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Planning a Career Change or Hoping to Get Promoted? Here Five Reasons to Upgrade Your Qualifications

21/01/2016 09:52 GMT | Updated 20/01/2017 10:12 GMT

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With the New Year in full swing, many of us are hoping to change up more than just our diet or exercise routine. According to a survey by the US jobsite Career Builder, more than one in five employees are determined to land a new job this year, and 34% of those currently employed are actively looking.

In the UK, this number is even greater; with a survey from investment savings specialist Standard Life showing that over half of UK workers want to change careers. Another recent survey by skills recognition and RPL specialist GQ Australia found that nearly 40% of Australians who are currently employed intend to seek a promotion or switch jobs this year.

Another 25% have plans to acquire additional qualifications, and although their reasons for doing so vary, the majority (59%) will do so to secure a new job, while 26% are looking for a pay rise and 19% are hoping to be promoted.

One thing that also came to light, however, is that one in four people felt that achieving an education would be too expensive, and one in seven believed it would take too much time.

If this sounds familiar and you're still on the fence about whether or not investing in your education would be worth it, here are five of the most important reasons you should consider upgrading your qualifications this year.

1. You'll enjoy greater career mobility

Whether you're looking to earn an advanced degree or get a certificate in order to gain a competitive edge in your place of work or industry, education broadens your job prospects and puts you in a better position to negotiate a pay rise or ask for a promotion.

If you're changing careers, you undoubtedly have some valuable transferable skills and experience, but there's still a good chance you'll need some additional education or training before you can be seriously considered for the job you want. Upgrading your qualifications will allow you to pursue the job or career that's in line with your goals and interests.

2. It will increase your earning potential

If you haven't updated your qualifications since you left university, it may eventually become difficult for you to increase your salary, whether you change jobs or not. Advanced degrees are always a good idea, of course, but even certain certificates and diplomas can carry a lot of weight when it comes to negotiating a higher salary.

According to PayScale, professionals for whom certification can make a huge difference include tax preparers, systems engineers, assistant project managers and athletic trainers. A survey by Network World and Solar Winds even found that 60% of IT professionals were able to find a new job after earning a certification, and 50% say it gave them a salary boost.

3. It will help you demonstrate your skills and experience

Even if you've worked in an industry for many years, gaining a relevant qualification in your area of expertise can help you demonstrate those skills to new employers in a way that wouldn't otherwise be possible. Gaining exposure to a variety of educational topics will also give you new confidence and help you to strengthen the skills you already have, and you may even discover new interests along the way.

4. You'll stay on top of the latest developments in your industry

In fast-growing industries such as IT and healthcare, it's important to update your knowledge and skills every few years if you want to keep pace with the current standards.

A survey by NIACE on adult participation in learning found a strong correlation between learning and sustained employment, and it's hardly surprising, because when you keep your learning going even after you've earned your degree, you'll be better able to adapt to the changing requirements of your industry.

5. You'll make valuable new connections

A recent study by the career site Glassdoor confirmed once more that it's not always about what you know, but who you know. The report shows that job interviews from employee referrals are more likely to lead to an accepted job offer, and employers in the technology, consulting and finance industries rely heavily on employee referrals when hiring.

With this in mind, the connections you make as you interact with your teachers and fellow students can be invaluable to you in the future. Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and connect with those you meet, both on a personal and professional level.