iStock_000074502813_MediumYou don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an advanced degree to further your education and advance your career. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are other alternatives to a master’s degree, including a certificate program or professional certification. These options take less time and money than an advanced degree, yet certificates still offer you the necessary credentials to help you obtain career-related skills for a promotion.

Certificate programs help you get noticed. Not just by your supervisor, but by recruiters prowling LinkedIn.

You’re not just learning new skills in class; you’re meeting influential people who can help you climb the corporate ladder. Whether it’s a fellow student who knows of a great networking event, or an instructor who can connect you with hiring managers – career success is often based on who you know, not only on what you know.

Certificate programs should be in your career advancement arsenal because they provide these three necessary components to help you edge out your competition.

  1. Up-to-date Knowledge

Certificate courses put you back in a classroom setting that is modern and up-to-date without having to invest in a costly graduate degree. You’ll learn new techniques and trends relevant to your industry that will have your colleagues flocking to your desk asking for insights and tips. The most recent advancements in technology have made learning both interactive and innovative, and the updated curriculum embraces the most recent trends and best practices that can make you a valuable asset to any team. Your newfound knowledge can lead you down a path to promotion, while co-workers who don’t pursue educational advancements will remain complacent and stagnant in their abilities.

  1. Networking Opportunities

What better way to enhance your network and bolster your career options than by attending a class filled with like-minded people with similar educational interests?

Taking a continuing education course is the best way to expand your professional network. Being a student also gives you access to the rich resources of the University, whether it’s an on-campus group or alumni organization.

  1. Mentorship & Menteeship

All of our lives, we instinctively seek guidance from someone who appears to have it all figured out. At the same time, once we’ve achieved a certain level of success, reaching out to advise newbies in our industry can also help us gain fresh perspectives. It’s always a good idea to be both a mentor and a mentee throughout your life because the less experienced can learn strategies and advice from the experienced, and the experienced can pick up new tricks for old, outdated methods from the newbies.

A healthy professional life should be about giving and taking advice. Developing a mentor/mentee relationship helps both your professional and personal life by giving you a confidante and safe space to share your thoughts.

If you’ve considered enrolling in a certificate program, there’s no better time than now. The far-reaching benefits include not only the applied skills you will learn and the influential people you might meet, but also the increased potential for career advancement. Make this the year to immerse yourself in a classroom filled with motivated fellow students who are working alongside you to better their professions and reach their highest potential.