We live in an amazing time. Knowledge and information is ubiquitous and incredibly easy to access. You can hop online and instantly find dozens, or even hundreds, of useful resources to help get you started on the path to learning a new skill. While six months isn’t necessarily enough time to turn you into a master of most trades, you can certainly learn enough in half a year’s time to put your skills into practice in virtually any area. Best of all, a lot of the websites and resources you’ll find are completely free of charge! Of course, you can’t really put a price on knowledge, so don’t let subscription fees get in the way of improving yourself.
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1. Image and Video Editing
Thanks to the omnipresence of smartphone cameras, I’m going to assume you know how to crop a photo. But there’s a lot more to image and video editing than cutting your drunk uncle out of your Christmas card. Knowing a little bit more than the basics in programs such as Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro can prove to be an asset in almost any office job. Being able to show your boss you know your way around a photo-editing program can be a great way to impress them. Though becoming a full-fledged graphic designer certainly takes a much longer time, you can definitely learn the basics in less than a year.
2. CPR and First Aid
CPR and First Aid are skills that not only help you on the job, but also will come in handy throughout your entire lifetime. While classes usually only take a couple hours to complete, you should always keep yourself up to date on any changes made in the practice. Specialists are always discovering better methods to help people in need during an emergency, and you want to offer the best help you possibly can. You can earn a two-year certification in both CPR and First Aid through the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, or the National Safety Council. You could even go a bit farther and get certified as an EMT, regardless of whether or not you work in the medical field.
3. Foreign Languages
Being able to speak more than one language is becoming more and more important in modern times. Luckily, it’s quite possibly never been easier to learn a new language, either. Sites such as Duolingo, along with a variety of apps, offer courses in Spanish, French, German, Italian, and more. Many of these programs are absolutely free to use, too. Online language programs are usually fairly sequential, as they teach the basics — such as nouns, verbs, and adjectives — before moving on to more advanced language techniques and nuances.
Blogging is one of those activities that fosters growth in a variety of areas. Obviously, the simple act of blogging allows you to practice your writing and publishing skills. But it’s more than that. When you blog, you have to think of who you’re writing for, why you’re writing, and what value you’re going to bring to the table. You can blog about absolutely anything — even topics you don’t know much about. But by writing about them, you end up researching them and learning much more in the process. And, once again, it’s absolutely free to get started, and you can possibly end up being recognized by thousands of readers!
Tending bar is not as simple as cracking open beers and sliding them down to your patrons. You need to be quick acting, always thinking, and consistent throughout your entire shift. At bartending school, you’ll learn how to mix drinks, pour specific beers and wines, and pair drinks with various meals. Though you can definitely learn the basics online, you’ll need to attend a full-fledged course in order to gain the skills and knowledge that accompanies tending even the grimiest of dive bars.
6. Microsoft Office
This goes along with image editing, as I’m sure most of you reading this can work your way around Word or Excel. Most of us were probably taught almost everything we need to know about PowerPoint in middle school. But these programs are a lot deeper than you might realize. There are programmable shortcuts and macros in Excel that will increase your productivity seemingly exponentially. And, of course, showing off these skills to your boss will definitely put you in their good graces.
Having a basic understanding of computer programming is becoming not just an asset in modern days, but also a necessity. If your job requires you to use a computer, and especially if it requires you to publish or post information online, you absolutely need a working knowledge of HTML, at the very least. Many coding bootcamps exist that will help improve your coding skills in a variety of languages. But for those looking to gain a basic understanding of programming languages, sites like Codecademy will be more than helpful.
8. Musical Instruments
There are hundreds of websites available that offer practical lessons to improve your technique and theoretical lessons to help you understand what you’re playing. If you’re self-motivated and stick to a set practice regimen, you can get incredibly good at playing any instrument in no time.
9. Notary Certification
While anyone can sign up for the exam to become certified as a notary at any time, it’s recommended that you study for about six months before you dive into the test. There are training courses you can take, or you can find various online resources to help you understand all you need to know for the exam. Once you pass the exam, you’ll need to apply for official certification, after which you’ll be qualified to witness the signings of any important, official documents needed by individuals, companies, or other entities.
10. Public Speaking
Let’s get this out of the way: speaking in public sucks. I don’t think anyone actually enjoys standing up in front of a crowd by themselves (and if you do, keep it to yourself!). However, as torturous as public speaking can be, we all need to do it at one point or another. Local community colleges offer classes each semester in public speaking, as it’s often required in order to earn an Associate’s degree. You can also volunteer to give talks at various forums within your community, especially if you have a unique story to tell. Becoming comfortable speaking in public is incredibly beneficial to your networking skills, and in turn, to your career as a whole.
Let me make it clear that, although this list shows how easy it is to find learning resources, the actual process of learning these new skills, is not as easy. Doing so requires hard work, dedication, and self-discipline, but will ultimately lead you to bigger and better opportunities in your life. Whether you’re learning a new skill as a hobby, or if you want to advance your career, your life will improve in one way or another by taking on something new.
What skills are you interested to learn right away? Let us know in the comments section below.