Most people already know that continuing education is one of the best and most rewarding ways to excel at work and advance your career. But beyond these professional reasons, there are a number of additional benefits to furthering education while on the job. 

Learning new skills broadens your perspective, adds to your knowledge of the world around you, and can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Studying subjects you find engaging can make your life more enjoyable and rewarding. Often, you meet new people who share your interests, and expose yourself to new ideas that can improve the quality of your life. 
And the simple fact is, anytime you further your education, you’re making yourself a more knowledgeable person—and maybe just a little bit wiser, too.
Still, for most people in the workforce, probably the number-one importance of continuing education is the most obvious: to make more money and move ahead in their careers.  

What is continuing education? 

Simply put, continuing education is considered any kind of post-secondary learning or training program that happens after traditional schooling. Continuing professional education can include online courses, in-person classes, workshops and seminars, technical or professional certifications, or full-scale degree programs. Generally, any kind of formal learning can be considered continuing education.

Why is continuing education important?

While workforce development adds to your suite of skills and arsenal of knowledge, it’s just the beginning of what continuing professional education courses can do for you

Make more money

While incomes vary by profession, geographic location, experience on the job, and other factors, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has shown that, by and large, “the more you learn, the more you earn.” Acquiring new skills, industry knowledge, degrees and certifications often results in a pay raise or a higher starting salary at a new job. 

Move up in your organization

Continuing education increases your chances of getting promoted because it expands your knowledge, adds to your skill set, prepares you to take on new responsibilities, and qualifies you for advanced work. Employers notice when their employees are committed to improving themselves, and they like to encourage them with promotions when they’ve earned them.

For personal reasons
As mentioned earlier, continuing education not only moves you ahead in your career, it helps you grow as a person. It makes you more knowledgeable, more aware of the world around you, and more open to the possibilities for personal development. Besides, learning new skills such as playing a musical instrument, speaking a second language, or taking up woodworking can be just plain fun.
Make yourself more marketable
Continuing education adds to your resume and expands your repertoire. And it can make you more competitive when seeking an open position. The more you know how to do, the more you can be hired to do. If you’re just one of several qualified candidates seeking a job, that extra skill set or area of knowledge just might give you the edge. 
Careers where continuing education is necessary

Many careers and employers expect their employees to acquire professional development and ongoing training to keep their skills up to date and their industry knowledge current. Lawyers, teachers, and accountants are some of the top professions that need continuing education.

They can get it in different ways. Many employers offer continuing education programs for employees to help them in their career progression. In some professions, certifications in specific areas of knowledge are available for career advancement. Often, employers ask employees to attend yearly classes, annual conferences, or occasional talks and lectures given by industry experts to help them stay abreast of new developments in their fields. And of course, several occupations require advanced degrees, whether at the master’s or doctoral level, to practice their professions or pursue new opportunities. 

How do you find continuing education courses?

You can discover a wide range of courses online, including comprehensive and affordable career skills education programs that cover professional topics of every kind, delivered on your time schedule, which you can study at your own pace. Oftentimes, employers will help pay the costs of furthering education, or offer continuing professional education opportunities through work. Contact your human resources department to see what may be available at your place of employment.

Your next steps

Explore ways to keep learning and expanding your skills. Whether it's technical skills from data analytics to artificial intelligence, or soft skills like communication or strategic thinking, ASU CareerCatalyst has courses and certificates to prepare you for the future of work.