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reflection, and decision-making.

Before you punch in and check out, I want to offer an alternative perspective. What if, instead of accepting your lot in life, you took your development into your own hands? What if, instead of sliding back and settling in, you took the initiative and began to grow yourself as a professional? What if you could set yourself apart from the rest of the field with little more than a few hours per week of intentional self-investment?

Here are five ways to do for yourself what your employer won’t:

1. Earn a certificate in your field.

Depending on your industry, there are a number of certificate programs available to expand your professional skills. While an undergraduate certificate won’t substitute for a college degree, workers who complete these programs do generally earn more than those with only a high school diploma.

A graduate certificate program, though not as involved as a full-blown graduate degree, allows the career-orientated professional an opportunity to develop industry-specific skills beyond what he or she may have learned in college. A graduate certificate in business or human resources just might be the ticket to that next promotion or a more specialized post at the organization down the street.

Additionally, this option represents a more affordable and less time-consuming way to pick up important skills.