Continuing Education: A Lifelong Pursuit That Pays
Benefits abound for workers pursuing continuing education in certain fields, such as healthcare, business and education, experts say. Teaching continuing education and nursing continuing education seem to be some of the most popular, along with continuing medical education. But the pursuit should be a lifelong occupation for everyone, no matter what their vocation.
By Kristina Cowan
If you want job security, try investing in 'employment insurance.'
That's the term Greg Schulz uses to describe continuing education. "Continuing education is almost like employment insurance...If something unexpected happens, you are insured and protected. It teaches you something new, but also serves as insurance in a fast-paced and changing world-the more skills you can develop, the better prepared you are to have a successful career," explains Schulz, dean of instruction and student services at California's North Orange County Community College District.
Schulz and others say continuing education pays off in fields such as healthcare, business and education, bringing new career opportunities and often bigger salaries. They point to continuing education as an unending pursuit for all workers, regardless of their occupation.
Master's Degree in Business Administration
Shawn Graham, associate director with the MBA Career Management Center at The University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School, says a master's in business administration is beneficial for workers looking to advance their business careers, or for career-changers. It's important, he notes, to have work experience before getting an MBA.
"Early in your career you have to excel in something-so being a specialist is important; that's finance or marketing or operations. But that shifts throughout the career, and that's why continuing education is important, because management and leadership become more important later in the career, and that's why the MBA program comes in play," Graham explains.
Jon Bender, managing partner with PrincetonOne, a New Jersey-based recruiting firm, says earnings of new MBA graduates may increase significantly when they change jobs.
Master's Degree in Education - Teaching Continuing Education
Master's degrees also benefit education professionals, experts say.
Julie Rains, a career expert and writer for Wise Bread, a personal-finance blog, says a master's degree in education can boost pay and support advancement beyond the classroom, to positions such as principal.
PayScale salary data shows the median salary for K-12 teachers with a master of arts in education is $44,995; for teachers with a bachelor of arts in education it's $35,860.
Nursing Continuing Education
Nursing continuing education also pays off, Rains says. For example, nurses with bachelor's degrees usually earn more and are more likely to become managers than those with less education.
Some nurses get associate's degrees and then work in a clinical setting while earning a bachelor's degree and higher, Rains explains, "which allows them to take on managerial accountabilities and earn higher pay at the same time that they are keeping their clinical skills current."
PayScale salary data shows registered nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing earn a median salary of $53,375; those with an associate of science in nursing make $50,562 a year.
Continuing Education - A Lifelong Endeavor for Everyone
Ultimately, experts agree, all workers should continue their education.
Bender says advanced education is especially helpful when changing jobs. "I can tell you story after story about seasoned professionals who never got their degrees and find themselves out of work, and they have a really hard time finding new employment. Their past employer didn't care [that they didn't have a degree], but it mattered going forward," he explains.
Bernadette Kenny, chief career officer at Adecco, a staffing company, says continuing education will become increasingly important.
"The message for any U.S. worker is that continued learning is a lifelong journey. ... I think it's going to become more true in terms of globalization, speed and expectation of employers," Kenny says.
Related Continuing Education Links:
Online Nursing Continuing Education
Online Teaching Nursing Continuing Education
Online Master's Degree in Business Administration
Kristina Cowan has over 10 years of journalism experience, specializing in education and workforce issues.