Home Articles Job Search How to Boost your Career Prospects Without Heading Back to School

Has your career stalled? If it has, and it happens to many, you would likely consider heading back to school to acquire qualifications that will jumpstart your professional life. Or, you have the real-world experience and the skill but not the academic qualification to move ahead in your chosen field.

Going back to school is an alternative, but not the only available solution. Schools require an investment of time and money. Many people who take a break from work to pursue education end up with debts related to education loans. A good number of their post-education years are spent clearing these debts. A degree may be worth someone’s while and may not be the best choice for another person.

The alternative path is as follows –

1. Obtain clarity on the objective

You can take a page out of a rulebook and invest according to the desired outcome. Chart out a growth path based on where you want to be. Assess your present skill levels. Sit back to analyze your strong points and things that you can pull off with ease. It could be writing, working with gadgets, tinkering with machines, or marketing stuff to people. With this knowledge in hand, you can start looking up educational resources.

2. Narrow down your objective

Jot down your strengths and then whittle them down to the ones that can help you earn a living. Considerations in creating this list include your present ability, enjoyment, time and effort required to upgrade skills, money-making and growth prospects, and the long-term job market. In a nutshell, list only those skills that are valued in the market. Talk to people who are where you want to be. Question them about the skills that took them there and the learning essential to acquire those skills. Actionable tips from successful people can mentor you, save you time, and guide you toward success.

Newly Posted Jobs in Ashburn, VA area
Jobs in Ashburn, VA
Ashburn, VA
Mohawk Industries, Inc., Manassas, Virginia

3. Look up skill development courses

The internet facilitates skill acquisition. There are free e-books, online courses, and podcasts that teach different subjects. Some of the online courses are free, some may charge a small fee, and yet some are moderately expensive. Prestigious universities offer certificate courses that carry weight in the job market. Stanford and U.C Berkeley offer courses without the need to join the university.

Popular resources for such courses include:

Lynda.com: A helpful place to check out video courses delivered by industry veterans in software, creative, and business. This website is a subsidiary of LinkedIn. Patrons can avail of a free one-month course here. LinkedIn members can enjoy several free courses each month.

Khan Academy: A reliable resource for practicing basic and advanced concepts in science, math, language, and technology. The learning can help with clearing performance and promotion-linked exams.

Coursera: Free and paid courses with this website span the range of subjects that can help boost your career or help you change your career path. Top schools such as Stanford, Duke, and Yale provide courses in data science, computer science, business, and machine learning through this platform. Qualifying students can even avail financial aid.

4. Get Experience

Put into practice the skills you acquire. Experience gained in putting theory into practice clears doubt, enables you to traverse the unavoidable learning curve, and gives you an advantage over others. Local startups and SMBS may be more amenable to giving you work experience, either for a small salary or for no salary. But the effort may be worth it because you will learn things on the job.


You don't necessarily have to go back to school to add credentials to your resume and to enhance your skillset. There are several resources available that can help you achieve same or better results without spending a whole lot of money on formal education. Always look for these alternatives before your consider going back to school to give your career that boost to propel you to the next level.

You may also like

Is Welding the Right Career for You?

Is College Tuition Worth It?

Top 5 Trade Jobs in the United States: A Career Path for Success

Why enrolling in online classes can help further your career

4 Great Applications for Personal Investing

Alternatives to Government Debt Relief: Taking Control of Your Financial Future