Are you looking for a new job? Are you interested in a career change or just angling for a promotion at your current company? Are you considering going back to school for an undergraduate or master’s degree? Do you want to brush up your existing skills or develop some new ones?
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then online learning could be for you. Whether you just want to take a class here or there or you want to earn an entire degree or certification, online learning can be just the right tool to improve your career. There are a range of online classes and degree or certification programs available to today’s professionals. By choosing the right courses and presenting them to the best advantage in your application materials, you can learn everything you need to know to have the career of your dreams — online.
Choose the Right Courses or Degree Programs
What can you learn by taking classes online? Just about anything! You can study literature, polish your creative writing, learn about dog psychology or master meditation. If you want to focus on courses that you can put on your resume, there are still plenty of options. You could:
- Learn how to code;
- Strengthen your soft skills;
- Take some marketing classes; or
- Learn WordPress, HTML, Photoshop or other digital skills.
But with so many courses offered by so many sites, how do you choose one? If you’re interested in taking a single course, and you don’t think you need much hand-holding, you could enroll in one of the many massive open online courses, or MOOCs, offered by top universities such as Harvard or MIT or by companies like Microsoft. Many of these courses are free, although you might be asked to pay a small fee for the privilege of a certificate that shows you completed the work. Providers like edX and Coursera offer MOOCs on a wide range of academic subjects. You can also take online courses from providers like Codecademy, Udemy and Lynda, although these courses may not follow the traditional academic model followed by MOOCs.
However, before you start signing up for online courses, you need to find out what credentials you’ll need to make the career move you want to make. Perhaps you want to move into a new role at your current company; in that case, you should speak to your supervisors about what skills and qualifications you’ll need to make that happen. Are you on the job hunt? Scrutinize job postings to identify the skills hiring managers are looking for that you don’t have. Are you considering a career change or angling for a promotion that you know will require a certain credential? Look into online degree programs.
Should You Take a Single Course or a Whole Degree?
When it comes to online classes, you can take as many or as few as you want. You can use them to build professional skills or as part of a personal development plan. You can even earn an entire undergraduate or graduate degree. But do you need to earn an entire degree, or do just need to take a course or two? The answer depends on what credentials you currently have and where you hope to go in your career.
If you haven’t yet earned an undergraduate degree, that should be your first focus. Likewise, if you know you need a specific degree to get into or advance in a field, then taking individual courses here and there will likely be a waste of time. If you think you might like to enter a field but aren’t completely sure it’s for you — or want to make sure your passion is focused in the right direction before cutting that tuition check — you can try out an online course or two to see if it gels for you. Maybe, after taking a couple of courses in HTML and CSS, you’ll decide that maybe you don’t want to spend your days building websites after all. Or maybe you’ll find your excitement building and decide to pursue a user experience design degree or some similar credential.
Presenting Online Courses in Your Job Application Materials
If you earn a degree online, you’ll present it the same way you’d present a college degree earned the old-fashioned way. The same goes for advanced degrees. Most schools offering online degree programs also offer traditional on-campus degree programs, and there’s no difference between them, except for the distance.
If you already have credentials and just want to add a skill or two to your resume, you can do so in a Professional Development or Professional Training section after your work experience or as part of your education section. Tailor this section to online include courses that are relevant to the job you’re seeking, and focus on what you learned and created in the course.
Online courses can be a great way to earn a new degree or other credential or just to learn a new skill that you can add to your resume. Thanks to the many course and degree options available, anyone can build new job skills in their spare time — without even getting off the couch.