Best Online Courses and Certifications for Professionals

Author: Zenresume Editorial Team
Updated on March 05, 2021

You have a diploma, a degree or two. You have a career. 

Now that you’re sitting in an office instead of a classroom, your learning days are finally behind you, right?

Totally wrong.

Technology, best practices, and career fields are constantly changing and evolving. If you want to stay at the top of your game, you must stay current on the latest and greatest in your field.

Plus, hiring managers (and probably your current boss) love employees who take initiative to learn and improve.

And here’s the good news: continuing education doesn’t mean you have to jump back into the classroom or shell out buckets of cash. 

My team at Transizion regularly advises our clients to further their education through courses and certificates. Below, you’ll find the exact advice we give to our customers.

You can find plenty of courses and certifications online, many of them low cost or even free. These programs provide exciting ideas, new skills, job security, and a competitive edge, whether you’re a young professional or a C-level executive.

Interested in expanding your horizons? Let’s look at some of your best online options!

Accredited Courses / Certifications

Accredited courses may count toward college credit or CEUs (Continuing Education Units) and are recognized by most employers. Accreditation indicates legitimacy and increases the value of your resume.

Many colleges and universities offer accredited certifications online. Popular options include:

eCornell Online Certificate Programs

eCornell, Cornell University’s online learning platform, offers more than 80 professional certificate programs. Most programs take 2-4 months to complete. Students learn in small, interactive cohorts and earn an Executive Certificate from Cornell.

Programs are developed by Cornell faculty and fall into the following categories:

  • Marketing 
  • Data Science 
  • Technology 
  • Leadership 
  • Project Management
  • Human Resources
  • Business and Finance
  • Hospitality
  • Healthcare
  • Nutrition
  • Real Estate
  • Engineering
  • Beekeeping
  • Veterinary Medicine

Microsoft Learning Online Program

If you’re looking for a reputable technical certification, Microsoft Learning is the place for you. Preparation for certification can be self-paced or instructor-led. Self-paced preparation is free, while instructor-led certification carries a cost. Assessments cost $165, and Microsoft offers practice tests.

Role-based certifications are available for developers, administrators, solutions architects, and functional consultants. Certifications are divided into three levels: fundamental, associate, and expert.

Popular Microsoft certifications include:

  • Azure Administrator Associate
  • Azure Solutions Architect Expert
  • Enterprise Administrator Expert
  • Azure DevOps Engineer Expert
  • Microsoft 365 Certified Fundamentals
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert

Project Management Institute (PMI)

The Project Management Institute is the world’s leading project management organization. To earn a PMI certification, you’ll have to submit an application indicating that you meet education and/or experience requirements. 

Next, you’ll review the certification handbook and exam content online. PMI also recommends reading the latest books and articles on your domain topic. After passing the exam, you’ll earn a PMI certificate that’s immediately recognized by employers.

Choose from certificate options like:

  • Project Management Professional
  • Portfolio Management Professional
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner
  • PMI Professional in Business Analysis
  • Program Management Professional
  • Certified Associate in Progress Management
  • PMI Risk Management Professional
  • PMI Scheduling Professional

University of Phoenix

The University of Phoenix offers a wide range of continuing education and certificate programs online. Programs are aligned with industry standards and feature frequent start dates and innovative online resources. 

Federal financial aid is available for most programs. 

Earn certificates in areas such as:

  • Accounting
  • Business Analytics
  • Business Management
  • Education
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Finance
  • Health Management and Administration
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology
  • Marketing
  • Nurse Leadership
  • Project Management 

Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global’s online certificate programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. You can complete most certificates within a year or less. Course content emphasizes professional development, specialized skills, and advanced training.

Certificate programs are available in:

  • Business
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Health Sciences
  • Information Technology
  • Legal Studies
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences

Skill-Building Courses / Certifications

Is your focus on enhancing your skills and knowledge? If so, you may be interested in unaccredited courses and certifications, too. These programs are typically more affordable than accredited courses, and sometimes even free.

Some of these programs focus on hard skills, while others emphasize soft skills like leadership, communication, and productivity. 

Sure, they may not be officially recognized by all employers. But any effort to enhance your skills and continue learning shows initiative, dedication, and commitment. And your improved skills and knowledge will produce better results on the job. 

Here are some popular destinations for skill-building courses and certifications:


Udemy has the world’s largest selection of online courses, with over 100,000 available options. Courses start at $10.99 for lifetime access, with additional discounts available nearly every month. 

Some of Udemy’s online instructors are fully qualified, but others are not. It’s important to do your research on the course and the instructor before committing. Courses include videos, PDFs, and sometimes worksheets or handouts to complete as you go.

Udemy’s top categories are Development, Business, IT and Software, Design, Marketing, Personal Development, Photography, and Music.

Favorite courses include:

  • Building a Personal Brand
  • From Invisible to Invincible; Career Advancement Success
  • An Entire MBA in 1 Course
  • The Complete Digital Marketing Course
  • Microsoft Excel: Excel from Beginner to Advanced
  • Complete Python Bootcamp


Another popular online learning platform, Coursera, offers more than 2000 course options, which includes a few accredited courses, too.

It’s backed by Stanford professors and partners with top universities and organizations to provide courses, certificates, and degree programs.

Each course features videos, quizzes, and projects. Companies like Procter & Gamble, Danone, and Loreal use Coursera to upskill their employees.

Top online courses include:

  • AI for Everyone
  • Data Analysis with Python
  • Financial Markets
  • The Science of Wellbeing
  • Site Reliability Engineering
  • Foundations of Everyday Leadership

You can also choose from popular certificates like:

  • Applied Project Management
  • Machine Learning for Analytics
  • Instructional Design
  • IBM Data Science
  • IBM Customer Engagement Specialist
  • Google IT Support

LinkedIn Learning

Previously, LinkedIn Learning is a subscription-based learning platform with an extensive video library of courses taught by industry experts.

Courses are available in five languages and develop software, creative, and business skills. Some courses lead to accredited certifications, but most do not.

Organizations like Adobe, NBC, and the University of Southern California use LinkedIn Learning for employees.

Some of LinkedIn Learning’s top courses are:

  • Python Essential Training
  • Programming Foundations: Real-World Examples
  • Communicating with Confidence
  • Building High-Performance Teams
  • JavaScript Essential Training
  • Advertising on Facebook


Skillshare provides unlimited access to more than 30,000 classes. Like LinkedIn Learning, the site is subscription-based. You can try out your first month of Skillshare Premium for free.

Classes include prompts, resources, projects, and the ability to collaborate with others. They’re taught by online experts, business owners, and entrepreneurs. Courses are offered in design, illustration, business, technology, photography and film, entrepreneurship, and writing.

Popular options include:

  • Going Freelance: Building and Branding Your Own Success
  • Fundamentals of DSLR Photography
  • Mastering Illustrator
  • Going Viral: Write, Film, and Make Content People Share
  • Presentation Essentials
  • Creative Writing: Crafting Personal Essays with Impact

HubSpot Academy

HubSpot is a great place to earn certifications in marketing, sales, and customer service. It offers both quick courses and more in-depth, industry-recognized certifications. Plus, all lessons and assessments are free!

Courses are led by engaging and experienced professionals. Watch videos, complete quizzes, and take the final assessment at your own pace. 

You’ll receive an online certificate and a badge that you can feature on your LinkedIn profile or other sites.

HubSpot Academy’s top certifications include:

  • Content Marketing
  • Inbound Marketing
  • Inbound Sales
  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • HubSpot CMS for Developers 

Courses and Certifications for C-Level Executives

C-level executives have reached the pinnacle of their careers. Even then, the learning doesn’t stop. It’s always possible to become a more effective executive. That’s where executive education comes in.

Top universities like Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School offer both in-person and online continuing education for executives. 

You can also join peer networks like the Chief Executive Network and Senior Executive Network. Members share ideas, solve problems, and uncover best practices. Although groups meet in person a few times a year, you’ll also collaborate with industry-specific and revenue compatible peers online. 

So, what do you think?

Do you have a favorite online course or certification? 

Which of the above options are you planning to try?

Tell me about it in the comments!



Best Online Courses and Certifications for Professionals reviews: 4 out of 3