There are many ways of learning valuable skills like coding or data science. Options vary wildly: there are undergraduate degrees, master’s, online programs, and even lots of free material out there.
And as you can probably tell, I’m a big fan of free online learning materials, to the point of having produced quite a lot myself in this blog!
However, there are very sound reasons to buy books and online courses.
So in this post, I thought it would be useful to discuss when (and why) it is sometimes worth to spend some money on educational content.
Affiliate Note: The company listed here happens to offer commissions for online referrals. This blog will get a credit if you end up becoming their customer, which is a nice (and fully optional) way to help out this blog if you choose to do so.
When Are Online Courses Worth the Money?
Let’s address the elephant in the room, which is why is it even worth it to spend a penny on courses with so much free content out there.
Reason 1: Save time.
While searching online for free content, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and lost with so many options. It is most likely that you will be exposed to material which is seriously unorganized, outdated, or even wrong. All of these problems combined can waste a lot of your time.
Curated, streamlined, systematic, and credible curriculums do offer great value. In particular, courses follow a trajectory to guide your learning in a way that Google doesn’t.
Reason 2: Stay Focused and Avoid Procrastination
It is a well-known fact that if you have paid some money, you are also less likely to procrastinate, as you will be more inclined to try to get the most out of your money.
Following a program should help you stay focused, self-motivated, and on-track.
Reason 3: Learn Fundamentals, not Just Hot Topics
The best programs will cover fundamental topics which you might otherwise overlook while learning through the web, which naturally leads you to the hottest topics and buzzwords.
For example, DataCamp does cover fundamental topics in statistics in addition to the latest techniques in AI, which, at a fundamental level, hinge on statistics.
In this way, you won’t just learn how, but why.
Reason 4: Get Feedback
Full programs will provide you with some feedback as you go along.
In DataCamp, this comes in the form of automatically-graded coding assignments within a gamified platform to keep things entretaining while you watch your progress.
Reason 5: Take advantage of small projects to build a portfolio
Most good books and courses contain knowledge that you can put into action, and will include small projects to guide your learning.
For example, courses at DataCamp include real-world datasets, like data from Walmart sales and data about global food consumption.
This way, they’ll encourage and help you build and showcase an original project portfolio.
Reason 6: Get Certified
Some programs will also offer some form of certification. While this might not get you an interview, it will nevertheless help you start marketing your skills and inspire some trust. At the very least, a certificate will show that you are constantly trying to improve yourself.
Reason 7: Get Career Services
Some programs will even go as far as providing a bundle of certifications and employment services, such as resume writing and interview coaching. Importantly, there is actual people helping you out here, personally. And not just with the technical aspects, but with soft skills.
Reason 8: Start Networking.
Online programs usually offer contact with other students. This will help you meet other people, and opportunities to collaborate with them along your learning journey are likely to arise.
Master on-demand coding and data skills with DataCamp
Certain coding and data skills are in so extremely high demand that it’d be unwise to ignore them. If you are looking to boost, secure, or switch careers, I believe there is hardly a better place than DataCamp.
With them, not only you’ll get the benefits of well-structured courses and career paths, a gamified platform to keep things entretaining, but you can also get career services, where there is actually people helping you out with resume writing and interview coaching.
So whether you choose a DIY approach based on free online material, enroll in online training programs like DataCamp, or even go for a full University degree, I hope the experience will be rewarding for you!
Of course, if you want to move past intermediate-level, and you want to move to more advanced roles withing the Data industry, you’re probably going to switch back to a DIY approach and read books, and/or consult free online content in blogs like this one ;).