If you’re feeling like your career opportunities are dwindling and your job may actually even be at risk, there’s always one place you can turn to: Higher education. Whether it’s a college diploma, masters degree or even a Ph.D, higher education may seem like the answer to any career-related predicament. It really isn’t.

For many people, going back to school to further their careers isn’t even an option. It could be financially unfeasible, or unavailable because of personal obligations and responsibilities. Going back to school usually is the simplest answer for career development, but it doesn’t help when it really isn’t a practical solution.

Decisions on Higher Education

While a higher education degree works for a lot of people, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you. In fact, it could make your situation even worse if you don’t consider the decision carefully.

If you’re someone who’s still trying to pay off students loans from your undergrad years, the last thing you want to consider is taking on more loans, especially when you’re not sure if you’ll be able see an increase in income anytime soon.

Plus, a higher education degree doesn’t necessarily guarantee you get that dream job either. Remember when you were in high school and everyone said a college degree was the key to your future? Well, how’d that turn out?

A Masters degree, just like a Bachelor’s, doesn’t mean anything unless you know what to do with it. Unless the field you want to work in requires a higher education degree or you’re actually interested in working in the field you’re going to school for, attending grad school just for the sake of it is a complete waste of thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars.

Career Training Options

If you decide that going back to school isn’t right for you, that doesn’t mean that you’re out of options. You need to understand that education and school are two different things. Sure, they tend to overlap, but just because you’re not in school doesn’t mean your education has to stop.

The key to advancing your career horizons without going back to school is by finding ways to make yourself more marketable to potential employers. Fine tune and expand your skill set. Maybe take a class or two at an online school or take a weekend workshop in your field of interest. Accumulate as much industry experience as you can, whether it’s through your job or on your own time.

If you have a solid track record and references to back it up, who’s to say you couldn’t hold your own against any MBA grad out there?

Alternatives to Universities

Depending on what field you’re in, you could add to your resume and skills through more cost-effective options, like technical certifications. If you’re looking to strengthen your resume or even considering switching fields, certifications could be the right move for you.

While certification programs may be less expensive and don’t require a traditional college educational format, there is tuition and courses to consider too.

  • Personal Finance: If you can’t afford to go back for that MBA, you could always opt to be a Certified Financial Planner. While the exam itself is $595, you may have to pay anywhere from $2,000 and up to complete the required coursework to be eligible for the exam.
  • Information Technology: The IT industry is filled with certifications for specialists, and the gold standard in IT security seems to be the CISSP certification, which requires five years of industry experience. The exams costs $450.
  • Business: There’s a wide range of business categories but if you like marketing you can try for the SMEI sales certificate. If project management is your thing, you can opt for the Project Management Professional certification.
  • Vendor-Specific Certifications: If professional industry certifications don’t fit your strategy, you could also consider certifications provided by companies that focus specifically on their products. The coverage may not be as broad, but the certification costs are often times cheaper and requirements aren’t as strict.

When it comes to your career, not going back to school doesn’t mean you stop advancing your professional and personal pursuit for education and betterment of yourself. If you’re stuck at a dead end job and are not going back to school, make sure it’s for valid reasons. The sooner you get proactive with your career, the more opportunities you’ll find that are actually available to you.

How do you keep your skill progression and career development on track?

Danielle Nagami

Danielle Nagami

Go Banking Rates provides personal finance articles and the latest local and national bank rates for consumers. Visit us online at GoBankingRates.com.