In this time of economic downturn, as always -
A large number of employees, unemployed and students alike are looking for a boost for their future prospects.

A brilliant method to achieve that is to get qualified.

Not only does it open the floodgates for new job options, but it provides the knowledge sufficient to help launch a successful independent career in a professional field.

If you are one of these people who are trying to find a boost for your career, then investigate what is on the market in terms of professional qualifications. Almost all are taken as “self-study” courses, meaning that you can study from home independently. Professional qualifications are different to degrees as there is a focus on what is needed for real-life work. They also cost much less than attending a university or other institution! The added value of these qualifications is clear considering the salary increases / new employment prospects marked in the statistics of the qualification holders.

A number of these qualifications can be pursued without an initial degree, and without any sort of great expertise from the outset. Professional qualifications open the doors to plenty of gains, such as new career prospects, but a large benefit comes from the added knowledge that you carry with you for the rest of your life. This means you face the rest of your life with an advantage that sets you apart from most (!)

At this point, you must be trying to figure out which qualifications would be relevant to you. Which qualifications tickle your fancy?

Accounting qualifications, finance qualifications and management qualifications are all within reach. Certain qualifications demand relevant work experience for full qualified status to be awarded, but when this is the case it is almost always a separate requirement, not required by first exams. Many individuals can and do complete an examination or two first then as a result find work, therefore achieving the experience necessary.

Which qualifications are out there? The CIMA, ACCA, CFA, PMP, CAIA and CPA are excellent qualifications to consider. Of course, you should take something relevant to what motivates you.

The CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) is the premier qualification in investment management, whereas the CAIA (Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst) covers the range of alternative investments and their use. Both of these treat a lot of finance and investment management in combination.

Which qualifications can you take to become a certified accountant? CIMA, ACCA and CPA accounting programs carry this honor, but differ in scope of material. What is ACCA? ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) qualifications covers preparation for high quality accountancy. It is taken as gold-standard in many countries around the world. There are initial qualifications that are achieved on the way to the final qualification, increasing employability at each step. Many ACCA students find that they find work and employers will pay for their subsequent examinations.

On the other hand, CPA (Certified Public Accountant) is the US equivalent but is generally not as well respected internationally. CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) qualification is more management oriented accountancy and with greater applications of ‘real business’ thinking, ahead of technical details that are perfected in ACCA and CPA.

Outside of accountancy, PMP (Project Management Professional) is the gold standard for project management out there but requires much experience for certification. However it is highly respected - and project managers will be needed no matter which parts of the economy collapse in the coming years.

This is just a taste of the options, but this is a topic which is overlooked by many, but should be instead be an opportunity taken advantage of. To make your decision on which qualifications to pursue, there are other things to consider, for example the price, expected time requirements, study resources available, and of course career benefits. All of these factors can be quite different between courses but what is true is that all of them will be of great benefit to your skills, knowledge and employability in a way that should almost certainly pay off incredibly well.

Speaking to one long-time chartered accountant, he declared the qualification was "the best return on investment I've seen in my entire career."

Author's Bio: is the result of a life-long motivation to seek new knowledge and qualifications, forever getting 'better'. The impact on my life has been incredible, and I would like to share it to others.