In recent years, online courses (especially free ones) have become all the rage, and it’s no secret why. Online courses are an easy way to complete coursework on your own time and at a self-paced level. Additionally, you can repeat online courses as often as needed and take all the time you need to review the material. While taking an online course might not be the same as completing an entire degree, it can be substantial when it comes to wanting to change or advance your career path. 

Online courses can show employers that you have the soft and hard skills you need to succeed without spending money on a degree. Luckily there are plenty of online courses you can take for free or cheap. So if you have felt stagnant lately and want to change your career, keep reading. Our list of the best online courses is an excellent place to start.

Career Change vs. Side Hustle 

Sometimes, people confuse a career change, career advancement, and a side hustle. These terms are not interchangeable and actually have different meanings. A career change would be an entire shift of industry or job title. For example, if you wanted to move from the automotive industry to the tech industry, that would be a career change. A career advancement would be a promotion or pay raise due to new skills or improvements, which could be moving up the corporate or business ladder. A side hustle is creating a new income stream by opening a business, getting a second job, or having some other form of new revenue. 

Will An Online Course Really Help Me Change My Career?

Many people think that online courses are useless certificates that won’t help you change or advance your career. This is completely false! Online courses can give you access to new soft and hard skills that you can put on your resume, display on LinkedIn, and talk about during interviews or networking events. Many people have changed their career paths solely through doing online coursework; it’s entirely possible! Depending on the courses you choose, some people even have the opportunity to change their careers for free; you just need to be picky about the kind of information you pursue. 

Tips to Change Your Career Fast

One thing you need to consider when wanting to change careers is that the process of changing jobs is an actual skill in itself; it’s something you’ll need to practice at in order to be better and do better. Additionally, career changes are made up of a variety of both hard and soft skills. So, naturally, you need to know the basic skills you need to do your job effectively. But you will also need to know how to adequately adjust your resume for your applications, write cover letters, and perform well during interviews. So, pay attention to these soft skills! They will help you stand out to employers and change careers fast. 

Soft Skills

There are a lot of excellent soft and interpersonal skills that an employer might use to evaluate whether you would be a good candidate. For example, they might evaluate your communication or management skills if you are applying for a leadership position. Effective communication methods are one of the most important things you can use at work. So that’s a great place to start. We like Future Learn’s Communication and Interpersonal Skills at Work course, which is offered by the University of Leeds and the Institute of Coding. 

Similarly, problem-solving and critical thinking are two other soft skills that you will use frequently in the workplace when dealing with coworkers, superiors, and clients. To support the development of your problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, try Future Learn’s Logical and Critical Thinking class offered by the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

Hard Skills 

Hard skills are skills in the workplace that are measurable and concrete, also known as skills that are outside of your personality or interpersonal qualities. Some of the most popular hard skills include Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Copywriting/Copyediting. Future Learn has many different courses that help enhance your personal hard skills, but we’ll outline a couple of them below. 

Coding has become one of the most popular skills in the modern job market, so it’s an outstanding hard skill to start with if you want to take free courses online. If you want to learn a programming language for your career change, try out Future Learn’s Data Science on Microsoft Azure using Python Programming

While the idea of casually using robots in the future seems far off, it’s actually much closer than you think. Harnessing the power of AI and robotics technology could be an excellent skill for the tech world, and you can learn all about it in Future Learn’s class Building a Future with Robots

Emerging Technology

As we just mentioned, many solid tech hard skills align with emerging technology. And there are a lot of courses explicitly designed to teach users about this emerging technology. Topics like VR (virtual reality) and AI (artificial intelligence) are quickly becoming popular in the modern tech world. 

The Unity engine has a free “Create With VR” course that students can access with an online license code or a student ID from any registered institution. This course will take you through the beginnings of a VR (virtual reality) project that you can play on a headset, such as a Meta Quest. VR is truly a wild west of both financial and creative gain at the moment, so it’s a really incredible field to get into. Companies like Meta and Twitter have been hiring thousands of VR specialists in recent years because only a few people know how to work with the technology. It’s a skill that’s in high demand, so if you want to give yourself a raise, consider getting into this lucrative field. 

General Courses

Other sites also offer a variety of general courses for you to improve your overall skills. For example, Linkedin Learning is a site where you can access a variety of different career-improving lessons. You can pay a monthly rate for this service or access it free with a registered student ID. Subjects like writing job applications and cover letters are also available on Linkedin Learning, taught by industry professionals from a variety of different fields. 

On Future Learn, you can also pursue various general courses to help you advance in your field, including Becoming Career Smart and How to Succeed in an Interview

And Coursera has a vast range of free online courses where you can pick up new skills and knowledge in fields like:

  • Business
  • Computer Science
  • Language
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Health
  • Information Technology
  • Engineering
  • Social Sciences

Give Yourself Time With Career Changes 

As with most other things in life, career changes don’t happen overnight. Changing careers takes time, and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t enjoy the first online course you try or even if you bomb your first interview with a potential employer. These things happen, and they happen to pretty much everyone at least once in their lives. So whether you are trying to make a massive career jump or get a minor promotion, make sure you are always prepared, keep your new skills at the front of your mind, and cut yourself slack when things get tough.