Professional skills courses for professionals have exploded in the last decade, and for good reason. As everyday jobs become increasingly tech-dependent, employees are constantly having to evolve new skills to stay relevant. In many cases, traditional university programs are too long and involved to meet these needs, so professionals are turning to flexible online formats that work around their jobs and evolve at a faster pace.
Many of these platforms are free or low-cost, and they can be a great way to develop additional skills on the side to prepare for a promotion or career change. Further, their module structure guides users through content in a methodical way, and users can watch and rewatch videos to ensure they learn the content thoroughly.
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Finding The Right Professional Skills Courses For You
There are many websites that offer professional skills courses, and it can be overwhelming to try to figure out which website offers the courses that are most relevant to you. A useful way to find courses is to use ClassCentral.com. ClassCentral allows users to search by subject or skill. Then the site returns a list of websites that offer courses on that subject, an overview of what each course offers, information about costs, and whether the course offers certifications. It’s a great place to start exploring skills courses, even if you just want to get a sense of what’s out there.
Or, you can check out our list below of some of the best platforms for professional skills courses. We’ve selected these platforms based on the quality and variety of their course offerings, ease of use, and cost.
Best Platforms for Coding
If you’re looking to learn or brush up on your coding skills, you’ve got some great options to choose from. Even if you don’t want to be a full-time coder, knowing enough to tweak your blog or write a small program to handle a routine computer task can be really useful. In fact, one man who taught himself to code wrote a program to use at work and ended up saving his company $2 million per year. Plus, having a solid skill like that definitely makes you stand out at the office. Below are three websites where you can begin building or improving your coding skills.
- W3Schools.com isn’t the prettiest website, but it’s completely free, and its stripped-down design makes it super easy to navigate. Besides HTML and CSS, you can learn languages like Java and Python, as well as server-side. Best of all, you can test your skills in the built-in editor and see your results immediately. This is a great option if you want to try coding to see if it’s for you, or to save money as you build foundational skills before moving on to more advanced stuff.
- CodeAcademy.com is a step up from W3Schools. It offers more courses overall, with programs on things like coding for games and creating chatbots. You can even take a class in machine learning. Basic courses are free, but for $19.99/month you can access additional classes and features, including mobile practice, real-world projects, and peer guidance to help you if you get stuck.
- General Assembly is the most extensive of these three options. It offers courses on coding, but there are also classes on project management, data analysis, and related subjects. Beginners can definitely learn basic skills here, but there are lots of advanced offerings that are great for those with more experience. Learning experiences are flexible, including short-form offerings, structured learning paths (modules), and part-time and full-time online classes. Unlike W3Schools and Code Academy, General Assembly also offers immersive on-campus courses, so you have the option of face-to-face instruction if you prefer. Cost varies by course, but the price might be worth it if you’re considering moving into a field full-time because General Assembly offers a hiring partners program that feeds talent to companies like Capital One and WSJ Custom Studios.
Best Platforms Designed For Business
- Skillshare has one of the most diverse course offerings of any website on this list. From its ads, you might think it’s a site for crafters or hobbyists, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But the site also offers some high-quality courses in useful business skills like marketing basics, branding, and running an online store. Many of these classes are especially useful for creatives who are interested in making their side hustle more lucrative. Most of the classes are free, although there is a premium subscription and team subscription available as well, both of which offer unlimited access to all courses, ad-free use, and mobile device support. Skillshare also offers a generous two-month trial for new users.
- Udemy is Skillshare’s biggest competitor. The sites are similar in many ways, offering a range of subjects from craft tutorials to meditation. But Udemy caters to professionals with classes in development (including coding, mobile, and game development), marketing, IT, finance, and office productivity (using software like the Microsoft Suite, Apple, and SAP). One big difference between Udemy and Skillshare is that on Udemy you purchase each course individually. Courses aren’t expensive, but heavy users may find their purchases add up quickly. On the other hand, purchasing the course allows you to download it to your computer or use it on your mobile device, which are nice features.
- Lynda was founded in 1995 by Lynda Weinman, making it one of the earliest of these platforms. It was eventually purchased by LinkedIn Learning, then by Microsoft. Although both Lynda and LinkedIn Learning exist as separate sites, they contain the same content. The only real difference is that when you take courses on LinkedIn Learning, you have the option to easily add those skills to your profile, but you also have the option to link your Lynda and LinkedIn Learning accounts if you choose. The courses on these sites cater to professionals who are driven to advance. Courses are taught by professionals in the field with proven success, and there are always multiple courses to choose from on a given topic. These sites operate on a subscription of $29.99/month or $19.99/month if paid annually, and the subscription provides unlimited access to all of the content on these sites.
Tips For Being Successful in Professional Skills Courses
Once you’ve chosen the class you want to complete, it’s time to go back to school! If it’s been a while since you’ve found yourself in a classroom, here are a couple of tips to remember for successfully completing your first (or fiftieth!) professional skills course.
- Take notes, preferably by hand. The simple act of writing things down helps you remember more details and remember them for longer. Your notes also offer a quick reference if you need one later.
- Follow a routine. Watching a video here and doing a module there isn’t as beneficial for deep learning as being consistent with your progress. It’s well documented that regular study makes for much more effective study.
- Network with your instructor and fellow students who are taking the same course. Many of these platforms have message boards or forums where you can ask questions, share information, and get to know other professionals with similar interests. This not only boosts learning but can be highly beneficial professionally.
Are you interested in improving your business writing skills quickly? Then check out our post on 5 Tips For Better Business Writing Skills.
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