Road signs new skills trainingAre you stuck in a dead-end job with no hope for a raise or advancement? Does your current job pay enough for you to afford rent, food, and clothing? Are you working 2-3 jobs just to scrape by?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it is time for you to take concrete steps to change your situation. Unfortunately, the number of well-paying jobs for low skilled workers have declined significantly over the past 30 years. The jobs available to your parents and grandparents are no longer available. Moving to a new city is expensive and separates us from friends and family. Given these facts, what can the average worker do to move up and secure a better future for themselves and their families?

Acquire New Skills

In many cases, it may be necessary to acquire a new skill to improve your job opportunities. Fortunately, there are many free and low-cost resources available to assist you in learning a new skill. There is also the traditional path of vocational school or college. Many also turn to the military as a source of training while getting benefits and a salary. Military service provides the added benefit of money for school after completion of your service. While all of these are viable options, it can be difficult if not impossible to pay for classes and the military might not be an option. Finding time to learn a new skill can also be a challenge for a full-time worker. In recent years, technology has opened new pathways for learning online that can lead to certification and can be completed at your own pace. More employers are accepting certificates from online training as evidence of job training.

Skill Assessment

The first part of the journey is to assess your current skill set to determine if additional training is needed to get a better job. It is also important to look at future trends to determine where job growth is occurring and what jobs are expected to be created in the future. How does your skill set match your career goals? There are several free, online skill assessment tests available including this one found at

What types of jobs are predicted to grow in number?

An article on Kiplinger’s identified the best 10 jobs for the future:

  1. App developer
  2. Computer systems analyst
  3. Nurse practitioner
  4. Physical therapist
  5. Health services manager
  6. Physician assistant
  7. Dental hygienist
  8. Market research analyst
  9. Personal financial adviser
  10. Speech-language pathologist

Many sources point to an increasing need for healthcare and personal care workers.

What about the trades?

Plumber and apprentice

Plumber And Apprentice Fitting Central Heating

A 2016 article on the Job Flex Blog indicates that

“Skilled trade jobs include a wide variety of professions such as electrician, plumbing, auto mechanic, or construction. While these professions don’t require a four-year degree, most do require some sort of apprenticeship or certification. Even though these jobs don’t require a four-year degree, they pay well for those who are good at what they do; some skilled trade workers earn as much as six figures yearly. Positions for skilled trade jobs are opening rapidly as the large numbers of baby boomers, or the generation born after World War II, begin to retire.” And that “an estimated 30 million positions will be vacant by 2020.”


apprenticeships skills for lifeApprenticeship opportunities in the trades are increasing as industries seek to train new workers. An article on by Lisa Rabasca Roepe states that “the number of registered apprenticeships has risen significantly, from 375,000 in 2014 to 505,000 as of September 2016.” It is time that we recognize apprenticeships as a good option to a four-year degree and a path to a well-paid, skilled job.

An excellent resource for information about apprenticeships is the U.S. Department of Labor website.

Free and Paid Online Skill Development

laptop screen with training courses

A variety of free and paid online platforms exist that provide classes and possibly a certificate or diploma for course completion. Many colleges and universities have developed online degree programs to assist non-traditional student in achieving their career goals.




From the Alison website:

Alison is one of the world’s largest free learning platforms for education and skills training. It is a for-profit social enterprise dedicated to making it possible for anyone, to study anything, anywhere, at any time, for free online, at any subject level. Through our mission we are a catalyst for positive social change, creating opportunity, prosperity, and equality for everyone.

Although the courses are free, there is a charge for delivery of the certificate.


From the Coursera website:

Every course on Coursera is taught by top instructors from the world’s best universities and educational institutions. Courses include recorded video lectures, auto-graded and peer-reviewed assignments, and community discussion forums. When you complete a course, you’ll receive a shareable electronic Course Certificate.

  • Online and open to everyone
  • Learn a new skill in 4-6 weeks
  • Priced at about $29-$99
  • Earn a Course Certificate

Local Resources

Local Resources vary by community but are worth checking into. The Department of Labor website is a good first place to look for state resources.

Identifying your skills and interests combined with additional training to meet job requirements is an excellent way to make the move to a better job. What tips do you have for getting a better job? Please share in the comment section.


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