Software Skills on Demand


(This article originally appeared in my column in the Florida Times-Union.)

If you’re in a career transition, you may need to brush up or acquire skills to be competitive.

If it’s been a while since you’ve used the latest version of Office software, or a job posting requires a skill you don’t have, Lynda.com can help. The site (named for its founder) bills itself as an online learning company that can help anyone learn business, software, technology and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals.

Lynda.com offers over 4,200 online courses on software, design, marketing, business skills such as accounting and database management, sales, leadership and communication, and programming languages. Hobbyists can improve their skills in writing, songwriting, photography or animation. The courses are also offered through a partner company in English, German, French, Spanish, and Japanese.

The site is a subscription service that was purchased by LinkedIn in 2015. You get a free 10-day trial, after which you can join month to month with no commitment for $24.99. You can get an annual subscription for $19.99 a month or select a premium membership, which allows members to download practice documents for courses and access courses from mobile devices.

Udemy.com also offers low to mid-price courses taught by national experts. Udemy claims that 10 million students have access to video training in one of its more than 40,000 offerings. When you purchase a class, you get unlimited lifetime access to it on any device, and the courses are covered by a 30-day money back guarantee. Udemy classes have an average of on to three hours of content, with a minimum requirement of at least 30 minutes of content; video must comprise 60 percent of the course.

A quick search of Udemy for Excel training offered many options at various price points, including 61 free courses. The most expensive courses cost $299, but there were many options under $50. Pricing is set by the instructor (Udemy takes a slice of each enrollment fee that is generated through their marketing, but allows instructors to keep 100 percent of revenue from students they bring to their courses.) Pricing also roughly correlates to the number of lesson hours the course offers. The courses are listed by price point and by level (beginner, intermediate or advanced.) Many courses offer quizzes so you can measure your understanding as you progress.

Udemy also offers self-improvement courses and hobbyist training on what seems like an endless list of specialties. Many of the trainers are authors and nationally-recognized experts in their field. The course I took from marketing expert Seth Godin was insightful and the video production was exceptional. Godin provided many online resources and self-assessment tools that students could download to supplement their learning.

Online academies make learning available at your own pace, 24 hours a day. They also offer business and government organizations plans for employee training. With price points for every budget, the proliferation of online training academies means that there’s no excuse for not having some mastery of an essential skill for your next career move.

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