Is Continuing Education Necessary for an IT Professional?

Continuing computer educationThose who currently enjoy a career in information technology have worked hard to achieve their bachelor’s degree and other advanced education, but continuing education for IT roles presents even more challenges when it comes to learning about emerging technologies and newer best practices. That’s why almost all organizations require those in information technology to occasionally pursue at least several credits in ongoing education that focus on new technologies, database systems, platforms, security concerns, and much more. Rather than being thought of as a burden, however, these classes should instead be considered the best way to remain current in the field and provide the highest level of service and management to large organizations where IT is central to long-term viability.

Not a Set Rule: Requirements for Continuing Education Vary

While a significant number of large organizations require their IT managers and other industry professionals to seek continuing education credits periodically, this is not a set rule. Currently, no state educational board or IT certification panel enforces a requirement that those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in this area seek continuing education credits. Employers, however, have historically required such pursuits because it directly benefits how they handle information storage, security, and management.

Generally, most businesses require IT professionals to seek between three and nine hours of continuing education every other year. Some require three hours every year, while others require a less frequent continuing education schedule for IT managers and others. In almost all cases, this requirement will be made clear to the IT professional at the time they’re hired within the organization. The organization itself may even reimburse the full or partial cost of obtaining additional, non-degree credits in information technology.

IT Professionals May Also Attend Conferences to Satisfy This Requirement

Continuing education is often thought of as a program of evening, non-credit classes taught by fellow industry experts. While this represents perhaps the majority of continuing education pursuits for those in IT, it’s often not the only way to gain additional experience that qualifies for company reimbursement and satisfies this academic requirement. Many organizations have developed newer policies that allow information technology workers to take either non-credit courses or attend professional conferences that essentially teach the same skills and notify industry leaders of new changes that will be impacting their work going forward.

Those in information technology should review their company’s policy on continuing education and reimbursement schedules in order to see whether or not conference attendance could satisfy such a requirement. In addition to being an excellent source of new information and experience, these conferences are a great way to network with others and engage in enlightening discussions with managers and senior IT personnel that work for outside companies. It’s both a learning and social opportunity that leads to long-term benefits.

A Common-Sense Requirement that Benefits the IT Profession

Though no regulatory agency or accreditation group currently requires information technology personnel to seek further educational experiences after they complete their degree program, companies that hire someone with a computer science degree often have a different view. Continuing education keeps up with new operating systems, database software tools, network management ideas and evolving best practices that must change as new systems come to market. In this way, a requirement to seek continuing education for IT actually benefits both the company and those who have a significant interest in always performing at the highest level.

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