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Whether you want to improve your accounting skills or dive deeper into your current field, continuing your studies as an adult learner can be a great way to advance your current career or prepare for a second one. Here are some tips to help you keep learning and keep your budget intact.

Advance your current career

Meet with your manager to discuss the skills needed to potentially advance your career and maybe make more money. Then look for in-house courses or staff training that could help you improve. See if your workplace covers some of the costs of certificates or degree programs. Get the education fund specifics as you may need to commit to working for your employer for a certain length of time in exchange for the money now.

In addition, many U.S. colleges and universities offer Massive Open Online Classes (MOOCs) on a range of subjects for a fee or at no cost. Also, professional associations and organizations related to your interests may offer free classes and webinars, too.

The Credit Union offers professional development scholarships for eligible North Carolina local government employees and law enforcement professionals. Your local Chamber of Commerce may offer broader skill development in areas like leadership.

Test drive a topic for next to nothing

Some commercial websites may offer you open access to classes during a free trial, but will require your credit card information and begin charging you when the trial is over. Other sites may offer classes at no cost, but require your permission to share your data with third parties. Be sure to read the fine print, including the privacy policy, before you sign up so you know what to expect. Otherwise, recurring charges could impact your monthly budget.

Prepare for a second career

Ready to take on a new line of work as a second career? Spend some time thinking about what you enjoy most and what needs exist out there that you can meet. Then check out job listings to see the number of jobs available in the field(s) you imagine transitioning to. Next, review salary or wage data to see if the compensation is something you can live with.

If you’re thinking of striking out on your own, talk to others who are running businesses similar to what you’re considering. Figure out what you would need to learn — and what experience or credentials you would need to have — then get creative in filling those knowledge gaps.

Getting a formal education is one way to boost your career interests, but there are many other ways to build your knowledge and experience. If you like working with your hands, consider a woodworking class at a local home improvement store as a way to kick-start your home repair business. If you know someone who is doing what you hope to do, offer yourself as an apprentice to learn the trade. You can also volunteer at a nonprofit organization in a relevant role.

Share your expert knowledge

Show off your expertise by giving advice. Consider writing your own blog. If you’re a photographer, for instance, you could lead tours with local groups. No matter which route you choose, you’ll have the personal satisfaction of sharing a topic you’re passionate about. Plus, you may also make extra money while you teach!

Grow your network

Lastly, embrace the possibility of making new friends and professional connections. It’s difficult to put a price tag on the long-term value of adding to your network!

The advice provided is for informational purposes only.

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