Continuing Education: Do You Need It?

Oct 14, 2010

When deciding on a career path, it's important to find out if your potential profession requires ongoing continuing education (CE). From massage therapy to counseling to law, many professionals must stay up to date through courses, workshops, or other types of CE throughout their careers. Read on to learn what types of professions require CE and how to get it.

View popular schools

Student Professionals

What Is Continuing Education?

CE is lifelong learning beyond a degree or certificate program that ensures professionals have the latest knowledge in their fields. For example, there are new advancements in medicine all the time, and patients are more confident knowing that health care professionals are required to stay current. The same goes for attorneys, who are better representatives because they must stay up to date on changes in the law and legal practice.

Who Needs It?

Doctors and lawyers aren't the only professionals who need CE - so do cosmetologists, project managers, and fire safety inspectors. In fact, just about any career that requires a license or certification also requires you to complete ongoing CE.

CE requirements vary between states, licensing boards, and certifying agencies. Here are just a few examples of careers that typically require CE:

  • Health Care: Physicians, nurses, dentists, acupuncturists, professional counselors, social workers
  • Law: Lawyers, paralegals
  • Business: Accountants, tax preparers, financial professionals
  • Beauty: Cosmetologists, estheticians, nail technicians
  • Other Professions: Architects, engineers, project managers, safety personnel

Continuing Education Workshop

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Agriculture
  • Architecture
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  • Business
  • Communications and Journalism
  • Computer Sciences
  • Culinary Arts and Personal Services
  • Education
  • Engineering
  • Legal
  • Liberal Arts and Humanities
  • Mechanic and Repair Technologies
  • Medical and Health Professions
  • Physical Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Transportation and Distribution
  • Visual and Performing Arts

How Much Do I Need?

Licensing boards, certifying agencies, and professional associations set CE credit requirements for each renewal period. For example, professional counselors in California renew their licenses every 2 years, and they're required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences to get 36 CE hours during that time. Cosmetologists in Iowa also renew their licenses every 2 years, and they're required by the Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts & Sciences to complete 8 CE hours during that period.

You should also be aware of specific content requirements. As an example, 6 of the 36 CE hours California professional counselors earn must be in law and ethics. For Iowa cosmetologists, 4 of the 8 hours must be in their specialty area, and 2 hours must be in Iowa laws and sanitation rules.

How Do I Get It?

CE is offered online, in day-long workshops, or in multi-day conferences. In some cases, you can get credits by reading a book or professional journal. You might also be able to earn CE credits for teaching or giving a lecture at a professional conference - after all, one of the best ways to learn is to teach others.

Depending on the licensing board or certifying agency, a certain number of hours may need to be earned in person. In other cases, you can get all your CE credits remotely if you want. Keep in mind, however, that you miss the opportunity to network if you don't attend in-person events.

How Do I Find CE Providers?

You may contact your certifying agency, licensing board, or professional association for a list of qualified CE providers. You can also check your alma mater - most colleges have a CE department, and they often offer alumni discounts on courses. In addition, ask other professionals who've worked in the field longer than you have; they could have the inside scoop on the best CE providers.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

    • MA in Communication
    • Master of Liberal Arts
    • MA in Science Writing
    • MS in Applied Economics
    • MS in Geographic Information Systems
    • MS in Bioinformatics

    What is your highest level of education?

    • BA: Criminal Justice
    • BA: Criminal Justice - Criminalistics
    • BA: Liberal Studies
    • BA: Psychology
    • BA: Psychology - General
    • BS: Computer Science
    • AA: Criminal Justice
    • AA: Liberal Arts
    • AA: Business Administration
    • AA: Information Technology
    • AA: Cybersecurity

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path, Executive Leader Specialization
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice
    • Master of Science in Nursing - Doctor of Nursing Practice Path
    • MS in Psychology - Forensic Psychology
    • Master of Science in Legal Studies
    • MS in Psychology
    • MBA
    • Master of Public Health
    • MBA - Human Resources
    • BS in Liberal Studies
    • BS in Business Administration
    • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Investment Career Focus Area
    • BS in Liberal Studies Leadership
    • BS in Nutrition Science
    • BSFIN in Accelerated MS Finance
    • AAS in Business Administration - Business
    • AAS in Legal Support and Services
    • AAS in Business Administration
    • AAS in Business Administration - Food & Hotel Management
    • AAS in Business Admin-Office Management
    • AAS in Criminal Justice
    • Medical Office Administration Certificate
    • Human Services Certificates in Child and Family Services
    • Graduate Certificate in Addictions
    • Graduate Certificate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
    • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Certificate
    • Pathway to Paralegal Postbaccalaureate Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
    • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
    • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences
    • MSHS in Translational Microbiology
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Secondary Special Education and Transition Services
    • MA in Education and Human Development in Special Education for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Learners
    • BSHS in Clinical Operations and Healthcare Management
    • BSHS in Medical Laboratory Sciences
    • BSHS in Biomedical Informatics

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Business Administration - Management
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Health Care Administration
    • EdD in Organizational Leadership - Special Education
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Cognition and Instruction
    • Ph.D. in General Psychology - Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
    • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
    • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
    • MS in Criminal Justice: Legal Studies
    • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
    • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
    • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
    • BS in Psychology
    • B.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology
    • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
    • BS in Early Childhood
    • BS in Elementary Education / Special Education (Dual Major)

    What is your highest level of education?

  • What is your highest level of education?

    • Doctor of Education - Character Education
    • Doctor of Education - Curriculum & Instruction
    • Doctor of Education - Higher Education
    • Ph.D. in Communication
    • Ph.D. in Education - Character Education
    • Ph.D. in Education - Curriculum & Instruction
    • Master of Arts in Communication
    • Master of Arts in Communication - Political Communication
    • Master of Arts in Communication - Strategic Communication
    • Master of Arts in Government - Political Communication
    • Master of Arts in Journalism
    • Master of Arts in Law - Business
    • Bachelor of Applied Science in Criminal Justice
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Journalism
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Rhetoric and Public Culture
    • Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies - Strategic Communication
    • Bachelor of Arts in English - Communication
    • M.Ed. - Individualized Degree Program - Autism Certificate
    • M.Ed. in K-12 Special Education - Autism Certificate

    What is your highest level of education completed?

    • Criminal Justice, M.S.
    • Business Administration, MBA
    • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Advanced Accounting
    • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Health Care Administration
    • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Leadership
    • Business Administration, MBA - Emphasis in Project Management
    • Communication Studies, B.A.
    • Criminal Justice, B.S.
    • Psychology, B.S.
    • Psychology, B.S. - Emphasis in Biblical Studies
    • Accounting, B.S.
    • Business Administration, B.S.
    • Criminal Justice, A.S.
    • Psychology, A.S.
    • Communication Studies, A.A.
    • General Studies, A.A.
    • Business Administration, A.S.
    • Health Care Administration, A.S.

    What is your highest level of education completed?

  • What is your highest level of education?

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?