How to accumulate new career skills

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How many jobs do you expect to have had by the time you retire? While people from previous generations may have expected to change jobs only a handful of times, switching jobs frequently – and oftentimes switching careers – has become commonplace for today’s workforce. Today, people change jobs every five years on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Therefore, it’s never been more important to accumulate career skills throughout your working life. Whether you simply want to get better at your job or could see yourself changing careers at 40, learning new skills or preparing yourself for different types of work is never a bad idea.

Here are a few ways you can expand your career skill set:

* Read books related to your career or another line of work you are interested in. Continuing your learning through reading is an easy and inexpensive way to make sure you’re staying on top of the latest developments in your field. Employers value individuals who haven’t been out of college for long because they bring fresh ideas to the table. With knowledge gained from reading you can pair new ideas with skills you’ve already acquired on the job – an attractive package for employers. Don’t be afraid to share valuable tidbits you pick up with your boss and coworkers. They may be willing to suggest other books for you to read, as well.

* Attend classes. Whether it’s continuing-education classes or workshops offered through trade groups, learning some new skills through a class is a great way to acquire or enhance your job skills. Ask your boss if he or she knows of any relevant courses being offered in your area and you may also find that your company is willing to pay for some or all of your training.

* Obtain an advanced degree. Adding another degree to your resume is still a great way to qualify for a better job, a promotion at your current place of employment or at the very least, a pay raise. Business management degrees are a common choice because they apply to many types of work and often include advanced skills courses including management.

Many colleges also offer night or online classes, so you don’t have to quit your job to go back to school. However, the decision to return to school should not be taken lightly, as degrees usually don’t come cheap. Do the necessary amount of research to make sure the degree you are seeking will help you accomplish your goals – both professionally and financially.

Keeping your career skills relevant and sharp by continuing your learning can make you a more valuable employee, as well as help you stay excited about your work. Whether it’s picking up a book or heading back to school, it never hurts to think about how you can make yourself more desirable to employers, especially in an uncertain economy.