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The American economy is hurting and the results are shuttered companies, layoffs and people declaring bankruptcy. And even if you are still working and have been blessed enough to avoid the worst of the recession, you should still consider why more training may help. Attending college or enrolling in a career training program to earn a professional certificate can be a way to stand out in today's job market.

Here are some important reasons to get more career training:

1. Broaden your range -- You may love what you do, but adding another skill to your career possibilities can't hurt.

2. Secure your current job -- Very few people have guaranteed jobs; one way to hold onto your job is to learn a skill that will help your current employer right now.

3. Join a growing industry -- The recession is hitting some industries harder than others. If you're in a field that is hurting, you can train for a job in another career field. The medical field, for example, is still doing well despite the economic downturn.

4. Do something you love -- Maybe you don't care for your current job and have always dreamed of doing something else. Why wait? Enroll in an online course where you can keep your current job and study at night! One day you may be ready to transition.

5. Keep up with the latest technology -- It's possible that your current job may be transformed or all together replaced by automation and computers. If you don't know much about computers, you owe it to yourself to enroll in a course and learn more.

6. Take advantage of future opportunities -- The real estate industry, for example, may be down right now, but it's hard to imagine that it will remain this way for much longer. If you want to work on your own and rely on your sales skills, perhaps a future as a real estate agent is for you -- prepare now for opportunities to come!

This is just a sampling of reasons why you might want to look into career training. Many people avoid going back to school because they fear they'd have to quit their current job. Not so! One important option for working adults is distance education. Learning online or through traditional correspondence is the answer to a self-paced, flexible education.

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There's no doubt that studying from home, much like working from home, is attractive to many people and increasingly more common. As our economy continues to struggle, more layoffs often mean more people are working part time or improving their skills with more education. For a number of people, both working and studying from home is an important option.

It must be said that distance education, like telecommuting, requires one very important condition for people to be successful: effective time management. While taking an online class eliminates the rigidity of a class schedule and the requirements that assignments and lessons be completed within a certain time period, it does require self discipline.

The best bet is to block out time each day for your course; this is when you'll log onto your computer and begin your lesson. It's also when you'll do assignments and work on required reading, if necessary. During that time it's important not to answer the phone, watch TV or check your email. Think of it this way: if you were in a traditional classroom you would never entertain these kinds of distractions - treat your distance education class with the same level of respect.

Another important way to ensure success is to set up an area, preferably with a desk, that is your "study area." When you go and sit down in this area, you will be focusing exclusively on your course. Understandably not all people have the space to reserve an area just for studying, but avoid taking your laptop to the couch and logging onto your class while the television is on and your family members are coming in and out of the room.

When you sign up for a traditional class at a local school, there is a fixed class schedule and neither you nor the teacher can modify it at will. The same should apply for your distance education class - keep the same schedule for yourself as much as you can. If, for example, your sister can come over to your house on Monday, Wednesday and Sunday nights to babysit your son, that should become the time you grab your laptop and head into the bedroom to study without interruption.

The advantage of distance education is that you can "attend class" at any hour of the day or week. Some people get their work done early in the morning, others at night, while some can only manage to do bits and pieces here and there; whatever your schedule dictates, it is important to stick to it.

Effective time management can provide the means you need to succeed as a distance education student. If you pace yourself, study regularly and complete assignments in a timely manner, you will find it easier to stay on track and complete your course on time. Being a responsible student is necessary for any type of education; however in distance education, it is a vital component of success.

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