LEARNING TODAY CAN BE ON YOUR TERMS: Technology has made it easier than ever to advance your education and value without missing a step.

Author:Cumberland, Denise M.

Everyone is a lifelong learner. After all, you are reading an article about education and learning. That alone says a lot. But for busy executives, reading an article might be where it stops. It's not because of lack of interest, but rather finding time to pursue ongoing education is the challenge. This article will answer some key questions to help you determine if it is time for you to invest in your own educational transformation.

Why Continue Learning Through a Certificate Program?

A former Fortune 500 CEO of a large restaurant organization said, "I believe that being an avid learner is the single biggest thing that separates a good leader from a great one. There is always more to know and when people ask what I look for when hiring someone, an avid learner tops the list." Being an avid learner means building your knowledge continuously. With today's rapidly changing business climate, staying in the forefront of your industry is critical to your ongoing success.

Many professionals want to continue their careers while gaining additional education. This has created a demand for professional certificates, which are accessible, flexible and affordable. Certificate programs focus on the mastery of skills and knowledge by individuals already in a profession. Industry-specific certificates not only help you gain more knowledge in your field, but also help you elevate your stature and add value to your organization.

The IFA's Certified Franchise Executive Program (CFE), created in the 1990s, awards the CFE designation to individuals who have obtained, through experience, education and testing, an advanced set of skills distinctly applicable to the field of franchising. There are more than 1,600 CFEs, and these lifelong learners champion the program, with 98 percent recommending the program to others.

It certainly helps that there is a strong value proposition for obtaining this credential. A study by Franchise Business Review found that individuals with CFEs earn more; in fact - CFE Directors and above earn 9 percent more than their counterparts. Earning a certificate credential can also be a differentiating factor during a job search. Holding a certificate confirms additional learning in the industry, and also demonstrates persistence and dedication on the part of the individual completing it. Lastly, a professional certificate leads to networking within your industry with other like-minded professionals.

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