Professional development can be incredibly fulfilling. Feeling like you love the work you do — and are great at it — offers a unique sense of purpose that can bring meaning to your life.
And with so many Americans looking for work, you also need to develop professionally to stay ahead of the competition. Upskilling or reskilling might make the difference between remaining stagnant and receiving a raise.
Whether you’re vying for a promotion at your current company or considering a complete career 180, upskilling helps you stand out to your manager and recruiters. And job training programs are the perfect way to perfect your skills and acquire new ones.
What are job training programs?
Employment training programs are workforce development activities aimed at giving you the skills needed to succeed in your current role or one you hope to acquire. These programs typically fall into one of three categories:
On-the-job training: If you’ve ever sat through a new employee orientation, you’ve participated in on-the-job training. These programs give new employees the information and skills they need to perform well. During this training, you’ll learn about company policies, how to use certain software, and other job-specific rules and requirements.
Off-the-job training: Training programs outside of work are considered off-the-job training. This includes diversity workshops, industry conferences, and even video training completed at home. You can also take off-the-job training independently to prepare for a new career. You might complete a job training program to prepare for nurse practitioner work, for example.
Internships/externships: You could consider internships and externships on-the-job training programs. Both opportunities allow you to learn valuable skills by working for an organization for a set length of time (internships are typically 10–12 weeks, and externships are usually eight weeks or less). But unlike typical on-site training, these experiences are often unpaid. Some companies offer interns and externs compensation, while others only offer school credit or work experience.
On-the-job versus off-the-job training
Many businesses offer employees on and off-the-job programs as part of their corporate training, for good reason. Here are a few training program benefits:
- On-the-job training is immediately applicable, as you use the skills you’ve learned in your current position
- On-the-job training offers targeted learning that helps you perform your duties better
- Off-the-job training often features a guest trainer, which invites opportunities for new perspectives and innovative ideas
- Off-the-job training is usually more theoretical, making the skills you learn more widely applicable to any position or career
And here are a few disadvantages:
- On-the-job training can disrupt an office’s workflow, which might hurt overall productivity
- On-the-job training tends to have a limited scope, offering skills that might not be transferable in the long run
- Off-the-job training can be expensive, especially when your employer isn’t offering the program
Companies who want to empower their employees can use both on and off-the-job programs as part of their employee training. And if you think your current job isn’t right for you, an off-the-job training program is a great way to find a new job opportunity.
6 job training programs to jumpstart your career
With so many job training programs for adults available today, it’s easy to find professional development opportunities in an industry you love. Here are just a few of the many programs you can try to build your skills or start down a new career path.
1. Certified nurse assistant training
Certified nurse assistants (CNAs) typically work in nursing homes, hospitals, and other medical facilities. As a CNA, you’d change wound dressings, check vital signs, and help patients with essential daily activities. This type of work is in high demand throughout the US and will likely become even more vital as our population ages.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that CNAs earn a median salary of $30,290 per year. But before becoming a CNA, you’ll need to complete a training program and pass an exam. CNA training requirements vary based on location, but most programs are between 4–12 weeks long.
2. Phlebotomy technician training
Phlebotomy technicians specialize in drawing blood for donation, transfusion, testing, and more. Bloodwork is an essential part of modern medicine, so becoming a phlebotomist is a great choice for anyone who wants to help others. And unlike many other medical positions, you don’t need a college degree to become a phlebotomist — just a high school diploma and certification from a training program.
Most phlebotomy training lasts 4–18 months, depending on the program you enroll in and whether you’re training full or part-time. But in every program, you’ll gain hands-on experience successfully and safely drawing blood. Once you finish your work training program, you can expect to earn a median annual salary of $37,380.
3. EMT training
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are another vital part of the healthcare system. As an EMT, you’re responsible for providing critical medical care to sick or injured people before transporting them to a hospital.
EMTs earn a median salary of $36,930 per year, and like with CNAs, demand for the job has risen as medical needs grow throughout the country.
To become an EMT, you need to complete at least 170 hours of training. You can receive this training through an EMT program (often at a community college or similar institution) to learn to administer first-response care like splinting injuries, CPR, and administering medication.
4. Cosmetology school
Licensed cosmetologists can work as hairstylists, nail technicians, or other beauty professionals in spas or salons. But before you can start helping people look and feel their best (and earn a median salary of $29,680 per year), you’ll need to earn your cosmetology license, which takes about 12–14 months at an accredited cosmetology school. These programs will teach you valuable role-specific skills like health and safety best practices, chemical care, and even the basics of running a business.
5. Flight attendant training
As a flight attendant, you help passengers feel comfortable and safe during their travels. This line of work offers you a median salary of $61,640 per year plus perks like free air travel and discounted hotel costs.
Most airlines offer their own on-the-job training services, which can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. In training, you’ll learn about flight safety, how to administer first aid, and customer service, so you can ensure flyers enjoy their experience on your aircraft.
6. Certified bookkeeper training
If you have a head for numbers, your job search might lead you to a career in bookkeeping. This is a great option, as bookkeeping is essential to every business. If you become a certified bookkeeper (CB), you can work for small businesses, nonprofits, accounting firms, and everywhere in between, earning a median salary of $45,560 per year.
To become a CB, you must have at least two years of full-time bookkeeping experience (or 3,000 hours of freelance experience) and pass a four-part exam from the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). There are no educational requirements, but having at least an associate degree in accounting is wise.
How to find the best job training program for you
Many local governments have job placement boards online where businesses can find interns or new hires, and you can find your ideal skills development program. And if you’re looking to improve at your current role, ask your manager or a human resources professional about the programs your employer offers.
The “perfect” program varies for everyone, but the following factors can help you narrow down your search:
The program’s cost: While there are some free government training programs, most come at a cost — either to you or your employer. If you’re paying, look for a program that fits your current budget. And if you opt for more expensive training, find something that’ll help you land a higher-paying position.
Your prospective salary: If you’re currently job hunting, consider what you hope to make in your new role and find programs that give you a competitive edge. Showcase your new skills training on your resume to increase the chance you’ll receive your expected salary.
Your availability: Some programs are part-time, giving you the freedom to continue working. Others require a certain number of classroom hours, which can interfere with a 9–5 schedule. Find a program that works with the work-life balance you need.
Your passions: It’s always better to go to work happy. Otherwise you might resent your coworkers and feel dissatisfied professionally. Try to find career training that aligns with your passions and interests so you can enjoy the learning process.
Feel well-prepared for work you love
In today’s competitive labor market, having more skills on your resume is always good. And job training programs like the ones listed above are excellent opportunities to develop new skills that give you an edge over others.
Whether you’re getting on-the-job training from your new employer, vocational training for a brand new career, or one-on-one help from a coach or mentor, utilizing training resources can set you on a career path you truly love.