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Free Programs and Resources to Gain New Career Skills

One of the most important areas of your resume is the skills section. Employers and HR departments refer to this list to determine if you have the necessary qualifications for the job. Whether you are looking for a brand new job, pivoting careers, or looking to advance in your field, highlighting your relevant and updated skills is critical to your success. 

The world we live in is fast-paced and ever-changing. Job skills that might have been essential ten years ago may not be relevant today. For example, listing Microsoft Office as a skill is not as impressive as it was back in 2007 as creating a Word document or a spreadsheet is now a skill that most people possess. 

Employers are searching for candidates that can adapt and be in front of rapidly evolving systems, operations, and technology. According to, employers are looking for candidates who are well-versed in skills such as basic coding, project management, public speaking, social media and digital marketing, video, and audio production, web development, creative thinking, and leadership.

Acquiring new skills doesn’t mean you have to go back to school and get a new degree. There are many ways to gain experience in different areas, whether it’s through online research or free or low-cost programs offered in your community. No matter what field you are currently in or the industry you want to transition into, seeking out professional development programs to build up your skills list will help make you a standout candidate. 

Consider the following free programs and resources to gain new career skills:

Training and Certification Programs

Many employers value candidates who have certifications. Adding current certifications to your resume will make you stand out from the sea of other applicants vying for the same position.  

SkillUp is a resource that provides a list of free or low-cost training programs available in your area. According to their website, you can find high-quality, low-cost, and short-term training programs that match the industry you’re interested in. Many are available nationwide and can be completed online. They feature a variety of programs in several industries, so if you are not sure what career path is right for you, scouring this list may help steer you in the right direction and provide you with resources to acquire the skills you need. SkillUp also allows you to sort through training programs by location, industry, career type, format, number of hours required, and more. 

Additionally, the California Employment Development Department offers training services and certification programs at no cost. The programs are designed to benefit job seekers, employers, businesses, and workforce partners. 

Online Skills Courses

What better way to learn new skills than at your own pace and from the comfort of your home? Online skills courses give you the flexibility to learn whenever and wherever you can. The Los Angeles Public Library offers a comprehensive list of online courses that you can join to freshen up your job skills list. With resources such as Brainfuse VetNow, Career Online High School, Cell-Ed, Coursera, and Digitalia Public Library, the Los Angeles Public Library is a robust resource for job skills training.

Degree Programs

If you love school, obtaining a degree in a specific field is a great way to build your skill set and position you as a prime candidate for your dream job. You will learn from professionals and work alongside like-minded people interested in the same areas that light you up. 

Not all continuing education programs are expensive. Some don’t even cost a dime. For example, West Los Angeles College offers free tuition for up to two years. According to their website, their program aims to connect students to a team of career coaches dedicated to helping them prepare for a career that excites them. Coaches can help you connect to on-campus and off-campus resources, and help you apply to paid internships and job opportunities. This free opportunity is available to people at any stage in their lives. 


If you have a bit of free time, love giving back to the community, and benefit from hands-on learning, volunteering can help you obtain a vast amount of skills and experiences that you can add to your resume. Additionally, volunteering at different organizations is great for networking and broadening your knowledge of the inner workings of various industries. 

LA Works provides volunteer opportunities for people who are interested in addressing critical issues such as food insecurity, education equity, housing insecurity, environmental justice, and health justice. Supporting a nonprofit will expand your knowledge, strengthen your skillset and expose you to new opportunities you never knew existed. Visit LA Works to see how you can be of service. 

Additional Volunteering Resources:

Volunteers of America Los Angeles

Let’s Volunteer LA

Volunteer Match

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