At some time or other in our lives we are likely to set ourselves personal goals, whether it is a New Year's resolution to get fit or a wish to gain a promotion and a pay rise. Regardless of our choice of target, a plan of action must be put in place to help us achieve victory. In terms of achieving our career goals, one route to success is through ensuring our information technology (IT) skills are up to scratch. As an example, let us consider selecting Microsoft Access as a piece of software that we need to learn more about. There is a long list of reasons, specific to each individual, as to why we might consider taking a Microsoft Access course. We must also decide how best to approach our quest for knowledge.

Assess your skills

Having identified that a training need exists, the first step is to assess your current level of skill. By knowing whether your knowledge of Microsoft Access is at a basic, intermediate or advanced level, it is possible to select appropriate educational material. Alternatively, if you are already an experienced user of Microsoft Access you might want to consider learning about Microsoft Access VBA programming language.

Choose your version

It also important to know which version of Microsoft Access you or your company is using as courses can be tailored accordingly. Training is available in Access 97, Access 2000, Access 2002 XP, Access 2003 and Access 2007. Perhaps you may be updating your software in the future, in which case it would be more appropriate to choose a Microsoft Access course dealing with the newer version.

Consider your training options

It is recognised that individuals have different learning styles therefore different training methods are available to prospective students of Microsoft Access. The most traditional method is through reading comprehensive reference books. However, this method lacks the opportunity for hands on experience which seems particularly important when attempting to grasp some of the more complex concepts of the software. E-learning courses allow you to develop Microsoft Access skills at your own pace in a virtual environment. A distance learning programme is another flexible option that combines self-directed study with on-line training.

Instructor led Microsoft Access courses are a very popular and time efficient option because they allow students to have hands on experience in combination with the opportunity to ask questions. Microsoft Certified Trainers conduct Microsoft Access courses at training centres in a group environment or on a one-to-one basis. There is also the option of arranging in-house training from qualified instructors for your staff.

It is worth taking some time to consider what type of Microsoft Access course would best suit your needs. It always helps to have an action plan, whatever personal goals you have in mind.