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Career Training and Personal Development Loans

Career & Personal Development Loans: A Guide
Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarcoUpdated May 25, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
A four-year college degree is not the only way to make progress in your career. There are lending products on the market designed to help people pursue career training and professional development opportunities.Learn more about what career training loans and personal development loans are, and how they might help you achieve new goals in your professional life and potentially improve your earning potential. 

What Are Career Development Loans?

What exactly is a career development loan or personal development loan? Essentially, these are loans that cover the costs of pursuing professional, trade, or educational programs that help a borrower learn a new skill, gain certification, or otherwise make progress in their career.Oftentimes, career training loans are personal loans. Personal loans are flexible and can be used for almost any purpose. With a personal loan, you receive a lump sum of money that you repay in regular installments over time with interest.You can choose from small personal loans that range from about $1,000 to $5,000, or much bigger loans for tens of thousands of dollars.

Steps to Getting a Personal And Career Development Loan

If you decide that a personal development loan or career development loan is right for you and could help you advance in your career, these are the steps to take to find and apply for a loan.
  • Step 1. Get organized. To help streamline the application process, it’s helpful to gather any information or documents that will need to be submitted to the lender. This can include identifying information like a passport or government-issued identification card, proof of income, and proof of address. Many lenders have specific  loan requirements that must be met in order to process your application.
  • Step 2. Check your credit. Lenders use credit scores and credit reports to help determine how creditworthy borrowers are. The higher your credit score, generally, the easier it is to qualify for larger loan amounts and better interest rates. 
In addition to checking your credit score, you should review your credit report. You can get a free copy from one of the three major credit bureaus or from If you find any errors on your report, contact the credit bureaus immediately. 
  • Step 3. Adjust your monthly budget. When taking on career training loans, it’s important for borrowers to know their monthly budget has room in it for a new loan payment. Review your budget carefully to get an idea of how large of a loan payment you can comfortably handle. You should feel confident that you can make that payment on time consistently each month for the term of the loan. Missing a payment, or making late payments, could negatively impact your credit score.
  • Step 4. Comparison shop with different lenders. Spend some time shopping around for top personal loans to find one that gives you the right loan amount, the fewest fees, and the most favorable interest rates. 
Getting prequalified or preapproved for a personal loan is a good way to get an idea of what loan terms you may qualify for. And prequalification doesn’t negatively impact your credit score.
  • Step 5. Apply. Once you’ve reviewed all the offers and found the best loan for your needs, you can formally apply for it. Typically, approval is quick. Once you’re approved, you’ll receive the money within a few days.

4 Ideas to Reinvest in Yourself

If you’re borrowing money with a career development loan or personal development loan, here are some ways you can use it to benefit your career and ideally, earn more money, too.
  • Enroll in a professional certification or designation. There are many educational opportunities that don’t necessarily take place on a college campus. A professional certification or designation could make it possible to get a higher salary, take on a new task at work, or transition to a different industry. 
  • Take extension classes. If you want to brush up on a certain subject matter, you could head back to college for extension classes. For example, someone who studied marketing in college a decade ago may find that a class in social media marketing can help them keep up with best practices in their industry. 
  • Attend trade school. Many great career paths such as electrician or mechanic involve learning a technical trade instead of going to a four-year university.
  • Start a small business. If you’ve always dreamed of launching your own business, a career development loan or professional development loan could help. It takes time and money to get a small business or side hustle off the ground, which is where loan funds can come in handy. 

Funding for Personal or Career Development

In addition to career training loans, there are other methods to help pay for personal or career development, including:
  • Scholarships and grants. If you want to attend a trade school, graduate school, or other formal education programs, you can look into grants or scholarships. Both offer free money to cover the cost of school. Scholarships and grants can be need-based or merit-based.
  • Employers. Many companies have learning and development budgets for their employees to earn certifications, take classes, or attend conferences. Talk to your HR department and find out what kind of financial support your employer is willing to offer you.
  • Gifts from family and friends. Tell friends and family members who ask what you want for your birthday or the holidays to skip the material goods in exchange for a monetary gift to help pay for an online class, the software you need to grow your small business, or books that will help you learn a new skill.

How to Find Career Development Loans

Career development loans are usually a type of personal loan. Wondering where to get a personal loan? Personal loans are available from banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Take some time to explore different lenders and loans. Shopping around can help you get the best deal. The goal is to find the right loan amount, from a trustworthy lender, with the lowest possible interest rate and fees. 

The Takeaway

A career and professional development loan can make it easier to help progress in your career and potentially start earning a higher salary. Paying the interest and possible fees on these loans could be worth it if it helps you advance professionally and financially. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons to make sure such a career training loan is right for you.If you decide to pursue a personal loan to cover career and personal development expenses, shop around to see which lenders can offer the lowest rates and fees. This is where Lantern can help. In our online marketplace, you can get offers from multiple lenders at once. That makes comparing rates and terms — and choosing the best loan for your situation — quick and convenient. Find and compare personal loan rates today with Lantern.

Frequently Asked Questions

What documentation is required for a personal development loan?
What is the maximum amount for career development loans?
What makes me eligible for development loans?
Photo credit: iStock/SDI Productions

About the Author

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco is a personal finance writer and editor based in Southern California. While she spends the bulk of her time writing about complex financial issues, she also tackles a variety of subjects ranging from food to fashion to travel. Her work can be found across dozens of publications such as Credit Karma, LendingTree, Northwestern Mutual, The Everygirl, and Apartment Therapy.
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