Improving Career Prospects With Online Courses

Online courses are appealing to many people because they offer flexibility and convenience. You can schedule online courses around existing work and family commitments. You don't need to waste time commuting to a classroom and sitting around waiting for your next course to begin; a computer and Internet access are all that you need for online learning.

According to The Sloan Consortium, growth of enrollment in online courses far exceeded general higher education enrollment figures during the fall 2006 term. Online courses are especially appealing to working professionals and others who cannot or do not want to enroll in less flexible courses, but instead just want to take one or two courses for professional development purposes.

Determine What Career You Want

Taking online courses, no matter how good they are and how much you learn, is not going to improve your career prospects if you don't know what kind of job you want. Deciding after you've already completed an online course to get your paralegal certificate that you actually rather be an accountant wastes both your time and money.

Before committing yourself to an online course, first make sure that it relates to the career that you want. If you are unsure about what you want to do with your life, there are many career assessment tests that you can take online. Also, there are numerous career books that you can buy or rent from the librIdentify ary that help you figure out what you are passionate about and good at. What Color is Your Parachute? is just one book that has been popular for years for its ability to assist people who are trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives (

Most importantly, ask yourself what makes you happy and what you can see yourself doing for hours every day for many years.

Identify Needed Skills or Requirements

If you already know what kind of job you want, identify the skills or requirements that you still need for that position. Going through job postings are an easy way to get this information since many employers and placement agencies list out the necessary credentials and skills.

If you want to advance to a higher role in your company, ask your supervisor or mentor what will help you get promoted. Ask friends with jobs that you want what you need to do to increase your chances of getting a job like theirs. Once you have identified what skills and/or credentials you need or should have, choose online courses that correspond to them.

Choosing a Program

Some online courses are offered by private stand-alone companies while others are tied to a college. Programs vary by price, prestige, requirements and accreditation. Choose a program that matches your wants and any requirements of your desired job as much as possible to receive the greatest benefits.


Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning. (2007) The Sloan Consortium.