Fed up with the gig economy? Looking for something steadier? Well, the tech sector is booming. Tech jobs are expected to grow 22 percent by 2020, with some IT fields adding positions at an even higher rate. But what if you don’t have the qualifications for a career in tech, or the time and money to go back to school?
Never fear – you can go back to school online. Online learning allows you to work your way through course material in your own time, and on your own schedule, so you can still go to work, take care of your kids, and manage your other adult responsibilities. Many prestigious colleges and universities now offer fully online degree programs in IT and computer-related fields. Best of all, these courses are taught by the same professors that teach in-person courses, and are every bit as good as traditional degree programs.
Learn on Your Own Schedule
Traditional university classes require students to drop everything and devote their entire lives to their studies for four years or more. But online learning uses technology to bring flexibility to the learning process. Online classes allow students to access course materials – including lectures, texts, assignments, and exams – online, so they don’t even have to be in the same city, or country, as the school and professors teaching the classes.
Most online classes and degree programs are taught asynchronously, meaning that students can work through the material on their own time. This makes online learning ideal for students who work or have to attend to family responsibilities, or both. You can do coursework on your lunch breaks, or at night after the kids are in bed. There’s no need to rearrange your whole life to make time to go back to school.
Take Whatever Classes You Want
These days, most universities offer online classes, and even traditional students take some classes online. With some of the nation’s most prestigious universities offering online courses and degree programs, you can learn whatever you want, from some of the world’s best professors. Do you have some qualifications, but need to beef up your resume with specific skills to land the job you want? Platforms like Coursera or edX allow you to mix and match courses taught by professors at top universities, like UC Berkeley and MIT. Are you changing careers or going back to school? You can enroll in an entire online degree program from the school of your choice. Earn a degree in computer science, programming, or engineering online.
Make the Most of Your Online Learning Experience
Many individual courses are offered online for free, but charge a fee if you want a verified certificate proving that you’ve taken the course. If you’re interested in mixing and matching courses in order to develop specific skills for a job search, you may want to consider investing in these certificates. They allow you to verify your completion of a specific tech course on your resume and on LinkedIn. These verified certificates serve as proof that you’ve mastered a specific skill, and you can feel free to bring them up at job fairs, in interviews, and at networking events.
Considering taking an entire online degree? Don’t worry that employers will think your online program isn’t as good as a traditional brick-and-mortar program. The stigma against online learning is eroding as more and more schools, and employers, are making use of online platforms for teaching and professional development purposes. Besides, your degree isn’t going to say “earned online” on it; most schools offering online degree programs these days have offered classes on traditional brick-and-mortar campuses for decades or even centuries, and you’ll get the exact same degree that students who attended classes in-person have.
If you’re just interested in taking a few specific courses online, you can probably do so for free. If you want to obtain verified certificates of completion for those courses, costs usually range from about $49 to $99 per credit. Earning an entire degree online will cost more, of course – but tuition costs for online degrees are typically lower than for traditional programs, and don’t usually involve costs like room and board. You’ll also save money on other expenses that might not seem immediately obvious, such as transportation to and from classes – there is none – and the costs of moving to a new city.
These days, online learning makes developing new skills, or even earning a whole new degree, easier than ever. Online classes allow students to complete course materials and master new skills on their own time, so that responsibilities like work and family no longer need to make going back to school an ordeal. Whether you’re interested in finally earning that college degree, getting your master’s, or just honing your skills for a specific position, the resources you need are out there. All you have to do is make use of them.