By Ken Fortney
If you’re looking to boost your computer skills, there are many free or low-cost classes you can take that will help you get hired or promoted. If you’re interested in taking a class in-person, check with your local library, school district (many have adult education and vocational training programs), or community college to see what’s available near you.
For online courses, here are our top picks for the best free or low-cost online computer classes in several different categories including basic computer, programming, marketing, productivity, and graphic design.
Basic Online Computer Classes & Courses
Here are some basic computer courses to help you improve your computer skills.
LinkedIn Learning (Beginner Computer Skills Courses)
LinkedIn is not just a professional social media platform, it is also a massive library of computer skills classes. A number of online reviews show LinkedIn Learning Center to be one of the best places for people to build their basic computer skills.
Also, if you haven’t already built a LinkedIn Profile, doing so will help you become acquainted with some critical computer skills to boost your professional career (as well as help you connect with peers and potential employers). To sign up, begin here and follow the directions for setting up your free account.
Udemy (Computer Skills Courses)
Udemy is not free, but they are low-cost (most courses cost less than $20). Their course catalog is vast. If you are looking to learn about specific computer skills or programs, you can use the search bar at the top to find what you are looking for.
You’ll also notice that you can filter the search results by student reviews and difficulty level. Lastly, you can click on each listed course to read an overview, and watch a preview in order to decide whether or not you want to pay for the course. At the end of the course, you receive a Udemy completion certificate that you can add to your resume and LinkedIn Profile.
Udemy: Master Computers – From Beginner to Expert in One Week
This is one Udemy class that many students with bare minimum computer knowledge say they enjoyed. The instructor is a former college professor. Check out the preview on the right-hand side, and read through the course overview to see if this is a course you’d be interested in.
Microsoft 365 Fundamentals
This free, online curriculum focuses on becoming familiar with Microsoft software (the main collection of productivity software on computers today), as well as understanding the importance of SaaS and the cloud for today’s computer users. Upon completing the required coursework, you may take an exam and become certified. While the course is free, the exam does cost $99.
Productivity Software Skills Classes & Courses
Here are a few free and low-cost computer classes on productivity software that will help you catch up or get ahead in your job (or job search).
Microsoft Office Specialist
The Specialist program works much the same way as the Microsoft 356 Fundamentals course above. The classes are free, but if you want to advance to the next intermediate and expert level courses, you have to pay money in order to take and pass an exam. Nevertheless, if you feel that your MS Office skills are mediocre, these courses will help you feel more competent in your MS Office skills.
Asana is currently one of the top and most often used productivity software programs by businesses. Asana Academy provides basic and expert courses on both their software and general productivity. And the best thing about it: all the courses are free!
Lynda.com: Trello Essential Training Course by Zack Arnold
Trello is another high-value productivity software skill to have. One of the more popular (and free) online courses for Trello beginners is this Lynda.com course administered by Zack Arnold.
While Lynda.com (an online learning center) is free for your first month, continuing membership after the first month will carry a charge. If you’ve found the site able to provide a lot of insightful courses, it may be worth the small investment.
G Suite Learning Center
Google Suite – or G Suite – provides a large selection of free instruction on all G Suite tools. This includes advanced email and calendar management, as well as Google Docs and Cloud products/services. G Suite is the ultimate package for businesses that hire remote workers and freelancers. Becoming knowledgeable with all the different features in G Suite can significantly boost your resume.
Computer Programming Skills Classes & Courses
Here are some of the top computer programming skills you can use to build your credentials.
MIT Opencourseware: Introductory Programming Courses
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is perhaps one of the world’s leading tech universities. Naturally, tuition costs are extremely high. But the MIT Opencourseware is a registry of free online classes. On this page, they’ve dedicated a section of their Opencourseware site to those interested in learning computer programming.
Youtube Channel: Adam Khoury If you learn well by watching and following along videos, the Adam Khoury channel on YouTube is one of the finest computer programming instructional video series available. And because these are regular YouTube videos, you can access them for free.
W3Schools.com focuses on written instruction and coding exercises on their site. It is free for anyone to use. If you prefer video instruction, you may not enjoy this site as much. However, the coding exercises are easy and fun to use. Any experienced computer programmer will tell you that the best way to learn coding is to “tinker” with the language until you feel comfortable with it.
App Academy is currently one of the most elite Silicon Valley computer programming schools in the United States. If you are looking for a 3-month immersive course on computer programming, the school offers their cohort track at a substantial cost. However, if you prefer to access the full course curriculum online, you can do so for free and work at your own pace.
edX Computer Science
Unlike most of the courses listed here, edX is not free. In fact, some of the courses could cost as much as $1,000. However, most of the courses are more reasonably priced, and graduating from an edX course is a bit more prestigious than graduating from a course on places like Udemy and Coursera. Also, these courses are considered low-cost when compared to many college-based graduate certificate programs.
If you are interested in investing in an edX course, you won’t be disappointed. However, you might grab the computer programming basics from one of the free sites below first, and then choose a coding language specialty within edX.
Marketing Software Skills Classes & Courses
Here are some of the best-rated marketing software classes online.
Hubspot is a marketing automation and CRM software company. For the past few years, they’ve managed to lead the way in helping sales and marketing heads develop strong inbound marketing techniques and compelling content for their website. All courses are free, and many of them offer industry-revered certifications. For example, an Inbound Certification through Hubspot Academy is a highly sought-after credential in the greater marketing community.
SEMrush is a search engine optimization (SEO) software provider that helps websites examine data regarding their web traffic. Search engines (like Google) are constantly crawling the web for great content. When Google finds it, they begin recommending that content to Google users looking for answers to their questions on that topic.
That being said, there is so much content online (much of it well-developed) that ranking high (as in, landing on the first page near the top) is hard work. SEO experts are in high demand for businesses and organizations looking to increase their ranking on Google. SEMrush offers a wide array of free and valuable courses to help you master search engine optimization.
Facebook is not just a popular social media site. It is also a marketing tool. Those that are experts at Facebook and Instagram (these are two social media sites maintained by Facebook) marketing are valuable to businesses and influencers. All Facebook Blueprint courses are free.
Depending on how proficient you wish to become, you can pass exams and become certified in a few different tracks within Facebook Blueprint.
Hootsuite is a social media management software company that also provides a high volume of free social media marketing training. While most of the courses are free, some of their courses will cost you money. Through Hootsuite Academy, you’ll understand how to manage professional social media profiles, oversee content marketing strategy, and more.
Google Academy (Exceed LMS)
Search engine optimization is what it is today because of Google. Google Academy offers courses in analytics, paid digital advertising, video marketing (YouTube), business directories, and more. Best of all, it is all free.
Graphic Design Software Skills Classes & Courses
If you’re interested in graphic design, these classes will help you build your skill set.
To date, no other graphic design software provides the capabilities of Adobe software. Delivering expert photo/video editing, logo design, animation, website development, and more, the wide array of Adobe products enables graphic designers to do incredible things at all levels.
Adobe’s tutorial articles and videos are housed within their HelpX page. All the tutorials are free, and if you desire more intensive courses or apprenticeships, Adobe provides those on a spectrum of costs, as well. If you are unfamiliar with Adobe programs, it may be best to purchase and then complete tutorials in Photoshop and InDesign.
YouTube Channel: Adam Khoury
Correct, we recommended this YouTube channel for computer programming courses, but Adam Khoury’s channel also offers a significant amount of graphic design courses, too. And it’s free.
Skillshare is an education site much like Udemy, Coursera, and Lynda.com. You get your first two months free, but after that there is a monthly cost to access classes. They have a significant library on a variety of subject matter, but their graphic design courses are highly recommended by industry experts.
Canva Design School
Canva is a graphic design online service that also has training courses. They offer free training on graphic design in general, as well as specialized training on their own software. While professional programs like Adobe are more robust, there is a lot of professional-level graphic design you can do with Canva, as well as learning basic graphic design principles.
Coursera (Graphic Design Courses)
Coursera is going to look and feel a lot like Skillshare, except you get only one month free instead of two months. However, in a single month, there are a number of graphic design software classes that you can take to further your training. As you shop for courses, pay attention to student ratings, as well as any recommended prerequisite courses to take first.