7 Professional Development Ideas to Boost Your Career

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There are many reasons why you may be looking for professional development ideas. Maybe you’ve had a lifelong goal to earn a certain job title, but you’re not there yet. Maybe you’ve learned all you can from your current role, and you’re ready for more responsibilities. Maybe your current job doesn’t allow for the kind of creativity you crave. Whatever your reason for wanting more out of your career, there are a variety of ways to invest in yourself. < Click to Tweet

What are some examples of professional development?

Conferences and Workshops

Attending conferences and workshops is an excellent way to build your knowledge and skills. EMS World Expo is an example of a multi-day conference for emergency medical services professionals to gather for hands-on training and education. Additionally, safety professionals can attend regional conferences throughout the U.S. offered by the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants’ Association.

Not only do in-person events often feature experts speaking about a variety of relevant topics, in many cases, these events are also great opportunities to build your professional network. Connecting with someone from another organization can create opportunities that you may not have considered before.

Thanks to modern technology, many large conferences also offer options for remote participation. If you don’t have the time or budget to attend a conference or workshop in person, check to see if online registrations are available.


Conferences are typically held once a year with multiple topics stuffed into a short window of time, but what can you do in the months and months between? Webinars and other online tutorials can be a great way to boost your knowledge in shorter bursts. Here at Columbia Southern University, we offer webinars covering a variety of topics:

Helpful video resources are also widely available on YouTube, Vimeo and other popular channels. LinkedIn Learning, formerly Lynda.com, is a popular subscription service that offers courses taught by industry experts.

Blogs, Podcasts and Email Newsletters

Webinars and other online videos aren’t the only format for helpful professional development resources on the internet. Blogs, podcasts, email newsletters and other digital content are massive sources of wisdom.

Authors, news outlets, professional associations, niche publications and others publish and distribute original and curated content to their audiences through these methods. Chances are good that your favorite professional association, author or influencer publishes in one of these formats on a regular basis.

For example, public administrators can subscribe to email newsletters from the International City/County Management Association. Additionally, EMS professionals can sign up to receive email newsletters from the Journal of Emergency Medical Services.

And don’t forget, we have our own newsletter here at The Link. Simply hit the subscribe button at the top of the page and provide your email address to start receiving links to our most recent articles every month.


Sometimes, the only way to take the next step in your career is by pursuing a degree. Management positions in many different industries require at least a bachelor’s degree. Finding the right school can be complicated, and staying productive and managing your time as a student can be difficult, but in the long run the degree will be worth it.

Earning a degree is about more than just meeting a minimum requirement on a job description; it provides critical baseline knowledge and skills for anyone looking to advance in their profession. For example, education is an important step in the path for any administrator in criminal justice. Writing skills are tied closely to leadership success in criminal justice, and earning a degree can put you on the right path.


Universities also offer certificates in addition to degrees in many cases. Certificates provide focused training within a professional specialization and usually require less credit hours to complete than degrees.

Two of the most popular certificate programs at CSU are the undergraduate and graduate certificates in environmental management.* Students who complete these certificate programs apply environmental concepts to waste management, pollution prevention and air quality in their everyday jobs.

Continuing Education

After completing a degree, many graduates continue as non-degree seeking students. For aspiring administrators in many industries, continuing education classes are an invaluable resource. In some specific cases, earning CEUs can count as prerequisites for certification exams.

For example, CSU offers several continuing education courses in fire science. For a full listing of all continuing education courses offered by CSU, visit ColumbiaSouthern.edu/CE.*


In some lines of work, certifications offered by professional associations are expected or even required for career advancement. Businesses benefit from their employees earning certifications, so check with your employer to see if they will cover your costs.

One example is in the occupational safety and health field. Certifications are critical for safety professionals who are hoping to move up in their industry. Earning the Certified Safety Professional® and Certified Safety and Health Manager designations can help an individual on their path to higher salaries and more responsibilities.


We hope this list of professional development ideas provides a starting point for you on your journey to a bigger and better career. And once you’re ready to apply for your dream job, the CSU Career Services team is here to help.

*These programs are not eligible for Federal Student Aid, military tuition assistance, VA funding or Learning Partner discounts.

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