Boost your Career with a Professional Designation

The right credentials could help you land that big promotion

Are you stuck in your job?
Getting a promotion or moving into a new field can be difficult for anyone, but new Canadians may find it particularly challenging. On top of competing against other qualified candidates, they often encounter additional hurdles, such as a lack of job knowledge specific to Canada or unfamiliarity with Canadian workplace customs.

Earning a professional designation in your chosen field through continuing education studies could make the difference and get your career moving in the right direction. Professional designations are more than just letters after your name, says Lee McTavish, program director of business programs and partnerships at the University of the Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies. “Think of a professional designation like a stamp of approval. You earn it from a professional association in your chosen field. By obtaining the appropriate professional designations for the job you’re seeking, you send a strong signal to potential employers that you’ve achieved a standard of excellence in your industry and are committed to keeping your skills current.”

According to McTavish, the School’s market research has validated that professional designations are vital to career success. “Our findings show that nearly half of the School’s students in business and professional studies are motivated to take continuing education courses that are aligned to earning a professional designation. Although pursuing a designation takes time and commitment, it’s an investment you’re making in yourself. And it pays off by giving you a professional edge that makes you more attractive to employers.” 

The requirements to obtain a professional designation vary by association. McTavish explains that the process typically involves a defined education program to acquire the “body of knowledge,” working in the field to gain experience, completing a qualifying exam and becoming a member of the professional association. Once a professional designation has been earned, continuing education is usually required to maintain its currency over time.

The School currently has collaborations with 20 professional associations and offers 120-plus courses that link to more than 30 professional designations. Information about professional designations and matching courses can be found on the School’s website. “There’s a lot of information out there, making it difficult for people to know where they stand. An important part of what we do is to help prospective learners quickly understand their options, make good decisions and move forward in the most effective way for their needs and circumstances,” McTavish says.

Academic credential assessments
Not sure what additional educational credentials you may require in your field beyond those you’ve already earned? Through its Comparative Education Service (CES), the School can provide you with an academic credential assessment report, showing how your academic credentials from abroad compare to those offered by Canadian institutions. You can use the report when applying for employment or professional certification, pursuing further education, dealing with immigration matters or, simply, for general information. As a bonus for individuals who take advantage of its service, CES offers a one-time $200 tuition discount towards any course available at the School.

Flexible study
For some newcomers, the question isn’t whether they need to upgrade their credentials, it’s how and when they can do so. To ensure its courses fit into busy lives, the School offers classes both “in person,” during evenings and on weekends, and online at anytime via computer. In addition, students can choose a hybrid course model, which combines face-to-face learning with an online component. Currently, one in five courses are offered online, and the School has tripled its hybrid course offerings since 2014.

The University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies is conveniently located at three campuses: U of T Mississauga, U of T Scarborough and downtown St. George. Learners can mix locations — as well as in-class, online and hybrid formats — to create a flexible learning plan that works best for them.

Visit to learn more about how to further your career and advance your lifelong learning.

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