Upskilling: 3 Ways to Land a More Lucrative Job

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by Evan Thompson

Published on March 28, 2022 · Updated on March 30, 2022

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Upskilling: 3 Ways to Land a More Lucrative Job

Upskilling is a term you hear plenty of in the professional world. But what is upskilling, exactly?

In general, it means learning new and relevant skills needed to succeed as a working professional. In practice, upskilling often involves enrolling in skills-based programs and getting trained in certain areas — such as business, digital literacy, or marketing.

Before the pandemic, upskilling was a priority for many companies. But, according to a trends report by Udemy, it's now a business imperative. The report estimates 38% of the workforce spent time upskilling in 2020, compared to 14% in 2019.

The reason for the growth? The fast-changing and unpredictable nature of the workforce means new skills are constantly coming and going in demand. A Gartner survey in early 2021 found that 58% of the workforce needs new skills to perform their jobs well.

The skills gap — a gap between an employee's skills and the skills they need to perform a job well — is also a factor. A Monster.com survey reported that at least 80% of employers have difficulty filling openings because of skills gaps.

Upskilling has several practical purposes:

But there's no one-size-fits-all way to do it.

Some might say you can get the right skills to level up your career in a single weekend. Others would argue that it takes much longer to acquire meaningful skills for career advancement.

Both options happen to be right in their own ways. But that doesn't make it any less confusing.

To help clear things up, these are three common approaches to upskilling to land a more lucrative job. Each one has its own level of difficulty, timeline, and potential skills you can gain.

Three Approaches to Upskilling

1. On-the-go

This format is the quickest way to upskill on our list. On-the-go programs are designed to be fast and efficient. Many last only a few hours, while others take a weekend or multiple weeks. Most are also free, including free certificate programs through sites like Google and LinkedIn.

The training is often either on fundamentals or hyper-focused in one area. For example, a coding bootcamp will focus more on coding and less on computer science as a whole.

This option may be preferable if you want to stay up-to-date with new skills in your current role or test the waters of different careers and industries. In the end, learners will typically receive a certificate or other document that validates their skills.

  • Examples: Learning courses, training seminars, and bootcamps
  • Skills: Basic competency, fundamental skills

2. Short-term

This is a more thorough approach to upskilling. But, it requires a bigger time commitment — either a few months or the equivalent of a standard school year. Typically, learners will get training at a part-time, self-paced rate.

The longer time frame means the training is also more extensive. For example, a year-long marketing certificate teaches everything from the basics of search engine optimization and email marketing to content writing and customer profiling.

This option could be appealing if you want to stay competitive in your field or lay the groundwork for a career change or job switch. You can also leverage your certificate or a degree for a promotion, salary hike, or a better role.

  • Examples: Certificate programs, accelerated master's programs, and apprenticeships
  • Skills: In-depth knowledge, practical experience

3. Long-term

This path is the most comprehensive way to upskill, as well as the longest. While it means going back to school for more than a year, it also comes with the most potential gains.

Earning an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree is one of the most fool-proof ways to climb the career ladder. Depending on your career goals, long-term upskilling also offers the flexibility to change careers, earn a higher salary, or potentially reach an executive position.

A common example of this is getting a master's of business administration (MBA), which usually takes about two years to complete. Though an MBA usually comes with a price tag of about $60,000, it has one of the highest return on investment rates in education.

  • Examples: Associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees
  • Skills: High-level expertise, specialized knowledge

Featured Image Credit: Pekic / Getty Images

If your performance review season came and went without a raise, here's what you need to do. Bootcamp, certificate, or degree? This is one of the major questions you'll face when you're ready for a new job or new career. We break down the differences. Find out how an apprenticeship can open the door to the tech industry, and learn which companies offer tech apprenticeship programs.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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