6 Budget-Friendly Online Professional Development Platforms

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For anyone who is trying to further their career or gain knowledge and experience in a completely new industry, professional development courses are an excellent way to achieve those goals. The problem is, not everyone has easy access to these types of programs, and even with a Google search, it can be difficult to know what platforms are credible and which ones offer quality content that is both budget-friendly and worth your time. 

To save you the frustration and overwhelmingness of sifting through your search results, we’ve rounded up six professional development platforms that offer free access to quality classes and courses across a wide range of industries and topics. Whether you want to sharpen your accounting skills, learn the basics of graphic design or just try something totally new, you can find a class through one of these platforms.

1. edX

By joining edX, you’ll get access to a huge library of courses. You can join the platform for free and sign up for the “audit track” which allows you to take most courses for free. However, if you want access to actual coursework or want to earn a certificate at the end of the course you’ll need to sign up for the “verified track,” from there you can enroll in programs that require a fee. Prices for these courses range anywhere from $50 to $300.  

2. LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning offers a seemingly endless amount of online professional development courses in just about any topic you can think of. The content ranges from quick videos to in-depth courses led by experts. There is a fee to use the platform (either a monthly or yearly subscription), but you get a one-month free trial to help you decide whether or not you want to invest further.

3. Udemy

Udemy allows users to choose between paying for a course to get extra features or getting free access to the same courses without any bells or whistles. If you opt for the payment-free structure, you can take the professional development courses, but won’t get course completion certificates or access to Q&A and direct messaging. The platform has courses for just about every niche you can think of and they range in price to upwards of $200. However, they often offer promotions and discounts, so you might be able to get a good deal on a certificate course.

4. Coursera

Coursera works with some of the best companies and universities to offer hundreds of professional development courses across a wide range of industries and topics. It’s free to join the platform and from there you can browse their library of free online courses or opt to enroll in courses that require a fee.

5. Udacity

Udacity is a technology-focused platform, but it’s not only for tech professionals. In addition to offering courses in programming, AI, and cloud computing, they also have courses in technology in business such as Digital Marketing, Business Analytics, Data Visualization, and AI for Business Leaders. Their business model consists of offering “nanodegree” programs for a fee, but they do offer some free courses as well. 

6. Skillshare

For more creative professional development, Skillshare offers hundreds of free video classes. You’ll need to set up an account to use the platform, and from there you can pick from classes covering creative writing, graphic design, film and video, UX design, freelance and entrepreneurship, and more. If you’re a big fan of the free classes, you can opt to enroll in the membership program (charged monthly or annually) to get access to more features and classes.

👉 RSVP with The Mom Project: Join us at our free virtual events designed to help you land your next opportunity, level up professionally and own your role as a working parent. 

Investing in yourself with a professional development class is a smart way to contribute to your future. Here’s to finding your next skill or simply leveling up a current one!

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