When you’re on a budget, the idea of developing your professional education could be quite daunting. You work a full-time job already to cover your bills, and it’s likely that you don’t have the means of shelling out extra cash to cover your continued education. If that’s the case, you’re in luck. The age of technology has made it very easy for people just like you to continue their education on a budget and remotely. Here are a few ways that you can make professional development work while staying on a budget.
Non-salary perks could be very beneficial to the right employee and person who understands just how to use them. Professional development can bring a lot of value to the position that’s getting offered to you, and you owe it to yourself to inquire what learning programs your potential employers can provide you with.
Ask your employer what teaching they offer and what funds they have available to put towards the professional development that it takes to do your job. If they don’t have any, it’s important to negotiate it as a part of your hiring package. Making sure that you take a job at a company that offers growth is critical. However, it’s also equally important to explain to your employer why learning is so important to you, and how you believe it can help you do your job better.
Discuss the Idea with Current Employers
Even if you’re already employed, you can still ask what’s available to you. Consult with your boss or human resources department to find out what the business can do for your educational advancement. For example, many companies pay a percentage towards certificates or degrees as long as they fit your job description. If the company you work for has no packages or educational benefits, try talking to human resources and union representatives (if they are there) to find out how it can change, and what you can do to start the movement.
Seek Low-Cost Educational Opportunities
You might not realize it, but there are plenty of opportunities available online that have been designed for those on a budget and who have time restrictions. Affordable, and even free, classes are available through specific learning websites, and some of them could get geared towards your area of focus. Here are some low-cost options for you to look into.
- Khan Academy: Created in 2006, Khan Academy is a non-profit organization that specializes in learning. You can study at your own pace, and the academy offers a wide range of personalized education in math, computer science, history, science, and more. http://www.khanacademy.org
- EdX: Available to people all over the world, EdX is one of the largest online course providers available. You can access over 1600 free, university-level courses that get provided by top institutions including some Ivy League such as Harvard and MIT. http://www.edx.org
- Coursera: Founded in 2012, Coursera is a technology company that is venture-backed and education focused. The company has over 150 university partners, online certification, and courses ranging from data sciences to personal development. http://www.coursera.org
- Skillshare: This online learning community has over three million students and over 18,000 classes available online. It’s free to start, and courses stem from creative to technology, with everything in between. http://www.skillshare.com
- Alison: This private e-learning company was founded in 2007, and provides unlimited access to all of the courses that they have available, and for free. Once you’ve finished the course, you have the option of purchasing a certificate. http://www.alison.com
- Lynda: Lynda is a learning platform that provides video development in business, software, technology, and more. It is available for global access and is an American company. http://www.lynda.com
Save Money Throughout the Year
If none of the above options appeal to you or aren’t available for whichever reasons, your final choice is to save. Most times you would get surprised by the amount of money that you can put aside throughout the year for education if you’re determined enough to do it.
You don’t need to set aside a separate bank account and store enough money to pay for an entire degree. Many institutions offer courses that come with certificates, and you can pay course by course rather than the semester. It’s also beneficial because many educational institutions offer online courses, which makes it so you can keep your full-time job and continue working while you study and complete your course requirements in your downtime.
No matter which way you go about it, looking into education that develops the professional skills you already have doesn’t just look good on paper, but it makes you feel good, too. Additionally, it opens up doors that otherwise might not have opened for you. Your current and potential employers are going to be impressed by the initiative that you’ve taken to further your education in the area that you work in. In the future, it could lead to salary increases and even position promotions.