he said. Two engineering companies made offers on the spot, and two companies requested that he stop interviewing to accept jobs with them within a week.
In today’s business environment, it’s common for working professionals to change careers several times before they retire. If you’re considering a career change, professional education is an essential step toward achieving your goal. GTPE offers many professional development courses and programs that can set you on a path to a new career. For example, many learners take our Full-Stack Flex Web Development Certificate program to prepare for new careers in web development. For a graduate from the first cohort of the program, Esterling Accime, who arrived to the United States from Haiti two years before and had very few job prospects, the credential led to a dream job. While taking the program, he was offered a position as software engineer by AT&T.
For many professionals, taking professional education enables them to prepare for organizational change and the consequences it may have on their jobs. Upgrading existing skills, developing new expertise, and earning in-demand credentials increases your chances of retaining your position or finding new employment in case of changes that threaten your job security. Chris Sticher, for example, faced the biggest challenge in his 22-year career at Larson-Juhl, a Berkshire Hathaway company, when his company changed strategic direction. Sticher, then vice president of operations, needed to develop new expertise to continue to be successful in the company. By taking the Project Management Certificate program at GTPE, he was able to reinvent himself at a time of change. “During a heavy investment year for the company, I was able to serve as project, program, and portfolio manager for the entire organization,” he said. “Thanks to you your program and a great deal of hard work, I was able to rebuild an executive role within my company as the senior director, Project Management Office (PMO) and strategic partner to the president.”
Explore Your Learning Options for 2018
No matter where you are in your career, you can benefit by taking a course, certificate program, or even a master’s degree. Whether you need to fill skill or knowledge gaps or develop entirely new expertise, professional education is your answer. Apart from building expertise, working professionals have many other reasons for continuing to learn throughout their careers. GTPE learners have shared some of their motivations. What are yours?
Georgia Tech Professional Education is a leader in innovative educational delivery, designed for working professionals in tech, business, and leadership. Our connection to the marketplace — coupled with our world-class faculty, researchers, and subject matter experts — provides an unparalleled prospective to education innovation, industry trends, future work, and lifelong learning. To uncover additional resources to help with questions and challenges around career advancement visit our Working & Learning page.