As we want to progress through out career, we may find that in order to get a promotion we need some extra qualifications. This might be short courses to give us the information that we need or longer ones to give us qualifications that we missed out on when we were younger. It can be difficult to know whether the course might be worthwhile, particularly if you have to pay for it.
Calculating the cost
You need to start by calculating the cost of the course. This could be a very small amount if it is a short course, but it could be very expensive if it is a long course such as a degree. You will need to think about lost income as well, as a result of doing the course. If your company pays for the course it is likely that they will let you do it in work time and will pay you while you are doing it. However, if it is something that you are doing outside of the company then you will have to fund it yourself and they will not pay for your time while you are doing it. If you need to take time off work to study, then you will need to include the cost of this lost income into the cost of the course.
Calculating the gain
It is just as important to calculate the gain that you will get from the qualification. Assuming that you will pass the course and get a job you will need to find out how much salary you are likely to get from the job that you hope to get. Work out how much this will add up to in total over the rest of your working life. Then you will be able to calculate how much you will gain financially from the course.
Paying for the course
If you do pay for the course yourself, then you will need to calculate any costs of this as well and factor them in. This might be a loss of savings interest if you use your savings to pay for it. It could be that you will have to borrow money to pay for the course and you will have to include the cost of the interest. If you can get a student loan then the costs will be slightly different as you will only repay what you owe in your tax code if your earnings are high enough and anything you do not pay will be written off after thirty years. You should still make some estimates about how much the loan might cost you and what costs you should factor in when you are calculating the costs.
Making the decision
It can be quite a difficult decision to make. There is always a risk that even if you do get the qualification then you might not be able to get a job using it at the end. It is worth looking to start with to see what sorts of jobs are available so that you can estimate what your chances are. If the course is long then you need to think about whether there are still likely to be jobs available. This is tricky but try to consider whether the job is something that will always be necessary or at least in the short term.
You also need to consider whether you will cope financially with any loan repayments you need to make. If these are student loan repayments then they are means tested and so should be okay. However, if they are other types of loans then the repayments will need to be made regardless of income and this could be more problematic if you cannot get a job or if the job does not pay that much. You also need to think about how you will manage financially while studying if you are not working at the same time. If you have other earners in the household then they may be able to support you. However, if you are supporting a family, then things could be much trickier. You may be able to work part time while you study which could be helpful but you need to be sure that you will be able to cope with doing this alongside studying and your other responsibilities too.
It is worth making sure that you get all of the information together before you decide. Make sure that you are fully aware of how much money you need to manage and then make sure that you will have enough money so that you can cope for the whole course. This will include paying for the course as well as covering your living expenses. If you can manage then it is worth considering doing the course. You then need to work out what the chances are that you will get a better paid job at the end of it and whether it will pay enough extra to cover those costs that you had doing the course.