Continuing Education Programs for the Fashion Industry Professional
Taking Your Fashion Degree and Professional Experience to the Next Level Through Continuing Education Courses
For some or you it's been about 5 years-or-so since you've earned your Bachelor’s degree in fashion or design. You've spent this time working hard to make a name for yourself as a professional in the fashion industry. During this time you may have come to realize that your degree and experience may not be the only thing that you need to keep your job or excel in this profession.
Most employers in the fashion industry will want to make sure you are staying up to date with the latest trends and current changes in the industry on a regular basis. With that being said, it may be beneficial for you to do a little research on what continuing education programs or certificates are available for you.
What is continuing education?
Continuing education provides courses designed to teach you about the latest design techniques, styles, trends, and changes in the fashion industry; these courses can be very helpful in gaining a new perspective on the industry and the changes that have occurred post-graduation. Not only can continuing education be used for career advancement or training, it can be equally beneficial for personal enrichment.
There are a few things that you should remember about continuing education:
- Most fashion professionals are not legally required to hold a license. Therefore there are no legal requirements when it comes to completing a certain number of courses. However, your employer (and/or the state that you're working in, if you're a stylist) may still require you partake in select continuing education courses. If so, you will need to complete these courses in order to keep your job.
- While a job may not necessarily require you to take continuing education courses, it may be in your best interest to take them anyway. Continuing education courses are a very effective way to improve your résumé. You may obtain a position or advance your career more quickly if your employer sees that you have put in additional effort by learning new skills to help you stay competitive in the field.
- There are a number of different places that offer continuing education courses. Almost every fashion school will offer some, if not all, of the courses you require. You may be able to attend some courses at your local art school, college, university, technical school, or even through an online program.
Is it worth the time and effort?
Pursuing continuing education classes will take time and effort on your part. You will need to make space in your busy schedule to attend classes, prepare for exams, and complete projects. Plus, you may be looking at spending a few hundred dollars or so to attend just one class. Therefore, you may be asking yourself, is it worth it to take a few classes?
The benefits of continuing your education are tremendous. Here's a look at just a few of those benefits:
- Improves Your Qualifications - The job market is competitive. Any advantage you can have over your competition improves your chances of landing the job. Taking a few continuing education classes relevant to your field bolsters your qualifications, showing your determination and dedication to your career.
- Earning Potential/Career Advancement - Very few people want to keep the same job for their entire career. They want to advance and earn more money. While their work will help them achieve this, continuing education classes can help out as well. These classes help an employer see the initiative their employees have taken to learn more about their field. This can help when it comes time to be considered for a better position and/or promotion.
- Interests - Life is not just about work. It is also important to have interests. Continuing education classes can help you pursue those interests and help you meet people. These activities can improve your overall self-confidence. Many people who have taken continuing education classes for personal enrichment have discovered that they can turn those interests into a full-time career.
Choosing a Continuing Education Program
Not all continuing education programs are created equally, so how do you choose the right program for you?
First, you need to decide what your goal is for continuing education. Is it mandated by the state, required by your employer, or are you pursuing these classes on your own?
Next, you need to determine how you learn best. Is it through self-study, the classroom experience, online, or through workshops?
Then, you need to decide where you want to take these classes. Universities, community colleges, associations, and independent organizations offer a variety of continuing education programs.
Examine a few different programs
Make sure the material will meet your requirements and look at the variety of classes offered. Learn who will be teaching the class. Will an established professor, industry expert, or a teaching assistant be leading the class? Learn what the student-to-teacher ratio in class will be. Will you have the opportunity to interact with the teacher, or will you be just one of a thousand in a conference hall?
Carefully review the organization or association that is offering the program
Colleges and universities should be accredited. Accreditation ensures the school is providing a high-quality program taught by a knowledgeable, seasoned faculty. Employers put more emphasis and value on programs from accredited schools. Professional associations and independent organizations also offer continuing education programs. Do a little research and make sure these institutions are legitimate and well-established in the fashion industry. This is especially important if you are required to take a specific class for a license or certification. Unfortunately, scams do exist in this industry so BEWARE!
What is your learning style?
There are a variety of ways to continue your education based on your learning style. Distance learning is a popular way to complete these programs. You have the convenience of attending class right in your own home, and you get to interact with students from across the country. However, distance learning is not for everyone. Some people want a more personalized learning experience. They may choose an actual classroom setting, or attend seminars and workshops.
Cost is an important factor
Check to see if your employer provides tuition reimbursement, particularly if these classes are a requirement of your job. Ask the school about any financial aid packages they offer. Also, check with professional associations of which you are a member. They often offer discounts for continuing education classes or seminars.