A professional qualification is often considered a commitment: a commitment to your career and the development of your professional capabilities. In an environment that changes continually, it’s imperative to have the right toolkit to perform your duties confidently and competently. As a result of this ever-changing environment qualifications become an essential part of your career trajectory.
Finding the right course requires careful research, as it is an undertaking that is a significant commitment to your career, and you will undoubtedly want to make sure that you are assessing all of your available options.
In the midst of your research, ask yourself these critical questions:
- what is the quality of the course?
- is the subject matter both practical and theoretical to help me in my role?
- are previous students happy with their decision to undertake this qualification?
- are the teaching staff subject-matter experts?
- does this course fit in with my work-life balance?
It’s worth bearing in mind that the experience of learning as an adult is different to that of your previous educational experience – the balance of life, work and family commitments can present even the most dedicated of learners with challenges. The results, however, are significant and the investment in your future, indispensable.
1. Talk to previous students
Previous students are the perfect resource when it comes to finding out more about courses and providers. Their unbiased reviews can help you make the right decision for your career. Remember to ask the key questions such as overall academic experience, how the course improved their career, how organised the course is and the overall teaching quality. All of these things are imperative to your overall learning experience.
2. Have a look at what professional bodies are in your field of study
Irrespective of the industry, being a part of a community of likeminded professionals is motivational when it comes studying. A professional association is usually an organisation seeking to further a particular profession, and as such, you’ll be able to network with likeminded professionals. Professional bodies often have access to qualifications, journals and CPD resources, which enables you to find the right course.
3. Ask yourself this: where do you see your career going?
Research what you want, where you want to go and how you want to get there. If there is an obvious career trajectory within your organisation, or within your career, a professional qualification could take it to the next level. Conversely, you may feel that your current career is not the one for you, or there may be no obvious progression path. A professional course can help you make a career change as a verifiable commitment to your new profession. Beginning a new career is a bold step, but a professional qualification demonstrates your commitment to learning and your new career choice.
4. Speak to your line manager or HR department
Often overlooked, your HR department will undoubtedly have access to numerous courses within your field; they will be able to find you reputable training providers and the right course that aligns with your role.
5. Once you’ve found your course, research your prospective tutors
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good teacher. Finding out more about the faculty is research 101; search online and see where they have been cited. They may host webinars, write blogs and journals or contribute to trade magazines. These activities pitch tutors as subject-matter experts, which means that your educational experience will be enhanced.
6. Dig around online for any other information you can find
A quick Google search will tell you all you need to know about a company. Authoritative sites such as Trustpilot, for example, will give you unbiased, real-life reviews of your preferred training provider. This should give you a flavour of what to expect.
7. Attend an open day
As a professional, and a prospective student, attending open days helps you make well-informed decisions about your education. Speak to tutors, previous students, recruitment consultants and get involved in talks, seminars and workshops. Well, you can tick this one off the list since you're here!