By Chani Osthoff, Assistant Editor, Rat Race Rebellion – Updated Aug. 14, 2019
If you’re reading this, you already have what it takes to pick up a new skill and strengthen your resume: Internet access. There are a great many skills you can learn from the comfort of your home without taking out a student loan—it’s just a matter of knowing which skills remote employers look for and where to learn more about them.
Since online research is kinda our thing at RRR, we decided to compile a list of desirable skills for remote employees as well as resources for learning them. (This post also contains screened affiliate links, which pay RRR a small fee if you use them. Helps us keep the computers running. Thanks!)
Accounting & Bookkeeping
Crunching numbers and tidying up the books are tedious tasks that your average entrepreneur doesn’t have the time or energy to invest in, which is why they so often delegate it to others. If finance and numbers interest you, accounting and/or bookkeeping might be right up your alley. Some resources for learning that we recommend are:
- Accounting Made Simple by Mike Piper, CPA – Book (Kindle or paperback). This was written to give a basic understanding of accounting and does that very well.
- Introduction to Finance, Accounting, and Model Evaluation – Udemy course (4.5 stars and 6,561 ratings). Written by an MBA professor and Ivy Grad, this course will give you an in-depth understanding of business finance.
- Bookkeeping Basics – Udemy course (4.5 stars out of 628 ratings). This covers all the essentials of good bookkeeping.
Written communication skills are crucial if you plan on working from home. Since most of your contact with your employer (and customers, where applicable) will be through text, having proper etiquette and grammar is a real game-changer. If you find yourself anxious about the English tests that are quickly becoming commonplace in online applications, we recommend:
- Business Writing Skills: The Basics of Written Communication – Udemy course (4.4 stars and 143 ratings). This will walk you through writing clear, concise correspondence.
- Communication Skills for Professionals – Udemy course (4.5 stars and 37 ratings). This is an “extremely practical and direct” course on professional communication.
- Grammarly – Google chrome extension. While spellcheck is built-in to just about everything these days, there aren’t many options that correct your grammar. Grammarly is here to change that.
Content Writing & Editing
If you want to take the above a step further and make English your forte, writing and editing abilities are also in demand. Social media updates, newsletters, blog posts… those are the primary channels that brands use to communicate with their audience. Companies depend on them to convert readers into loyal customers. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, we recommend:
- The Complete Copywriting Course: Write to Sell in 2019 – Udemy course (4.6 stars and 1,545 ratings). This is a great source of information on writing copy engineered to sell something.
- Editing Mastery: How to Edit Writing to Perfection – Udemy course (4.4 stars and 1,739 ratings). This is another course by Shani Raja, editor of the Wall Street Journal, that goes beyond showing you how to fix simple punctuation errors. It gives you the ability to transform “almost any piece of nonfiction writing into magnificent, sparkling prose.”
Graphics are arguably just as essential to a website’s success as content. I don’t know about you, but if I go to a website with decent information but a design that makes it difficult to read or navigate, I go elsewhere. What prevents a lot of people from delving into graphic design is the common misconception that it takes talent. But every artist I’ve ever spoken to attributes their success to practice and persistence. In any event, you don’t need to be the next Picasso to craft high-quality images for basic online media, nor do you need to spend hundreds of dollars on a particular program. These are our recommendations:
- Canva Design School – Online course. This will show you how to make effective graphics on the popular (and free!) online design tool Canva.
- Ultimate Photoshop Training: From Beginner to Pro – Udemy course (4.5 stars and 7,840 ratings). This covers all the fundamentals for using Photoshop effectively.
- Photoshop Cafe – Website. This site has hundreds of free Photoshop tutorials to help you up your designing game.
- Affinity – Software. If you’re loath to pay Photoshop’s monthly subscription, Serif offers some affordable alternatives such as Affinity Photo and Affinity Design. Their website provides a ton of tutorials for their programs as well as an active forum for users to make feature requests and ask questions.
As we mentioned earlier, email marketing is an essential channel of online communication for brands. Of course, writing well is only a part of it. Most websites (ours included) use certain tools to organize their mailing lists, and to build and send their emails.
- The Complete Digital Marketing Course – Udemy course (4.5 stars and 49,707 ratings). This 12-in-1 course covers market research and email marketing, as well as SEO and social media marketing (so we will be dropping it in those sections as well).
- Email Marketing Made Easy: How to Build an Email List Fast – Udemy course (4.6 stars and 106 ratings). If you don’t have a use for all the extra knowledge provided by the previous course and want something specifically about email marketing, this one has everything you need.
This is another no-brainer, but it’s important enough to mention anyway. A lot of remote employers expect their employees to be capable of typing quickly and accurately. Most commonly, jobs that include frequent typing require somewhere between 60-80 WPM. If you’ll be dealing with long numbers—such as account or credit card numbers—being quick with your 10-key is crucial as well. To better your keyboarding skills, we recommend:
- Typing.com – Website. This site will improve your typing skills for free. They have a 10-key lesson in their “Advanced” course.
Microsoft Office is perhaps the most popular suite of applications used by businesses. Most of the basics are taught in school these days, but some jobs require more advanced knowledge. Word, the word processing program, is fairly easy to master, but applications like Excel and PowerPoint are more involved. If you’re looking to brush up your office skills, we recommend:
- Microsoft Word – From Beginner to Advanced – Udemy course (4.5 stars and 136 ratings). Although Microsoft Word is a simple application, it has a lot of features that most people don’t use. This course covers topics like document security, collaboration, and macros.
- Microsoft Excel – From Beginner to Advanced – Udemy course (4.6 stars and 53,060 ratings). Excel is objectively the most difficult to master of the Office applications, but this course will get you there.
- PowerPoint Masterclass Presentation Design & Animation – Udemy course (4.7 stars and 769 ratings). This course shows you how to go from idea to design to finished product seamlessly, creating PowerPoints that are both beautiful and professional.
Like so many things, programming is not quite as exciting as it appears to be in the movies, but it can be a good fit for those who love logic and problem-solving. Others find writing, executing, and debugging lines of code frustrating and would rather pay others to do it. If you think you’re up to the challenge of crafting high-quality computer gobbledygook, we recommend:
- Codecademy – Website. While the basic interactive courses on this website are free, there is an option to pay for additional content.
- Khan Academy – Website. Completely free, Khan Academy has plenty of videos and information on programming in several languages.
- Introduction to Programming – Udemy course (4.6 stars and 576 ratings). It was difficult to choose just one Udemy course for this section as there are dozens of programming languages, each with its own quality courses on Udemy. This course assumes you have no knowledge of programming and is thus a good place to start your journey.
- Stack Overflow – Online forum. This is an incredible resource for people learning how to program. The users there won’t write your code for you, but they can tell you why yours isn’t working and how to fix it. If you have any programming-related questions, this is the best place to ask them.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the method for optimizing your website and improving its search engine rankings. There are guidelines that websites need to meet in order to show up in search engine results. Design and content are important, for sure, but neither will do a company much good if it can’t draw visitors to its site in the first place. Being well-versed in the search engine rulebook is a great asset. To learn more about SEO, we recommend:
- The Complete Digital Marketing Course – Udemy course (4.5 stars and 49,707 ratings). We mentioned this 12-in-1 course in the “Email Marketing” section and will be mentioning it again under “Social Media,” as it includes all those things (as well as SEO, of course).
- SEO 2019: Complete SEO Training + SEO for WordPress Websites – Udemy course (4.3 stars and 5,305 ratings). If you’re looking for information on SEO without all the extra stuff in the above course, this is a great option.
If you think playing on social media for a living sounds like a pipe dream, think again. Just like SEO, social media is a tool that a lot of businesses use to get website traffic and promote their brands. Someone with a good knowledge of social media management and marketing is therefore a great investment for any company. While you may be comfortable Tweeting or sharing recipes on Pinterest, managing social media requires a deeper understanding of the popular platforms. If you’re interested in tapping into that knowledge, we recommend:
- The Complete Digital Marketing Course – Udemy course (4.5 stars and 49,707 ratings). This course appears three times in this post for a reason: it’s a 12-in-1 package with a wealth of digital marketing information, including marketing on social media.
- Social Media Marketing Mastery – Udemy course (4.5 stars and 4,783 ratings). If you’re looking for something specifically about marketing on the most popular social media platforms, this is the best one we’ve found.
This is yet another no-brainer, but (once again) it’s too important to exclude. In addition to all the work-from-home Tech Support jobs available, businesses want remote employees, too, to know they’ll be able to troubleshoot basic computer and networking problems independently. If your computer freezes up, your software generates an error, or your Internet goes down, the company is losing money for every minute it takes you to get things working again. Also, if they have some form of internal tech support, they want to know you won’t be a frequent drain on it. This is why being computer-savvy is listed as a basic requirement for most remote positions, even ones that do not involve a lot of technical work. Becoming comfortable with computers and related tech doesn’t happen overnight, of course, but if it’s something you’d like to look into, we recommend:
- Professor Messer – Website. CompTIA certifications are the thing when it comes to tech. While it does cost a fee to take the tests and get the actual certifications, Professor Messer offers a comprehensive video series and resource files for each, all free of charge.
- Master Computers – From Beginner to Expert in One Week – Udemy course (4.4 stars and 971 ratings). This course covers a vast array of computer-related topics, from using popular software to networking. If you have the time for its 39.5 hours of educational video, we recommend you take it.
WordPress—once a simple blogging platform—has grown into the most popular content management system on the Web. So it’s no surprise that people who know how to customize themes, install plugins, and organize content for WordPress-based websites are in demand. If you’d like a work-from-home job in this area, we recommend:
- WordPress for Beginners: Create a Website Step by Step – Udemy course (4.8 stars and 1,242 ratings). This is a great roadmap for developing a website using WordPress.
- WordPress Made Simple – Website. This website offers free information on WordPress basics.
If there’s anything you’d like to see added to this list, please let us know! We’re always looking for ways to improve the resources we offer. Good luck in your next steps, and may you be working from home soon!
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