Cooking at home, skipping exotic vacations to far-off lands, and scaling-back on the late-night pandemic online shopping binges – can be great ways to keep debt down and stay ahead of expenses. But you know what might help even more? Earning more money.
I’m not talking about working harder. The last thing most of us need is another side-hustle to juggle in our already too busy lives. Besides, you already have a job, and you’re pretty good at it. But lately, you’ve been wondering what it would feel like to command a higher salary.
For many of us, it’s as simple as taking an online course – even for free. According to a recent survey by online education platform Coursera, a whopping 87% of people who learned a new skill over the past year said it boosted their career financially.
Here are seven of the most promising online courses to provide a payday boost, without even leaving your house.
Remember when people used flyers to advertise their business? While you might still see an ad or two stapled on a public bulletin board in your local coffee shop, most mainstream marketing has moved online. Whether you are selling a service, restaurant meal, yoga practice, pandemic art project, or even your latest mask-making skills, learning a bit about digital marketing is a must.
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If you are promoting your own side gig, you can learn the basics for free in Google’s bite-sized classes in the Google Digital Garage. Or, if you are looking for even more in-depth education on how to drive customer behavior online, you can get a mini-MBA on the topic for $79 a month through Coursera’s six-course overview “Digital Marketing Specialization” class. Coursera’s site says nearly 50% of people who took this course managed to switch jobs as a result, and nearly 16% of people got a pay raise.
Learn to code
Coding sounds hard. And while your teen already understands it, it could very well be the last thing you ever intend to learn. But simply polishing up on your technical skills can do everything from increase your value at the job you have, help you get a new job, or provide a profitable side gig. And, in the world of tech, flexible schedules and high salaries that let you work from home are the norm.
There are countless online classes to help you master everything from building Web sites in WordPress (less than $20 at Udemy) or go all in and learn the highest-earning programming language out there at the moment – Scala (and potentially earn $150K a year) – at Coursera for $49 a month.
Most of us already provide some kind of IT support for ourselves or our loved ones. But beyond the basic, “did you turn it off and back on again,” troubleshooting tech issues can be a huge pain. If you’re already the go-to in your family for gadget glitches, consider actually making money from it too.
There’s a huge need for people who can help identify and fix all levels of technical troubles. Google recently launched an online classroom designed to help people find a career in tech support. Try its free introductory class to see if this might work for you. If it seems like a fit, dive in and get a micro-Bachelors degree IT at EdX.org ($899).
According to jobs site The Ladders, project management is one of the six key skills that will earn you the most money in 2021. This is another job you can often do remotely as well. It’s not easy to keep everyone focused on work and meeting goals, but if you do, and do it well, you could be in high demand.
At EdX.org, you can earn a MicroMasters in eight months for $1,212. Or, for free you can just get a taste of what it’s about with an overview class. At Coursera, you can also earn a Project Manager Certificate for free, after taking a 6-month specialization for $777.
Companies have been collecting so much data since the dawn of the information age that they are drowning in it. So every company needs someone to pour through all the facts and figures and make sense of it. People who can do this are rare.
If you have a background in science or math and aren’t working in your own field, this is the chance to jump back in and make real money. According to staffing site Robert Half, the 2021 salary midpoint for a data scientist is around $129,000.
Video and audio production
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably noticed a rise in Instagram Reels and fancy-looking TikTok videos. This is how we’re all communicating these days, and the smartest companies know it.
There’s a huge demand for video marketing content, with one recent HubSpot report showing some 54% of people want to see more video from companies and products they are interested in, and 87% of advertising groups rely on skilled video and audio employees and freelancers.
One of the best sites for this is Lynda.com, which is now called LinkedIn Learning. Both my husband, who is an award-winning director of photography and I take classes here for everything from mastering better smartphone, drone, and GoPro video production to learning the latest video and audio editing shortcuts. You can take classes for free for a month, then either pay $29.99 per month or $19.99 annually.
As more and more people move to working remotely, emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a much sought-after skill. If you have trouble connecting with someone over Zoom, or get more frustrated than ever trying to read between the lines of “reply all,” emails, getting a refresher course here might boost your morale, and your paycheck.
According to global EQ training company TalentSmart, people with strong emotional intelligence earn, on average, $29,000 more than those without. Udemy offers a master class in emotional intelligence for $13 and EdX.org offers a class (through UC Berkeley) that teaches empathy and emotional intelligence, which is free if you don’t want the ($129) certificate.
No matter what your current job skills are, there are always ways to boost your bank account. At the very least, you might have fun picking up a new skill. But at best? You might even add another figure to your annual salary.
Jennifer Jolly is an Emmy Award-winning consumer tech columnist and host of USA TODAY’s digital video show TECHNOW. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @JenniferJolly.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.