In a number of professions, there is a requirement to work on professional development or continuing education to maintain one’s license, certificate, or credentials. This may be requested by your employer or often it may be a requirement to maintain your license or certificate credentials. Some industries that require continuing coursework include but are not limited to: real estate, health care, RN, psychologists, coaching, criminal justice, construction, project management, and many more. These training requirements are often called CEUs (continuing education units), contact hours, or PDUs (professional development units).
Picture this, you have about two weeks left until your practice license expires. You start adding up your accumulated contact hours you have recently only to find that the certificate you got from the conference you attended earlier this year does not have a date on it. It may not be accepted. So now what do you do? In many cases, people will panic and quickly start looking desperately for whatever continuing education (CE) courses they can find to make up for the remaining contact hours. The lesson is that while obtaining CE is something that many people put off until the last minute, it’s something that you need to research early on for your own good.
So what exactly is CE and how do you get it? Here’s everything there is to know about the subject.
What Is CE?
In the late 1970s, CEUs were introduced by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training and the United States Department of Education. Each CEU equals 10 contact hours, but sometimes the units can be converted to other things like professional development hours, depending on your profession and workplace.
To earn these units, you need to sign up for a relevant CE course. CE is basically a term that encompasses all learning activities that are specifically tailored to professionals in various industries, allowing them to continue learning their trade and stay informed on the latest updates in their field. These classes are intensive and usually need to be taken annually or biannually (depending on the profession) for the license renewal. Guidelines will vary by your state as well as the specific requirements of your career.
Do you Need It?
Pretty much any job that requires a license or certification will also require you to complete one-time or ongoing CE.
To give you a better idea as to whether or not you need it, here are a few examples of professions in various fields that typically require CE.
? Law: Paralegals and attorneys
? Health Care: Acupuncturists, nurses, physicians, dentists, massage therapists, social workers, and professional counselors
? Beauty: Nail technicians, cosmetologists, and estheticians
? Business: Accountants and tax preparers, real estate
? Other Careers: Engineers, architects, project managers, and fire safety inspectors
How Do You Choose the Right CE Course?
CE is offered in many different forms, including online classes, day-long workshops, and multi-day seminars. However, most professionals prefer online CE courses as they allow you to complete your coursework on your own time and at your own pace, making them ideal for those with busy schedules. One thing you should be aware of, though, is that before you sign up for continuing education online, you need to be sure that the courses’ provider is verified to count toward requirements in your state. For instance, if you’re a real estate agent working in Orlando, your provider should be certified in the state of Florida. Otherwise, you may find out after taking the time to finish the entire course that it does not count and you need to start over with a new course. So, how do you go about choosing a CE course?
The right CE course, workshop, or conference for your particular case will depend on the outcome you are looking for and if there are specific developments in your field to learn about or new techniques to learn. It will also depend on the type of credit you need. You see, there are so many different types of certifications for all the different professions and you need to choose based on the mainstay of your career. If you’re unsure, ask your employer what they or the state specifically require.
What Are the Specific Requirements?
The specific requirements for each renewal period will depend on the state, licensing board, certifying agency, and professional association. Professional counselors in California, for instance, have to renew their licenses every 2 years. During that period, they're required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences to complete 36 hours of CE.
Besides the mandated hours, you should also be aware of the specific content requirements. To further expand on the previous example, 6 of the 36 CE hours that Californian counselors must earn in order to renew their licenses have to be in the field of law and ethics. Last but not least, you should keep in mind that in some situations, you may be required to attend the CE classes in person. Fortunately in most cases, you can get all your CEUs remotely through online courses.
So there you have it. This is pretty much everything there is to know about continuing education. Whether you’re a massage therapist, social worker, doctor, or lawyer, CE is a valuable tool that will help you keep up with the latest updates in your rapidly evolving field of work, allowing you to always stay on top of your game. That said, we highly recommend that you look for relevant courses, workshops, or any other type of CE offered by a certified provider, and sign up today. Beyond licensing requirements, most successful people are those with a lifelong thirst for knowledge. So pick a topic in your field that intrigues you, get ready to sharpen your skills, and have fun building your expertise.