Learning doesn’t stop once you’ve got your bachelor’s degree. If you want to get ahead at work, consider these (often free) ways to learn something new.
You’ve always been a smart person. You completed your degree, landed a job, and things are going well. But are you doing everything you can to achieve your future goals?
Your college education can take you far, but in the long run, your ability to adapt and prove your worth will ultimately decide your future. If you knew you how to make yourself more valuable to your employer right now, would you be motivated?
Learning something new while maintaining your employment could help you go from good worker to outstanding employee. And if you’re lucky, your employer might even pay for it.
Continuing education doesn’t necessarily mean enrolling at a college or university (although it could). There are many options when it comes to expanding your skillsets and knowledge of your field. Here are a few to consider. (Click here to tweet these resources.)
Level one: Self-guided learning
If you’re willing to spend a little energy toward furthering yourself, the internet has many sources for learning new skills or expanding upon the skills you already have. These options are normally free or low-cost, take a small amount time out of your busy day, and are offered in a wide variety of fields
- Moz offers a free, comprehensive “Beginner’s Guide to SEO” that lays out the general concepts of SEO to help you form a solid knowledge base.
- Distilled University is a full-blown SEO boot camp. It offers 93 hours of lessons and tests over 26 modules. Monthly fees of $40 or less should be expected.
- Tuts+ focuses on areas like design, computer skills, and even crafts and DIY. Many tutorials are free, but it also features a wide selection of courses with prices starting at $15 per month. Be sure to also check out their ebooks and blog.
- Skillshare offers another wide variety of classes, from design, photography, and entrepreneurship, to gaming and culinary skills. Memberships start at $10 a month, but there are a lot of free things to check out as well.
- Phlearn is a purely Photoshop and photography learning site. Their classes are offered in bundles or as singular tutorials. The prices vary a lot on this one, so consider subscribing to their newsletter for updates.
- CreativeLive has a ton of useful classes on a plethora of software. The classes are divided into “Entrepreneurs,” “Photographers,” and “Designers,” so navigation is easy. Expect to pay upwards of $100 big ones for these classes.
- Treehouse is a comprehensive resource for learning many different skills, focusing on the web design and web-development disciplines. The basic plan is $25 smackaroos while the $49 dollars per-month plan gets you exclusive content.
Coding and Technology
- Codeacademy is a free online learning platform for educating yourself in several coding languages. There are also courses in website development, but coding is the focus of this site. Oh, and it’s free. Free!
- Learn Code the Hard Way is another free resource for learning a wide variety of coding languages. The books are available for download, purchase, or for free viewing. The site also includes a helpful blog.
Of course, these aren’t the only examples. There are a ton of online resources for pretty much any subject you want to learn more about. Spend some time thinking over your own skills, your field, what you need to work on, and what will be most beneficial to your position and company. This brainstorming will help you narrow down your search for the right classes.
Level two: Certification programs
If you’re willing to devote more time to the process, or if you’re set on moving from one part of your field to another, then you might consider an educational option that provides more detail and takes longer to achieve.
Undergraduate and graduate certifications help you focus on a specific area of study within a field in which you already have some knowledge. These certificates are offered in just about every field for just about every focus, allowing you to find the right program to fit your goals.
These programs are often offered through higher education online sources, can be completed from anywhere in the country. Certification programs can provide skills that are more readily transferable from job to job.
You can look for these opportunities at local universities or colleges that provide night classes, or in online catalogues from schools anywhere in the country. Do some research and get on the phone with the admissions department of your choice to learn more about the guidelines and requirements.
Level three: Invest in education
Finally, for the very dedicated individual looking to really boost their abilities, we have the long-term options. These educational opportunities are exactly how they sound: long. Expect to spend more money and time on them.
Community college programs or advanced degrees are for those who wish to gain mobility between fields or change career paths altogether. They take years to complete, so you’ll need to make a real commitment and invest your time wisely in an area that is pertinent to your goals.
Consider this: millennials who earn a bachelor’s degree earn considerably more per month than those who do not. The rate has only increased since the 1980s. Additionally, those millennials who earn advanced degrees, such as a master’s or a PhD, tend to earn more per month than those with only a bachelor’s degree. Completing an advanced degree to further your career could be both fulfilling and profitable.
Look at this way: The return on investment for taking your professional future into your own hands by continuing your education is huge. There are a ton of great options out there to choose from — many affordable or sometimes paid for by your boss. Continuing your education can help you get where you want to go right now and in the future.
So really, you have no excuse not to think about your next step.
Erich Noack is a content writer at storEDGE, a leader in the self storage technology industry. He enjoys helping to develop unique strategies for web-marketing and the opportunity to advance small businesses through the use of language.