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Alternative Ways to Advance Your Skills and Compensation

Nowadays there is an unprecedented amount of technical training and education available to tech pros with the click of a mouse and a credit card or, in many cases, for free.

Alternative Ways to Advance Your Skills and Compensation

You no longer need a four-year computer science degree to compete in the high demand IT landscape. Learning opportunities for both the learner who wants to gain skills to increase compensation, and the marketer who wants to sell content to make some extra money on the side are in plentiful supply. It has never been less expensive or easier to grow your skills that will add to your marketability quickly than through both online and boot camp style learning. Now I’ll discuss three growing areas you should investigate... 

Nanodegrees and Udacity

Considered by some as a disruptor of mainstream college education, the nanodegree is quickly becoming a widespread, viable and much less expensive way to gain skills that translate to quick employment and high dollars. Tech pros with dated skills looking to make a change and more money can quickly log on to udacity.com and explore a myriad of nanodegree options. Are you a programmer who wants to become an Android Developer? For $2500 you can and they will even offer to reimburse your tuition if you don’t get hired! The best part of nanodegrees is that business is behind it. Companies such as AT&T, Facebook, Google, Cloudera and others have partnered with Udacity to develop curriculum for these programs and are eager to get a first look at graduates from these degree programs. The great thing about nanodegrees for tech pros who are working is that it is self-paced and success stories abound on their website of regular folks who turned themselves into Data Scientists (Udacity’s choice for #1 hottest job for 2016) or iOS Developers who have seen exponential increases in their marketability and income.

For tech pros who already have the pedigree and want some extra cash, you can apply to be an Udacity Code reviewer. Averaging $50/hour to review student code, a code reviewer can work from anywhere and has flexibility with their schedule.

Coding Boot Camps

Tech pros are discovering that the growing Coding Boot Camp concept is a way to gain skills quickly but also make extra income by teaching what they know. These programs are typically 8 to 12 intense, instructor-led weeks of immersion in a particular technology (they don’t call it boot camp for nothing) costing a fraction of what a Computer Science degree would cost at a major university. Think $10K as opposed to $250K. Some boot camps are designed just for women and some, though still intense, provide some flexibility for full-time workers with virtual instruction. Some resources quote that a coding boot camp program can boost income by more than 40 percent with an average post boot camp income of $80K and placement success rates of 85 to 95 percent.   

As coding boot camps rise in popularity, coding instructors and mentors are in high demand. Programmers who have the expertise and the ability to instruct and mentor are in short supply and boot camps can potentially offer flexible work hours and work remote opportunities.

MOOCs – the future of Online Learning

With the growing options of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), there is an opportunity to leverage your expertise to author courses and promote them via multiple open learning entities on the web as well as amp up your own marketability by enrolling in them. Companies such as Udemy, Udacity, Lynda, and Coursera offer high-quality and sometimes free classes on anything from “Android Development” (653 5-star ratings on udemy.com) to “Mastering Data Analysis” offered for free by Duke University on coursera.org. I recently worked with a QA consultant who quickly needed to learn an automated software testing tool to retain her position and rather than pay $3000 plus travel expenses to attend a 2-day training session, we found her an 8-hour class through Udemy taught by an expert instructor (could be you?) for $149. Udemy allows IT experts to develop and sell their courses with a revenue sharing program and allows users to review and rate instructors and create a real income opportunity if you are providing high-quality content.  

The concept of open learning is becoming mainstream. Esteemed schools such as the University of CA, Duke, Princeton, Michigan, John Hopkins and many others are now offering premium, free content for career development on sites such as these. Tech pros can take their skills to the next level for little to no investment or profit from their expertise by creating course content to market. The fact that unemployment is less than two percent in many IT development areas has created an urgent need for companies to create vocational IT learning programs to fulfill their hiring needs. Now is a great time for tech pros to investigate these learning disruptors for career advancement and compensation gains. 

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