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Education and Training
By Terry Campbell, Professor, Kaplan University, School of Public Safety
Published: 05/15/2017

Cert-team Our May 2017 topic looks at education and training. We know we are in a career where annual training and re-certifications occur. At the same time, we have to make a conscientious effort in determining if we want to pursue additional education and training. Now you may ask yourself, why should I do this. Simple answer is to build upon your knowledge base and improve your skill sets. Or, you did not attend college and want to earn college credits; work toward completing a college degree; improve upon some skills and interests; personal reasons; meeting requirements for promotion, and other reasons. As you can see our list has expanded and provided some areas to consider. Then again, you may be comfortable with completing only required yearly training and education requirements.

I had to work after graduating high school and later made the decision to pursue my college education. Were there some sacrifices, yes? If we make the decision to continue our education, we must understand the obligations and commitment required. This can include, home, family, career, and other choices that may be affected by this. What will be the final reward? Knowing you sacrificed many things to improve yourself and recognized your journey is nearing completion. The self-satisfaction is tremendous, as well as your loved ones sharing the joyous occasion. You earned something that no one gave you. If you have children, you are setting a positive example for them as well.

We all entered our career and met the job requirements. Now we have to answer some questions and then make some decisions. Are we content with our current position? Do we have any goals for promotion and/or career change? If yes, then we must research the job(s) we are interested in and identify any requirements. This will also include educational requirements. You soon recognize if you meet the requirements. If not, then you know areas you need to complete. The education requirements may include some college hours, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree. There also may be additional training and/or certification requirements, and minimum number of years in certain positions, needed for advancement

Not as simple as we thought. This reinforces the idea behind sacrifices and we now have to make a decision if this is worth it or not. We know we must meet education and other requirements for the position. If we meet the requirements, then a decision will be made if we will meet with the promotion board. Prior to meeting with the promotion board, this is an ideal time to link our knowledge, skills, abilities, and education together. You presented an overview of yourself and career on paper. Now the opportunity is available to showcase this. There may be many applicants and all meet the minimum requirements. You worked hard to achieve and accomplish the requirements, now you have the opportunity to demonstrate your skill sets during the interview. This is the time for you to excel and become one of the top applicants. I know we are reluctant to accept the decision if it is not favorable. There is nothing to prevent you from following up with human resources and see if there are some areas you can improve upon.

When promotions occur, this also affects our earnings and retirement. The promotion may be uniform (rank) or non-uniform. You earned the promotion and will apply your knowledge and skill sets. Again, you may be content with this promotion or consider additional promotions later.

I mentioned training earlier and have some additional thoughts to share. I made it a practice to know where I had access to any additional training materials. This included professional organizations, career bulleting and monthly releases, equipment updates, legal issues and decisions, and any other areas of interests. This also allowed me the opportunity to stay current in the field and provide me the opportunity to also meet and/or exceed requirements. I always found it interesting to review any research and findings relevant to my career.

In addition to professional education and training opportunities, you may want to consider continuing education classes for personal interests. You may be interested in auto mechanics, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, the arts, or other areas. You can learn skills to perform basic repairs or just for your enjoyment and stress relief.

As you can see, education does not have to be a painful experience. Take advantage of any training opportunities provided by your agency or outside the agency. Check and see if there is any type of reimbursement for continuing education and/or training. At the time I was attending college, I had to pay for this. Depending on the area where you are located, you may have access to community colleges, state colleges, or online universities. Weigh the pros and cons and then make your decision. You have a choice.

Good luck with your career paths and stay safe.

Terry Campbell is a criminal justice professor at Kaplan University, School of Public Safety and has more than 20 years of experience in corrections and policing. He has served in various roles, including prison warden and parole administrator, for the Arkansas Department of Corrections. Terry may be reached at tcampbell@kaplan.edu.

Other articles by Campbell



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