There is a robust correlation between how much you know (education) and how much you earn (income). The more you can offer your employer or new skills you can bring to your business, the more you can potentially make in salary and revenue. Of all the ways to increase your income and career prospects, becoming more educated and improving your skills continues to be a proven approach.
One study highlights that “American workers with a college degree are paid 74 percent more than those with only a high school degree, on average…” Another study highlights that “Americans with an advanced degree are 50 times more likely to become millionaires than those without a high school diploma… Between 1989 and 2013, accumulated wealth increased 45 percent for families with a professional/graduate degree, to $689,100. It increased by 3 percent for those with a college degree, while dropping by 36 percent for those with only a high school diploma and 44 percent for those without a high school diploma.”
I committed to lifelong learning (LLL) in my mid-twenties. The last thing I want to become is someone who is not with the times and of mind and skill sets that are obsolete. For example, the thousands of baby boomers who struggle with basic computer skills. When you stop learning and developing new skills, you stop expanding your mind and increasing your potential.
To date, my formal education includes a business diploma and degree in addition to project management, marketing, and wealth management certifications. I’m self-taught regarding WordPress web development, and I spent the first half of this year taking online courses covering search engine optimization (SEO). Lastly, I enjoy reading so I learn this way as well (I recently read Blue Ocean Strategy and am currently reading The Millionaire Next Door).
Excuse #1: You can’t find the time
It’s easier to complain about not making enough money than it is to do something about it. More and more adults are going back to school, but there remain many individuals who claim they don’t have time to learn.
In the context of professional development, many people are disengaged and allocate their time to lesser activities. For example, watching television (dumbdowntainment) and movies, surfing the web aimlessly, living on their phones and apps, wasting time on social media, going for coffee, and so on. Therefore, in the words of Joe Biden, not being able to find time for professional and career enrichment is “a bunch of malarkey.” For those that actually want to learn, they’ll search for and make time. Going back to school full-time to complete a masters degree is one thing, but taking a course or two a year is doable and not as time-consuming.
Given the explosion of e-learning and online courses, continuing education has never been easier to fit into a person’s schedule. With online courses, you choose when and where. You don’t have to commute or be somewhere at a particular time; online courses will adapt to your schedule.
Excuse #2: You can’t afford it
No problem. Ten of thousands of online courses can be taken for free, but, investing in yourself and education will likely prove more credible to employers. Many online courses are affordable, for instance, under $100. Therefore, you can pay a small amount or have your company pay/reimburse you upon completion. A high percentage of companies financially support ongoing employee training and career development, so it’s a matter of inquiring with the correct stakeholders. For example, you can discuss which courses may qualify for reimbursement with your direct report and human resources. In fact, my last employer paid for my project management certification.
If your employer isn’t familiar with online learning, you can educate them on the topic which will certainly put you in good stead. Also, if your employer doesn’t financially support continuing education, it might be a good time to reconsider your options.
Excuse #3: You don’t know where to start
I must admit, the e-learning boom has given birth to many companies, Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platforms, and thousands of courses. There’s Coursera, Codecademy, CreativeLive, edX, Pluralsight, Skillshare, and Treehouse to name a few. This can make choosing where to learn confusing.
E-learning, and learning, in general, can be divided into three buckets: formal, non-formal, and informal learning. Informal learning typically takes place naturally as part of some other activity, for instance, through work experience. As a result, only formal and non-formal education apply to this discussion.
Formal education is usually delivered by trained teachers in a systematic, intentional way within a school, academy, college, institute, or university. Coursera and edX offer formal learning experiences through partnerships with hundreds of top global universities including Harvard, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, MIT, Columbia, Cornell, and Yale. Non-formal education is provided by untrained educators. For instance, teachers at Codecademy, CreativeLive, Lynda, Skillshare, and Treehouse offer non- or less formal learning experiences.
Which type of learning is better? Students can benefit from both formal and non-formal training, and learners have their preferences. However, if I were an employer, I would favor formal education provided by elite universities over non-formal education from random people (as it pertains to salary increases and career advancement). While there are many excellent instructors on non-formal platforms, there are many unqualified teachers too so experiences can be a hit or miss. Students don’t need to do background checks on Stanford and Harvard, but background checks are recommended for non-formal teachers. Lastly, non-formal platforms such as Udemy have attracted thousands of less than stellar instructors out to make a quick buck. You won’t find these folks at Coursera or edX.
Income Boosting Courses
As I made a case for formal education, I’m also going to make a case for Coursera over edX. Both are excellent platforms, but I’m more familiar with Coursera having completed three courses there. Additionally, Coursera offers reputable “specializations” which are comprehensive multi-course programs aimed at those seeking career advancement. You can take classes for free on both platforms, but you won’t receive official credits or course certificates. However, if you pay and complete a course, you’ll get a certificate which may be useful for current and future employment purposes.
Coursera offers hundreds of courses in ten categories including business, computer science, data science, and so on. Here’s a list of several income-boosting specializations and courses.
Computer Science – Web Development – Software Development
- Full Stack Web Development
- Agile Software Development
- Android App Development
- Interaction Design
- iOS App Development with Swift
- Methods and Statistics in Social Sciences
- Search Engine Optimization
- Responsive Website Development and Design
- Web Design for Everybody (Basics of Web Development)
- Game Design and Development
- iOS Development for Creative Entrepreneurs
- Ruby on Rails
- Java Programming: Object-Oriented Design of Data Structures
Business Strategy – Finance – Marketing – Entrepreneurship
- Business and Financial Modeling
- Business English Communication Skills
- Business Strategy
- Digital Marketing
- Human Resource Management
- Finance: Valuation and Investing
- Marketing Mix Implementation
- Organizational Leadership
- Project Management Principles and Practices
- Conflict Management
- Software Product Management
- The Art of Negotiation
- Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills
Data Analysis – Machine Learning – Probability and Statistics
- Machine Learning
- Data Science
- Data Science at Scale
- Data Structures and Algorithms
- Genomic Data Science
- Statistics with R
- Strategic Business Analytics