Earning Your Certification – Learning On A Budget

It’s back to school time! And, not just for the kids, but also for adults. Continuing education & certifications are one way adults can add to their skill set for better career opportunities. Of course, as with everything else, continuing education opportunities comes with a price tag. From my experiences, the price tag can be financially prohibitive to those on a budget. In my attempt to add to my skill set through a professional certification, I sought out resources to make my experience more affordable. Continuing education and certification resources are available to those on a budget.

Study groups can help you learn materials needed for your certification. Although some class work may be needed to qualify for the formal education requirement of a certification, study groups may be available in your area to help you prepare for a certification exam. One way to cut costs for certifications is to substitute study group sessions for a class offered at a local college, as long as you are still able to fulfill the education requirement. The benefit is a lower cost, however be advised that the study group structure may take more time to get through the material, and be less formal than a classroom setting. Study groups may also provide additional sessions beyond what is scheduled if there is a need by the students to review materials prior to taking an exam.

Research employer tuition reimbursement opportunities for your continuing education credits or certification. Many employers today offer tuition reimbursement if your course work can help improve your positional skill set. This can help defer the overall out-of-pocket expense. Make sure to review your employer’s tuition reimbursement policy to make sure you qualify, as well as how reimbursement is processed. Do you have to pay for the course upfront? Do you need to earn a specific grade in order to be reimbursed? Will your company reimburse for your certification? If these or other questions come to mind, it is important to contact your benefits representative.

Locating used books for your coursework can also help lower the costs of the certification process. Check online resources first before paying the big bucks for your book. You can often find used versions of the books needed. Another option is to check with those around you who are already certified or have completed their continuing education. Or, maybe the library has the book needed for your course. Be careful to take the book back to the library before the due date – having to pay a fine would defeat the purpose of borrowing it! In any case, make sure to research different options to find the materials needed. You may find the materials at a cost you can live with.

Once you complete your certification or continuing education, be on the lookout for free updates or classes. Some certifications have free webinars to help you keep up with the metric used to keep your certification current. There are plenty of paid courses available, as it’s a source of revenue for the certification business, but there are ways to find free classes & webinars by signing up for education provider newsletters. Although the quality and length of class or webinar may vary by provider, seeking out free courses is a way to keep the overall cost of maintaining your certification affordable.

The cost of obtaining & maintaining a certification is always something to consider when reviewing your options to enhance your skills for the workplace. To make your professional education goals cost efficient, be sure to review your options before diving in. Also, check the registration deadlines, in case you need to withdraw due to unforeseen circumstances. By checking websites, reviewing your employer’s benefits policies, and asking colleagues for assistance, you may be able to drastically reduce the costs of pursuing a professional certification.

Image credit: verussolutions