If you asked me the one thing I’m most grateful for, I’d say “my computer.”
I dropped out of college nearly a decade ago, and it’s because of my computer I’ve succeeded in landing well-paying job after well-paying job in my field of choice (content/digital marketing) for the last 10 years.
Of course, doing so involved using my computer in a variety of ways, like learning how to do stuff, proving I knew how to do stuff, connecting with important people in my industry and marketing and branding myself as a trusted expert in my field.
Learning how to do stuff, aka gaining important, in-demand skills, is step one, and it’s the step I’m focusing on this article, in which I detail the best online courses to take to get a job in 2021.
There are A LOT of articles on this topic, but 99% of them are awful, affiliate posts that list the same online learning sites and the same courses, in the same categories that teach the same things.
This post is different because it features a lot of hidden gems, aka underground, “indie” courses, which I’ve personally taken, that are NOT listed on the top online learning sites.
You’ll find a wide-variety of courses on a wide-variety of skills that don’t pigeonhole you to a certain profession. (Because generalists are so 2021, and specialists are so last year.)
Some courses are free. Others are paid. All are valuable, and none of my recommendations are affiliate links. So keep reading for THE best, MOST honest and valuable review of the best online courses to take to land a job today.
Best online courses to take
Certifications that will give you quick “proof” to land work fast
Many of you are probably reading this because you want to make money and fast. I get it. I was there, and that’s exactly how I approached my learning process, too.
You could do this by taking popular, comprehensive industry certifications (although I roll my eyes at them, they can be useful when you’re just starting out because it’s at least some sort of proof you can do a job or complete a project). These can be very steep in price, so you might have to forego the certification for a more cost-effective, piecemeal strategy. The upside of going this route is that you’ll probably learn more… in my opinion anyway.
HubSpot is the industry leader in marketing automation software. In fact, they created the term “inbound marketing.”
The company has never been shy about sharing their knowledge with the rest of the world so it’s no surprise they created HubSpot Academy—an online learning center for people to learn about the latest marketing best practices and get “certified” upon completion.
You’ll notice a lot of marketing agencies require you to be “HubSpot certified.” What’s nice for newbies is you can showcase the certification badge on your LinkedIn once you pass the exam.
You don’t have to be a HubSpot customer to utilize these resources, and you don’t have to take the courses if all you’re after is a certification. (Although, I highly recommend taking the courses before attempting the certification exam, as many experienced marketers, who didn’t take them, did not pass.)
The good news is you can learn it for free with Salesforce’s Trailhead.
Trailhead is a fun way to learn Salesforce. The online, self-paced learning platform allows anyone to learn anything around Salesforce for free. Learning topics are organized into modules, which are broken up into units.
To finish a unit, you earn points by completing a quiz or a challenge.
A quiz checks your knowledge with multiple-choice questions, while a challenge tests your skills by getting your hands dirty in a Salesforce org. Once you’ve finished all of the units in a module, you’ll get a shiny new badge for your profile.
To get started, I recommend visiting the career path page to see what courses are best for you to take first, based on your interests and current skills.
Warren Buffett doesn’t have his college diplomas hanging on the wall in his office, but he does have his Dale Carnegie certification of completion featured on it.
The Dale Carnegie course gives you the human relations skills to thrive in any setting. Discover how to form closer, more rewarding relationships built on trust and respect. Increasing your confidence and competence in interacting with others will gain the influence you need to reach new heights in your personal and professional life.
Plus, this is an impressive certification to tout, since Dale Carnegie is so well-known and respected in the professional world.
Shopify Partner Academy is an exclusive collection of courses, study guides, and exams developed by Shopify to help freelancers, agencies, and developers build critical commerce skills, test their knowledge, and get started on the right foot working with Shopify. This course is good for wannabe freelance website designers and developers, who want to land Shopify work.
I completed this free course on HTML and CSS for beginners and was extremely impressed, and I’ve tried A LOT of different coding courses. This was by far the easiest to digest and the most enjoyable to take.
It looks like the world is headed toward more video content, and video editing was the No. 16 top skill on the Upwork 100, so it’s safe to say learning how to make super cool videos and edit them with Adobe Premiere Pro is a good skill to have.
Puno has grown @madewithmap to 80,000 followers in one year with no “experience.” She did not have the luxury of being featured by Instagram and did not buy followers.
She’s completely transparent about everything so you can take away an actionable Instagram strategy. From emails she’s written to how she does the “Mine + Grind,” think of this class like an in-depth case study of exactly how she grew @madewithmap.
She has taught this course at General Assembly, and it is now available online.
Sketch Master is a collection of video training courses for professionals learning Sketch. The courses are fast-paced and focused on real projects and practical workflows—like designing app icons, mobile app interfaces, and SVG graphics.
If you’re interested in design or user-experience, you’ll want to check out Greg Rog’s “Learn UX” course library, which teaches newbies how to use different design tools, such as Figma, Sketch, Adobe XD, Framer and more.
Courses that will help you land paid jobs/freelance work
I took Paul’s class a few years ago now, and I found it extremely beneficial. Since then, he’s taught more than 2,400 freelancers how to organize, manage and grow their freelance businesses. Highly recommend.
TLDR: Learn how to set up digital productivity tools (like a task manager, digital calendar, and references library) to manage information in your life, and use them to execute your commitments.
If you’re familiar with David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) and systems thinking, then you’ll feel at home in this course. It’s a good primer on the digital productivity tool landscape and how to not get overwhelmed with all the information coming at you all the time, which is important for knowledge workers.
The average person consumes 34 gigabytes worth of data every day, the equivalent of 174 newspapers. We are spending more than 11 hours per day—or two-thirds of our waking hours—consuming media in some form.
Can you say #unproductive, #stressed and #overwhelmed. No wonder we can’t get anything done today.
Personally, this course has me salivating, and I will be saving up for it, because I do feel like I consume SO much good information but feel like it’s so siloed and disconnected from each other that it’s useless and just overwhelms me in my head (I swear it’s not as crazy as it sounds). If you feel the same, I highly suggest this course of Tiago’s.
In this course, you’ll learn concepts that can be adapted to many work situations and office environments in order to help you stay on top of your work. While the course explores creative project management through the lens of UX, these strategies can be applied to any industry.
One of the main ways you’ll learn stuff at work is by googling, so you best be good at it. Google offers two courses: Power Searching with Google and Advanced Power Searching with Google for free. These course videos are super quick and informative, so it won’t cost you too much time.