Continuing Education – It’s Not Just For Employees

If you’ve ever worked in the corporate world, then you probably already know that corporate employees sometimes get perks that freelancers don’t.

One of those perks is continuing education.

While many corporate employees receive continuing education as a matter of course, many freelancers choose to “economize” by not getting additional training. I believe that continuing education is something freelancers should include in their annual budget.

Don’t be fooled! Corporations provide for continuing education for their employees because it makes good business sense. In return for paying for classes or other training, the company gets more efficient, more knowledgeable workers.

Continuing education makes good business sense for freelancers too. What you learn through continuing education may even allow your business to market additional services or products.

How To Make Education Part Of Your Plan

When you create your business budget be sure to include a projected dollar amount for continuing education. If you set aside a small amount of money for training each month, then you are much more likely to remember to include continuing education in your goals and plans.

Remember that if you select training that is relevant and useful you’ll most likely be able to recoup your investment quickly. So, don’t hesitate to make continuing education a part of your plans.

The good news is that there are more learning options than ever before for freelancers and others wanting to increase their knowledge and skills. Training options can be divided into traditional and non-traditional learning options.

A Look At Traditional Continuing Education Options

There are still many traditional continuing education options (in a physical classroom environment) for freelancers. An advantage to pursuing traditional education is that it may lead to networking opportunities with other students.

Traditional continuing education options include:

  • Colleges and universities — Most colleges and universities offer courses to part-time students or members of the business community. If you are thinking of pursuing a degree, your continuing education work may also count towards that goal.
  • Seminars and courses available through training companies — These courses may be offered at the training company’s location, at a hotel or conference room, or even in the conference room of a large corporation. Training companies typically provide material in a compressed fashion – you may need to go every day for a week or the course may take an entire weekend.
  • Courses available through professional organizations — Many professional organizations also offer courses and certifications to their members.

You should review both traditional and non-traditional opportunities carefully to make sure that they are legitimate and relevant to your work. Look for testimonials from previous students as well as a description of what each course offers.

A Look At Non-Traditional Continuing Education Options

There are also a whole host of non-traditional education options available to freelancers. In fact, there may be more non-traditional training opportunities available now than at any previous time in history.

Here are some non-traditional training avenues to consider:

  • Online courses — Many colleges and other organizations offer online courses that you can take at your convenience. These may also count towards a degree program.
  • E-books — There’s a reason that we promote books and e-books such as The Unlimited Freelancer here at Freelance Folder. It’s because we know that continued learning is important and that such books can teach skills that freelancers might not otherwise learn.
  • Webinars — Many individuals use audio and visual web conferencing tools to host a course or a series of courses. These are typically scheduled for a specific date and time. You may need to download specific tools, or these may be available through a special student log-in.
  • CD-based training — Another self-paced training opportunity is CD-based training. This training can be operated on your own computers and revisited as often as necessary.

Whether you choose traditional or non-traditional continuing education, it is important to stay current in your field. Read blogs, news stories, and other publications. Network actively with others in your field. Share ideas.

Let’s Talk About Continuing Education

Do you make continuing education a part of your freelance business plan?

What types of training have you found most helpful? Do you have any that you’d specifically recommend?