Want to develop new work skills that will open up more job opportunities? Or upgrade qualifications in your current career? This can be a great time to update your skills, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. There are lots of ways to develop skills online, and in your community.
Start with a clear focus
A practical place to start is by exploring what employers are looking for.
- Scan job postings for the type of job you want to work in – your targeted field – on the Job Finder. Focus on the skills and qualifications section of job postings and make a note of the most mentioned.
- Find a professional association in your targeted field. Go to their website to read about trends. The association is likely to publish articles about new developments, offer webinars, online conferences, and training. Associations can also be a great source of contacts to reach out to for recommendations on meaningful credentials in your local area.
- Visit Certification Finder to search for certifications in your targeted field. Note that certifications marked with a chili pepper (“hot certifications”) indicate those that are frequently mentioned in job postings.
- Search the Tools & Technology Finder to look up the most common tools or types of technology used in your targeted occupation.
Quick ways to gain skills
Once you’ve identified the types of skills and knowledge you’d like to focus on, there are some very accessible ways to get training quickly. The websites on this list offer classes that are either free or very low cost.
- Code Academy offers free online coding instruction for a variety of computer programs.
- Coursera, edX, and Academic Earth offer free online college classes through video lecture, quizzes, and readings.
- GCF Learn Free emphasizes basic digital and software skills and job search topics.
- Khan Academy offers free online learning in school subjects at levels from middle school through college.
- LINCS Learner Center from the U.S. Department of Education connects you to free online resources to reach your life goals, including job skills, math and English proficiency, and more.
- Major universities such as Stanford, Harvard, MIT, and Yale offer free online courses to the public. Find listings by searching the name of the institution and “free online classes.”
- The OSHA Outreach Training Program provides workers with basic and more advanced training about common safety and health hazards on the job.
- Language apps provide foreign language instruction in Spanish, Swahili, Japanese, Hindi, Russian, Mandarin, and more. Explore popular apps such as: Duolingo, Babbel, Busuu, or Memrise.
Community-based training sources
Resources in your local area are another good prospect for immediate training. Some options include:
- Take an online class or find free introductory classes through public libraries or American Job Centers.
- School districts and local not-for-profit organizations often offer free training for the public. Contact those in your area to ask about training.
- Volunteer at an organization that uses the kind of skills you need to develop or refresh. Many provide training.
Short-term training options to earn a credential
Earning a certification can help you qualify for a job, advance in your career, or give an extra boost to your resume. Generally, you need to pass a test to earn a certification, and earning one shows that you have specific skills and knowledge.
Training to prepare for certification exams is usually available through the certification sponsors, such as professional associations or technology companies, or from a local community college. The time required varies a lot.
Some certifications could be earned in several days if you can dedicate all your time to studying and passing the exam. Some certifications have multiple levels and could require months or even years to complete all the elements. Look up certifications in your targeted field.
A certificate can pay off by helping you qualify for a job, get a promotion, or earn more money. Many certificate programs offered at community or technical college programs last from six months to two years.
Look for short-term training programs near you at Local Training Finder. Get started with these steps:
- Enter a keyword for the type of job or training you’re looking for.
- Enter your location to view a list of programs near you.
- Use the “Program Length” filter on the left-hand side of your results to limit your results by how long it typically takes to complete the program.