Q: I am interested in a new field. I have an undergraduate degree in visual arts but I have recently developed an interest in web design, blogging and digital marketing. My work experience has been in office management and purchasing. Do you recommend that I return to school and earn another undergraduate degree in digital marketing?
A: Returning to college and earning a second undergraduate degree is a significant financial commitment unless you have a very generous employer who offers a liberal tuition aid program. Further, your tuition reimbursement program must be willing to support your new career interests in web design. Most tuition aid programs only support courses or programs which are job-related to a current role, and thus benefit both you and your employer. Your employer’s program may differ, so spend some time researching how it works.
An alternative would be to pursue a certificate, which would be a shorter program targeted to those who have already earned an undergraduate degree, or work experience, but geared to those students may want to pursue a career in web design. Many of these programs are about six or so courses, and therefore less expensive than a second undergraduate degree. A certificate program is likely less expensive and a shorter time commitment as well.
Some, or all, of these courses may be available online. Before enrolling in such a certificate program, ensure that the program is an accredited program. It would also be wise to contact the advising office of the college or university to ensure that they program offered would meet your needs and you are able to meet the program requirements as well as the financial requirements. You can also ask if there is any financial aid that may be available. Some of these programs also have relationships with employers, who may be interested in hiring graduates upon completion of the certificate program.
There are also some learning opportunities through professional associations or digital marketing employers. Some may be marketed as “tech bootcamps.” It would be wise to research different options to ensure that the program meets your needs and career goals.
We are seeing an increased demand for digital marketing skills, in almost every industry. Good luck in your transition to a new field of interest!
Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.