Continuing education refers to any type of post-secondary education, used to either obtain additional certifications, or as credits required to maintain a license. Almost anybody can take continuing education courses for personal or professional enrichment; fitness trainers, nurses, and safety instructors are examples of professionals who fall into the second category. This type of education is aimed exclusively to adults who already possess a college or university degree.
People take continuing education in the form of workshops, seminars, home-study or online courses, conferences, and hands-on training. There is no specific format or length for this type of program: some may take a weekend, while others can span weeks or even months. In the case of education for personal advancement only, students usually don't receive college credits, as the courses are not considered part of the standard educational system. A common characteristic to all continuing education programs is a registration process. Attending a conference or cultural event that is open to the general public does not give attendants any type of education credits, and cannot be considered formal training.
Mandatory continuing education is common in certain careers, such as dental and health professions. By law, certain individuals are required to keep up with modern developments, thus guaranteeing the best possible course of treatment for patients. Because of the highly competitive market, professionals who do not need require extra training often decide to undertake it anyway as a means of improving their resume and their chances for advancement. Critics of these type of programs argue that obtaining credit is becoming easier and easier, which means many professionals are attending workshops but not necessarily absorbing new information from them.
Some companies also pay for their employees to take ongoing education courses. These include both standard and on-site programs. While the first choice takes away from the free time of the worker, the second one allows employees to earn credits during work hours. People interested in enrolling on a continuing education program should first contact their university to see if special programs are available to graduates. Besides being a more convenient way to get started, a potential student can guarantee that the topics covered are in tune with their careers and interests.