Crash Course: The Best Classes To Help You Move Up In Management

Crash Course is a new weekly column appearing on The Grindstone. It will focus on the best paths to take for education to help you advance in your career, whether it be a graduate program, a 6-week course, online seminars or certificates you can earn. We will be talking to experts in the business of advancing your career to help you get an education about your education.

To kick off our new series we are going to talk about the best education opportunities available for improving your management skills and hoping moving up into a higher position. Now an obvious choice would be getting an MBA. An MBA will help you in many areas of business and are very valuable but if you don’t have the time or $120,000 to spend, there are alternatives. An MBA is more useful for learning the language of business and economics, but for pure management skills there are a lot of options that cost less and fit into a full-time working schedule. Plus, some companies will pay for this kind of training.[tagbox tag="education"]

Jenson Crawford went from software engineer to director of engineering at his company after taking a course in communication:

“The best course I ever took in terms of moving up was not a course in technology, but in how to effectively communicate with and manage people. I had lots of good ideas, and had learned a lot in college. But for all the math, science and technology courses in college, I’d never been taught how to effectively communicate those ideas to others nor how to manage interpersonal relationships. One of my employers sent me – over my protestations I might add – to a course from Dale Carnegie Training that changed the trajectory of my career for the better. I learned to be a persuasive communicator and became more confident, both of which were noticed by management and my coworkers, which started the upward movement of my career. I took this course many years ago, and I continue to use the principles from the course every day. “

Certificates in General Business Studies

We talked with Van Anderson, a UCLA Extension Business and Management program director, specifically about the benefit of UCLA online extension classes in management but many classes are offered like this online from universities and colleges all over the country and in many cities. ”Online learning technology has evolved to be as dynamic as the live classroom. Between working longer working hours, family commitments, increased traffic congestion, and the desire to be more environmentally friendly; online learning when done right is a “no brainer” when it comes to time management and efficiency,” said Van. He said:

  • The Certificate in General Business Studies is a 36 unit (approximately nine course) program for those who want a self-directed curriculum and the opportunity to specialize in a field of concentration, all available online.
  • This type of course is specifically great for developing skills for leaders and managers.
  • These types of programs are developed around the needs of each individual but allow the students to collaborate and interact with international professionals to harness a global approach to management and be exposed to a diversity of ideas that might not be available at the local level.
  • A certificate in General Business Studies allows students to concentrate on such areas as Entrepreneurship, Human Resources Management, International Trade, Marketing, Finance, Accounting or Real Estate.

Project Management Certifications

Project management certifications are another option. Project managers (PMs) are key employees in such industries as construction, engineering, architecture, manufacturing, and real estate development, but many opportunities for PMs exist outside these areas. In high tech, biotech, or pharmaceuticals, for example, project managers are responsible for launching new products, developing new technologies, and managing alliance programs with strategic partners. Large corporations such as insurance companies and banks may also hire PMs to manage the implementation of new standards or practices in their many branch offices. Internet companies often look for project managers to oversee site launches or the development of new applications. The number of CIOs who require their project managers to be certified grew from 21 percent in 2005 to 31 percent by 2009.

One of the best places to get one of these is the Project Management Institute(PMI). Project managers can prepare for the certification exams and meet the yearly training hour requirements through online project management courses.

As project management is one of the top skillsets demanded by organizations around the world. One-fifth of the world’s GDP, or more than $12 trillion, is spent on projects. The 2010 PMI Pulse of the Profession study found that organizations with more than 35% PMP certified project managers had better project performance. And according to a 2007 PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, 80% of high-performing projects use a credentialed project manager. Here are the different PMI certificates you can earn:

Many companies also have online courses that you can take. Webucator’s project management training is held online in virtual classrooms with live instructors. You can take the classes from home or work.

Other Professional Development Programs

Diane Gayeski, Dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, said there are several other online certificates that can help move you up in management. They focus on areas like strategic communications,
performance improvement and sustainability leadership.

Here she describes the Ithaca classes, but classes like this are available at many education institutions:

“All of these are designed and facilitated by well-qualified academics but are designed with working professionals in mind. They consist of  three week long courses that are online and asynchronous so that participants can engage at times that are convenient to them. There is a great deal of networking that happens among the participants
because the courses are very discussion and problem-based ( they are not just sitting through recorded lectures).

Participants are awarded a professional certificate — these are less expensive and less pressured than graduate courses, yet there is much more substance than merely attending a workshop. Each course carries one CEU (continuing education unit) and so these are often paid for by employers.”

Executive Coaches

Another option is hiring an executive coach. A good executive coach will set objectives with the coachee so the time together is 100% focused on the needs of the individual being coached. Each coaching session builds upon one another, there are tools and techniques, awareness and skill building, and practice for the coachee between sessions. Marian Thier, founder of ExpandingThought, Inc., said “I find that in three to six months, my clients develop way beyond their expectations, and are almost always ready for the next managerial level.

The purpose of these certificates and courses or working with a coach is to learn skills that you can then bring back to the business which will hopefully result in tangible benefits to your company, whatever its size and whatever your industry.

These benefits include:

  • innovation encouraged within the business
  • skills base broadened and staff developed
  • more people capable of making decisions
  • more people with project-management skills
  • keeping talented people interested and challenged in the workplace, thus retaining staff
  • positive vibe, with staff feeling they are ‘on the same team’

Photo: YellowJ/

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    • michelle

      Would a masters or graduate certificate help me advance in the non-profit world?