By: Nick Callos / Sarah Stone
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken up things for everyone, from university students to office workers to teachers. A lot of us have felt stagnant and frustrated, even as parts of the world begin to open up. A lot of us have contemplated job and career shifts, and even making the jump from having a home base that’s comfortable and familiar, to pursuing change and adventure.
Now’s as good a time as ever to build your skills through e-learning. Don’t pass up the opportunity! Because the benefits of learning are clear.
Most importantly, learning will improve your cognitive ability and keep your mind active. As a Harvard University article notes, you need to exercise your brain with challenges to keep it healthy.
Furthermore, you can also boost your resume. Imagine being able to put an important new skill on your CV, such as familiarity with WordPress, or even a second language.
In this article, we’ll cover how you can build your skills through online courses so that you can have more flexibility to work remotely and pursue life as a digital nomad, or even semi-retire and travel the world. We’ll mention mostly online courses that are free, though some may require a fee or subscription for full access.
Let’s get to learning!
Learn a New Language
Why Learning a New Language is Great for Finding Digital Nomad Jobs
By learning a new language, you can:
- Improve cognitive ability: As a study published by the Frontiers in Psychology found, learning a new language boosts brain function at any age.
- Increase your job opportunities: Demand for bilingual workers is predicted to increase by 70% from 2016 to 2026. Moreover, bilingual employees earn between 5% and 20% more than their position’s average rate, according to a Salary.com survey.
- Communicate with more people: Knowing more Spanish would certainly help during your next trip to South America! By learning a new language, you can make friends from around the world.
Best Online Language Learning Courses for Building Digital Nomad Skills
No matter what language you wish to learn, the following types of online courses and apps can help:
- Language exchange platforms: Find language partners and teachers for any language combination. One great platform is italki, an app that connects you with language learners around the world. Whether you want to learn Spanish, French, Italian, German, Arabic, Swahili, Mandarin, Korean, or Thai, this app has you covered.
- University courses: You’d be surprised by the number of online courses that are free, including some offered by major colleges. With the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for instance, you can study all sorts of languages, from Portuguese to Japanese.
- Language learning apps: Rosetta Stone, Babbel, and similar programs are solid places to start your language learning. For quicker progress, especially with speaking, combine your study with one-on-one lessons with a tutor. Tandem is a good site for finding tutors.
Learn How to Code
Why Learning a to Code is Great for Finding Digital Nomad Jobs
Programmers enjoy high salaries, as data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows. Job growth in the industry is expected to increase by 12% annually through 2028, and it’s one of the very best skills that you can build to become a digital nomad and work remotely. There are so many different types of coding that you can learn, too—whether you’re interested in design, architecture, security, and beyond. Additionally, knowing how to code improves problem-solving capability, increases career flexibility, and can be useful in roles outside coding, such as marketing and finance.
Best Online Coding Courses for Building Digital Nomad Skills
- Online code learning resources: You’ll find many online courses that are free or at least have a freemium model. Start at places like Code Academy, Khan Academy, and Coursera.
- University courses: Again, you’d be surprised by the number of online courses that are free on university websites. Harvard University, for example, has lots of online computer science and programming courses. They’re completely free, and you get a certificate after completion.
- GitHub: Definitely make use of the GitHub Learning Lab. This will enable you to grow your skills through real-world projects.
Learn How to Teach English
Why Learning a to Teach English is Great for Finding Digital Nomad Jobs
The world has 1.5 billion English language learners. So, the demand for ESL teachers is massive. If you want a job that allows you to live and work in other countries, teaching English is one of the best options. Earn money as you enjoy life in places like Peru, Italy, and Vietnam.
Best Online ESL Teaching Courses for Building Digital Nomad Skills
TEFL, which stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, is what you need to learn. There are lots of online TEFL certification courses out there. Some are better than others. Here are three we recommended:
- International TEFL Academy: Their 170-hour online TEFL certification course will more than prepare you for ESL teaching work overseas. When the virus passes and you can begin applying for jobs abroad, you’ll stand out with an International TEFL Academy certificate. Tuition is $1,299.
- Maximo Nivel: Through this self-paced 150-hour course, you’ll get the chance to train with professional ESL teachers and teach English language learners. Maximo Nivel also offers lifetime job placement assistance in Latin America. Tuition is $695.
- TEFL Org: Through their 120-hour TEFL/TESOL online course, you can study at your own pace with guidance from a personal tutor. Tuition is $269.50.
Learn How to Play an Instrument
Why Learning a to Play an Instrument is Great for Personal Growth
First, knowing how to play your favorite songs is cool. Second, you can boost your mental capabilities. A University of Montreal study found that learning music makes you more mentally alert. Northwestern University also discovered learning how to play music improves memory. Third, playing music is a good way to deal with stress. It can improve mental wellbeing.
Finally, playing music can be a great way to make friends and even make good money—even while traveling as a digital nomad. For instance, you could play at local bars and weddings, and musical instruments are easy to travel with. How awesome does that sound?
Best Online Music Learning Courses for Building Personal Skills
- University courses: Whether you want to learn Afro-Cuban drums, blues guitar, commercial songwriting techniques, vocal production, or jazz improvisation, great music schools like Berklee College of Music are ready with courses to help. Berklee also has some online courses that are free on edX.
- Tutoring platforms: Sites like Lessonface allow you to learn one-on-one with a tutor. Learn guitar, bass, keyboard, piano, voice, and more.
- Music labs: Want to learn how to create music using new technologies and tools? Check out New York University’s Music Experience Design Lab.
Learn More in Your Area of Expertise
Why Learning a More in Your Area of Expertise is Great for Finding Digital Nomad Jobs
Whether you specialize in accounting, engineering, or travel writing, now’s as good a time as ever for continuing education. If you’re between jobs, it will help you stand out when you apply for new positions. If you’re working remotely now, upskilling may enable you to take on more responsibilities and even get a promotion. You would be surprised at how your skills may translate to working remotely and traveling.
Best Online Continuing Education Courses for Building Digital Nomad Skills
- University courses: If you want quality online courses that are free (or mostly free), look no further than places like Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University.
- Continuing education sites: The amount of learning content on sites like Lynda, Udemy, and Academic Earth is incredible. You can find what you need to upskill, no matter what your field is.
Making the Most of Your Time Right Now
Yes, the siren song of binge-watching Netflix and doom scrolling is strong, especially if you feel stuck and burnt out. But you can do more, and you can have fun, and you can help to improve your mental health.
You won’t regret making the investment in educating yourself. When you upskill or build entirely new skills through online learning, you’ll be surprised by all the opportunities that await you. And you’ll be ready to do great things.
So, start learning now!
About the Authors
Nick Callos: Nick has always had a passion for reading, writing, and discovering the new and unknown. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Nick holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Boston College. He currently splits his time between his hometown, Chengdu, China, and the open road. A full-time travel writer, Nick hopes his work can inspire others to explore the world more deeply and enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle.
Sarah Stone: As the managing director of Frayed Passport, my goal is to help you build a lifestyle that lets you travel the world whenever you want and however long you want, and not worry about where your next paycheck will come from. I’ve been to 20+ countries and five continents, lived for years as a full-time digital nomad, and have worked completely remotely since 2013. If you would like to share your story with our community, or partner with Frayed Passport, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Featured image via Unsplash.