What kind of skills do I need for my career? Should I go back to school? Are there other ways to learn new skills? It's important to grow and develop different skills as you pursue your chosen career, but it's not always clear where you should start.
In this module, you'll learn about several ways you can develop different job skills, like going back to school, volunteering, building a portfolio, and more. We'll also talk about making your current job skills more transferable.
Gaining job skills
No matter where you are in your current career, it's never too late to learn and develop new job skills. Whether you're just entering the workforce or are hoping to change careers, developing new abilities will help set you apart in the job market. Learning different skills can also make you more productive and successful at your current job.
Watch this video from CareerBuilder to learn about some of the different ways you can develop new job skills.
While some careers require solid work experience and training in a particular field, many careers also require a certain level of education. If you're planning to switch to a new career, do some research to find out whether you'll have to go back to school before you can pursue that path.
Keep in mind that additional education doesn't always mean that you need to pursue a 2- or 4-year degree. Many community colleges offer shorter term programs that focus on certification for specific professions. For example, you may be able to get certified as a Nursing Assistant or Lab Assistant in one semester or less. Such programs, often called noncredit or continuing education courses, are traditionally not eligible for federal student aid, however. If you are considering such a program, ask the program coordinator about other loan or scholarship options.
When deciding to go back to school, think carefully about the school you choose to attend. It's important to attend a school that's accredited, since degrees or credits from non-accredited institutions are generally not accepted by employers or universities.
You will also want to consider tuition costs. While many for-profit and online colleges promise short degree programs and low-costs, they are often significantly more expensive than state and community colleges. Talking to alumni of the schools you're considering will help you decide which school will suit your needs.
To find out more about accreditation and potential college scams, take a look at the Federal Trade Commission's article on Diploma Mills. For more information on student loan and deceptive loan practices, check out their page on Student Loans.
To learn more about federal student loans and financial aid, check out the Student Loan Guide.
Over the past several years, there have been significant improvements in the quality and availability of various e-learning resources. While e-learning can never completely replace the traditional education model, more and more people are using these resources to acquire specific skills.
Self-paced tutorials and instructional videos are a great way to learn a new skill at your own pace. You can use these resources to start learning a new language, master a computer program, or become better at using social media. No matter what type of skills you need to learn, there's a good chance you can find an online tutorial to help you get started.
If you want to pursue a more in-depth understanding of a certain topic, many universities are now offering entire online courses and seminars for free, either on their own websites or through educational websites like Coursera or EdX. While you won't receive a degree, you can dramatically expand your knowledge without a tuition payment, and in some cases the teacher will issue a certificate to show that you've passed the course. Some educational websites have paid as well as free tracks to their courses. However, it is not yet clear whether employers view these tracks differently.
Some educational websites, such as Treehouse and Universal Class, require you to pay a membership fee for access to their courses. However, you may be able to access these websites for free if your local public library or workplace has purchased a membership.
Try using some of the different e-learning resources below to expand and develop your skill set:
- Tutorials and videos: Check out some of our other self-paced tutorials on GCFLearnFree.org. You can search for instructional videos on bigger sites like YouTube and Vimeo.
- Online university courses: Coursera, EdX, and UC Berkley's Webcasts are some of the best free online courses offered by universities today.
- Apps and e-books: You can find thousands of educational apps and e-books for your mobile devices at the App Store, iTunesU, and Google Play Store.