12 Types of Continuing Education

Updated February 16, 2023

Many people choose to pursue continuing education to advance their careers, learn new skills and more. There are multiple paths for continuing education that can suit different interests and goals. If you're interested in continuing education, knowing the different continuing education options can help you make the best decision for yourself. In this article, we explain what continuing education is and provide a list of 12 types of continuing education and tips for choosing between them.

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What is continuing education?

Continuing education is a term that refers to a variety of types of post-secondary learning options, including degree programs, online courses, career training and more. Many people choose to pursue continuing education to learn new skills and fulfill personal interests.

Continuing education can also help you advance your career by helping you gain skills and knowledge relevant to your industry. You can also include your continuing education experiences on your resume to show recruiters that you are willing to put in extra effort to learn and improve yourself.

12 types of continuing education

Here are 12 types of continuing education:

1. Post-secondary degree programs

Post-secondary degree programs are a common form of continuing education. Post-secondary degree programs include associate degrees, master's degrees and other degree programs. Earning a post-secondary degree can be key to advancing your career.

2. Professional certifications

Professional certifications are another option for continuing your education. Earning professional certifications can help you advance your career and learn new skills. You can also list your certifications on your resume to appeal to recruiters and expand your pool of job options.

Related: Impress Recruiters With These Desirable Professional Certifications

3. Independent study

Another type of continuing education is pursuing an independent study. Independent studies are courses that you can design to fit your specific interests and goals. You can often work with a professor or another academic professional.

4. Professional events

Attending professional events is another way to continue your education. Events can take place through employers, professional organizations and other entities in your industry. Some common professional events include conferences, seminars and workshops.

5. On-the-job training

You can also pursue on-the-job training. On-the-job training is additional training that you can complete after you get hired. On-the-job training can help you learn new skills and knowledge that you can apply to your current job and use throughout your career.

6. Volunteering

Volunteering is another way to learn. You can search for a variety of volunteer opportunities that allow you to learn more about an industry, practice skills and gain experience. Volunteering can also be an opportunity to gain professional connections.

Related: What are the Benefits of Volunteering? Top Reasons To Volunteer

7. Research

You can also conduct research as a form of continuing education. If you work in academia, performing research may be a valuable component of your role. You can choose a research topic that relates to your career and specialties. After completing your research, you can try to publish a paper or study. This can help you improve your career credentials and learn more about your specialty at the same time.

8. Online courses

Online courses are another way to further your education. Often, you can search for free or affordable online courses. You can use a search engine to find courses that suit your specific interests and goals. Often, you can work through online courses at your own pace.

Related: 30 In-Demand Skills You Can Learn Online

9. Professional license renewal

You can also complete training, classes and examinations necessary to renew your professional licenses. For example, if you work in education or health care, you may need to periodically complete additional training to renew your licenses. This process can help you learn essential skills and knowledge for your profession.

10. Language learning

Learning a language is another continuing education option. Knowing multiple languages is a career skill valued across industries. You can list different languages and your skill levels on your resume. You can also choose to learn a language for enjoyment or other personal reasons. Some ways to begin learning a language are signing up for an online course and downloading a language learning app.

Related: Language Skills: Levels and Examples for Your Resume

11. Continuing education unit courses

A continuing education unit (CEU) is a credit unit that equates to 10 hours of a certification program. Therefore, CEU courses can be useful to professionals who need licenses or certifications. You can take a variety of CEU courses through academic institutions and online.

12. Extension courses

Extension courses are courses that colleges and universities offer to people who are not enrolled as students. You can take extension courses to further your career, learn new skills or work on your personal development.

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Tips for choosing between types of continuing education

Here are some tips that you can use to choose between the different types of continuing education:

Think about your interests

One tip for choosing a type of continuing education is to consider your interests. You can search for courses that relate to your hobbies, topics that interest you or skills that you want to develop.

Set goals

You can also use your goals, including career, educational and personal goals, to help you choose a type of continuing education. Depending on your goals, you can choose courses that teach you the skills necessary to succeed in your career field or courses that fulfill your personal interests.

Related: Setting Goals To Improve Your Career

Consider your schedule

Your schedule may also affect which type of continuing education you choose. For example, if you work full time and have free time in the evening, you could search for continuing education opportunities that you can attend or work on in the evenings.

Create a budget

Creating a budget can help you determine what kinds of continuing education you can afford. You can also search for free continuing education options, including community service and free online courses.

Research specific learning opportunities

Another tip for finding the right type of continuing education for you is researching specific learning opportunities. You can search for learning opportunities in your area or online courses. Seeing what specific learning options are available can help you make a decision.

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