Going Back to Education While Working Full Time: Career Progression at Any Age

What are your true passions? Do you feel fully appreciated by your company? Could you have a better position? If these questions have been on your mind, it may be time for a change. Going back to…
Reading time :
16 Nov 2020

What are your true passions? Do you feel fully appreciated by your company? Could you have a better position? If these questions have been on your mind, it may be time for a change. Going back to education while working full time is one of the best options for refreshing your career at any age, from 30 to 50.

Did you know that 74% of professionals plan to take an e-learning diploma course within the next two years (in french : Opinion Way survey for EDHEC)? Today, adult distance learning is conceived to meet the needs of active professionals and executives, with content designed to allow participants to:

  • gain confidence in their current positions,
  • acquire new skills,
  • develop professionally,
  • or even retrain for a new career.

Going back to education at 40 involves an investment of both time and energy. Lets explore the ways in which it may be easier than you think, the opportunities it can unlock, and practical tips.

Common worries about going back to education

#1 Do I have time?

Setting aside time for your continued learning is an essential balancing act. Some businesses will allow you to count training days as working time. Alternatively, distance learning allows you the freedom to work in the evenings or at the weekend at your own pace. Many of us know an executive colleague with a young family who has risen to the challenge, securing a sought-after promotion. Why not your turn next?

#2 Wont it involve a lot of complicated steps?

Going back to education at 40 is no more complicated than at 25! In the era of digitalisation, processes have been simplified and training organisations respond quickly by e-mail, while the growing number of 100% online courses means that travel doesnt have to be an issue.

#3 Is this really for me?

Dont underestimate your learning potential! From managing a team to integrating new equipment, you have acquired expertise, productivity, and decision-making skills which you didnt have at 20.

Professional training is also very different from primary education, focussing on practical examples and validating your professional experience. And if you are worried that you may find yourself surrounded by much younger students, rest assured that participants average age is 38 (for EDHEC Online management training courses).

Hurdles overcome, continued learning is a powerful lever for career progression

#1 Acquire new skills and invest in the long-term

My course has been a real springboard for my career, allowing me to take on my new position with greater confidence.
Jean-Baptiste de GOUTTEPAGNON, regional manager of AUDIKA

Many professionals return to education to bring their qualifications up to the level of their current responsibilities. Professional training courses are also a means of acquiring new managerial skills when aiming for a promotion, a learning priority (for 38% of respondents to the Opinion Way survey for EDHEC) in our constantly evolving economic and technological landscape with its adaptive challenges.

#2 Revitalise your employability

Going back to education at 40 also sends a strong message to higher management, demonstrating your capacity to reassess, work, and persevere, often leading to new responsibilities.

With young newcomers ever-increasing starting qualifications, certain positions now require diplomas of a particular level. Whether within your company or in the wider (even international) job market, advancing your qualification level will significantly improve your employability and CV

#3 A leap ahead for your salary

Signing up for a lengthy training course (from 10 months in Europe to 24 in the USA) can seem risky in our changeable work environment, but a masters degree (BAC+5) from a prestigious higher education body provides excellent return on investment.

26% average increase in gross earnings per annum
among 152 professionals certified between 2011 and 2013 through the EDHEC Business School Management Development Programme (September 2014)

Ready to take up the challenge? Step 1: Choosing a course that meets your needs

I chose the EDHEC Manager Programme to help me take a step back and gain a broader perspective on my current responsibilities as sales manager.
Sandrine, regional sales manager for SECURITAS France

When it comes to finding the course for you, identifying your requirements is paramount.

If you want to expand your knowledge in your current area of activity, approach your companys human resources or skills development team. Skills training and certification courses will be available through your employers skills development plan. However, it is your responsibility to identify and suggest options for the main training areas which interest you. A skills assessment may be part of your skills development plan.

The Validation of Professional Experience (VAE) may be a valuable alternative, allowing you to obtain a new diploma that matches your current level of responsibility.

If you are looking to change career or retrain for a new field, a Professional Transition Project is the optimum choice, allowing you to leave your position for the duration of your course while still receiving pay.

Getting started

Identify the funding options for returning to education while working

You may be eligible for financial support and help with organising your working time, with different options depending on whether you are employed under a fixed-term or permanent contract (CDD/CDI). For further information, see our article on how to finance distance learning.

To find out how much a course will cost, request a quote. This may be required by your employer before they can pay course fees.

During your course

Organise your working time

36% of those in continuing education are employees finding the right balance between work and learning is possible!

  • If your training aims to insure your adjustment to your position, your career progression, or your continued employment within your company (Article L6321-2 of the Code du travail), time spent in training can be counted as working hours and paid as such.
  • If the aim of your training is to develop your skills, it can be undertaken outside working hours within a limit of 80 hours per year, per individual or of up to 5% of fixed hours for a salaried worker. You can therefore pursue your course during your lunch breaks, in the evenings, at the weekend, or on days off.

Key points

Going back to education while working full time at 30, 35, or 40 is a challenge which can be met with careful organisation and genuine motivation. To reach the next level in your career, choose a state-recognised course from a prestigious educational body, and gain access to a range of professional tools and a network of high-level contacts.

Other articles you may
be interested in

22.05.2024 - EDHEC
Read the 7th issue of our EDHEC Vox newsletter
This month in the #EDHECVox newsletter, our professors and researchers present…
17.05.2024 - EDHEC
EDHEC’s open executive programmes ranked among the Top 5 worldwide by the Financial Times
EDHEC’s executive programmes continue to move up in the Financial Times…
03.05.2024 - EDHEC
"Being a top-level athlete means agreeing to repeat the same movement over and over again": Louise Lefebvre, bipalm swimmer
Tales of sport: a series of testimonies in which EDHEC students – high-level…