Looking for a way to get noticed fast in this changing job market? Gain a respected credential and specialized career skills you can put to work right away.
With UW specializations, a new, short-format offering from UW Professional & Continuing Education, people can quickly learn in-demand career skills. The first nine specializations — with topics ranging from podcasting to SEO — will be offered online, beginning in fall 2023.
What’s a Specialization?
UW specializations are a chance for students to develop focused skill and competency in high-demand areas as they learn from expert instructors. These programs require less time commitment than earning a certificate or a degree — specializations can be completed in just three to six months.
“We’ve designed UW specializations so adult learners can fit world-class education into their busy lives,” says Sandra Janusch, assistant vice provost of international and academic programs for UW Continuum College. “These specialized skills can give our graduates the edge they want to stand out in the job market and make a greater impact in today’s changing professional landscape.”
Enrollment is set to open in spring 2023 for the first UW specializations, including:
- Developmental Editing: Editors will gain the skills to run an editing business and successfully support writers on their big-picture ideas, including manuscript reviews, book proposals and article pitches.
- Executive Recruiting: Talent acquisition professionals will elevate their skills in recruiting the right candidates for senior-level roles across private and public institutions.
- Game Prototyping With Unity: Gamers and tech enthusiasts will get hands-on experience using the industry’s most popular game engine to create their own rapid digital game prototype, with practice in 3D and 2D modeling, animation, interface design and storytelling.
- Grant Writing & Management Strategies: Nonprofit and fundraising professionals will learn to write competitive proposals for public, private or donor-funded grants, as well as how to manage winning grants and cultivate relationships with grantmakers.
- IoT Embedded Systems Design: Software engineers and other tech professionals will learn to build full-featured devices or products enabled with data-driven, embedded technology for the Internet of Things (IoT).
- Machine Learning Product Management: Business leaders and product managers will learn best practices for machine learning implementation, including how to build a data science team and create a product launch plan.
- Medical Writing: Writers will learn tailored communication skills and language for use across medical journalism, education and marketing, as well as how to prepare common regulatory documents.
- Podcasting & Audio Storytelling: Content creators of all types will learn to harness the power of effective audio storytelling and emerge with the skills to create engaging, quality audio content.
- SEO: Digital marketing, content and web professionals will gain deeper understanding of search engine algorithms and essential skills to optimize web content, site architecture, user experience and marketing.
Employers: Skills and Specializations Wanted
Employers worldwide are facing critical skill gaps in the workforce. As businesses adapt to changing labor needs in the high-tech, post-pandemic economy, the World Economic Forum projects that 50% of people in the global workforce will need to learn new skills by 2025 to keep up with their work.
According to Janusch, that’s why each UW specialization is tailored to give learners expertise they can use to take on new, more complex projects in their current job — or move into a new role.
“Adding specialized skills you’ve gained through the University of Washington can make your career profile more visible to potential employers.”
Danial Powers, director of enrollment services at Continuum College
For example, according to Anne Szeto, director of strategic recruiting and academic relations at Amazon, many enterprises are struggling to fill open positions for talent recruiters who can successfully hire senior leaders.
Most executive recruiters learn on the job, Szeto says, but because specialized training isn't consistently offered at every company, these professionals might work in human resources for 10 years or more before they’re prepared to recruit and retain top executives.
“This program provides a holistic view of C-level recruiting and can help fast-track a new talent career,” says Szeto, an expert consultant for the Specialization in Executive Recruiting. “In addition to HR professionals, people can move into executive recruiting from areas like sales, operations and business development.”
As hiring managers across the job market look to LinkedIn and online resumes to find candidates with fine-tuned skills, many people are deciding now is the right time to go back for learning to upskill or reskill, says Danial Powers, director of enrollment services at Continuum College.
“Adding specialized skills you’ve gained through the University of Washington can make your career profile more visible to potential employers,” Powers says.
Powers says some UW specializations may be the right next step for alumni of UW certificate or degree programs, many of whom say they’re inspired to keep learning even more.
Skills To Attract the Right Kind of Attention
Whether you’re preparing to pivot your work or pursue a new passion, certificates or specializations can be important layers for any career path, Szeto says.
While completing a UW specialization, students get direct support from instructors, who guide individual online learning, small-group practice scenarios and real-world portfolio projects. UW learners also have opportunities to network with leading employers, working professionals and a community of peers.
Graduates who successfully complete specializations also earn a certificate of completion, a University of Washington credential they can use to validate their specialized skills and new competencies.
Credentials like specializations matter when it comes to staying prepared for the future of work. As Szeto said on a recent episode of the podcast Learn/Earn/Relearn, credentials can be an early signal to hiring managers about what skills you can contribute toward a company’s success.
“We also look for other signals, like curiosity and willingness to go back for continuing education,” Szeto says. “There are so many different ways to think about finding a new role. My best advice is to pursue multiple paths. We also look for folks to show that they’re passionate about a specific space.”
Watch for more UW Professional & Continuing Education specializations and related programs in 2024. Plus, as you prepare for the future of work, check out Learn/Earn/Relearn, a podcast hosted by Continuum College Vice Provost Rovy Branon and UW Communication Leadership Co-Founder Hanson Hosein.