What is Professional Career Development?

When a person pursues professional career development, he or she learns new job skills in order to advance in their current position or to pursue a different field entirely. To keep certifications and licenses, some professions, for example, require a certain number of hours of continuing education or professional development. Earning an undergraduate or graduate degree, in-service classes sponsored the employer, conducting research, reading professional journals, or attending workshops or conferences are all examples of ways to learn new skills for such development. Many employees are required to create a professional development plan based on their current job performance, which outlines their professional goals for a specific time period, usually a year or longer. Some people use a career counselor to help them make career development plans, though it is not required.

Both the public and private sectors offer opportunities for professional advancement. For example, many school districts hold regular in-service days for all employees to help them improve their teaching abilities. Guest speakers, working on individual professional development goals, or skill training with other teachers in small groups are all possibilities for teacher in-service. Engineers, physicians, lawyers, and accountants, among others, are frequently required to complete continuing education hours in order to keep their licenses current and/or stay on top of their fields. They can, for example, take college classes, attend seminars, serve on committees, mentor newcomers, or write or present workshops. Businesses frequently hire motivational speakers, trainers, and consultants to help them find solutions to boost employee morale or teach new industry skills.

Almost every industry conducts an annual assessment of its employees’ strengths and weaknesses. One of the topics that supervisors will likely discuss with employees is professional career development and how specific goals can be used to improve job performance. Employees and supervisors can work together to create a development plan for the future, or an employee can decide on the goals independently before the meeting.

People who want a promotion, a transfer to a different department, or a completely different line of work may seek the help of a career counselor who specializes in professional career development. An employee can explore the career development options available to him or her through self-assessment, reflection, reading, aptitude tests, and discussions with a career counselor or coach. After that, the employee collaborates with a career counselor to develop a plan that best meets his or her long- and short-term career objectives.