I read Jack Corbett's blog entry,No Training Budget Still No Excuse, last week and thought it was excellent. In fact, I plan on putting it out again on Twitter again.It was that good to me, and I thought it was short, to the point and had good suggestions. And not just because he mentioned SQL Server Central.
There is no excuse for you not to be able to improve your skills and career.
I hear lots of times from people that they work too much, don't have a training budget, and how are they supposed to improve their skills. The short answer is that you work at it. On a regular basis, and using the resources you have. Jack gives some great ones, but the reality is that there are plenty more, in any field, on the Internet that will help you improve. They don't take a lot of time, but I'm sure some of you can find an hour or two a few times a week to learn something new about your profession.
Doctors do it, lawyers do it, even engineers often spend some time out of work studying and reading about their field. There's no reason that other professions can't do it as well. It doesn't have to be every day, but it should be every week. Spend a few minutes learning something new.
Some of the resources are free, some aren't. However don't let price scare you. You ought to invest a little in your career yourself, even if your employer won't. You might not be able to afford a $2,000 class or conference, but I'm sure you can buy a book, or get a subscription to some service that helps you.
My current career is dedicated to providing free (cost) learning resources for IT professionals. I also have a business that looks to provide pay services. I think they both fit needs, and we try to ensure that we are providing more value for the paid services, but that doesn't mean the free ones won't help you. They might take more time, and more work on your side, but that's the tradeoff.
No matter how you choose to do it, there isn't an excuse to not improve your career.