Career Advancement

Use Education as a Stepping Stone to Career Advancement

The number one way to advance your career is to enroll in an educational program and graduate from that program in a reasonable amount of time and with the highest grades possible. According to “pursuing a degree is the best way to receive training, to gain expertise in a given field, and even to guide you and help you make choices about your career.” This website also reports that individuals who have master’s degrees usually earn almost $32,000 per year more than those with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees.

In order to advance your career, you might decide that you want to continue working within your current professional field, but you simply want a higher level job. On the other hand, you may decide that in order to advance yourself professionally, you will need to gain an education in another discipline and enter an entirely new career. Regardless, you can use your education as a stepping stone to career advancement. While it is certainly possible to receive promotions and salary increases over the course of your career without any additional education, it is much more likely that you will see significant advances in your job responsibilities as well as your take-home pay after a college degree is earned.  If you are interested in a change in careers also visit Changing Careers for additional information regarding getting an education and improving your life.

There are many choices when it comes to selecting how you will obtain your higher education. You may want to stop working altogether and attend school full-time or you may want to take classes at night or on the weekends while you are still working. Some people are interested in taking online courses, which allows for a flexible school schedule.

While gaining an education is crucial in the career advancement process, there are several other ways you can help yourself. Most of these methods take a significant amount of dedication, energy and self-promotion. Some cost money, but the money will be well spent if it leads to a higher paying job, a more prestigious position, or an opportunity for career growth.

Invest in Education, Invest in your Career, and Invest in Yourself

College: As stated earlier, a college degree is essential. An associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree are both great first steps to career advancement. However, earning a master’s degree or a doctoral degree can be highly beneficial to your ability to achieve your career goals. All types of degree programs are available to fit people’s busy schedules, so there are no excuses for not enrolling in a program that will suit your needs. While degrees cost money, it may be possible to obtain a scholarship, or your current employer may help you pay for tuition costs and books. The prospect of student loan debt might seem overwhelming, but your salary potential is sure to increase after the degree is earned.

Certification: Usually, a certificate is earned by taking a specific number of classes from an accredited school, and it sometimes requires passing an exam. Earning a certificate in a certain subject area does not take as long as earning a degree, and it usually does not require the completion of any type of school entrance exam or application. Depending on the program, certificates can often be earned in just a few months. Certificates demonstrate to an employer that you are serious about your career and that you are knowledgeable. Higher-level and better-paying jobs are often given to those with certificates.

Communication: One of the most important skills for a person to have is the ability to communicate effectively. In fact, some of the most successful people in the business world are better at communicating and building professional relationships than they are at completing their actual job duties. The ability to communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, with those around you is a key to success.

Your Online Presence: Do you have a portfolio on your own personal website that demonstrates and displays your professional skills? Do you have an updated LinkedIn?  Many websites can be used to promote yourself. It is possible that the right person will view your website or your Internet profile at exactly the right moment – and you will be offered a job or an opportunity to advance your career. Turn yourself into a brand name, and arrange things so that others will want to find out more about you and your professional abilities.

Network: Professionals who enjoy their careers and want to achieve more advanced positions are those who take time to interact with others within the same company as well as outside the company. By talking with co-workers and managers, it may be possible to learn about job openings and available promotions.

Counselors and Mentors: Counselors and mentors do not necessarily have to be people that you pay for advice. Counselors and mentors can be people who you trust and who you believe are capable of giving good advice. Instead of keeping your aspirations and goals locked up inside, find a counselor or mentor who can help guide you and give you advice about your career plans.

Professional Associations: If you want to advance your career, it is a good idea to join at least one professional association. Joining such a group will give you access to lectures and classes related to your profession and will allow you to socialize and mingle with others in the same industry.  Professional organizations are great tools for learning the latest news and advancements in your professional field, and they will provide you with up-to-date knowledge that will assist you in your career.

Volunteer With a Non-Profit Organization: Many of today’s top professionals dedicate a some amount of time to one or more non-profit organization. They tend to select organizations that have a personal significance to them. Not only do they participate in helping with charitable events for these organizations, but also they aspire to sit on the organizations’ board of directors. A board of directors position is usually not paid, but it provides you with a great deal of professional exposure.

As you can see, there are many methods you can use to help advance your career. If you truly want to achieve professional greatness, earn a promotion, or obtain a raise, you must be motivated to push yourself and create an image that shows you are an indispensible employee.

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Written by Melanie Fischer, Career & Job Expert who has been writing professionally for over 10 years.