Keeping up with the current job market can be stressful, but you can stand out from the sea of other applicants by learning new and unique job skills. The best part? You can do it for free.
If you’ve considered enrolling in a course or studying for a certification exam in order to increase your job skills (and hopefully, your salary), check out these free resources.
By investing your time and effort into free continuing education, you can get a promotion, earn more, or even explore a new career without breaking the bank.
1. Take a free online college course
It’s true — not all college-level trainings cost money. In fact, there are multiple online programs that educate students about specific topics, many of which come from top-notch professors.
Coursera offers free online classes from some of the most prestigious universities, including Stanford, Duke, and Johns Hopkins. Some of their best-rated classes include subjects related to environmental law, entrepreneurship, classical music, and web development.
These free classes are categorized into business, computer science, data science, personal development, arts, and more, so you’re bound to find a subject that will round out your resume.
Harvard also engages in free online training from some of their esteemed professors. With the Harvard Online Learning center, you can choose from podcasts, lectures, and classes on a wide variety of subjects. Some of the courses are paid, but many are offered to the public for free.
Udemy offers free and paid video classes on a wide variety of subjects — choose one and learn at your own pace. From coding to business to office productivity, Udemy offers a plethora of resources for you to start your free continuing education pursuits.
Lastly, MIT has an entire online course index dedicated to numerous subjects in the tech and engineering space.
With their OpenCourseWare (OCW) program you can access undergraduate and graduate-level course materials that are completely free. The OCW is funded by sponsors and donations, so you get premium resources that cost nothing.
2. Attend professional events
Joining an industry-specific club or professional organization can help improve your skillset while getting a free continuing education. Look for events and organizations that are affiliated within your current job field, or ask your employer what clubs they’re affiliated with.
Taking on a leadership role, such as a development officer or treasurer, in a professional organization could help you move up in your current job. The right organization will connect you to influential people and expand your network, both of which could help you find new leads and job opportunities.
In addition to professional organizations, you can also improve your job skills by attending work-related conferences. Speak with your HR manager or colleagues to find out which conferences they suggest attending, and see if your employer will pay for it.
You may even find that you can present an idea or moderate a panel at one of these conferences. This could earn you a free pass to the rest of the conference, in addition to helping you gain valuable skills in researching, preparing, and delivering a presentation.
Practice makes perfect, so donate your time to a worthy cause as you work on a skill of your choosing. Search out interesting organizations in your area and offer your services for free. They’ll get much-needed help, and you’ll get the opportunity to practice your skills in a low-stress setting.
Nonprofits and small businesses often need help with a wide variety of tasks. Whether you want to practice graphic design, social media management, web development, or video production, there’s likely a group in your area that could use your help.
Once you’ve found an opportunity, discuss how long you are able to work for free (say, five hours a week for two months). At the end of your term, you’ll have honed a new skill and made a new professional connection.
4. Master specific programs
In some jobs, extensive knowledge of computer programs and apps is needed to set yourself apart. Thankfully, companies like Adobe, Google, and Apple offer free online training programs so you can become an expert without spending a cent.
- Check out the Adobe Creative Cloud training center
- Learn how to use Google for different industries and jobs
- Attend free Apple workshops to master the basics; if you’re a teacher, see how to use Apple products in the classroom with education seminars
With these training programs, you can learn how to successfully navigate necessary programs. Knowing how to use job-specific software efficiently and effectively will be an immense help to your employer, and be a stand-out skill on your resume.
How to get a free continuing education
It is possible to get a free continuing education to help improve your job skills. If you’re hoping for a raise or a better job, use these ideas to start bolstering your resume.
Take on more responsibility at work and show that you’re taking the initiative to learn new skills. This will set you apart from other job applicants and give you the best chance at furthering your career without spending a cent.
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