4 Free (or Nearly Free) Ways to Train Employees

4 Free (or Nearly Free) Ways to Train Employees

It’s likely that you’ve hired your employees based on their skill set and experience, and sometimes that past experience is enough to make the perfect fit. But more often than not, even the best employees can benefit from training opportunities, and those benefits will extend into the product or service your company provides.

In the past, training wasn’t always financially feasible, and the costs may have outweighed those benefits. Fortunately, today’s employers can tap into online education services that are offered for free or next to nothing.

From coding classes to writing courses, these four sites can offer your employees quality skill building opportunities that will have a big impact in the workplace.

Microsoft Virtual Academy

Microsoft programs are so widely used that it seems commonplace to see things like “proficient in Microsoft Office” on a resume.  It’s also fairly common to find varying definitions of “proficiency.”  At the Microsoft Virtual Academy, students can hone those skills and truly become proficient at programs like Excel and Word.

Of course, the course offerings extend well past the Office suite, and are available for most Microsoft products including Exchange, Visual Studio, and SharePoint.  More in-depth courses for IT pros and developers are available as well.  The best part? They are all free.


As someone who has opted to use edX in my quest for professional development, I can say that edX is a favorite; most critics agree. The open source operation makes it possible for schools like MIT, Harvard, Berkeley, and Boston University to provide willing students with quality instruction.

From business management and data analysis to the humanities and language development, students have the opportunity to engage in 4 to 12 week courses. Courses can be self-paced or users can commit to a schedule.  Many classes are free, but those wishing to receive a certificate to validate completion can typically expect to pay between $49 and $90 (although it does vary).


Similar to edX, Coursera has a significant course catalog that spans a wide range of disciplines and includes top schools like Duke, UC Davis, Stanford, and U Penn.

Though Coursera does offer free access to course material, users do need to pay for access to the complete course offering, which includes graded assessments and certificates. Additionally, most courses are offered during scheduled sessions, meaning users need to complete them during the posted dates.

Employers interested in providing multiple employees with access to courses can pay for their enterprise service, which caters to both small and large businesses.  Small business owners can expect to pay between $100/pp (1 course each) to $400/pp (6 courses each). A free trail that provides access to enterprise level features is available.


Once upon a time, coding was something left to developers, but simple skills, like HTML, can be extremely useful (formatting emails, making quick fixes to website, etc.). Codeacademy offers users the opportunity to become proficient in 12 coding languages including Java, Python, and SQL as well as common markup languages like HTML and CSS.

Those looking to utilize Codeacademy for free have access to the lessons and exercises as well as active forums.  However, employers looking for something a bit more structured can opt for a paid Pro account which runs $16.67 for individuals and $25 for teams of 5 or more.  This allows for program monitoring and directed learning experiences.

Growing your employees skill set can be great for everyone involved, and the great news is that it doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. These websites can help you track down robust course offerings that can take your employees and your company to the next level.

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