If you have a felony conviction and want to gain new technical skills or education, the quickest and cheapest way is to take online courses at Udemy.com.
This is basically an online learning platform that offers both FREE and very low cost courses in a wide range of fields, including IT, Computer Science, Web Design, Marketing, Business Development, and much more.
Udemy is an amazing solution for millions of people who want to acquire in-demand skills, but can’t afford to pay for formal education.
You can learn pretty much anything under the sun, because there are literally thousands of courses in virtually any industry. You can study anywhere, with your computer or laptop, at your own pace. Once you download a course, you can listen to it as many times as you need to understand the material.
Each course focuses on a particular skill, for example learning to code HTML, so you are not wasting time listening to useless information that you can not apply on the job. The best part – this quality education will NOT cost you a fortune, unlike most online distance learning programs sponsored by colleges.
There are other similar websites, that also offer inexpensive online training classes, but we find that Udemy offers the best variety and quality for a very reasonable price.
Why learn through Udemy.com?
This is such a unique platform, because the courses offered here are created by PROS. What does this mean? Someone who has a particular skill and has worked in a specific industry for a very long time, sits down a writes a training manual that helps others gain his knowledge.
Good courses are free of bull shit, they are jam packed with practical knowledge, theory and exercises, and the teacher walks you through learning a new skill. Instructors have a great incentive to produce top quality educational materials, because the better the are, the more people download them, the more they get paid.
How Can Quality Online Education Be Free?
When you browse classes on this website, you will find that many of them are FREE. Others are extremely cheap, like $10-15. You may think, “Wait a minute, this has to be a scam! Quality education and skills training HAS to cost money, and A LOT of money. Otherwise, why are colleges and universities charging people so much for their degrees?”
Well, the reality is that these days much of formal education is not worth the high cost, and doesn’t offer much value. On the other hand, the courses of Udemy, even the free ones, offer very specific technical knowledge and skills. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are crappy classes there as well, but the majority are actually very useful.
The reason why there is no charge for many classes is because they are INTRODUCTORY. An instructor wants to give you an incentive to try out his course, method of teaching, etc. If you like it, there are usually, more advanced classes on the same topic that you will need to pay for, to gain more in depth skills.
This is a great, completely risk-free opportunity to try out something new that you have not considered before. Take a basic coding class, and if you like it, keep going! If you don’t – you haven’t lost anything, except a few hours of your time.
How To Pick The Right Course?
Here is what you need to do to get the right classes that will help you learn fast, and you will not waste your time and money.
1. Pick a field or a skill you want to learn.
If you already know a specific skill, for example: UI Design in Photoshop, type it into search, and you will get a list of related classes. However, if you are not sure, but have a general sense that you are interested in marketing, for example; search for it, and browse through all the top offerings that come up (there will be many!!)
2. Try a Free course.
Before you pay money for a class, try one or two for free, in an industry that interests you. If you like what you are learning and feel like you are ready to proceed on this career path, get a course that costs money.
3. Only buy top rated classes.
When you are browsing different offerings, look for ones that are MOST popular (have at least a few hundred downloads). They usually appear at the top of the search results. These will give you the best bang for your buck.
4. Avoid cheap courses.
If you really want to learn something valuable, you need to be willing to pay a little more. An instructor that charges $20-30 for his materials did not spend many hours putting them together. Chances are, he is not going to teach you something very practical or valuable that you can actually use in a new job. On the other hand, if a course costs $100-200 or more, it is likely to give you the depth of knowledge that you need.
While a few hundred dollars is a lot of money and you may need to start saving up for it, it is still significantly cheaper than most other online classes. For example, a “Business Communications For Accountants” online 3 credit course at the University of Phoenix, will cost you $1,185, (your cost per credit is $398). You get the picture:)
5. Carefully read the course description and reviews before purchasing.
The description will tell you who this course is for, what it will teach, what the curriculum is. Its very important to read reviews, because they will tell you whether or not people actually learned something.
6. Watch the preview.
Each course allows you to watch a short preview for free to see if you like it. Its a great idea, because if you happen to not like the face of the instructor or his accent, or anything else, you will waste your money and not learn anything. There are many instructors whose first language is not English and they speak with an accent. Thus, its really important to make sure that you actually understand what they are saying:)
7. Once you take you first class, don’t stop there.
To really learn a new skill, especially if you have no prior knowledge or experience, you will need to take at least 3 more courses. If you really liked the instructor, check out his other offerings on the same subject, or branch out and try someone else.
What are some examples of what I could learn online?
To give you a sense of the great variety and quality of education offered on Udemy, here is a list of popular courses in top industries (this is where the money is these days). By far, the quality of instruction you can get here greatly exceeds anything you can get at a community college or vocational school. Many people, even ones without a felony, who graduate from community college programs do not have enough real skills to get or actually keep a job.
Below are LIST prices for the best Udemy courses. However, most of these are usually on sale for $10-15 each … like most of the time!
1. Web Development
“The Web Developer Bootcamp” – $200
“Learn and Understand AngularJS” – $175
“Accelerated Java Script Training” – $110
2. Mobile Apps
“iOS 10 & Swift 3: From Beginner to Paid Professional” – $200
“Learn to Code by Making Games – The Complete Unity Developer” – $195
“Ionic 1: From Web to Mobile”- $180
3. Programming Languages
“PHP for Beginners -Become a PHP Master – Project Included” – $200
“Complete Python Bootcamp: Go from zero to hero in Python” – $195
4. Design Tools
“Adobe After Effects: The Complete Guide to After Effects” – $200
“Canva: Beginners Guide” – $100
“Photoshop for Beginners” – $95
Some of IT jobs that felons can get: sys-admins, software engineers, network administrators, DB admins, etc.
These jobs often offer remote work options, where you don’t need to go to the office, and the hiring manager can be more lax regarding your felony conviction.
I have taken a bunch of courses, how do I get a job?
Once you have taken a few classes and feel confident in your newly acquired skill, you are ready to look for a freelancing job online! That is right, you don’t need to try to get a job at a brick and mortar company, where they will do a background check and ask humiliating questions about your conviction.
There is plenty of work that pays well online, as long you have the necessary skills and are willing to work hard on the projects you lend. No one will know or care about your criminal record and having a felony will not prevent you from getting a job. The top places to find online freelancing work are upwork.com and freelancer.com.
Once you start making your online profile, it will ask you for samples of your work, and this is when you will be really happy you have taken all these courses on Udemy!! You will actually have samples of work you have done to complete homework assignments for the classes you took. Now, you will use them to score a great job.
About The Author
Joe is the founder of HireFelons.org. Having had friends and co-workers who have a felony conviction, Joe Hunter decided to use his expert knowledge in starting a successful business to launch HireFelons.org and teach as many former felons as possible how to earn a decent income, when finding a traditional job is simply not an option.