If there is one constant in life we can count on, it’s that the world is always changing. This especially holds true in the world of data and technology. The latest application or computer language today will most likely have a better version and enhanced capabilities tomorrow. If it doesn't, it runs the risk of becoming obsolete and discarded for something better.
Technology workers know this better than most. If they don't keep their skills current, they can find themselves at a great disadvantage when it comes time to find new work. It doesn't matter whether you are a consultant looking for the next contract or a long term employee looking for his next project.
So what is your plan? How do you stay relevant and put yourself in a position for those new and exciting opportunities when you’re current work in complete? Much of this depends on what your focus will be but there are some great, inexpensive ways to learn new skills or build on your existing ones.
udemy - Udemy.com is a great educational resource to enrich your skills not only in technology but many other categories. Their technology section extends from networks, computers languages, big data, analytics and more. Most of their course ware is free or low cost and can take a few hours to a few days to complete which is great for those who have limited time to improve on new skills.
If you are going for something more vendor specific, Microsoft Virtual Academy (MVA) is a great place to visit. Database development, web, C#, Cloud and pretty much any product of Microsoft has an offering. Microsoft does a great job at providing classes at three levels of skill, i.e. Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced. They also offer the ability to create a learning plan which will help target and organize the skills and knowledge you are looking to obtain. They are also good at including many new technologies as their products are released.
Simplilearn - Simplilearn.com is another great non-vendor specific option to obtain learning. Here they not only offer free courses but have great paid versions of classes for those working to obtain certifications in anything from computer languages to project management skills. Digital Marketing is one of their largest categories but they have many online classes in the Big Data area; Apache Spark, Data Science, MongoDB, Hadoop, Cassandra, SAS, and some in the Analytics space such as Tableau.
Big Data University - Big Data University is an IBM community initiative focusing on many of the Big Data and Data Science technologies. Other than having one of the coolest names in the tech education game, they do a great job of offering non-vendor/open source classes in addition to some of their own. Here you will find Apache Spark, Python, Scala, R, Hadoop, Watson Analytics in basic and intermediate classes. Many of the classes provide great hands-on labs as well as content about the subject areas. These classes are free but be aware that some of the labs require you to create an account on some platforms that extend past the capabilities of the free or trial version of the tool. However, its a great place to learn new skills at a relatively small price and worth checking out.
So take the plunge and continue your quest for knowledge. Set aside some time and begin learning something new or extend your existing skillset. Don't get caught up on online classes that do charge a fee. Most of the costs are relatively small if it helps you get that promotion or new job working on cutting edge technology. In addition, this will give you more career options and who knows, you may find something new and exciting that will may work fun again.