Is a professional development course important?
You have your degree or diploma and you have been doing well in your job. In fact, you have learned so much and the only way to go is up. You have been advised to take a masters degree but you are not financially confident about this move or you do not have the time to dedicate yourself fully to such an engaging learning experience. On the other hand, the world is changing fast and you need to keep up with rising demand for specialised skills. Well, you might want to consider professional courses for purposes of improving your skills. A professional development course is simply a learning experience that equips you with the skills you need to perform a task that is specific to your career.
It is a very specific training that is both practical and targets those who are already working. There are professional bodies that give accreditation for these courses. A good course will catapult your career and enable you to improve your performance. It is usually offered at a low cost and is highly flexible, making it suitable for a busy professional. For example, the courses offered by the Pan Africa Skills and Consulting Ltd help you improve your skills and are market-based. This platform offers you a chance to learn at your own pace and place.
So, why study a professional course?
- It is practical
Professional development courses are practical and readily applicable to your job. They are best taken when you are in the industry and on the job. These courses help you sharpen your skills and improve how you handle your work. What you learn in the course is something you can use in your day-to-day work and excel while at it.
The practicality of the courses help you improve how you carry out your duties and this could catapult your performance in the right direction, making you eligible for a promotion or raise. They also help you learn emerging trends in the market. At the same time, these courses help you refresh things that you may have learned many years ago but which are now applicable in your field. Basically, you get to develop your skills and become more competitive in the industry.
- You get flexible learning opportunities
Many colleges offering professional courses understand that those taking up the courses are busy and do not have the ability to dedicate entire days to learning. There has also been a rise in online-based platforms that offer you tutorials at your own time, pace and place.
This flexibility equips you with the skills you need while still managing a demanding career. You do not have to compromise your career or professional development in order to gain new skills.
- Keeping up with trends
As the world and how business is done continues to change, people need to continuously learn in order to stay ahead. In some cases, there are no programmes offering training on emerging trends and this has created a skills gap. For example, digital and social media marketing have taken root in the last couple of years and while this trend keeps rising, it is not easy to find a school that has incorporated this trend in its course, at least not locally.
This is where a professional development course comes in, with training in social media management, digital marketing tools, and Google Analytics. These are important knowledge areas for those who want to wrap their heads around digital marketing trends. As this area keeps developing, professionals will need to constantly learn so that they can stay informed. You also get to learn new things that you can implement immediately or gradually. Whatever the case, professional courses are important in today’s fast-paced world.
- You will improve your CV
Professional courses are usually offered by professional bodies which mainly set industry standards. These courses help you improve your CV by gaining more knowledge and skills that help you build your capabilities.
Most employers will also be interested in what professional courses you have taken to improve your capabilities as a way of determining your suitability when promotions arise. With a course that improves your output, you can negotiate for a better salary or even get a job that will help you explore your full potential.
- It can help you when changing careers
Maybe you feel drained by or see no future in your current career. Or you feel like you don’t fit well in your current job and you want to shift gears to something more exciting but you are not well equipped.
You might want to consider a professional development course as a way of gaining practical industry knowledge that you can apply immediately. You will be equipped with skills that will help you settle down rather fast by applying what you have learnt.
If you also feel stuck in your career or position, you can use a professional course as a way of challenging yourself. This can be a chance to get out of your comfort zone and develop new skills, which will help you take up your next job or position comfortably.
- Opportunity to network
Moving up the corporate ladder is still ruled by who you know and this calls for you to create strategic relationships. One way of creating strong networks in the industry is by joining a professional development course class where you get to meet and interact with like-minded people.
Taking up a professional course can greatly boost your chances of meeting new contacts who can help you when you need to grow in the industry. It can also help you create business contacts who can come in handy when trying to make business connections.
What to consider when choosing a professional course
When considering a professional course, do not go for what is popular in the market or what people commonly call marketable courses. A good course that does nothing to boost your career-relevant skills is useless. A professional development course is as marketable as its suitability to your career so if, for example, people consider accounting a marketable course yet you are in the medical field, taking up accounting will do nothing to help your career.
- Your goals
A professional development course should help you achieve very specific goals such as career change, promotion or even just earn more skills. This will help you to choose the right course and the right institution that has the best curriculum in the market. Decide what exactly drives your desire to learn so that you do acquire the right set of skills to meet your goals.
- Area of specialization
By the time you are taking up a professional course, you have decided on what career path you would like to take. You have analysed your current position and it is now clear to you that a career in sports nutrition, for example, is you preferred route.
Most people make the mistake of taking up professional courses before choosing a career path. This is why it is advisable to take up one when you are already on the job as you will have a clear idea of where you want to go. For example, most people in University take up professional courses alongside their main courses in order to improve their marketability. Although this can help you if you are doing a course that complements your main course, the world is always changing so what might be offered in a professional development course right now may not necessarily be relevant when you get into the job market. You may also have a change of heart in future and choose a completely different career path. This is why it is advisable to undertake a professional course when you are on the job as it is about gaining applicable knowledge.
- Course content
As stated earlier, when choosing a professional course, you need to know what exactly you want to learn. This is an opportunity for you to gain skills that will enable you to better execute your day-to-day tasks at work.
To this end, ensure that you analyse what learning points are going to be covered in the course so that you do not repeat what you already know or learn what is not relevant. By the time you choose a course and an institution, you should know what you want to learn then see if that is what is being offered.
Analyzing the course content will also enable you to know if the curriculum is updated since your intention is to learn things that are relevant in the market.
One of the most important factors to consider when taking up a professional development course is your time. Let’s say you have a very busy schedule and on top of that, you want some time with your family and friends. A good institution will give you the flexibility you need to learn and still find time to attend to your other commitments with minimal strain on yourself.
Ensure that you know your schedule well and then take up a course and an institution that works with your schedule. Some institutions, give you the freedom to plan your sessions according to your flexibility. This allows you to learn at your own time without putting too much pressure on yourself.
Timelines also include the length of time the training will take. You do not want to be involved in a course that takes such a long time to learn that it becomes more of a degree or masters programme. It should be of a good length of time, which allows you to earn the right skills and at the right time.
- You level of knowledge
A professional development course typically helps you gain more skills and knowledge and not get a certificate for what you already know. This means that it should help you fill a particular skills gap so that you are more competent at your job. Before taking up the course, analyse your skill level so that you get to start the training at the right level. Carefully look at the course curriculum so that you can accurately determine where to start.
Professional development courses are important for those looking to rise in their careers, those who want to change careers or those who want to gain some knowledge in certain areas. They help you broaden your knowledge, stay abreast with market trends and boost your competence. They are ideal for busy professionals who do not have the time and convenience to attend formal classes. Professional courses also help in filling gaps that are not covered in school curriculums and give you practical knowledge that you can easily apply in your day-to-day activities at work. Online platforms have proven to be very effective as they give you the opportunity to learn at a place, pace and time of your convenience.