Through online courses and certifications, telecommuters easily maintain a competitive edge. Read on for four tips on how taking affordable online courses can be a profitable investment in your remote career.
Online Courses: 4 Tips for Talking Your Remote Career to the Next Level
Employers look for remote workers who show initiative and who can adapt to changing work conditions. Part of adapting is staying current on trends and technology in your field. One of the best ways to do this is through online courses and seminars.
There are hundreds of online courses and resources available to help you learn new skills, refresh your knowledge in your specialty areas, and master technical abilities. Before you decide on your approach to online learning, you need to be clear on what your expectations are, how much time you can devote to online courses, and what skills are most valuable to your remote career field.
Follow these four tips for making the most out of online courses for career advancement:
1. Understand the Value of Online Courses
Much like online and remote work, digital education provides a de-concentration of knowledge allowing anyone with an Internet connection to develop new skills and compete for high-paying positions.
Online education makes education accessible to people who were previously left out due to geographic and economic barriers.
The availability of online courses is a prominent characteristic of our global economy, were competition takes on new meaning in the workforce, particularly for remote workers.
Some experts predict that in the next few decades there will be a transformation of education whereby online learning will function as the primary source of education for both professionals and students. However, this does not have to be an overwhelming fact. You can use the rise in online education to your advantage.
There are numerous ways to gain profitable skills without having to complete an entire degree program or balance campus visits with your work schedule. One of the most important skills in the current work culture is continual learning. No matter what generation you belong to, you can advance your skills and your career with the right online courses.
2. Define Your Goals
Pursuing an online degree isn’t for everyone. You may benefit from one online course, a conference live-stream or webinar series, or a short certification program.
Before you enroll, you must take the time to figure out what skills you need to acquire. This will largely be determined by your professional growth plan. Depending on your employment status, you can develop a strategic map of your professional goals that will act as a guide to your educational pursuits.
Advice for Permanent Remote Employees
If you currently work from home, you have proven you can manage responsibilities, communication, and deadlines while working independently. Many of the skills that have helped you become a successful telecommuter are the same skills you can enhance to gain a promotion or take on additional responsibilities within your company.
Seek opportunities to get to know coworkers within other departments. Are you intrigued by the marketing team’s efforts to perfect their campaigns? Have you been learning a few programming languages and want to know more about the development team? Reach out to coworkers and other colleagues. The best way to build authentic connections at work is to show genuine interest.
Understanding the big picture of how your company operates is the best way to decide where you’d like to make a contribution. Once you are clear on where you want to go, it is much easier to devise a plan of action.
Write down the key skills, certifications or education you will need to reach your goal. If you have a mentor or member of your professional network currently working in a similar position to the one you want to take on, share your goals with that person. Getting feedback on your approach can save you from spending time and money on certifications or online courses that may not be essential.
Advice for Telecommuting Freelancers
If you are a freelancer who wants to expand your business, there are several ways you can approach your goal through online courses. Before you take action to transition from full-time freelancer to business owner, take the time to write down your goals.
- Are you looking for more financial freedom?
- Do you want to hire additional workers?
- Are you interested in traveling more or fostering more influential connections?
Knowing your intentions is an important first step. It is inevitable that short-term goals will change along the way, but a strong foundation rooted in a long-term goal will help you develop a concrete, measurable plan.
Connections are just as crucial for freelancers as they are for permanent employees. Having a strong network, whether in the form of an online community or an in-person group, can facilitate valuable resources for brainstorming ideas and gaining practical advice from other business owners.
Look for an entrepreneur in your circle who has accomplished something you’d like to achieve. Be sure to do your research and become informed on any articles or talks they have given if you don’t have a personal relationship. Many successful business owners are open to dialogue when you approach them with ideas on how you can both benefit. Consider interning or helping with a project in exchange for their expertise.
3. Find Online Courses
Once you are clear on why you want to pursue additional training, you can begin the research process into available online courses.
Depending on your career goals, you may want to consider paying a fee for a certification in your topic of choice. If you do decide to go this route, it is crucial that you choose a program with credibility.
The following online course companies are highly respected by businesses and professionals across the country and internationally. Each offers different benefits for you to consider before choosing the best platform for advancing your remote career through online courses.
Coursera is an online course and certification company that has partnerships with hundreds of universities to provide quality education in subjects from hospitality management to virtual reality. One of the best perks of Coursera is the course forums. The forums provide opportunities for students to discuss each week’s topics and build a community of learners.
Some courses on the site can be taken individually, while others are bundled together in a certification program. Another perk of Coursera is their payment options. There are some courses provided free of charge, whereas others require payment. You can choose to take a course and master the content for free or pay for a certification. Additionally, Coursera offers a membership option that allows you to take as many courses as you’d like. Coursera is an excellent option if you want to explore a few topics before deciding on which one to dive into long-term.
Lynda is one of the most well-known delivery options for online courses. The online education company, which was purchased by LinkedIn in 2015, focuses on creative skills, technology, and business courses.
Recognizable names like NBC, Adobe, and Patagonia have used lynda.com courses for professional development. Some courses also feature forums for students to interact and end with a certificate. One of the benefits of Lynda is that they offer courses for both beginners to experts in fields such as web design and software development. As a resource for tech professionals, they offer high-quality learning at reasonable prices. All Lynda courses come with a fee, however, they offer a monthly membership for unlimited learning.
Treehouse focuses completely on tech training, offering courses in a wide range of computer programming and web design sub-fields. One of the benefits of choosing a company with a specialty is that you have access to a community of learners who are all dedicated to your industry. Additionally, Treehouse caters to people who want to develop skills and put them to use in the workplace asap.
Treehouse offers resources for gaining tech jobs with the skills you develop. Their courses combine video tutorials with hands-on assignments and quizzes that help ensure you are making progress. The course options are available for tech newbies to experts. The company also offers a monthly fee for learning as courses tend to be much longer, helping you to not only learn a topic but master it.
Udacity is a unique platform in that it is more of a marketplace than a course deliverer. They host courses from experts all over the world, allowing them to present their material for students to develop skills in a vast array of topics. Udacity offers courses in music and photography as well as teacher training and information technology. One of Udacity’s benefits is their immense range of online courses as well as the availability of affordable course options.
4. Make a Commitment
Once you find the perfect course, you have to be committed to carving out the time for your education regularly. It is easy to sign up for a course only to realize two weeks in that you haven’t completed any of the assignments. However, this will not give you the results you want. Making an investment in your professional future requires discipline. Consider making a schedule for your courses three times a week.
Take time not only to read and watch your online course material but also to engage with other course participants through a provided forum. If your course doesn’t offer this feature, you can find community through online blogs, Twitter chats, Facebook groups or other platforms.
To get even more out your online courses, use what you learn each week by starting your own blog, working on a portfolio or journaling about what you’ve learned.
Once you complete your course, celebrate your accomplishment! It takes weeks or months of hard work and perseverance to balance educational advancement with work responsibilities and your personal life. When you finally succeed you should take the time to acknowledge the investment you are making in your future. Completing an online course is a great way to boost your confidence to take on the next phase of your career. With the initiative and discipline you will build through online education, there is nothing you can’t accomplish.
Photo Credits: 1. iStock.com/SvetaZi
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