What is Continuing Education?
The educational world and surrounding laws are constantly evolving. Continuing education units, known as CEUs, are a vital and required part of every school-based professional. These CEUs allow individuals to stay-up-to date with the latest industry developments, skills, and new technologies used in their specialty. CEUs vary in format so they can work around the busy schedules of school professionals. CEUs might be available through a college, training center, or workplace, and come in the form of a certificate or diploma.
There are also interactive online opportunities offered, such as a WebEx. Professional associations and groups are extremely important to be a part of. These formal groups typically provide their members with changing laws, certification requirements, continuing education opportunities, and conferences.
The term continuing education most commonly refers to earning yearly CEUs that are required for maintaining state licensure. However, some professionals may decide to go back to school and receive a higher degree such as a master's or doctorate in their subject field. This is always a tough decision to make but can result in more job opportunities and higher pay. With the rise of technology, many schools offer online courses and flex degrees that allow you to continue working throughout your advanced schooling.
Whether continuing your education is required by state laws or not, it is an awesome opportunity to advance your career. Staying current with your school specialty will open up more job opportunities, improve your confidence, and increase your job satisfaction.
Be sure to take time each year to check into opportunities within your school-based occupation. Below are some resources that will assist you in deciding on how you want to continue your continued education within your profession.
Physical Therapy Continuing Education
CEU Opportunities By The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)
The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is a must-have resource for all school physical therapists. Not only does it provide you with the latest industry news but it also offers upcoming events where you can receive additional credentialing. As an APTA member, you have access to resources on careers, education, practice, patient care, advocacy, news, publications, and more. Information on national conferences is provided as well. These conferences occur yearly and are an excellent resource for keeping up to date with everything physical therapy related.
APTA is a great tool to use as a physical therapist but make sure to check with your state’s physical therapy governing board and association to stay informed on current physical therapy continuing education requirements. They might also offer physical therapy continuing education online opportunities or events that help you meet your necessary CEUs.
Occupational Therapy Continuing Education
1. CEU Opportunities By The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
When deciding how you are going into continuing education, it is important to not overlook the quality of the CEUs being offered. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is the national association for all occupational therapists and offers only the highest-level of continued instruction. Not only do they offer a variety of different formats, but their CEU products are also all recognized by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), state licensure boards, and employers. Additionally, AOTA has current information on occupational therapy advocacy & policy, education & careers, conferences & events, and publication & news. Keep an eye out for occupational therapy continuing education online opportunities on AOTA's website as well.
2. Pursuing a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy
Another option to continue your education is going back to school to receive your doctoral degree. If you are already working as an occupational therapist, then you most like have your master’s degree. Adding a doctorate will truly help separate you from the rest of the applicants in your field and open up more doors for your career. This will require you going back to school to complete more coursework and fieldwork and further specialize in an occupational therapy field.
Speech Therapy Continuing Education
1. CEU Opportunities By The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
Speech therapy continuing education courses are available in a variety of different settings, from in-person classrooms to online flex opportunities. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) should be your go-to association when trying to navigate the plethora of CEU options available. ASHA keeps a catalog of CEUs that they offer directly through live events or "self-study courses," or find courses by other providers that are AHSA approved. They also offer a continuing education registry, which is the only service that tracks your CEUs. Even if you are not in search of CEUs, ASHA is still an excellent resource for finding relevant information on certifications, publications, events in the field, advocacy, practice management, and more.
2. Pursuing a Doctorate in Speech-Language Pathology
If you are ready to take your career to the next level and are interested in teaching, researching, and other scholarly activities around speech-language pathology, then pursuing a Ph.D. will be the best option for you. After you complete your master’s degree, earning a Ph.D. will require an additional 3 years of school. This is a large time commitment and may not be the best course of action for your desired career path, so make sure to do your research before taking this step.
School Psychology Continuing Education
1. CEU Opportunities By The American Psychological Association (APA)
The American Psychological Association (APA) is the largest professional organization that represents working psychologists in the United States. As a result, they are going to be the most valuable resource for a school psychologist focused on continuing education. Not only does the APA have an extensive list of the education programs they offer, but it has it broken down by topic, type, and credit. With over 30 different topics, 5 formats, and ranging number of credits offered, there are endless possibilities for CEUs that can fit the demanding needs of a school psychologist. The APA also hosts information to support the development of psychology professionals that includes the latest research highlights, news and events, forum discussions, and electronic databases.
2. CEU Opportunities By The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)
While the APA is the largest organization for psychologists as a whole, the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) deals strictly with school psychologists. Every year, NASP host an annual conference that provides its attendees with CEU opportunities and the latest industry news. Their website also has an online learning center that allows members to sift through a variety of CEU subject areas. As always, check with your state’s psychology licensing board for any CEU requirements.
3. Pursuing a Doctorate in School Psychology
While NASP and the APA are excellent resources to continue your education, you still have the other option of going back to school entirely to receive a doctorate. A Doctorate in School Psychology is not a requirement for employment, but it does separate you from other candidates in your field and increase your chances to earn a higher salary.
Continuing Education for School Counselors
1. CEU Opportunities By The American School Counselor Association’s (ASCA)
Today's social climate and issues are constantly changing, which means school counselors need to adapt quickly to the evolving needs of their students. The American School Counselor Association's (ASCA) purpose is to assist school counselors by providing techniques that help students reach their full academic, social, and career potential. ASCA achieves this through the use of CEUs. CEUs are an excellent way for these counselors to ensure that they are providing the highest level of service to their schools. ASCA offers a variety of CEU opportunities through different mediums such as webinars, conferences, on-site training, and more. Additionally, when you become a member of ASCA, you benefit from others’ experience and research and gain access to different publications, periodicals, podcasts, professional development resources, and more.
2. Pursuing a Master's or Doctorate in Counseling
After working as a school counselor and completing your yearly CEUs, you might decide that you want to further your education even more. It is not uncommon for working school counselors that have a master's degree to return to school and receive an additional doctorate. This will qualify you for essentially any school counseling job and increase your pay as well.
School Nurses Continuing Education
CNE Opportunities By The National Association of School Nurses (NASN)
School nurses are the frontline defense in keeping a school healthy and happy. It is imperative their medical knowledge in the school setting is top-notch. The National Association of School Nurses (NASN) is an excellent resource that every school nurse should be taking advantage of to ensure they are administering a high-quality of care. On NASN’s website, you can find their "Learning Center" portal that contains a library of different Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) courses, as well as webinars, podcasts, toolkits, and other important tools. NASN also hosts an annual conference like most associations that school nurse continuing education courses. Even if you are not looking for credited learning units, NASN is still an awesome resource that contains the latest policies, advocacy, research, publications, and more in the world of school nursing.
Special Education Teachers Continuing Education
CEU Opportunities By The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET)
The main reason schools and school districts require continuing education courses is to ensure that their educators are continuously educated on the highest level of standard for student learning. Successful professional development amongst teachers only translates to a higher level of education, which in turn is better for the students they serve. The National Association of Special Education Teachers (NASET) is an excellent organization that helps implement CEU laws put in place by the state legislature by offering accredited courses that promote strong teaching skills. NASET offers a variety of special education CEU topics that range from building confidence in the classroom to behavior management tools. When you become a member of NASET not only are you gaining access to these CEUs but also information on resources for teachers, publications, a career center, and more.School Social Worker Continuing Education CEU Opportunities By The National Association of Social Workers (NASW)
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is the official organization for social works in the united states and has roughly 120,000 members. This association has grown so large because of the different resources they can offer. They are dedicated to the professional development of social workers and continuing education is a major part of what they do. Track your CEUs through their membership program and earn hundreds of hours through webinars, webcasts, podcasts, presentations and more. NASW also helps other organizations create and implement CEU courses of their own, which just means more opportunities and variety for you to choose from. The NASW website even includes a section of their website specific to school social workers. This area includes practice tools for school social workers, along with announcements, licensing information, newsletters, and publications.
Adaptive Physical Education Teacher Continuing Education
CEU Opportunities By The Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE)
Adaptive physical education teachers have multiple options for continuing their education. The first is the Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE) which oversees physical educators in general and not just adapted physical educators. The organization’s primary goal is to set and define the national standards of physical education. Their site has a variety of workshops, webinars, podcasts, and research resources and more than 500 CEUs available. In addition to SHAPE, there is also the Adapted Physical Education National Standards (APENS), an association dedicated specifically to adapted physical education teachers. While this organization is not as large as SHAPE, it still has a variety of resources pertinent to these specialized educators.
Additional Continuing Education Resources for School Professionals
In addition to the above-mentioned professional associations, look for webinar series, social media groups, and gatherings or clubs that may meet at universities or colleges near your community. State licensing boards for your professions might also offer different CEU opportunities online or in your area. Many of these are free, but some may cost money that will be well worth it in exchange for professional development and beyond.
No matter what school-based profession you are in, CEUs will be a part of your yearly routine. Required or not, they are a great way to keep you engaged with your work, increase your job satisfaction, and improve the quality of care you give to your students.