The best professional development schools are ones that offer a range of programs and courses that enhance learning, increase marketable skills, encourage professional growth, and are convenient to complete. Professional development schools provide programs specifically tailored to a certain profession or skilled trade. Most professions have organizations or associations which people join to make important connections and stay current in their field.
As a member of a profession, most people are required to complete a certain number of continuing educational credits each year to maintain their certification. The purposes of this requirement are to ensure everyone is keeping their skills current, that they are up to date on the latest best practices, and to provide an opportunity for networking. These associations often have a list of acceptable professional development schools and may even have a list of courses or seminars accepted for professional credit.
Look for schools that offer different course delivery methods. For example, some subject matter is better covered in a weekend crash course, instead of two to three months of weekly classes. Online courses are a great way to obtain the required credits with greater flexibility. See if the courses are offered on multiple dates or if there are alternative locations closer to home or work.
Check for professional development schools that offer partnerships or joint programs with a related field or discipline. For example, a program for lawyers may be about mediation and community-based justice programs. Other options include cross-discipline joint programs, such as nursing and information technology. These programs provide opportunities to learn unique skills that increase your marketability.
Seminars and conferences are often organized by professional development schools as a way to encourage networking, student interaction, and learning. Many people become very narrowly focused in their area of expertise. The opportunity to talk with people from other institutions facing the same challenges or working in the same field may broaden your horizons.
Look for a school that is closely associated with your professional association. Check that all the courses offered at the school will be accepted by the association for continuing education credits. This will ensure that you are not wasting your time and money on courses that will not meet the educational requirements. Read the course descriptions carefully and make sure the subject matter is relevant to your field and that you have the prerequisites, if any.