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Do you want to make more money at your job?

For many, this is a simple question to answer—yes! The good news is that, for many, the path to a higher earning position can be clear-cut. The even better news is the path does not involve taking the advice of any lifestyle gurus, confidence coaches, or similarly shady players.

Earning more money at your job can be as simple as developing your professional skill set. What is a professional skillset you ask? It consists of your level of domain knowledge and related to the job you perform at work. If you are an assistant that may include things like knowing Quickbooks, Excel, and Constant Contact. If you work for a computer company, that may include things like learning to code, understanding version control, or even becoming certified in a cloud-based architecture.

A professional skillset is unique to the job. To assess what skills may help propel you forward requires a personal understanding of your workplace. You won’t find much outside help there. However, there are some sensible commonalities between many skillsets that can help get you started on the right track.

Online Courses

Online courses can help develop your understanding of technical knowledge related to your field of choice. To get started, don’t worry about certifications, quality of instruction, or even who’s teaching you. Dive into YouTube on a subject and familiarize yourself with the experience of learning a new subject or skill. If you feel comfortable, then you can take things to the next level.

Online courses—beyond those one might find on YouTube—have surged in popularity. There are full-fledged University courses one can take (for free!) from websites like Coursera, Udemy, Edx.org, or similar. These courses have a deeply developed curriculum and follow an outline one would expect from a University quality course. These types of online programs offer something for everyone whether you work in the field of social care, healthcare, science, or technology.

See also: Good Work Habits to Help You Succeed in 2021

Night Classes

Learning online isn’t for everyone. Sitting in front of a computer might not be the best way to learn for someone who sits in front of the computer all day. Most local universities offer night-classes that can conveniently fit into a working professional’s schedule. You’ll have a hard time finding a full-catalog of offering but usually, there is something to get started on.

Night classes, unless strictly part of a larger degree program, are a half-measure in terms of professional advancement. They teach new skills, expose one to broader perspectives, and offer the benefit of collaboration with like-minded individuals. However, they often don’t lead to any type of structured certificate or degree one can add to a resume to make a case for a raise. You’ll be forced to demonstrate what you’ve learned in such cases.

Professional Certification Programs

One level beyond night classes and online courses is professional certificate programs. These include anything from GED programs and Real Estate Licensure to HVAC repair and network admin certification. These services are often advertised as continuing education or professional certification programs and available through most community colleges and local universities. These programs almost always result in some form of certificate that can be used on one’s resume.

Depending on the type of certification, these courses are usually completed in a semester or less. Examples of certificates one might pursue professional advancement would be a local contractor becoming certified as an HVAC technician to qualify for additional work from their employer. Another would be a junior-level software engineer earning a CISCO-sponsored network administrator certificate to qualify for additional workplace responsibility.

Master’s Programs

Graduate programs, also known as Master’s Programs, come in several flavors. One, referred to as the Thesis approach, is for students seeking to pursue a career in academia. The other flavor, referred to as the degree or professional approach, seeks to teach students advanced skills for the workplace. This is like earning one’s undergraduate degree but can often be accomplished in under 2 years of full-time commitment or 2-3 years of part-time.

Master’s programs are very popular choices for professionals that have worked for several years and want to advance their careers. For example, a unit-tester at a software development firm may realize they have a passion for programming and higher-level architecture and wish to get a more senior-level position. A master’s program in computer science would be a perfect fit to advance their skillset and credentials to pursue such a position.

Communication Skills

This final tip is broad, broad in possible routes of development, and broad in its applicability. Learning to better communicate with bosses, coworkers, and potential future employers will only help your efforts at earning more. What’s more—learning to better communicate your goals to others will help you better understand them yourself. For example, lots of people might think to themselves “I’d like to earn more money.” Many fewer of those may ask “What would I do with more money? How much more would I need to do that? How can I earn exactly that much more money?”

Knowing the specifics of your goals can help attain them more readily. For example, if you realize you want to earn 150% of your current salary, you can start to look at which company positions pay that amount. With that knowledge, you could then speak to those employees about their credentials and formulate a strategy for developing your skill set to that level. Such approaches will help clarify if your path forward is a function of time, education, connections, or some combination of all.

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