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Explore Education & Training

Many Training Paths Develop Skills and Knowledge

Are you wondering how best to pursue your education or retraining? There may be more than one way to gain the skills and knowledge you need to make your career move.

It’s true that to qualify for some types of work you must complete specific learning requirements, such as a certificate or degree. Even so, there may be several possible education or training routes open to you. They will depend on your career goals and your current skills, knowledge, and circumstances.

Anika’s career goal is to provide bedside care for patients in a hospital setting. She could take many paths. She could:

  • Complete a health-care aide certificate at a local college and go to work
  • Complete a bridging program for health-care aides, then qualify as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
  • Complete an LPN program at a college, and go to work
  • Complete a post-LPN bridging program at a university and pursue a nursing degree
  • Begin a university transfer program at a local college and transfer to a university bachelor of nursing (BN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BScN) degree program in her second or third year
  • Go directly to university and complete a BN or BScN degree program
  • Work full or part time while completing some health-care aide, LPN, BN, and BScN requirements by distance education

Your training path

Your route to your career goal will probably be different from the example above, but you may also have a few options to consider. It’s a good idea to evaluate each possibility by answering these questions:

  • What skills and knowledge does this option provide?
  • What credential does it offer?
  • What credential, if any, do you need to work in this field? Check out certifications in Alberta, and explore the Certification Requirements section for the occupations you’re interested in.
  • What reputation or credibility does this option have among the employers you might want to work for?
  • How relevant is this option for your career goal?
  • What kinds of further learning or training can this option lead to?
  • How well does this option fit with your personal situation?

Inventory your current skills

Before you think about going to school to train or retrain, take a good look at the skills you already have. You can divide them into 2 groups:

Identifying your skills is really about knowing and appreciating yourself. So it’s little wonder that when you devote time to acknowledging your gifts and talents, you develop a stronger sense of who you are, what you can contribute, and what you need to learn to grow—and that feels good!

Transferable or core skills are just that: they move with you from one job to another. Think about things like organization, problem solving, and flexibility.

But even technical skills can be transferrable. For example, an English teacher who understands good writing can transfer into a career as an editor.

Many people find that their original education and training have little to do with their current occupation. The work you end up doing often has more to do with your lifestyle choices, valued skills, and available opportunities than it does with, for example, your forestry degree or carpenter’s ticket.

That degree or ticket may link directly to your first or even your second job. But beyond that, people often discover that the skills they develop and most enjoy using take them in new directions. With their carpentry or forestry background, for example, they may continue to work in the same field. But they may move into administration, management, sales, public relations, or training.

If you’ve looked at your skills and still think you need more training, any of the following options—or several of them in combination—could be a good route for you.

Become an apprentice

Apprenticeship is a training opportunity that involves paid employment under the supervision of a qualified journeyperson and several weeks of classroom training each year. The length and terms of apprenticeship vary from one trade to another. Find out more about apprenticeship.

Train on the job

Many employers, such as police departments or oil and gas companies, offer on-the-job training for new employees. Some employers also offer training programs to help current employees upgrade their work-related skills or learn new ones. Employers may offer the training in-house or contract a third party, such as a professional association or an educational institution.

For information about on-the-job training possibilities, ask a career advisor, talk to employers, or contact industry associations, unions, or professional associations related to the type of training you want.

Learn at a distance

Distance learning lets you study at your own pace, in your own place, outside of the classroom. Learning material is delivered in a variety of formats, including online, print, video, and teleconferencing. Programs range from high school upgrading to graduate degrees.

Distance learning gives you flexibility, including many part-time options, but it also requires a lot of self-discipline.

Before you enrol in a distance education program, check with other educational institutions and employers to make sure they recognize and respect the credentials you would earn.

Study part time

Part-time study allows you to take 1 or 2 courses at the same time as you continue to work, care for children, or pursue other activities. Completing your studies on a part-time basis takes longer, but many people find it easier to manage than a full-time commitment. Part-time distance learning offers a lot of flexibility. Explore some part-time options in the Post-Secondary Programs section of OCCinfo.

Study full time

Going to school full time has many advantages:

  • You can complete your studies in a shorter time frame.
  • You can focus on your studies and might achieve better marks as a result.
  • If you are on campus, you’re more likely to get support and encouragement from instructors and other students.
  • You have a regular schedule of classes and assignments, so it’s easier to stay motivated.

Attending classes full time requires time and financial resources. For information about scholarships, bursaries, grants, and awards as well as student loan programs, visit Paying for Post-Secondary School.

Study on your own

If you know the skills and knowledge you need and you don’t require a specific credential to find work, you can create your own program of study. A wealth of information is available online, in bookstores, and in public libraries. To be successful at this learning option, you need very clearly defined goals and more determination and self-discipline than for any other option.

Find your learning path

Learning is an investment that usually pays for itself in increased earnings. Just as importantly, learning helps you stay motivated and makes your working life more satisfying. With more choices and flexibility than ever before in how, when, and where to get the skills and knowledge you need, it’s a great time to choose a learning path and move forward in your career.

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