How to choose a course to get ahead

If you’re keen to move up in your career, studying an extra qualification can open up new opportunities. But how do you work out which course to invest in? Which qualification is the one that will really help you get ahead?

Follow this checklist to ensure the course you choose will give you the right skills, impress employers, and boost your career prospects.

1. Get inside advice

First, speak to your manager and people in your professional network about the career pathways that are open to you. Then, get advice on qualifications from people in the know.

Anyone who is already working in a similar role is a great source for real-world insights. They can tell you which courses are highly regarded, and which ones truly teach you the skills for the job.

The best inside information can often come from the people who hire for these roles. If you can, get in touch with employers or recruiters and ask them which qualification will make you stand out from the crowd.

Bonus: These conversations are the perfect excuse to reach out and introduce yourself to people who work in the area you have your sights set on.

How to choose a course to get ahead

2. Size up the career outcomes

As you compare courses, look carefully for information on the career each one prepares you for. Does the course equip you for an entry-level position, or something more senior?

In some professions, you need a specific qualification to be eligible for industry accreditation. In accounting, for example, only certain courses will qualify you to register as a BAS Agent.

For each course, check:

  • The specified career outcomes
  • The course units (they can give you an indication of the depth of skills and knowledge you will gain)
  • The roles that real graduates of the course are typically working in

Tip: Find out about the job market and where the current skill shortages are. Training for a role that’s in demand can mean better job prospects and more opportunities to progress your career.

3. Go on reputation

Even though the qualification you want may be offered by multiple institutions, studying with a highly-regarded college or university will give you an edge.

Check out the reputations of the education providers you’re considering – which names will stand out the most on your CV?

Some employers look for job-ready graduates with practical skills, so they preference educators who have close links to the industry and offer real-life work placements.

4. Make sure it works for you

You need to be sure you will really absorb what is taught in your course so you can draw on the knowledge in interviews and apply the skills in the workplace.

Set yourself up for success by studying a course that suits the way you want to learn, and fits in with your lifestyle.

For instance, if you don’t want to cut back on your work hours, a self-paced online course that you can schedule around work may be the best fit.

Choose a course that suits:

  • How you prefer to learn (eg: in a classroom , via videos, on your phone)
  • How quickly you want to finish (eg: part-time, full-time, self-paced)
  • The kind of support you’re after (eg: resources you can access, teacher support available)

Whichever course you choose, the one that’s delivered in a way that works for you will give you the best chance to get ahead in your career.

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