Education has been proven many times over to be the absolute best means to grow your career and increase your earnings. To use education effectively, you should pursue learning opportunities in your current field or select a new field that suits your interest and skills. The more you learn in a particular industry, the more advanced your skill level will be and the more valuable you will be to a particular employer – or you might learn enough to employ yourself.
The Benefits of Education
The costs of education are almost always far outweighed by the benefits. Knowledge alone is priceless, but to put a price tag on a degree or certificate the latest figures show an individual with just a high school diploma earns an average of $30,940 per year. Six months to a year of higher education increases that salary to $35,048. An associate degree earns an average of $37,492 and a bachelor’s degree is another big step up at $50,024.
If you were to complete a bachelor’s degree while working in a skilled job of some kind, you would stand to increase your earnings by over $12,000 a year. Should you go on to pursue a master’s degree, you can expect to see your earnings jump even higher to $59,280. There is definitely value in a single certificate or training class, but the impact on the bottom line by a full degree is even more impressive.
To use education effectively, you must first assess your long-term career goals. If you’re hoping to start anew in a totally different industry, your educational program will be far different than the associate looking to move up to a management position within a corporation. Once you have your goals in mind, you can begin to sort through the many programs and alternatives to find the best educational solutions for you.
Decide on a Program
The next step in planning your next step career-wise is to determine the amount of education you’re pursuing at this time. Educational programs range from intense MBA or legal programs to night classes to obtain the latest Microsoft or Cisco certification. Are you planning a full degree or just a few new skills to add to your portfolio?
Your next step is to begin researching the programs in your area or online that offer the kinds of program you’re interested in. If you’re hoping to begin an entirely new industry in a new area, you can even expand your search to colleges and universities outside of your current geographic area. Most often, however, you’ll be continuing your current work assignment while working on your new educational initiatives and will require a close or online campus.
Plan Around Your Time Constraints
Unless you are one of the lucky few who are able to go back to school full-time, you’ll be working around existing time constraints in the form of family and work. Be honest with yourself as to how much time you can dedicate to your educational program and examine possibilities of reducing your workload, changing to a less intense area of your company or restructuring your childcare responsibilities to free up time for yourself.
Remember that attending classes will not be the only demand on your time by going back to school. You’ll also have to allot hours of time for homework, study, group projects and research. In addition to finding the time, you’ll also need to find a quiet area in which to store your school materials and dedicate time to your studies.
School has tremendous benefits, but it comes with certain costs. When planning to go back to school, start first with any programs your current employer might have to fund higher education. A surprising number of companies are willing to pay for your degree as long as you commit yourself to working with the company for some period of time. Others make no demands, but still pay for your schooling.
If you’re not in such a lucky position, look into the many government loans and grants that might be available to you. If you have special status such as a veteran or member of certain organizations, other entitlements and scholarships might help foot the bill of your schooling. If nothing else, borrow the money or pay out of pocket remembering that the costs of education will be repaid many times over.