How Continuing Education Classes Work

Finding Continuing Education Classes

Continuing education classes can often be found on the Web.
Continuing education classes can often be found on the Web.
© Noel Hendrickson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The Web is a great place to find many things, including continuing education classes. Hundreds of accredited schools, trade organizations and businesses can be found on the Internet. These facilities provide opportunities for professionals. Some online-course providers are affiliated with brick-and-mortar schools, colleges or universities. Other educational organizations, such as the University of Phoenix, exist only in cyberspace. Still other Web-based continuing education sites are run by professional organizations such as the American Bar Association (ABA) or American Medical Association (AMA).

The ABA's Web site offers scores of Web-based continuing education classes for lawyers within areas such as antitrust and tax law, as well as criminal, health and family law. Clicking on the site's Family Law subhead brings up several classes, such as dividing military pensions among survivors or the tax implications of divorce. Each course costs anywhere from $80 to $120, and provides 1.5 hours of mandatory continuing education credit. The ABA's Web site offers many courses at no cost, some of which qualify for required continuing education credit.

Individual states certify schools and organizations, like the ABA, to provide courses that meet its mandatory continuing education requirements. In Illinois, for example, the state Supreme Court sets continuing education requirements for licensed professions and has established a board to oversee those requirements. Lawyers in Illinois are required to complete 20 credit hours of continuing education courses during their first two years in practice. The number of required credit hours increases over the next few years, eventually reaching 30 credit hours for the two-year reporting period.

After completing an online course through the ABA Web site, a student fills out a confirmation form and faxes it to the ABA Center for Continuing Legal Education. The center sends back a certificate of attendance. Attorneys are expected to track their own course attendance and then provide details to the licensing board.

Beyond the Internet, local community colleges and universities offer on- and off-site, traditional, classroom-based continuing education. These offerings are listed in course catalogs and on their Web sites.

Professional associations, such as the ABA and the AMA, also can direct professionals to traditional, classroom-based continuing education courses. In addition, certain government regulatory agencies such as the Federal Drug Administration, offer information on these courses.

For many professionals, however, online is the most convenient and affordable way to go.