Monday, April 23, 2012

How Stay-At-Home Parents Stay in the Business World

Just because you’re home with your kids now, doesn’t mean you’ll be forever sequestered in your house. Or perhaps working from home is exactly what you want. In either case, you still need to be able to compete with your on-premises counterparts for jobs, raises and promotions.
Even if you currently work from home now--no small feat when you’ve got a brood of young ones threatening mayhem with mustard on a daily basis--the marketplace is changing almost daily. So how do you beat out job candidates who probably don’t have any gaps in their resumes for things like childbirth or being a dad? 

Fortunately, pursuing new skills, a career or in a new field or that degree you’ve always wanted is far more accessible these days thanks to online educational programs. No longer do you have to drop off the kids with a sitter and drive across town to sit in class every other day. Online courses covering a multitude of areas are available and you can earn full certifications and degrees while sitting at your own computer. (Sometimes even with one eye trained on the kids.) There are lots of programs to choose from, but several fields in particular lend themselves well to online study.

Degrees in Education

Dad working hard
Believe it or not, you can become a licensed teacher by taking online classes. You’ll have to do your student teaching outside in a traditional classroom, but much of your coursework can be done online. If you already have that licensure, you can improve your credentials by earning an online masters degree or taking required continuing education courses online. 

Business and Accounting

You can find numerous opportunities for online education in the field of business. Many programs will allow you to earn certifications such as Six Sigma, which are great to add to an existing degree. You’ll also find complete degree programs available online for business, finance, accounting, and other areas. You can train to become a bookkeeper or a CPA. Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degrees are also extremely popular online options as well.

Medical Careers
Working Mama

Careers in health care lend themselves well to the hybrid model of online study paired with hands-on field experience. Nursing is one area where you can do a significant amount of your coursework online before your hands-on experience at a local facility. You can also study at home to become a medical coder or a medical transcriptionist, and then work professionally from home as well. Some schools offer online degrees in health care administration, or classes that can improve or help you renew your existing credentials.

Information Technology

A natural place to learn computer skills is, of course, online at a computer. You’ll gain plenty of hands-on experience right at your own desk as you become certified in the use of specific programs, or in web design or in programming. To gain the actual certifications you’ll need to pass the industry standard exams, but that’s a small price to pay when you’ve been able to complete your coursework online. You can even earn entire information technology degrees online.

The Next Step

Before you commit to any courses, spend some time exploring your options, and don’t sell your current skills and past experience short. You may think you’re limited because you’ve only worked in retail. That might be just the foundation you need for a career in marketing. A past in veterinary care? Could be the perfect background for a future in health care. Like any schooling, online education requires hard work and dedication. You’ll find yourself working at odd spare moments—during nap time, or while the kids are enjoying a video. And, as usual, probably still making sure everybody gets what they want while you sacrifice. But the hard work and persistence will pay off you’ve got that certificate or diploma and you finally get the job of your dreams, something you really want. 

It’s about time, don’t you think?

Jennifer Hayes is a mother of three and a part-time financial advisor earning her accounting online degree from the comfort of home. 

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