To advance to the next step in your career, it's important that you keep yourself educated. No matter how bad the economy gets, there will always be a need for people with strong technical skills; keep yours on the cutting edge and you'll be able to gain a major advantage over other job seekers. Unfortunately, attaining new certifications or academic degrees can be prohibitively expensive.
TUTORIAL: Introduction To Student Loans

The good news is if you're not ready to make a big financial investment, there are baby steps available to help keep you on your toes. Check out these eight online options that can help you learn a new skill for free.

1. Mozilla Drumbeat's School of Webcraft

3 Ways To Get While Giving
4 Money-Saving, Family-Friendly Day Trips
Money Tip: Car Repair Or New Car?

This program gives new meaning to the expression "learn from your peers". School of Webcraft is a peer to peer service that provides free online courses in programming and web development. Instructors are industry professionals who volunteer to teach courses, and students can include anyone and everyone. In the past, topics have included HTML5, FireFox add-on development and introduction to PHP. These web programming skills are applicable and relevant to today's job market. You can even recommend courses that you'd like to see.

2. SPSS Video Tutor
Jacob Mays is the market researcher who developed SPSS Video Tutor as a free resource for students and professionals who are struggling to learn this high-demand software. For those who are unfamiliar with SPSS, the program is widely used in consulting, market research and academia. While the program itself is expensive, there is an open source equivalent - PSPP - that has many of the same functionalities. As long as you're clever and creative, you should be able to apply the SPSS video tutorials to PSPP as well.

3. YouTube
While you might enjoy YouTube for its viral videos, you may not realize how valuable the service is for educational materials. For instance, if you're trying to become better-acquainted with Microsoft Excel, you'll likely find some helpful video resources from amateurs and professional instructors alike.

4. Open Source Software
If you've looked at job descriptions recently, you've probably noticed the demand for skills in various types of software. There's so much software out there, so it's impossible for one person to master them all. And, while you may want to teach yourself some programs, you probably don't have the money to spend to buy and use the software. Instead, find open source equivalents to your favorite software. For instance, you could look at Open Analytics for web data. You could also use QGIS as an alternative to ArcGIS, which is a program for creating maps for various types of research. If you're into statistics, you can use R instead of SAS if you want to enhance your statistical programming skills.

In a job interview, being familiar with these open source programs, what they are and how they work could be enough to help you get a job that involves using their paid equivalents - even if only because you put in the effort to learn them.

5. A Library Card
Instead of buying books to help you learn new job skills, borrow them. You'll learn the same skills without spending the extra money.

As an industry professional, you've probably come to value your peers - working as a team can produce amazing results. If you thrive on mentorship and learning from those around you, you stand to benefit from meeting new people and expanding your career network. Check out, a network of local groups (career and otherwise) to connect with like-minded professionals in your area. If there isn't a group available where you live yet, consider starting your own.

The Bottom Line
There are plenty of ways to learn and advance your skill set without the expense of heading back to school. Check out these resources to increase your competitive edge and value in the job market.

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    The Best Financial Modeling Courses for Investment Bankers

    Obtain information, both general and comparative, about the best available financial modeling courses for individuals pursuing a career in investment banking.
  2. Savings

    Should You Look at 529 Plans Outside Your State?

    529 savings plans are not restricted by geography. So if your in-state offering has high fees or poor investment choices, look elsewhere.
  3. Investing

    4 Billionaires Who Dropped Out of Harvard

    People who became successful despite dropping out of Harvard University.
  4. Credit & Loans

    Student Financial Aid Changes: FAFSA 2015-2016

    Here is a look at some of the major changes to FAFSA in 2015 - 2016 and how they will affect student financial aid.
  5. Credit & Loans

    What to Do When You Can't Repay Your Student Loans

    Student loans should be kept in good standing no matter what. Here are some tips on managing your loans.
  6. Credit & Loans

    Student Loan Deferment: Live to Pay Another Day

    Extending your principal repayment date can increase your chances of fighting off default.
  7. Entrepreneurship

    10 Habits Every Entrepreneur Should Have

    Discover 10 habits common to successful entrepreneurs that you can emulate in your journey toward achieving success in your own career and life.
  8. FA

    CIPM: The Key To A Niche Career In Finance

    CIPM designates usually work as investment performance analysts.
  9. Credit & Loans

    An Introduction to Student Loans and the FAFSA

    Learn how to fill out the FAFSA form so that it is easier for you to fund your education.
  10. Professionals

    Consider A Career As A Financial Communications Professional

    Regulators, sales people and clients all look to communications professionals to help them navigate the markets.
  1. Student loans, federal and private: what's the difference?

    The cost of a college education now rivals many home prices, making student loans a huge debt that many young people face ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can I use my IRA to pay for my college loans?

    If you are older than 59.5 and have been contributing to your IRA for more than five years, you may withdraw funds to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can I use my 401(k) to pay for my college loans?

    If you are over 59.5, or separate from your plan-sponsoring employer after age 55, you are free to use your 401(k) to pay ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are the benefits of hiring a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) to be my financial ...

    A Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) has successfully passed rigorous coursework in the fields of economics, financial analysis, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What does passing the Series 6 enable me to do?

    The Series 6, or the Investment Company Products/Variable Contracts Limited Representative, exam is administered by the Financial ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How do I learn technical skills for trading commodities?

    Many resources are available for those seeking to learn to trade commodities, also known as futures, directly from the major ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  2. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  3. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  4. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  5. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  6. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
Trading Center