You don't have to be a professional looking for continuing education to take advantage of the countless accredited classes offered through Web-based schools. If you're looking to start a new career and need to earn a certificate, or if you're interested in acquiring a new skill, chances are you can find a class on the Internet.
Finding continuing education options online isn't difficult. A report released this spring by Eduventures, a leading research and consulting firm for the education industry, found that 37 percent of the 163 institutions surveyed offered noncredit programs. Many of the surveyed institutions also plan to increase online generic credentials, particularly among noncredit and certificate courses.
And more people are taking courses online. A 2006 survey by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation looked at more than 2,200 colleges and universities and found almost 3.2 million students were taking at least one online course during the fall of 2005, a large increase over the 2.3 million who reported doing so the previous year.
Online continuing education offers a variety of options in the way such courses are offered and course topics. Some Web sites, such as eLearners.com, provide a directory of online courses at dozens of schools. You can also easily conduct a Web search by course, interest or school. These education options allow non-degree-seeking students, part-time students or the lifelong learner to enrich their lives without leaving home.
For instance, some careers, such as real estate broker, require certificates to pursue. A student might choose to study for a real estate broker's license by taking online continuing education classes such as real estate marketing, appraisal and real property law. Such courses of study, which can last one to three years, generally allow individuals to earn a certificate while preparing for a state licensure test.
Many colleges and universities also offer multiple courses aimed at teaching people to start their own business and market it on the Web. There are also classes in Web site design, graphics, digital photography, video and personal development. Or, classes are available in landscaping, arts and crafts, personal health and fitness, or other health-related areas.
There are many specialized continuing education options, as well. For example, emergency service workers can take the online course offered by federal and state government agencies. These agencies offer dozens of courses in areas such as hazardous materials response, scene command structure and rescue operations and awareness. Such courses often can be found on government sites, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or at fire and rescue training academies.
Those students who are already settled in a career can enhance their chances for advancement by examining their online continuing education options. Someone in the construction business, for example, might supplement their skills by taking a course in home inspection that prepares them to take a state licensure exam. An information technologist might be interested in courses that will certify them as system engineers or administrators on certain software platforms.
Whether beginning student or experienced professional, the options for continuing education are seemingly endless.
For more information about continuing education and related topics, check out the links on the next page.