To be a successful management accountant in today’s ever-changing business environment, you need to maintain a competitive skill set. That’s why professional development and continuing education courses are so important. Whether you’re practicing soft skills or studying for a rigorous exam to earn a certification like the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant), continuing education is crucial for career advancement.
As busy financial professionals, we have to optimize our time spent with continuing education opportunities. Technology can help, and using it to our advantage will pay off in career development. Online learning options can help you balance both your time and budget while getting the most out of continuing education.
Webinars are live interactive seminars conducted over the internet. A host, or hosts, presents a topic via video or slide deck, which can be very useful if you like to take notes. Some webinars even have a chat box where audience members can exchange information and ask questions of each other and the host(s). This is a great source of knowledge sharing. At 30 to 75 minutes in length, webinars allow you to participate during your lunch break or even rewatch the webinars at convenient times.
Nanolearning (or microlearning) courses are typically five to 15 minutes in length and offer bite-sized bits of information with a single, highly targeted objective. They are similar to webinars in that they are video- or slide-based presentations hosted by one or more people. These courses are effective if you’re the type who likes to learn on the go since they’re easily accessible on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices. Also, to keep pace with market demand and to better serve professionals, NASBA recently updated its guidelines to include nanolearning. Courses that are 10 minutes long are now acceptable for continuing professional education (CPE) credits.
Self-study courses are great because you can study wherever (and on whichever device) is convenient for you and can work at your own pace—though there’s usually a deadline to finish the course. You can either take courses online through a university or through an organization like IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants). Online courses are less expensive than in-person or instructor-led courses. Individuals who are reading-writing learners would benefit the most from these courses. In addition to accounting-related courses, you can also find many related to soft-skills training.
MAXIMIZING YOUR DOWN TIME
Busy professionals know that continuing education is crucial for career advancement. That’s why it’s important to maximize our time spent with training courses. When I studied for the CMA exam, I studied a little in the morning before work, on my lunch break, after dinner—whenever I could. I do the same today with my continuing education.
Continuing education is always top of mind at IMA. Members holding the CMA need to earn 30 CPE credits per year to maintain their certification. IMA hosts more than 40 webinars each year, which qualify for one or one and a half hours of NASBA-approved CPE credits. Most are free to members. In addition, IMA’s self-study course catalog includes more than 300 courses on general finance and accounting topics as well as ethics courses. With year-end approaching fast, it’s a great time to ensure you’ve met your CPE requirements.
How do you maximize your time for continuing education? Share your stories with us in the comments.
Leverage Online Learning – Strategic Finance (August 2016)