What is Adult Education?

If you missed the boat for high school or college in your teens and twenties, you are likely to realize the downside of your choice in your thirties. Those who fail to secure college degrees make less money and often have less satisfying jobs. This is when adult education becomes important. The term adult education can mean getting a GED, becoming a college student at a non-traditional age or taking classes for personal enrichment. Adult education is different from continuing education, a term applied to those who already have degrees and are seeking to further their career development through further education. Options for those without college degrees are few. You can handle your situation in one of three ways: work your way up, change careers or get a degree.

Movin’ on Up


Working your way up can be a good option for those on tight budgets. Education usually costs money and if you failed to secure a diploma or degree, you are not likely to have much of that floating around. If you do not have a high school diploma, you should secure your GED as soon as possible. Once you have your GED, you’ll be in a better position to consider the alternatives available to you.

If you already have your GED, look for free training from your employer in as many relevant fields as possible.  Most employers offer some sort of free training, whether it be in team work, communication skills or computer courses.

In-house training offered by your employer is not only free; it puts you in a better light, showing your dedication and making you more likely to advance within the company. If you can get on board with a company-sponsored certification program, you will be in an excellent position for promotion when a job opens up.  Providing training to employees costs the company money. This means that by taking advantages of these courses, you are allowing the company to invest in you. Companies like to hold onto their investments and see them grow, so you will become a more valued employee in the eyes of the employer, or you may be able to secure a job at a higher-paying employer more easily.

Higher Job Satisfaction

When you take advantage of work-sponsored training programs, not only do you help to advance your career, but you are also likely to realize greater job satisfaction. The everyday tasks in your job often become boring and routine. Training programs help you take on more complex challenges, test your skills and give you an opportunity to be rewarded for your efforts.

Switching Gears

If you are truly in a dead-end job and see no opportunities for advancement, it is time to look at other career options with better opportunities for advancement. You may be able to move on with your current education, or you may need adult education to be trained for another career. If you do not have the resources to pay for schooling, there are financial aid programs available, even for adults. You will need to do some soul searching to determine the right career for you and make a firm decision on achieving your goals. The steps you take towards furthering your career will depend on the career you choose.

If you have a GED or high school diploma and are not ready to retrain, there will be certain careers that you should choose from. These include administrative careers, like a secretary, travel agent or insurance broker. Each of these careers can put you on the path to a life time of job satisfaction, as long as you take advantage of workplace training and maintain a strong work ethic. When switching from an unrelated field, a good resume is crucial. You will need to present your skills more prominently, rather than focusing on your work history.

Adult Education for a New Career

If you are ready to devote your time and energy to training for a new career, there are many more options to choose from.  You can be anything you want to be. This is a good option for those who already know what they want to achieve in a career. You can go for a college or vocational degree and take courses online if you prefer. You could also go to a local community college to start. If your grades are good enough, you may even be able to obtain your four-year degree from a major university.

Adult education is a relatively new concept. Empire State College was the first to offer courses aimed exclusively at adult learners in 1969. Since then, the field has expanded enormously, partly in response to expanding technology and career fields. With the evolution of the Internet, adult education has expanded even further, making online educations a popular choice for many people. Getting a degree online offers convenience and flexibility for time-strapped individuals already managing a full time job and family.

Most of the jobs in the fastest growing fields will require a college or vocational degree. The hottest growing career change right now is occurring in so called “Green Collar Jobs”, which often require certification through vocational training, a two-year college degree or master’s degree.

Vocational Training

Certainly, the fastest way to get a new career on track is to secure a vocational degree. Choosing the right degree program is essential. Certain fields are overcrowded with candidates and your time will be wasted if you secure certification in an overly-competitive market. You must also be certain to choose a program from an accredited educator. Programs that can jumpstart your new career include Certified Professional Secretary and Certified Administrative Professional programs. These certifications put you in line with seasoned professionals in the field, making it easier to find a job.

Furthering your Current Career

If you are in a career that offers advancement opportunities, but you simply do not have the education you need to get ahead, then you can choose from adult and continuing education programs at local or online colleges and universities. It may be that you have an associated degree and need to secure a bachelor’s degree. Maybe you need certification in a particular field to get ahead. In many industries, you can move onto management and supervisory careers with a bachelor’s degree.

Things to Consider before Taking Classes

Before you choose the right approach for your career change or advancement, take some time to consider your schedule and the best way to fit education into your daily routine. You may need to switch to part time work while you get your degree or vocational certificate. Be sure your spouse is supportive of your efforts because teamwork will make it much easier for you to balance to priorities of work, family and schooling. Your success will depend greatly on your commitment to the program and the support you receive from friends and family during your transition.