By Marty Nemko

Part of Careers For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Most people can and do train for their career the traditional way: a college or graduate degree. But increasingly, people are getting some or even all their training with a certificate program or individual courses: in-person and online. These tips can help you get the most from them:

  • Curriculum matters. A program’s curriculum is key to choosing a degree program that will fits your career goal. For example, a psychology program could emphasize Freudian psychology or physiological psychology. An MBA could focus on entrepreneurship or on international business. Choosing a degree program with a curriculum that matches your career goal can make all the difference
  • Your advisor matters. In a degree program or even a certificate program, your advisor can be your mentor, help you choose the right courses and culminating project, and give you job leads and a reference that can open career doors. For each program you’re considering, check out the professors’ bios, which usually are on the institution’s website. Then for one or two professors that are intriguing, phone or visit during office hours.
  • Choosing courses wisely. So many courses are available in-person and online. For example, prestigious universities offer courses that are open to anyone, often at low cost or even free. Thousands of such courses are aggregated on coursera.org and edX.org. Additionally, many practical courses are offered through university extensions and on websites that aren’t affiliated with universities, for example Udemy.com, Lynda.com and Udacity.com It’s easier than ever to vet such courses because syllabi and student reviews are usually posted.

The section in Careers for Dummies, Getting Trained, offers much more, for example, how to convince an employer that a You U “grad” is at least as worthy of being hired as a degree-holder.