Continuing education programs allow people who have already achieved a college level degree to pursue additional education or advanced training. Many careers require an ongoing involvement with continuing education programs in order to keep up with new developments in the field. Since continuing education programs are built for students that are already professional, they are usually quite flexible and have a wide variety of options. Some of the different types of continuing education programs include online courses, certification programs, workshops, and self-guided studies.
There are continuing education courses available for many different subjects. Medical professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and dentists, may take seminars and workshops that train them in a new skill or new technique. Computer technicians or programmers may take classes that teach them a new programming language or the particulars of a new system. Health and fitness teachers, such as yoga or dance instructors, may take courses that last anywhere from hours to months to achieve certification in a new fitness specialty.
Some continuing education courses are geared toward certification. These are usually offered by accredited institutions and may help students qualify for jobs that require a certain level of experience. Certification programs usually last several months or even more than a year, and provide a very thorough background in the area of study. Many jobs that require certification will also require periodic renewal of a license or certificate, so it is also possible to find courses geared toward re-certification. Certification courses often conclude with a test that proves theoretical or practical skills, which must be passed in order to successfully complete the program.
Online continuing education programs are handy for those who need an extremely flexible school schedule. Many online courses have the benefit of being accessed at the student's leisure, which can be greatly beneficial to professionals with jobs or family responsibilities. These courses may be taken as part of a certification program or to simply increase knowledge in a particular area of study. Some of the subjects offered as online continuing education courses include how to teach certain math and science, higher education administration, music history and theory, and topics in civil engineering.
Self-guided study courses are offered by online and distance learning programs, but rely even more on the student's own initiative. These programs typically provide a student with all the materials needed to complete a course, such as lectures, books, and articles, but allow the student to complete the work on his or her own time and pace. In addition to study materials, self-guided courses usually provide a final test that will prove competence in the subject when passed.