Continuing education (CE) courses are critical in several professions. One reason is they offer workers in careers like nursing or accounting an opportunity to learn new procedures or regulations. Another reason these individuals take CE courses is to re-certify the knowledge they have already required so they can maintain their license or certification.
When you’re ready to obtain this knowledge, here are three important things to know before choosing a CE course.
They offer different opportunities
Before you dig in, know the differences between continuing education programs.
- Work experience programs, which comprises 18 percent of attendees in CE courses. These can be part of vocational training or an experience outside the classroom. For example, an internship, residency, or apprenticeship.
- CEs for licenses award occupational credits from government agencies or accreditation boards for a specific job.
- Certification is granted through a professional association via an examination process. It guarantees that you have acquired the designated knowledge and skills to perform a specific task.
Not all CE providers are certified
Let’s say you’re a tax professional, and you need to earn continuing education units (CEUs) to renew your license. In this situation you may not be able to attend a retreat or a class that provides these CEUs unless it’s on an approved list. In this example, the IRS would provide a listing of approved organizations.
In another example, computer engineers won’t be able to achieve a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) recognition unless it comes from the company itself or one of its authorized organizations. Therefore, review the CE qualifications prior to signing up for anything.
CE credits can expire
CEUs are not like standard college credits. In many professions these units expire after a period of months or years. For example, CEs for insurance agents in some states last 24 months after completion. In other words, licensed and accredited professionals are in a continual cycle of renewal.
Avoid waiting until the last minute
If you work in an industry with term limits on CE credits, then you don’t want to wait until the last minute to obtain new ones. What you need to do is determine the expiration date and the amount of CEUs needed for renewal.
Each CEU is equal to 10 hours of participation in an accredited program. Some professions require just this amount for renewal. Others, like those for nursing, ask for 20 or more CEUs of appropriate training. In addition, they may ask for additional hours during certain renewal periods.
In the end, continuing education is not voluntary for licensed and accredited professionals. Without the necessary CEUs your career can be placed on hold until they’re completed. So, take advantage of available CEs now to move forward in your career.