Most licensing bodies require professionals to obtain a certain number of continuing education credits each year in order to keep their licenses—and rightly so. Taking continuing education courses keeps people aware of new developments and schools of thought in their professions.
Finding continuing education courses, however, can sometimes be a hassle. There are companies, such as PESI that make it their sole business to provide continuing education workshops around the country. The workshops usually last a day or two and cost upwards of a hundred dollars.
Most universities, junior colleges and trade schools also regularly provide continuing education programs, often at considerably lower cost than private companies. The only disadvantage is that schools tend to offer the same continuing education programs year after year, so once you’ve taken the classes the school has to offer, you may need to look elsewhere for different topics.
Sometimes local businesses will offer brief (one to two hour) continuing education workshops at no charge. A hospice, for instance, might offer local nurses a seminar on pain management. This is good publicity for the business, and an excellent way for harried professionals to learn about local resources while collecting continuing education units.
There is also a wealth of companies, such as CEU4U that provides online continuing education programs. You read an article about the topic of your choice, pass a quiz, and you are emailed a certificate stating the number of continuing education hours you have earned. Before signing up with any online continuing education provider, it is wise to make sure your state licensing body recognizes the provider. Otherwise you may do a lot of work and not be able to count the credits. Also be aware that some licensing agencies will allow you to obtain only a certain percentage of your continuing education credits through home study; the rest must be obtained in a classroom.
Some professional journals offer readers the chance to earn continuing education credits. This works much like the online classes described above. You read the articles in the journal, complete a multiple choice and/or true-false quiz, and mail the quiz and a fee to the journal. You will then be issued a certificate stating the number of hours you have earned.
Some professionals view continuing education requirements as a royal nuisance, but with a little patience and some amateur detective work, you should have no problem finding plenty of interesting classes to keep you up to date in your profession.