16 Best Online Courses to Take to Get a Job – College Reality Check

Clothes, makeup and gadgets are not the only things you can get online these days. You can also take courses via the web, the kinds that can increase your job market value and earning potential.

But not all online courses are cut from the same cloth. If the goal is to get hired or promoted, taking the right one is a must.

The best online courses to take to get a job or apply for a job promotion include those in the computer science, programming, web development, and data science fields. Also demanded by recruiters and employers of today are courses associated with design, digital marketing, and communication.

According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there are over 7,300,000 students enrolled in any distance education courses from degree-granting institutions for higher education.

The figure is even larger if learners from open online course providers are included.

Speaking of which, below are some of the best online courses for those who like to get a job or explore other career opportunities. We will talk about only those that are likely to get you employed ASAP because they either introduce you to or refresh or update your knowledge of some of the most in-demand industries of today.

Introduction to Computer Science

  • Offered by: Harvard University through edX
  • Time to complete: 12 weeks

The title of the online course says it all — Harvard University’s Introduction to Computer Science is an entry-level course designed for people with or without prior experience in programming.

Various topics such as data structures, algorithm, resource management, abstraction, software engineering, security and web development provide students with the necessary skills and help develop critical computer programming traits such as problem-solving and thinking algorithmically.

A computer science course, online or traditional, won’t be complete without programming languages.

JavaScript plus CSS and HTML, C, Python, SQL — these are the languages included in the course offered by Harvard via edX. And by the way, the on-campus version of Introduction to Computer Science is said to be the largest course offered by the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Ivy League school.

Related Article: Why are Software Engineers Paid So Much?

Introduction to C++

  • Offered by: Microsoft through edX
  • Time to complete: 4 weeks

There are almost 9,000 programming languages created since the 1800s. As of this writing, C++ is considered the fourth most popular language worldwide, which is widely used for creating high-performing software.

It’s because of this why the online course Introduction to C++ from Microsoft via edX can help those who complete it successfully get a high-paying job in no time. And because the programming language involved is versatile enough for both generic and object-oriented programming, it can open doors to various career opportunities.

Learning C++ lets you create software applications compatible with Windows, UNIX, Linux and Mac OS X.

While just about anyone who is interested in learning the basics of C++ programming may take the online course, having some basic concepts of computer operation and software installation is a plus.

Related Article: Is an Online College Degree Worth It?

Android Basics

  • Offered by: Google through Udacity
  • Time to complete: 12 weeks

First things first — the online course Android Basics doesn’t come with a cheap price tag: $1,017.

However, there are many perks associated with it that rarely come with most other alternatives. For instance, the online course administered by Google via Udacity has a flexible learning program, mentor support, real-world projects from industry pros and access to exclusive career services.

Android Basics is designed for people who like to go from having zero coding experience to becoming a professional Android developer. A study says there will be over 135,000 new job opportunities in Android app development by 2024.

However, it’s a good idea for interested parties to possess basic computer skills, such as running programs, managing files and exploring the internet. Needless to say, having a computer capable of running Android Studio, which is the official software for Android app development, is a must.

Introduction to HTML

  • Offered by: Codecademy
  • Time to complete: 9 hours

Looking for a quick way to learn something new and make your resume look more appealing and up-to-the-minute? Then consider taking Introduction to HTML as it can be completed in less than half a day.

Just because the online course has the word “introduction” in it doesn’t mean that it’s unnecessary. When it comes to building a web page, you can think of HTML as the skeleton that provides structure and support. Without HTML, you won’t be able to take advantage of both JavaScript and CSS.

Other than being quick to complete, Introduction to HTML by Codecademy also requires no prerequisites, although it goes without saying that having a computer as well as the basic knowledge to use its programs is needed.

According to the provider itself, employees from the likes of Google, Facebook, IBM and NASA have taken courses from it. And, Codecademy adds that, so far, over 5 million have taken Introduction to HTML.

Intro to HTML and CSS

  • Offered by: Udacity
  • Time to complete: Three weeks

Above, we mentioned the fact that you can think of HTML as the skeleton of a web page. To give that skeleton form and make it look good, too, you would need CSS. Short for Cascading Style Sheets, CSS is, simply put, a computer language for laying out and structuring web pages.

The online course Intro to HTML and CSS, as the name pretty much explains, is all about learning HTML and CSS basics. It teaches website creation using HTML and styling using CSS.

CSS syntax, selectors and units allow students to turn a site from bland to grand.

Throughout the self-paced online course, one will also gain knowledge and skills on browser developer tools, which will come in handy when testing a website’s design and functionality. This suite of powerful tools is also indispensable for optimizing the performance of a website.

Machine Learning

  • Offered by: Stanford University through Coursera
  • Time to complete: 61 hours

Speech recognition, image recognition, medical diagnosis, predictive analytics, self-driving cars — these technologies and more owe it to machine learning, which is basically the application of artificial intelligence (AI).

It goes without saying that completing the online course Machine Learning can make your resume future-proof.

What’s more, it can make it irresistible to many potential employers since it’s administered by Stanford University, which is one of the most prestigious institutions in the land. It’s no wonder why, according to Coursera, the provider of the course, more than 4 million people have already taken the online course.

Some of the machine learning-centered skills learners can develop and hone from it include artificial neural network, machine learning algorithms and logistic regression.

Introduction to Big Data

  • Offered by: The University of San Diego through Coursera
  • Time to complete: 17 hours

Nowadays, most large businesses and organizations take advantage of their data for new opportunities to improve their strategies, enhance their operations, increase their profits and delight their customers.

This is when the importance of using people who know big data comes in.

It’s because of this why Introduction to Big Data, an online course offered by the University of San Diego via Coursera, is suitable for those who are new to data science and like to become an expert in it in just a matter of hours.

It allows them to learn everything from terminologies to concepts behind big data-related systems, applications and problems.

Besides individuals looking to be hired to tackle big data, Introduction to Big Data is also ideal for people who have their own money-making ventures and use analytics to reap more success and profit.

Introduction to Data Analysis Using Excel

  • Offered by: Microsoft through edX
  • Time to complete: 4 weeks

Simply put, data is merely facts and figures. It can be explored in many different meaningful ways so that it can be used not only for understanding problems but also for coming up with improvements. There are various data analysis tools around, and Microsoft Excel is one of the most popular.

The online course Introduction to Data Analysis Using Excel is administered by Microsoft, the very same company that created Excel itself back in the 1980s.

As a result of this, learners can rest assured that they are in good hands.

Using Microsoft Excel helps facilitate the organization and interpretation of data. It also serves as a wonderful tool for presenting data into meaningful and useful information. It’s because of this why Introduction to Data Analysis Using Excel includes knowledge and skills in representing data visually using charts and graphs.

UIC Cyber Boot Camp

  • Offered by: The University of Illinois Chicago through Fullstack Academy
  • Time to complete: 12 weeks

It’s not enough that data is collected, organized, analyzed and interpreted. It’s also a must for it to be kept out of harm’s way, which is crucial for keeping the business as well as the customers safe.

Because of the role cybersecurity experts play, it’s no wonder why their average salary ranges anywhere from $80,000 to $215,000, depending on factors such as location, position, employer and work experience.

And an initial step one may take in order to start making a lot of money is taking a cybersecurity course available on the web.

Via Fullstack Academy, you can opt for the 12-week Cyber Boot Camp online course by the University of Illinois Chicago, which is considered a top-tier school.

However, before learners can start making thousands of dollars per month, they will have to first shoulder the full tuition of the online course: $11,995.

According to the provider of UIC Cyber Boot Camp, companies actively seeking cybersecurity experts include the likes of Google, Amazon and AT&T.

Graphic Design

  • Offered by: The University of Colorado through Coursera
  • Time to complete: 29 hours

Employers, especially in the sales and marketing industry, know that effective visual communication is fundamental to attracting potential customers, building a connection and sealing the deal.

Needless to say, Graphic Design is ideal for anyone who is looking to have a career in sales and marketing.

The online course is about creating professional-looking resumes, reports and presentations. Various hacks incorporated into the syllabus allow for the creation of fresh, relevant and inspired projects.

It’s recommended for learners to have basic experience with composition-friendly software such as Keynote, InDesign and PowerPoint.

According to Coursera itself, this online course administered by the University of Colorado, which is a highly ranked school, more than 70 companies have provided it to their employees for internal professional development. It also lets learners obtain course credit for the University of Colorado’s Master of Science in Data Science (MS-DS).

Learn Adobe Illustrator: Fundamentals for Beginners

  • Offered by: Skillshare
  • Time to complete: 1.5 hours

Sales, marketing, manufacturing, computer system design, advertising, design services — these are just some of the industries where graphic designing is a much-needed craft. And on the face of the planet, Adobe Illustrator is one of the most popular and widely-used graphic design applications.

Initially, Adobe Illustrator may seem far from being user-friendly. The online course Learn Adobe Illustrator: Fundamentals for Beginners will introduce learners to the core elements: shapes, paths and type.

Completing the online course allows for the creation of just about any type of graphic.

Adobe Illustrator is a powerful graphic design application, and indicating on one’s resume proficiency with using it makes it plain for a potential employer to see that the individual can prove to be integral for image-building and maintaining visual consistency throughout marketing campaigns and efforts.

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Essential Tools

  • Offered by: Alison
  • Time to complete: 3 hours

Planning to venture into marketing, advertising, publishing or website development? It’s a good idea to arm yourself with advanced photo-editing skills to make the heads of recruiters and employers turn toward your direction.

And when it comes to manipulating photos and other forms of digital images for print, web and other media, there is no denying that one of the most helpful and powerful is the graphic editing program Adobe Photoshop CS6. But be warned: it’s so complex that it can easily intimidate anyone who will be using it without prior experience.

This is when the 3-hour online course Adobe Photoshop CS6 Essential Tools steps in.

Basically, it’s all about learning the basics of the program toward the mastery of its various tools and features. The course also covers the use of individual versions of each available tool for meeting one’s specific needs.

And by the way, Adobe Photoshop CS6 Essential Tools is accredited by the Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

Introduction to Marketing

  • Offered by: The University of British Columbia through edX
  • Time to complete: 6 weeks

No matter the industry, businesses, companies and organizations can benefit tremendously from good marketing. And this is why marketing specialists are some of the most in-demand people in the workforce sector.

As a matter of fact, from June 2020 to June 2021, there were over 30,000 job openings for marketing managers in the US alone.

Various marketing core concepts and tools are covered by the online course Introduction to Marketing to help learners better understand marketing and excel in it, too.

Key topics include market research-related ones such as pricing, brand strategy and social media.

What’s really nice about this online course is that it’s administered by the faculty members of the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, a leading business school.

Marketing Through the Internet and Social Media

  • Offered by: Alison
  • Time to complete: 3 hours

Whether you are looking to get hired or setting up your own business, taking an online course on digital marketing with a special emphasis on leveraging social media is a wonderful idea.

Costing nothing, except for a copy of the accredited certificate, the online course Marketing Through the Internet and Social Media introduces learners to the fundamentals of internet marketing, which can prove to be critical for entry-level jobs in sales and marketing as well as establishing and running an online business.

The course, which is CPD-accredited, also covers SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. Simply put, it’s a framework for assessing the four aspects of a business or company — the ones that SWOT stands for.

As the online course’s name suggests, the highlight is using social media in the workplace or enterprise, including especially the do’s and don’ts in posting online.

Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills

  • Offered by: The University of Michigan through Coursera
  • Time to complete: 17 hours

Everyone negotiates on a daily basis. In the world of business, good negotiation is vital to reaping success and keeping the customers happy. It’s also essential for career advancement within a company or organization.

No matter if it’s a job or promotion you are after, completing the online course Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills, which is about 17 hours long, could work to your advantage. That’s because it covers the four steps to a successful negotiation: preparing, negotiating, creating a contract, evaluating.

The online course involves watching short videos and practicing negotiating skills with a discussion partner locally or from another part of the planet. It culminates in the final exam which requires getting 80% of the questions right.

According to Coursera, almost 20% of learners started a new career right after completing the course.

Customer Service

  • Offered by: Vision2Learn
  • Time to complete: 11 weeks

Looking to learn how to deliver excellent customer service and improve communication skills for a better career, job promotion or successful business?

If you can devote 10 hours of your time weekly for the next 11 weeks to learning, consider completing Customer Service, an online course provided by Vision2Learn. After completing all four units and demonstrating knowledge of each subject area, you will earn a nationally accredited level 2 certificate in customer service.

There are no existing qualification requirements to meet to be able to opt for the course.

What’s so nice about completing the online course as well as arming yourself with a level 2 certificate in customer service is that it can make you extremely marketable in an industry whose employment rate is expected to grow faster than what’s considered average for all occupations.

Related Article: Communications Degree [Stereotypes and Job Prospects]

Just Before You Enroll in an Online Course

There are many online courses designed for people who are looking to get hired or wanting to get promoted or explore other career opportunities waiting for them.

Some of these courses are free, while others come with a price tag. Some take just a few hours to complete, while others can be several weeks or a couple of months long. No matter the online course you wish to take, check that it suits your preferences and needs. It’s also a good idea to complete one from a reliable provider.

Related Article: Do Employers Accept Online Degrees?


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.