Today’s job market is a highly competitive one, and anything that you can do to give your future job prospects a boost will be of great assistance in building a successful career. One of the things that holds many professional people back in career advancement is when their skills become stale and out of date – and this is especially true in the fast paced world of Information Technology.
Staying up to date with all the latest developments will go a long way towards keeping your skill-set valuable to employers, and training is probably the most efficient way of doing this – but how can you fit the needs of education around the demands of a busy, full time job? If your employer offers on-the-job training and development as part of your employment package then all to the good, but in today’s commercial world of tight budgets, this is rarer than it should be. For many people, then, the answer to this problem is self-instigated distance learning.
What Is Distance Learning, and How Can It Help?
Distance learning is the more modern term given to a ‘correspondence course’, or what was widely if very loosely known as the Open University. With distance learning, there is no need to attend regular lectures: learning is done in your own time and place using guided study plans and so on to structure your course. Expert help and support will be available from lecturers, just as in a normal course, although this will usually be done by telephone, or more likely these days, online. For the most part, it is only for any final exams or intermediate progress checks that you will need to attend the college where the course is based.
Distance learning is perfect for the busy professional, or the stay-at-home parent for that matter, as it offers a way to keep existing skills fresh and develop new ones without impacting on current responsibilities. Studies can be fitted in outside of work hours, or whenever you have free time, and so long as the coursework has been completed before examination then you can work to your own timetable and at your own pace.
Distance Learning Applied to IT
Although a background in any part of IT gives you transferable skills which will be useful in any technology job, the pace of change is so great that it pays to constantly refresh your knowledge if you want to keep your career moving forward. There are a large variety of courses available, covering all aspects of IT.
Sometimes a shorter course will be enough to meet your needs, maybe one focussing on the latest developments in a well established niche. An example of this would be taking a refresher course in using and supporting common office software, or in applying the latest developments in networking protocols and hardware. This kind of course would be ideal for those with existing qualifications who want to stay on the ball, and to have the qualifications to prove it.
More drastically, a longer course in a new area of IT could push your career in a totally new direction. A great example of this is ‘The Cloud’ – this is an area of computing that has come from seemingly nowhere to almost dominate many areas of software development within only a short time. If your IT qualifications are several years old, it’s likely that you will have no formal education in cloud computing techniques and issues. Taking a distance learning course in this area will not only give you valuable and practical new knowledge, it will also show prospective employers that you are self-starting and able to adapt to a fast-changing environment.
If you already have a job in IT but are looking to push your career forward, or in a new direction completely, then distance learning gives you the flexibility to increase your knowledge, skills, and value to employers without disrupting your current position.