With the rise of today’s technologies, finding a job and learning new skills has never been easier. With advances in software, for instance, it’s easier for students to learn and make professional connections. The latest technological innovations make it easy to find resources, build on business skills and develop your career.

In an age of skyrocketing tuition fees and widespread economic struggle, millions of potential United States students are unable or unwilling to pay college tuition. Still, they want and need professional skills to improve their career outlook. While there are many options for advanced degrees, many people are seeking to improve their business skills in other ways beyond an MBA or Master’s.

Fortunately for these ambitious professionals, a college or university isn’t the only way to enhance their career skills. Using a hand-picked selection of self-directed, real-world projects and work opportunities, upwardly mobile professionals can advance their careers. In this way, working professionals create their own learning outlet, sans the high cost of college tuition.

While self-directed learning is one way to improve job skills, it’s not the only one. Use these 5 tips to help you improve your skillset and advance your career.

Find a Mentor and Someone Who Can Help You

A local leader that you admire might be the ideal candidate to help you advance your career prospects. You can offer to take them out for lunch if they have time for a brief meeting. If they accept, be sure that you are more than prepared to ask questions and listen attentively. Be curious, open and ready to learn.

By repeating this process as needed, you may find a mentor or support. Despite the outcome of your efforts, at the least, you’ll walk away with great advice and, hopefully, a solid path forward.

Determine How You Can Advance in Your Current Industry

Sometimes a career change is not possible or feasible. After spending a large sum of money for a college education, changing careers midstream may be intimidating.

It may help to think about the state of your current profession and where it’s headed in the future. With this information, you may be able to use your current skills in a new career of your choice. For instance, business professionals who’ve decided that they’d rather work in healthcare would have a promising future ahead of them if they were to transition into the field, and many business skills are transferable into the profession.

Engage in Personal Development

Sometimes, career hopefuls believe that certificates and degrees are all that matter. What’s more often important to employers, however, is communication, character and listening skills.

Through self-development, you can grow personally and professionally. Moreover, self-development can help you to develop an intense sense of personal entrepreneurship.

You might also want to try building an online portfolio to showcase your talents.  Don’t be afraid to try new things to help you advance your career.

Consider What Skills You Need to Get Hired Beyond Education

In the current job market, it takes many different skills to stand out among competitors. Think about what skills you need to improve and what you need to do to grow.

Business leaders need innovative staff members who will show up, do a great job and have the skills and character to succeed. Today, with the current talent shortages, some employers are more interested in your skills, rather than how you earned them. For many firms, the future of their success depends on hiring the right job candidates.

Utilize Online Resources

There are many online websites, apps and resources for people who want to advance their skills. Using these kinds of resources, they can find freelance, volunteer and other opportunities to gain more experience in fields of interest.

Open-source courses, for instance, are growing in popularity. Many colleges and universities offer free online open-source training through Coursera and other similar self-paced learning sites. Some even have options for credentialing or certificates.

When starting your career advancement journey, it’s important to believe that whatever you want to pursue is possible. Explore any options that can help you increase your personal value and self-esteem. Some are free, and others are available for a nominal fee.

Even if you don’t pursue a traditional degree program, any extra effort to learn new skills will enhance your career. Eventually, you’ll reach your goal, find your desired career and obtain the opportunity that you seek. In today’s digital society, you can add skills to your background without ever stepping into a classroom.

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Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.