As the workforce has evolved, individuals representing all industries have been turning to professional development courses, such as cutting-edge micro credentials and other short-term opportunities, to quickly learn new skills and advance in their respective careers.

In early 2020, Saint Leo University proudly unveiled its new Center for Alternative Pathway Programs (CAPPs). This broad collection of credentials offers unique professional development opportunities to those seeking to upskill in their current jobs, acquire new skills for a new job, or enhance their resumes by targeting a specific skill set. The alternative pathways afforded through micro credentials, certificates, and other forms of learning opportunities supply learners with focused study who have minimal time or financial commitment while strengthening their skill set. Although these kinds of alternative pathways are growing, they are still relatively new learning experiences for many. Let's explore them to help you gain a better grasp of these new educational options and determine if they are a fit for you.

What are Professional Development Courses?

The term 'professional development' has a wide-ranging definition which encompasses a number of activities for professionals across all fields. While it can refer to participating in professional organizations or conducting research within a field, it often revolves around continuing education. Professional development courses involve some type of training for professionals within a given field or, more specifically, within a defined career track. The main goal behind professional development courses is to help keep professionals current on skills and areas of focus within their respective careers. This may simply involve reading information on current trends. However, it can also entail learning new skills or new techniques on how to handle various tasks. Through professional development courses, individuals learn information and may then be tested on their comprehension of this information to ensure they fully understand it.

In certain careers, individuals are required to take professional development courses for the purposes of renewing a license or certification in order to continue working successfully in that career.

Examples of such occupations include:

  • Teacher
  • Doctor
  • Lawyer
  • Cosmetologist
  • Nurse
  • Therapist
  • Electrician

In many cases, professionals working in these roles must meet state standards by working a designated number of years or completing a licensure exam on processes, policies, and codes. This can generally be done through professional development courses or other more specific types of training.

However, it's important to note that professionals whose roles do not require them to complete professional development courses can gain a big advantage over their peers in a field by pursuing such learning opportunities. In fact, the completion of one or more professional development courses could mean the difference between a job candidate who is hired and someone who is not considered for a desired position.

What are Micro Credentials?

In layman's terms, a micro credential is a short-term, skills-based curriculum course that is based on a very specific topic. It may only take from a few days up to a few months in order for someone to complete the requirements of a micro credential. This allows learners to quickly learn a new skill and apply it to their work in a much shorter timeframe than it would take to earn a traditional college degree or certification. In essence, a micro credential is simply one type of professional development course or program that gets learners where they need to go in a timely fashion.

By earning a micro credential, employees within an organization can demonstrate to their supervisors that they have successfully mastered a specific skill. The curriculum of a Micro credential can cover a wide range of topics, from specific training in fields like project management or grantsmanship to how to facilitate and moderate Zoom meetings to resolving employee conflict within an office setting. Micro credentials may also help learners develop important "power skills," such as problem solving, communication, and creativity or innovation sought after by employers today.

Generally speaking, a professional seeking to upskill his or her skill set who is currently working in a particular career would be most likely to pursue earning one or more micro credentials. However, even if you have limited work experience, you can benefit from adding a micro credential to your resume to increase your chances of landing a job. One other added benefit of micro credentials is that upon successful completion, earners will have a digital badge to add to their resumes or social media accounts. This visual badge immediately informs prospective employers and other readers about the skills they possess.

The primary reason for earning micro credentials goes back to which skills are required to perform a specific job. Because job duties can change rapidly today, professionals have to adapt to these new responsibilities and evolving environments. Micro credentials are a great way to meet the needs of a changing workforce.

Exploring Saint Leo University's Professional Development Courses & Micro Credentials

Saint Leo University proudly offers both professional development courses and micro credentials.

Examples of professional development course topics include:

  • Banking
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Analytics
  • Human resources management
  • Marketing
  • Small business management
  • Web design

Examples of micro credentials include:

  • Grantsmanship
  • Reading Foundations
  • Quality Mental Health Provider
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cloud Computing
  • Microsoft Certification Camps

You can learn more about the wide array of professional development courses and micro credentials offered at Saint Leo University on the Center for Alternative Pathway Programs (CAPPs) page.

If you have any questions about these programs, feel free to contact Amanda Forrester, the program administrator, at