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Are You Investing in Your Career Enough?

Investing in learning skills, earning new degrees and becoming better at your job can really pay off. Here’s how to get a promotion through self-investment.

April 15, 2022

If you’re wondering how to get a promotion or move forward in your work life, the answer may be to invest more in your career. That could mean investing money in a degree or certification, or just spending more time honing your skills.

Perhaps the biggest benefit can come from obtaining additional degrees. For some perspective, check out this Bureau of Labor Statistics data

Weekly average earnings by educational attainment level 

  • High school diploma: $781 per week

  • Associate’s degree: $938 per week

  • Bachelor’s degree: $1,305 per week

  • Master’s degree: $1,545 per week

  • Doctoral degree: $1,885 per week

As you can see, the higher the education level, the higher the average weekly earnings. And career advancement benefits extend far beyond salary level. 

But how exactly do you invest in your career? And why should you? 

Why invest in your career?

Career investment is a form of self-investment, and it’s a powerful one. Here’s why. 

It offers a high return on investment: Compared to standard investments like stocks, career advancement can actually have one of the highest returns on investment out there. For example, say you pay $5,000 for training that leads to a $5,000 raise. That’s a 100% return on investment, and you’ll reap the rewards year after year. 

It can help boost your income: Investing in your career through degrees or certificates can help you boost your income. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that employees with a master’s degree earn 18% more on average than those with a bachelor’s degree.

It can boost life satisfaction: Your career — and how you feel about your success in the workplace — can trickle into other aspects of your life. About 51% of Americans get a sense of identity from their jobs, reinforcing the importance of career in overall life satisfaction.

It can earn you respect: Bosses, managers and coworkers will likely take note of any efforts you put in to advance your career. Even if it doesn’t immediately lead to a raise, investing in yourself can help you earn more respect in the workplace. 

It can open up new opportunities: Sharpening skills or learning new ones can help open up new opportunities — both with your current employer and with other companies. Wondering how to get a new job that you love? It might start with expanding your skillset or certifications. 

It can boost self-confidence: Investing in yourself or your skills can boost your self-confidence, which can positively affect many aspects of your life. 

How to invest in your career

How can workers get ahead in their careers? Here are a few ideas. 

Pursue training 

Many workplaces offer optional employee training programs, which are often free. If you have already completed these, look to professional organizations in your industry, local community colleges or online training programs.

Pursue degrees and certifications

Pursuing a college degree or technical certification can provide a tangible boost to your career. This could be getting a college degree or simply earning a certificate for a certain software. Check with your employer to see if they might cover your tuition cost — over 80% of mid-sized and large U.S. companies offered tuition reimbursement programs in 2021. 

Find a mentor or coach

Everyone has something to teach us. If you can find someone with a successful career to learn from, that insight can help you get ahead. You can also consider hiring a career coach or life coach to help. 

Conduct career planning

It’s wise to sit down and think about what you actually want out of your career. Most of us would like a higher salary, sure — but what other aspects of work are important to you? This practice will help you identify your priorities and move you in the right direction.

Attend conferences and events

Attending events, conferences, networking events and other opportunities for networking related to your industry can help you meet new people and learn new ideas. Some employers will cover costs for certain events — it never hurts to ask.

Lean into your strengths

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Leaning into the skills and job aspects that you are good at can help focus your attention. For example, if you find you’re good at managing people, leaning into this strength by pursuing management training could help you land a supervisory role within your company. 

Build relationships

Wondering how to get a promotion or land a better job? The answer may lie in your relationships. Building strong personal and professional relationships can help open up new opportunities for your career. 

Build your brand

Developing a “brand” for yourself as a working professional can be useful, particularly if you plan to seek out new jobs. One way to do this is to update your LinkedIn profile or personal website to better highlight your skills and achievements. 

How to get a promotion through self-investment

Investing in your career is one of the most powerful ways to advance your job success. Here are some helpful tips to improve your odds of landing a promotion:

  1. Show your superiors your seriousness by taking the initiative to explore training and new opportunities.

  2. Make it clear that you are ambitious and ready to do what is needed to advance your career. 

  3. Strive to be better at your job.

  4. Be respectful and use your new skills to lift others up (not look down on them).

  5. Seek continual self-improvement (even if you have already landed a promotion). 

If you find that you're putting in the effort but not getting noticed, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a raise. As long as you're respectful, directly asking while highlighting your recent efforts/achievements can be a successful strategy.

If that still doesn’t work, it may be time to switch jobs. One in five workers changed jobs in 2020, and the current job market means that there are plenty of opportunities out there. With a freshly polished resume you’ll be more enticing to potential employers. 

Further reading to advance your career

Investing in your career is the best way to get ahead, earn more money and enjoy more respect in the workplace. But there is plenty more to learn about advancing your career. Here are some useful resources: 

Making a leap into a new career can feel scary, especially if you have the burden of debt. Is credit card debt holding you back from your financial goals, or preventing you from taking a risk in your career advancement? 

Tally† is an app that helps qualifying applicants pay off their credit card debt faster. Tally may help users consolidate credit card balances to a lower interest rate loan. 

†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. Based on your credit history, the APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% - 29.99% per year. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.