Remaining complacent in your job won’t do your career any good these days. That’s because employers are looking for their employees to work more efficiently and expediently, while also being meticulous about details. On top of that, these bosses want their employees to have advanced skills, which would ultimately increase the company’s bottom line and your earnings. With competitiveness a major force in the job market, it behooves you to seek solutions that will make you more marketable and desirable. Often, this warrants a return to the classroom, be it online or in a brick-and-mortar environment.

TNJ took a look at current trends in continuing education in several industries. What we found should be a guide for coursework you might pursue, particularly if your field is specifically mentioned in our findings.

Nursing

With growing pressure to cater to residents of underserved urban and rural communities, to obtain the necessary skills to handle the medical needs of acute and critically ill patients and to regularly renew state board certifications, registered nurses are finding it increasingly important to seek continuing education. Many R.N.’s are especially going for new certifications, such as Critical Care Nursing and Certified Emergency Nurse. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses recognizes that there is a huge shortage of R.N.’s with the specialty knowledge that these certifications provide, and therefore understands that by encouraging nurses to obtain them it will assist in deflecting a potential health crisis. Additionally, R.N.’s are heading back to class to become nurse practitioners, for which they receive advanced training in diagnosing and treating illness.

Because R.N.’s are essential to hospitals and clinics and need to be in-house to perform their duties, enrolling in online courses is ideal for them. Several institutions are making it easier to continue a nursing education. They include such New York–tristate-area schools as Syracuse University College of Nursing and Stony Brook School of Nursing, State University of New York; online universities such as the University of Phoenix Online, Kaplan College and Drexel eLearning; eLearning portals; and companies like FLC Nursing and eMedicine. CEU4U.com, for example, offers such heavily sought after courses as Chronic Renal Insufficiency; Suicide: Identifica-tion of Risk and Prevention; Taming the Diabetes Monster: Diabetes Care, Treat-ment, and Management; and Methadone: Renewed Interest for Pain Management. Continuing Education. com offers courses such as Home-Based Cardiac Care, Neonatal Thermoregulation and Bioterror- ism Agents.

According to the 2004 Hot Pro- grams and Homeland Security Survey conducted by the American Association of Community Colleges, registered nursing was the hottest program for credit and not-for-credit combined at community colleges across the country. The average starting salary of an R.N. at the time the survey was taken
was $38,418.

Banking, Finance, and Securities 

Knowing how to handle money isn’t the only concern among accountants, bank executives and stock traders these days. Having current knowledge of the changes in laws and practices rests heavily on their minds. In order to keep themselves abreast of what’s new and to keep themselves up on their game, more money professionals are continuing their education beyond their four-year degrees. They are seeking out online courses, especially since most of them are in daytime positions. They are turning to courses such as Regulatory Compliance, Trusts and Investments, and Management and Leadership, which are offered by the American Bankers Association.

Through Banker$Ed.com, a subsidiary of LegalSpan Inc., and in association with the Business Professionals Network, professionals are gravitating toward coursework in bankruptcy, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., frontline training and real estate. Also on the eLearning front, these professionals are expanding their knowledge of money through MicroMash.com with courses such as Corporate Tax Update and Not-For-Profit Accounting.

Social Work

Social work professionals do more than meet with clients, evaluate them and then write up progress reports. They are also eager to keep on top of the constantly unfolding findings in their field of work. Since many of them are engaged in daily fieldwork, like their money counterparts they are turning to eLearning. Courses that warrant their interest include Ethical Dilemmas in Medicine, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Coronary Heart Disease in Women, Coexist-ing Mood Disorders, Sex Offenders: Typology Assessment and Treatment, and The Hostile/ Threatening Employee–all offered on CEU4U.com. Social workers are registering for Treatment for Survivors of Rape: Issues and Intervent-ions, How to Build and Market Your Health Practice and Understanding and Treat-ing Family Care-givers through Professional CEU.com. And through the Rhode Island College School of Social Work, they are signing up for workshops such as Suicide Evaluation, Trauma and Disorder and Cross-Cultural Practice.

Law 

Lawyers–whether on the civil, criminal, sports, or entertainment side–must always keep up with changing laws, groundbreaking cases and reverse decisions. A return to the classroom is a smart move. The current information they obtain not only will affect their practice or the firm they work for, but also assist the clients and companies they represent. Through 2Endselearn ing.com, lawyers are taking up courses such as Internet Libel: How to Deal With the Practical Side, Director’s Duties and Money Laundering. At CEU4U.com, Forensic Interviewing and Basic Search Warrant Writing and Raid Planning lead the courses for which lawyers are registering. Through the American Law Institute and the American Bar Association, lawyers are taking courses in Negotiation Stages and Techniques.

The need for lawyers to be knowledgeable about corporate and consumer issues has led them to enroll in such courses as Corporate Counsel Wrongful Discharge Claims: Ethics, Policy, and Practice; Confidentiality and Privileges in Electronic Communication; and Consumer Bankruptcy Law: Nuts and Bolts for the Non-Specialist–all offered by CLEonline.com.

Many lawyers are even going the self-study route and taking courses via CenterForContinuingEd.com, which offers such courses as Sports Law Fundamentals, Parts 1 and 2 (covering contracts, agents, financial considerations and labor law), and Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession.

In an environment of changing expectations, the formula for survival is simple: continuing education, increased skills set, increased value as a must-keep employee, being in a position to request a raise. If you want to keep ahead of the game and maintain your marketability–which probably landed you your current job–continuing education is the way to go. But don’t register for just any course. Research the labor market, evaluate what’s hot and sought after, and then get on the learning train.