How Much Do Online Continuing Education Courses Cost?
Whether voluntary or required by the state or federal government, there are many professional courses that go above and beyond traditional college learning. These continuing education courses allow professionals to grow far beyond a traditional degree or certificate program and stay current with new mandates and issues that may affect a given industry.
Regardless of the reasons for pursuing continuing education, one of the top questions relates to cost. Which programs are better? Is there a way to save money on continuing education courses? Where does one begin?
A Brief Look at Continuing Education
Continuing education generally pertains to a large grouping of learning programs that are made available after the completion of a degree, a series of tests, or a certification program. They’re designed to enhance what was learned in school and to relate directly to on-the-job experience.
These courses are designed under the understanding that professionals in a given field already have knowledge that relates to that field. They’re meant to supplement and add to this knowledge. Courses can include additional certifications, like continuing education for cosmetologists does, or staying up to date on legal and process changes, like continuing education for insurance agents.
The options relating to continuing education courses are limitless, as are the way these courses can be pursued. Both online and traditional courses can be found at established universities; even some professional organizations and membership or community organizations offer courses. It all depends upon the area of study and the purpose.
Continuing education is based around the premise that the students in a given area of study have a large knowledge base and are looking to expand upon it. These courses are not basic, but rather supplementary. Courses can be offered by universities, professional organizations, online providers, and a variety of other educational sources, depending upon the subject matter.
Continuing Education Online Verses Continuing Education at Traditional Universities
Over the past few years, the emergence of continuing education courses made available online has advanced. In the past, courses were provided by colleges and universities in a traditional classroom setting. Since many industries required these courses, there was a large profit to be made and students were often at the mercy of the university closest to them.
Times have changed. Because of the rise of technology and its general availability, many institutions began to offer continuing education courses online. Online continuing education courses offer a plethora of benefits that cannot be matched by the traditional standard. They include:
Because continuing education courses offered through traditional universities are treated like normal university classes, they are generally scheduled in advance. This offers little flexibility for professionals who work full time and are unavailable at a regular, recurring interval. Online training allows students to study on their own time and work through course materials at their own pace. The flexibility is a critical benefit of online continuing education.
When attending a traditional university – especially in-person – professionals pursuing continuing education courses are generally limited to what’s available in their immediate surroundings. With online continuing education courses, as long as a program is approved within a given state and falls within legal mandates, students have more options and can find a program that suits them.
Cost of Online CE
It’s a given: in most cases, courses offered online, especially traditional education courses, are less expensive than traditional courses. It makes sense: fewer resources are required of the course provider, which makes it less costly to provide the classes in the first place. Because of this, professionals looking to pursue continuing education are often faced with fewer costs when they start online.
In a classroom setting, individuals pursuing continuing education courses can ask questions. However, when it comes to personalized support, they’re generally limited to office hours and the professor’s availability. Instead, with online continuing education programs – like StateCE, the online continuing education program offered by Vista College – students are able to access customer support in a variety of methods – chat, email, phone calls – at any time. This keeps coursework moving smoothly and allows for a sense of support that can be difficult to find elsewhere.
When taking courses in person – whether through a traditional university, a conference, or a professional organization – professionals are limited to which courses are being offered at a given time. Taking additional courses often requires a waiting period or the need to register for a new semester or conference. Online continuing education programs offer a broader selection that can be taken at any time. No waiting is required.
Many professionals are intimidated by the classroom setting. Perhaps a negative experience during undergrad or earlier prompted it, or maybe performing in a group setting leads to anxiety. Some individuals just learn better by themselves. By taking continuing education courses online, the stress brought on by a traditional classroom setting is negated and students can study in the comfort of their own homes.
Easily Accessible Materials
Remember the university setting? Remember the added expenses – books and other course materials? With online continuing education courses, materials are available online. They can be accessed through a variety of browsers and the coursework and materials are all available in a single location. In many cases, printed materials are available at the choosing of the student.
These are just a few of the benefits of online continuing education courses. In many cases, the same resources available at traditional universities are made available to online students, leading to a fulfilling, successful experience that is centered around each user.
How often Are Continuing Education Courses Required?
This question, frequently asked by professionals in a variety of industries, varies greatly. In some industries, a specific number of credits is mandated on a yearly or bi-yearly basis. In others, courses are available but not mandatory. Instead, these courses help add credibility and expertise to a professional’s background but are not required by the state.
In general, one continuing education unit is defined as 10 hours of participation in an organized continuing education experience that is provided by a responsible sponsor, organization, or university – and coupled with capable direction and qualified instruction.
Because courses require a time commitment, it can be difficult to make time for them on a regular basis. However, when mandated, it’s not an option. Many employers allow employees time – or even compensation – to complete required continuing education courses.
To determine how frequently you should complete continuing education courses, it’s best to look at the requirements of your industry. If there is a bi-yearly requirement, is there still an annual requirement under it? Understanding the frequency required by your industry prevents any misunderstandings that can lead to the loss of licensing or worse.
If no mandates exist, think about the benefits of continuing education. It could set you apart from your competition and increase your skills and knowledge in a given area. Taking courses regularly is recommended.
Costs by Industry – The StateCE Way
Costs for continuing education vary greatly by the sponsoring organization or university. In a traditional university setting, because classroom fees and other standard student fees are required, courses can start at $601 per credit hour. Twelve to eighteen credits can cost upwards of $8,000. Standard online courses can range from $159 as a starting cost to $337 per credit. The expense can be astronomical.
StateCE is different. Our programs are designed to be affordable alternatives to traditional classroom learning with courses taught by instructors with years of experience. The cost is less, but quality is maintained at all times. To ensure our services are affordable, StateCE offers a price guarantee. If a customer can find a similar course offered by any other education institution at a lower price, that price will be matched. StateCE offers preferred customers discount pricing on top of the prices listed below. This additional discount is taken off automatically when preferred customers register and pay for courses. Costs vary by industry and are included with each program below:
Continuing Education for Insurance Agents
The insurance industry changes at a rapid pace. Because of its complexity, it’s critical that agents and professionals stay current with products and legal changes. In most cases, stringent licensing requirements exist. StateCE’s insurance programs allow agents to fulfill requirements in:
- Long-Term Care
The cost of continuing education for insurance agents through StateCE is as follows:
Mortgage Continuing Education Courses
Those involved in mortgage loan origination are required to uphold strict standards while remaining well-versed in all areas of real estate law and requirements. StateCE offers courses for these professionals that are approved by the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System. Available courses include:
- Truth in Lending Act
- Regulation B
The cost of mortgage continuing education courses is $146 for eight hours.
HVAC Continuing Education Courses
HVAC professionals and technicians are required to fulfill continuing education courses to renew state licenses. StateCE’s HVAC course offerings cover:
- HVAC fundamentals
- Rules, Law, Safety, and Health
- Systems and Standards
The cost of HVAC continuing education courses through StateCE is $99 for up to eight hours and $12.50 per hour over eight hours.
Continuing Education for Electricians
In many states, electricians are required to demonstrate their knowledge of changes to the National Electrical Code, which changes each year. This code is the industry standard that governs safe, electrical wiring practices. Other states require a specific number of continuing education credits to be obtained on a regular basis.
StateCE’s continuing education courses for electricians include classes for the following classifications:
- Journeyman Sign Electrician
- Master Sign Electrician
- Journeyman Electrician
- Master Electrician
These courses start at $40 for up to four hours and are $10 per hour after that.
Continuing Education for Radiologic Technologists
X-ray technologists and other professionals in the radiology industry work long hours and are still required to fulfill continuing education classes to ensure their patients receive the best care possible.
StateCE’s continuing education for radiologic technologists course offerings include:
- Radiobiology Essentials
- Radiography Anatomy Essentials
- Radiography Technology Essentials
- Direct Intro to Radiography
- Direct Radiobiology Basics
- Direct Radiograph/Anatomy Basics
StateCE’s program offerings for radiology professionals include testing services to ensure all continuing education requirements are met. Each course has been approved by the American Society of Radiologic Technologists and meets the requirements outlined by the American Registry of Radiologic Technology.
The cost for continuing education for radiologic technologists offered by StateCE is:
Continuing Education for Cosmetologists
Many states require cosmetologists to complete a pre-specified number of continuing education courses to renew their licenses. These courses allow cosmetologists to stay current on new techniques while providing the best possible services to their clients. StateCE’s continuing education for cosmetologists courses include:
- Hair Weaving
- Manicurist Instructor
- Facialist Instructor
- Operator Instructor
Costs of these courses start at $17.32 for single credit hours and increase to $21 for three to four credit hours.
Continuing Education for Tow Operators
In some states, mechanics and those involved in the trade are required to obtain a license to operate a towing service. These licenses must be renewed regularly and require the completion of continuing education courses.
StateCE’s course offerings for tow operators include:
- Consent Tow
- Incident Management
- Private Property
- Multiple Lines
The cost of these courses starts at $40 for up to four hours with $12 per hour over four.
Continuing Education for Private Security
Licensed private detectives and security professionals are required to complete state-mandated continuing education courses. Depending upon the state in which a student resides, courses offered by StateCE include:
- Private Investigator Skills and Techniques
- Private Security Business
- Private Security Ethics
- Private security Rules and Regulations
- Private Security Law
- Private Security Alarm Installation
In some cases, courses may be available that relate to administrative rules and codes that vary by state for private security professionals.
The cost of online CE courses from StateCE breakdown is as follows:
Whether mandated or optional, continuing education courses offer an edge to professionals looking to stay ahead while providing valuable information that ensures business operations run smoothly. For students looking for flexibility and alternatives to traditional classroom learning environments, online continuing education courses offer a cost-effective alternative that fits any schedule and learning style.