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The Best Online Courses to Take to Get a Job in 2021

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. 

Google Analytics Academy Certification


Link: Google Analytics Academy 

Price: Free 

Creator: Google 

Course Type: Self-paced, Certification 

Skill level: Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced


Analytics Academy helps you learn about Google’s measurement tools so that you can grow your business through intelligent data collection and analysis. Provided by Google, the site offers six courses:

  1. Google Analytics for Beginners
  2. Advanced Google Analytics
  3. Google Analytics for Power Users
  4. Getting Started with Google Analytics 360
  5. Introduction to Data Studio
  6. Google Tag Manager Fundamentals

After taking the first two courses, you can take the free Google Analytics certification course, which is great for new grads or college students trying to gain an in-demand skill fast.  


HubSpot Courses and Certifications

Hubspot Academy recommended lessons

Link: HubSpot Academy

Price: Free 

Creator: Varies 

Course Type: Self-paced, Certification

Skill level: Beginners to Advanced


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. 

Hubspot certification badges

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.)

Because it’s completely free, it doesn’t hurt to sign up, and check out the courses yourself. Also, here’s a review of the various certifications


Google Skillshop

Google Skillshop offerings


Link: Google courses and certifications 

Price: Free 

Creator: Google 

Course Type: Self-paced, Certification

Skill level: Beginners to Advanced


Another skill to consider adding to your repertoire, if you want to make money fast, is the Google Ads certification along with the other courses you can take on popular Google products via Skillshop. 

Upwork clients will usually care about these certifications too, so it’s helpful when you’re a newbie. 


Salesforce Trailhead


Link: Trailhead

Price: Free 

Creator: Salesforce 

Course Type: Self-paced, Certification

Skill level: Beginners to Advanced


By 2024, there will be 4.2 million jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem, and Salesforce is already a top 100 in-demand skill, according to Upwork, which means now is the time to learn it. 

3.3M jobs will be created in the salesforce ecosystem by 2022; Salesforces skills lead to competitive salaries

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.


Dale Carnegie Course


Link: Dale Carnegie

Price: $1,995 

Creator: Varies 

Course Type: Self-paced, Certification

Skill level: Beginners to Advanced


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. 

If you can’t afford the expensive price tag, read the book, How to Win Friends and Influence People.


Shopify Partner Certifications

Shopify theme basics

Link: Shopify Partner Academy

Price: Free

Creator: Varies 

Course Type: Self-paced, Certification

Skill level: Beginners to Advanced

Estimated Time: 30 minutes per course


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. 


Courses that will teach you in-demand skills fast

Interneting is Hard: Learn HTML & CSS

Interneting is Hard: Learn HTML & CSS Link: Interneting is Hard

Price: Free  

Creator: Oliver James

Course Type: Self-paced

Skill level: Beginners


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. 


Video Editing Course


Link: Video Editing Course

Price: $499  

Creator: punodostres  

Course Type: Self-paced

Skill level: Beginner, Intermediate


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. 


Instagram Content Planning Course

Instagram Content Planning Course lessons


Link: Instagram Content Planning Course

Price: $499

Creator: punodostres  

Course Type: Self-paced

Skill level: Beginner, Intermediate


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.


Squarespace Design Course


Link: Squarespace Design Course

Price: $899 

Creator: punodostres  

Course Type: Self-paced

Skill level: Beginner, Intermediate

Learn how to build beautiful Squarespace websites, and start banking tomorrow. 


WordPress Design Course

Learn WordPress. Build beautiful websites Link: WordPress Design Course

Price: Free 

Creator: Lauren Holliday (Me)   

Course Type: Self-paced

Skill level: Beginner, Intermediate


Learn how to build premium WordPress websites, and get paid for it. 


Sketch Master


Link: Sketch Master

Price: $39, $49, $99 or $160 for all three 

Creator: Peter Nowell

Course Type: Self-paced

Skill level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced


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.

Sketch is No. 8 on Upwork’s Top 100 skills. 


Learn UX


Learn UX - Start off with some basics vital for web and mobile UI and UX design.


Link: Learn UX

Price: $15/mo or $144/year 

Creator: Greg Rog

Course Type: Self-paced

Skill level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced


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

The Creative Class


The Creative Class - It's time...Go pro with your freelancing career

Link: The Creative Class

Price: $239  

Creator: Paul Jarvis  

Course Type: Self-paced

Skill level: Beginners to Advanced


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.


Double Your Freelancing Rate


Double Your Freelancing - Master the business behind your business.

Link: Double Your Freelancing Rate

Price: $297 or $597  

Creator: Brennan Dunn  

Course Type: Self-paced

Skill level: Beginners to Advanced


If you’re going to buy this course, stick with the $297 version. I took the course a while ago, and I found it beneficial, although I do think Dunn overcharges for his courses. 

You’ll learn the business of freelancing, and basically, how to charge clients more by providing a better client experience. Definitely useful stuff here. 

Double Your Freelancing - Understanding your clients

Double Your Freelancing - your rate

Double Your Freelancing - how to close the deal and the path forward

Double Your Freelancing - video case studies


Courses that will help you succeed at work-[ing remotely/digitally]

By 2028, it’s projected that 73% of all teams will have remote workers, and 33% of full-time employees working remotely, according to Upwork’s 2019 Future of Workforce report.

Regardless of whether you work remotely or not, it’s 1000% likely that you’ll need good computer skills, 


Get Stuff Done Like a Boss: Design Your Workflow and Double Your Productivity in 21 days

Get Stuff Done Like a Boss | Forte Academy

Link: Get Stuff Done Like a Boss | Forte Academy

Price: $99

Creator: Tiago Forte 

Course Type: Self-paced


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. 


Building a Second Brain


Link: Building a Second Brain

Price: $1500, $2500, $5000 

Creator: Tiago Forte 

Estimated Time: ~30 days (but lifetime access)


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. 


Learning How to Learn

Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

Link: Learning How to Learn: Powerful mental tools to help you master tough subjects

Price: Free

Creator: McMaster University & University of California San Diego 

Estimated Time: 12 hours


This is an important course for knowledge workers because everything changes so fast today that you need to be good at learning new things quickly, so you can get stuff done. 

Register for free on Coursera to take this course. It won’t be a waste of your time. 


Manage Creative Projects

Manage Creative Projects


Link: Manage Creative Projects

Price: Free

Creator: OpenCourses,  Anne Ditmeyer

Estimated Time: 8 hours


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.


Asana Academy


Link: Asana Academy

Price: Free

Creator: Asana

Estimated Time: 2 hours


Learn the best ways to use the ridiculously popular project management app Asana, and then become a certified pro


Google Power Search


Link: Power Searching with Google

Price: Free

Creator: Daniel Russell

Estimated Time: 2 hours


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. 


Courses for aspiring entrepreneurs

Startup School 

Startup School - Learn how to start a startup with YC's free 8-week online course.

Link: YC Startup School

Price: Free

Creator: Varies 

Estimated Time: 8 weeks


Watch video lectures by Y Combinator’s world-class experts, and get direct feedback in community posts and AMAs. Join a network of over 40,000 founders across 190 countries. 


Foresight: Learn Financial Modeling

Forecast anything: standards-based, rock-solid financial model templates for forecasting and fundraising for any type of business


Link: Foresight

Price: $149 (Other options available) 

Creator: Taylor Davidson 

Level: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced


Forecasting/budgeting is yet another Upwork Top 100 skill. Learn how to build financial models for startups, then get paid for doing so, or create a financial model for your own startup.


Shopify Academy

Shopify Academy offerings


Link: Shopify Academy

Price: Free

Creator: Varies 

Level: Beginner, Intermediate


Shopify offers free courses on a wide-variety of topics aimed at helping newbie entrepreneurs build and scale their ecommerce businesses.