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Is it Worth Going Back to School for Career Advancement? Expert Opinions

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After working in retail for several years, Shantia Cross has had enough.

One day in 2021, she decided to quit her job and leave what she described as a toxic and unappreciative workplace. Her mother advised her to find her new job or go back to her school.

That same night, she was up until 3:00 a.m., looking for a career that would allow her to use the hard skills she learned in journalism school (like interviewing and filming videos) when she was offered a job in user experience (UX) design. I found by chance. .

After looking for a program that included a UX design component, Cross decided to take an intensive one-year postgraduate degree program at Centennial College in Toronto. Full of her excitement she signed up.

“I’m really glad I stuck with it,” said Cross, now a content strategist for one of the country’s top banks.

Cross is just one of many Canadians who have returned to school to advance their careers.

Financial educator and host of the More Money podcast, Jessica Moorhouse, says there are many perks to going back to school, taking certification courses to improve your skills, and making your resume stand out. says.

“There can be many benefits,” says Moorhouse, who is currently preparing to become a certified financial planner in hopes of earning the trust of future clients.

“It sets me apart from others who are trying to do the same thing.”

Pursuing higher education can accelerate an individual’s career growth or allow for a complete career overhaul, said Ian Christie, CEO and chief career strategist at the Vancouver-based Bold Career Project. increase.

“This will give them some hard skills that they can immediately apply to the job, and not just work experience, but potentially leap to the next level sooner. It can also open new doors. he said.

For example, a master’s degree in business administration can lead you to higher-level managerial and executive positions, with higher salaries.

Figures compiled by Talent.com show that in Canada, the average annual salary for an MBA is $80,000, but that number fluctuates wildly.

However, the return on your investment of time and money in pursuing higher education will depend on your chosen field, says Moorhouse. That’s why she suggests doing some research by talking to people specifically in the field to get a better understanding of salary expectations, work-life balance, and overall work culture.

“If you work for an NGO or a nonprofit, or do social work, you’re not going to make as much money as someone with an MBA,” she said.

“Your degree was probably just as difficult and expensive, but because of the industry you work in, you never reach a certain income level.”

There are a few other things to consider before returning to school.

For one, if you’ve just completed your bachelor’s degree, it’s worth taking the time to get some professional experience before going back to school, says Moorhouse. , or uninteresting things can be explored.

It’s also important to consider whether you need a master’s or doctoral degree to get your dream job, or whether a certificate or diploma will suffice, she said.

If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to pursue higher education, Moorhouse recommends enrolling in part-time programs or evening or weekend courses.

Unless it is really important to your desired profession, you may choose a school or program that will help you succeed in your chosen field at a lower price point than similar schools and programs that are costly but considered top notch.

“If you’re in the health field or law or whatever, these things are a problem because this weird hierarchy still exists. Look, I don’t know much about that program.Or that college or something;it doesn’t matter,” she explained.

Christie said it’s best to choose a program that equips you with both the skills and networking opportunities that will help you get a job in today’s job market.

“Do they have ready-to-use skills that are valued by the market? And what other support does the program have? Do you have any?” he said.

No matter where you decide to study, Christie said you should be generous with your time and effort to make sure you get the most out of your program.

“(It’s) rather, this is a vehicle and I have a responsibility to utilize the school’s resources, but it’s up to me to find a way to turn this into a really, really positive outcome.

The skills required for a position may not require higher education, says Christie. LinkedIn is also a good place to see what skills and experience others have in your desired field, so you can follow their example, he added.

Cross, on the other hand, encourages people to reevaluate their skills and passions and thoroughly consider their options before returning to school.

Quoting one of his favorite artists, Aaliyah, he added, “If it doesn’t work the first time, dust it off and try again.”

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on May 2, 2023.

Noushin Ziafati, Canadian Press

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