The world evolves around us faster than ever before. Technology, medicine, our understanding of human behavior, and psychology—these are some of the many fields making giant leaps year over year. In that context, it’s pretty evident that our initial formal education is no longer enough to sustain our place in this fast-paced world, which makes learning new skills more important than ever.
That is why it’s critical not only to identify those fields and skills that are in high demand in general but also to be very specific at matching those skills with your strengths and existing knowledge. By extending that already-present base, you give yourself a chance to quickly step forward and grow so you can keep up with the pace.
But it’s also a great idea to look above and beyond your circle of comfort. Many skills might seem intimidating at first because they appear too daunting and outside of your comfort zone. You might be scared of even thinking about them because you are afraid that you might find yourself stuck or fail if you start on that road.
Here’s the good news: everyone has those thoughts, and you did, too, before. You had them in first grade about reading and in fifth grade about algebra. Everything new in life was scary at some point. Once you realize that, taking on a new field won’t seem so intimidating.
There’s such a myriad of skills out there, and many of them are in high demand. By allocating time, learning new skills, and putting deliberate efforts into tackling one or more of these fields, you give yourself an extra chance to uncover new passions in life. Along with that, you might find new ways to earn a living or simply live a more purposeful and fulfilling life.
Below are ten skills you can easily tackle with online courses, whether live or self-paced. Each one of them is in high demand today in different ways. When learning new skills, you don’t have to try them all. Instead, chose the ones that resonate more with you, and go for them!
When people hear about writing, they immediately think about authoring novels or non-fiction books. But there’s a lot more to writing than that. You probably write every day—at your job, when you post something on Facebook, or when you write an email, personal or not. Writing is everywhere, and enhancing this skill will improve your communication in all aspects of life.
Some of the best areas of writing you can easily sharpen with an online course are brevity and clarity, grammar, structure, and formatting. Just remember that your personal selling tool—your resume—is also in writing. The better you are at it, the more chances you give it to stand out.
2. Foreign Languages
Globalization is here to stay, and the more our civilization evolves, the more the cultural boundaries begin to merge. That is not in the sense of muddling those boundaries or experiencing a loss of self but in the sense of combining toward betterment.
Cultures bond and borrow the good from one another while also learning from each other’s experiences and perspectives. That’s why learning a foreign language will put you ahead of the pack. In addition, scientific research has shown that learning a second language improves your brain and critical thinking.
For most people who haven’t dabbed into computer programming, the word coding is just as scary as a spacewalk. It sounds alien and downright impossible to grasp. The reality is that today’s coding is no longer the cryptic assembly language where you had to learn how to speak in the dialect of the computer chip. Today, programming languages are more approachable because they employ visual editors and use words closer to our natural language to describe the available functions and variables.
Design is everywhere around us, and it influences our choices, our decisions, and our actions. Someone designed the website and the article you’re reading right now. Someone else designed the monitor you’re looking at and the chair you’re sitting in. You acquired those items because of their functional value, on the one hand, but also based on their look and feel.
When you learn how to adapt your work visually to make it more appealing, you gain a skill that will set you apart from the rest. It can be as simple as learning how to design Powerpoint presentations better or make beautiful Excel charts. It could be learning how to format your resume in a pleasing way to the eye or create a color scheme for your blog that will make people want to hang around to read it.
Design can be complicated, but its basics are not. With a few online classes, you can easily brush your knowledge of design, start applying it to your job or hobbies, and make your work stand out.
5. Data Analysis
According to Statista, by 2025, we can expect to have about 180 zettabytes of digital data. If that doesn’t mean much, know that one zettabyte is the equivalent of one billion hard drives of one terabyte each or the amount of all grains of sand on all the world’s beaches. That sounds scary, but it’s reality. The world is moving at light speed toward more and more data every day.
Everything that ever existed in an analog form is being converted to digital, and this process will continue and accelerate. That is why learning how to understand data, analyze it, and draw conclusions from it is a crucial skill that will be more and more in demand.
The great thing is that the basic methods and systems to analyze data can be understood and learned from online courses and books and then applied to any amount of data that comes your way. With improved data analysis skills, you’ll make better judgments at your job or even use that knowledge in some areas of your personal life, such as investing.
Presentation skills are more than just a beautiful Powerpoint presentation. They are a combination of speaking, visualization, and personality. When you present something, a part of your presentation comes from the material you prepared (text, visual, audio), and another part comes from you, the presenter. Getting a good grip on both aspects will make you a more effective presenter.
This kind of skill is applicable at your job and in other situations where you might be required to present. Maybe it’s a seminar you are teaching or a speech you have to make in the context of a community you are a part of. Either way, there are dozens of courses available online that will help you polish these skills and start using them in the real world. Combining design skills with presentation and communication skills is a killer combination that will truly catapult you ahead of the pack.
From the moment we apply to college until our last job, we never stop selling. We constantly sell our skills, knowledge, and ideas to those around us. Learning how to sell means improving your expertise in many other areas, such as communication, reading and understating other people, persuasion, and presentation.
Improving your selling skills will also help sharpen your negotiation skills. You can apply those in your day-to-day life, even in personal situations such as buying a new car or a new house. When you learn sales, you improve how you listen and talk to people, how to present your ideas clearly and concisely, and how to be more persuasive.
It doesn’t matter what kind of profession you have, you’re always selling something, which is why improving your sales skills will give you a critical edge everywhere in the world.
8. Artificial Intelligence
I know that artificial intelligence sounds like you’d be building robots ready to take over the world, but it’s not that—at least not for the time being.
Artificial Intelligence refers to using machines—or computers, in this case—and leveraging their massive computation power to analyze large data sets, identify patterns, and predict the evolution of different phenomena. Although the field itself is exceptionally vast and can get very complicated, there are areas of artificial intelligence that you can grasp from online courses and use in your day-to-day job to improve your effectiveness.
Machine learning algorithms consume data and apply different patterns to predict and estimate the future. These become very important if your job involves data and future uncertainty. You probably won’t be able to use this to win the lottery, but it will help you in your career and, perhaps, even in some hobbies.
9. Video Production
Obviously, video is not new. What is new is that with a relatively simple piece of software, you can edit a clip taken with your phone and make it look as professional as any true professional would do. You can see this phenomenon on YouTube and other video platforms out there where the users drive the content.
Video editing and production are no longer restricted to large studios and lots of employees. Some of the most successful YouTube creators use a camera, a microphone, and a laptop, and the results are fantastic.
Having this skill under your belt will not only set you apart when it comes to your profession, but it will also allow you to branch out into other hobbies, such as vlogging or taking interviews.
10. Mobile App Development
“There’s an app for that” is no longer a cliché saying because it’s almost true. As of 2020, there were more than four million apps available for download between Google Play and the Apple Store. That’s an impressive number. If you search for just about anything and add the word “app” at the end, you’re bound to find an app that does that.
That means that wherever you go and whatever you do, there will always be a need to create and use apps. The great news is that the app development industry realized this long ago and worked hard to make it effortless for developers to create apps. Nowadays, some simple drag-and-drop editors will produce an app that can work across multiple platforms in just a few clicks. Within a few hours of an online course, you could be building your very first mobile app.
It could be something for your hobbies, your own business, or even something you can propose at your current job. Just having that skill on your resume will open many more doors and open you up to many more opportunities.
Life is a never-ending circle of accumulating knowledge, followed by applying that knowledge in the real world and gaining insights and wisdom in the process. Skills are the building blocks of your performance. Although it’s never a good idea to do and try to be everything at once, you should always attempt to learn new skills that are in high demand, even if they are outside of your comfort zone.
Maybe you won’t tackle them all. Perhaps you’ll never become the master of any, but just the sheer fact that you start learning will give you a chance to discover new things that you could grow to love. That’s how passions get built, so why not attempt to find passions in things that are already in demand?
You’d only give yourself an extra chance to succeed in your profession and personal life.
More Practical Skills to Equip Yourself With
- 13 Most Practical Skills to Learn Now (For a Better You This Year)
- 10 Skills You Need to Succeed at Almost Anything
- 8 Most Important Life Skills For Adults To Build
Featured photo credit: Lagos Techie via unsplash.com