Looking at Hourly Wage Differences
In terms of hourly earnings, the Pew Research Center found the average hourly wage over a 25-year period increased to $22 per hour. Jobs requiring social or analytical skills increased to $26 and $27 per hour while those requiring physical skills increased to $18 per hour. Importantly, these hourly increases represent a 16 percent average increase overall — those with social/analytical skills saw a 15 to 19 percent increase, but only 7 percent for workers with physical skills.
Source: Pew Research Center
As you can see from the graph, it truly does make sense to advance your skills and stay relevant in the workforce.
Where Can You Get Training?
Many people believe earning a college degree or taking college courses furthers their skill set, but what if you don’t have the time or money to go to a traditional four-year university? There are many options for continuing your education. Before committing to any educational program, research acceptance requirements, what you can expect to learn and the full cost of attending (including missed work time).
Internship, Apprenticeship or Volunteering
- Internships often are unpaid, but they can help you evaluate an industry and begin working right away. Apprenticeships often combine training with classroom instruction.
Professional Development Training Courses
- Ideally, your employer will recommend and pay for professional development as a way to improve the workforce. But if you are paying on your own or selecting a program that you hope your employer will reimburse you for, do your due diligence. Identify any professional organizations that certify the training, the outcomes you can expect and the costs (including continuing costs for testing, licensing or credentialing).
- The military offers highly specialized training for a multitude of jobs, with benefits for college tuition, insurance and retirement.
- Many trainings are offered online, giving you a way to learn at your own pace and on your own time. Online training is not for everyone, but it is becoming more and more common. Use the tips on this page to vet online courses and make the most of your experience.
- Community and junior colleges typically offer associate’s degrees and specialized certifications that can be earned by taking night classes and online courses, allowing you to continue working while in school.
Four-year College or University
- These institutions offer the widest selection of degrees; however, they also come with the biggest price tag and time commitment. Just applying to a four-year program takes a lot of time and money. Many institutions require you to take entrance exams (such as the GRE, GMAT or LSAT) in addition to writing admissions essays, gathering reference letters and transcripts, and paying an application fee. Even then, admission is not guaranteed.
Verify Your Training Options
Think about a professional training you have completed in the past to answer the following questions:
- Who conducted the training, and what were their credentials?
- Why did you participate in the training?
- Who paid for the training and related materials?
- Was there follow-up after the training?
- Did the training program provider have established connections with employers? Were you able to connect to employers as part of the program?
Just like reading information on the internet, you need to verify the credentials of training you receive to make sure it is relevant and credible. In the future, use these questions to help:
- Who is the sponsor of the training? Is the training approved by your current or desired employer? Is it a respected name in your industry?
- What is the purpose of the training? Is there immediate value? What will you know or be able to do after the training that you don’t know or can’t do now?
- What does the training cost? Will the payoff justify the costs associated with the training, not only in money, but also your time? What costs are there to maintain credentials? For example, many licenses require continuing education classes to maintain certifications over time.
- How does the trainer use your personal information? This is important because you may not want phone calls, emails, texts or mail from a training organization continuously trying to sell you more training. With the exception of employer-sponsored or required trainings, be wary of any that won’t help you connect with employers afterward.