Why Professional Development is Important

Professional Development

With the right professional development strategy, you can improve your skills and knowledge, prepare for future career opportunities, and gain new perspectives. That is why it’s important to develop a sustainable plan that will help you reach your professional goals.

This article will explore what professional development is, explain how it differs from other methods of learning like reading or attending lectures, outline the stages of professional development so that you know where to start with your own plan, and provide tips for creating an effective professional development plan.

What is professional development?

The term “professional development” can mean anything from continuing education courses to more informal lifelong learning. It can be a lifelong journey or a constant cycle of learning that occurs on an ongoing basis at any stage in life; it doesn’t have to take place only during school-year semesters or weekends.

The most common type of professional development is the kind that takes place in a person’s workplace. This includes regular updates on company policy, procedures and strategies from managers who have been to trainings or other work-related learning opportunities; it can also mean taking part in collaborative projects with colleagues inside and outside your department as well as participating in formal training and educational programs.

Why is professional development important?

Professional development is important because it helps an individual to develop skills and knowledge, and in turn become more competitive. Professional development can be a formal or informal part of your company’s culture; you may have the opportunity to learn something new on a regular basis from someone within your organization-or outside of it-who has had professional training that will benefit you.

Professional development is also important because it can help to keep your skills and knowledge up-to-date in order to satisfy the needs of a changing workforce. In today’s world, professionals are expected to be lifelong learners. This means that they must have the ability (and desire) not only to learn new things throughout their careers, but also to use this knowledge and apply it in their work.

What are sources of professional development?

Professional development can come from a variety of sources, including:

  • The company you are employed with.
  • Industry-related organizations or professional associations that offer training programs on career-relevant topics at times and prices that are convenient for the individual.
  • Continuing education programs at local colleges and universities.
  • Self-study methods such as reading trade journals, professional publications, or books on relevant topics.
  • Independent study using online resources; for example, taking online courses offered by academic institutions or independent organizations.
  • Professional development programs at service clubs like the Rotary Club and Women’s Business Exchange.
  • A surprising source of professional development is from a job outside one’s chosen profession—for instance, working as an office manager for someone in the construction industry can provide insights into the construction industry.
  • Attend seminars and workshops offered by professional associations and/or organizations such as chambers of commerce in your area.
  • Keep up-to-date on changes in legislation that will affect your profession—for example, a change in the law that requires knowledge of a foreign language.

What are the stages of professional development?

Briefly, the stages of professional development are: being a student, gaining experience in your field, and becoming an expert within that field and taking on leadership roles.

Here’s a breakdown of the complete professional development experience:

  • Being A Student:

Students are usually in school or taking courses to get their degree. During this stage you may have the opportunity to take an internship that will give you experience in your field before graduation. This is also a great time for self-improvement by enrolling in courses to help you grow in your field.

While many people think of students as the youngest and newest members of society, this stage is also available for adults who want a change or are looking to go back to school.

  • Gaining Experience:

This phase usually occurs after graduation when someone starts their career. This is an important time to find out what you like and don’t like about your field by taking opportunities to learn more. This is also a great time for self-improvement through courses or seminars that will help strengthen skills in other areas of work, such as business management, leadership strategies, communication skills, etc.

  • Exploring Options:

A person in this stage usually has a good idea of what they want to do, but are not ready or able to make the commitment yet. This is also an important time for self-reflection and figuring out how you will achieve your professional goals.

  • Finding Your Niche:

This phase typically occurs after many years in one position where a person has learned everything they can and are ready to explore other opportunities.

  • Making the Decision:

This phase is when a person commits to making a career change, following their passions or pursuing new goals. It often involves some degree of risk but it may also be very rewarding if done right!

  • Getting Ready for Change:

Before making the decision to pursue a new career, it is important to do your research and gather as much information about the next phase of your life. This includes networking with professionals in the field, researching salaries for different jobs, understanding which licenses or certifications are required and what job opportunities exist.

  • Moving Forward: Starting a New Career

Before you begin a new career, it is important to have in place your professional development plan. This includes identifying goals for the next year and developing strategies that will help you achieve those goals. As well as creating an actionable list of skillsets and knowledge areas needed for success in this new endeavor. Along with a timeline or milestones to track your progress.

What are the types of professional development?

The first step to career success is understanding the two different types of professional development: tactical and strategic.

Type of Professional Development

What are the types of professional development?

The first step to career success is understanding the two different types of professional development: tactical and strategic.

Tactical Professional Development, also known as “Action Planning.” are those activities that you do every day with a defined set of goals in mind (i.e., read for 30 minutes, work on your presentation skills for 30 minutes, etc.).

Strategic Professional Development is more about setting long term goals and providing a plan to achieve them. Examples of this type are career advancement opportunities (i.e., taking the time to learn Adobe Photoshop or making sure you have knowledge in Excel), certification programs like Project Management Institute’s PMP® certification, or academic programs like a Masters of Business Administration.

Professional development strategies

Some professional development strategies are:

  • Develop an individual development plan for your career (e.g., set goals and create milestones).
  • Identify the skills that you want to develop in order to reach your goal(s), formalize them with measurable steps, and monitor your progress.
  • Attend lectures, conferences, webinars to learn new skills and/or hear from experts in the field on industry trends and best practices.
  • Start a blog or maintain an online journal of what you are learning as well as any questions related to that topic.
  • Work with a mentor (e.g., someone you can call upon for advice and/or to consult).
  • Ask your boss if there are any opportunities within the company that will help develop your skills (e.g., taking on a project outside of what you typically do in order to stretch yourself or tackle something unfamiliar).
  • Take courses at an educational institution, such as a university, or attend workshops and/or conferences to learn new skills.
  • Find a job at an organization that has the resources you need for professional development (e.g., offers courses in your field).
  • Investigate online educational opportunities offered by colleges, universities, and other organizations.

What are professional development skills?

Professional development skills are the specific knowledge and competencies that an employee needs to develop in order for their career to advance. They differ from company-specific job skills, which include all of the particular requirements necessary for a position within a company (e.g., knowing how to use software X). Professional development is often pursued by employees who wish to explore areas related to their work, but who are not sure if a promotion is in the cards.

Professional development skills might include soft skills (e.g., customer service) or hard skills (e.g., marketing). While some employers provide continued education for employees and promote professional growth through internal training programs, many successful professionals develop these skills on their own.

What are the components of an effective professional development plan?

The best way to approach professional development as an employee is to have a plan, which includes the following components:

  • Goal setting: The job description can be used as a guide for goal setting by matching skills from it with your personal strengths and weaknesses. As you work through this exercise, remember that there are many ways to define success, and the most important thing is that your goals are challenging but achievable.
  • Creating a plan: Once you have set some specific goals, it’s time to create a workable plan around them. This plan should include what skills need improvement or professional development; how much time can be committed both inside and outside of work to accomplish these goals; what steps need to be taken before starting (e.g., reading a book, taking an assessment); and when you plan on reviewing your progress against the goal.
  • Monitoring: It’s important to monitor your performance while working towards achieving your professional development goals. Keep track of how much time is spent on this goal at work, and how much time is spent outside of work. It’s also important to track your progress against the goals you set in order to be sure that these efforts are producing results – without any measurable change there is no point continuing.
  • Evaluating: Once a certain period of time has passed or if all your goals have been achieved, you will need to evaluate the effectiveness of your professional development plan. Ask yourself what has changed and how it’s positively impacted both your career and quality of life? Is there more work-life balance in place now that I’m regularly taking a break for yoga class or reading up on new research about my field?
  • Reflect: Take some time to reflect on how you can continue your professional development in a way that is sustainable, meaningful and fun. Do not wait until the next stressful period of your life when self-care becomes difficult before starting new habits for better overall well-being.

Interested in learning more about professional development?

A variety of online training programs will teach you about professional development. But how do you know which ones will fit your needs? Take some time to research online training programs that offer professional development courses.

professional development courses

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