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Four Ways to Upgrade Your Professional Skills

Learn about options for upgrading your skills to reach your career goals sooner.

Are you ready to advance in your career? Interested in going for that management job? If so, you might realize that you need to further your education to improve your professional skills or learn new ones.

The problem may be that you’re not sure where you’ll find the time or funds to upgrade your skills. After all, wouldn’t you have to attend school to complete a college degree to get the knowledge you need? For many working adults with busy schedules, it’s hard to envision how they will find the time.

Thankfully, there’s good news. Online degree programs provide options for upgrading your skills in a way that fits your schedule and your budget. Informal learning opportunities may be available in your organization as well.

Before you sign up for any professional development option, decide what your learning goals are.1 Take time to determine what you’d like your next career move to be, when you’d like to achieve it, and then take a look at the skills you currently have. Where there are gaps, there is opportunity for growth. During this initial decision-making phase, you should also determine how much time you have to devote to learning, your financial resources, and some possible times you could fit learning into your schedule.  

Four Options to Consider

Once you determine which skills you want to develop and what resources you have, start exploring the options that meet your needs so you can form a plan. Depending on your goals, resources, and time frames, below are four options you may want to consider.

  1. Mentorship. Mentors are professionals you admire who have achieved success in your particular field or specialty and are willing to share their wisdom and knowledge to help you grow and navigate your career. These relationships can be an informal method of guidance, although some organizations have formal programs. Essentially, the mentor can serve as a sounding board, help you brainstorm solutions to problems, give advice on strategies to implement in certain situations, and suggest ways to gain skills in certain areas.
  2. On-the-Job Training. Many companies offer on-the-job training programs, which allow employees to utilize resources already available in their workplace. The advantage of this method is that an employee is already familiar with the organization and is viewed as someone who is developing in a way that will ultimately benefit the organization. Human resource departments can provide information on whether such an arrangement is available or could be created to meet your development needs. 
  3. Online Degree Program. If you’d like to make a major change in your career or move it in another direction, an online college degree program could be a good choice. Completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree program can help prepare you with the knowledge and skills you need to advance in your profession. An online bachelor’s or master’s degree can help you gain a competitive edge.
  4. Non-Degree Course Offerings. If you’re interested in learning specific skills—such as business management—a formalized program can be helpful. However, it doesn’t need to be a full-blown degree; instead, you could choose one of these options:
    • Certificate programs are made up of courses that focus on a specific skill or subject area and can often be completed in less than a year. Both undergraduate and graduate certificate programs (the latter requires a bachelor’s degree) are often offered after work hours as well as online to accommodate working professionals.
    • For-credit individual courses are a great way gain a skill or get a better understanding of what a degree program might entail. Available is all disciplines, these courses are the same as those offered in a degree program. Upon successful completion of the individual course, you’ll earn credits that can be applied toward a degree program at a later date.
    • Professional development courses don’t carry credits and are not tied to a specific degree program. Instead, professional development courses provide a path for advancing your skills, learning a new topic, and potentially becoming more marketable. Some of the courses satisfy requirements for earning or renewing a license, credential, or certification in a particular field.*

Consider Pursuing an Online Education

If you are looking to build your skills or expand your career options and have a demanding schedule, one way to continue your career development is by completing an online education program.

Understanding the specific knowledge you need to gain or the skills you need to polish can help you choose the right type of professional development to advance your career. Completing a class or earning a certificate or degree online can help you prepare for a new career or advance in your current one in a way that aligns with your goals.

An accredited university, Walden University offers certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral degree programs, and non-degree courses online. Consider taking advantage of Walden’s flexible learning platform to complete online classes, explore and expand your career options, and earn your online degree in a convenient format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering certificate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*Please consult with the appropriate licensing or certifying authority, local school district, or other organization to determine whether a course will satisfy applicable requirements to maintain licensure, obtain or renew certification, or establish eligibility for employment.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,