Where to find free or low-cost job training

Job skills need some sharpening? With some career training, your job opportunities can grow by leaps and bounds.

Where to find free or low-cost job training

Better job training can lead to better jobs.

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first: There’s a real skills gap in the job market. A whopping 92% of executives said they think American workers aren’t as skilled as they need to be, and nearly half (45%) feel workers are missing out on growth opportunities, a survey by worldwide employment agency Adecco Staffing found. The good news? There are free or low-cost job-training opportunities that can help you not only gain new skills but also sharpen the skills that you currently have in your repertoire.

Of course, to take advantage of these programs, you need to know who is offering them. Check out this overview of where you can find free or low-cost job training.

Uncle Sam

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, One-Stop Career Centers provide job training for people at different stages in their career, including internships, apprenticeships, part-time jobs, and full-time jobs.

These training centers, which operate in all 50 states, offer scholarships and financial aid to subsidize the education costs that are already relatively low when compared to private-sector career training services.

Also, the program’s website has an Occupation Profile search tool that lets you view what types of skills, certifications, and experience employers are looking for in a number of industries.

The Labor Department also offers a Trade Adjustment Assistance program that provides workers in manufacturing, farming, and production who lose their jobs to overseas competition with up to 104 weeks of paid job training and remedial education—as well as weekly cash payments for up to a year after their unemployment benefits run out.

To qualify, a petition must be filed with the Department of Labor by or on behalf of a group of workers who have lost or may lose their jobs or experienced a reduction in wages as a result of foreign trade. Once the petition is approved, individuals are eligible for TAA training and benefits.

Moreover, the Labor Department’s website lists hundreds of apprenticeship programs nationwide, ranging from chef to dental assistant to pipe fitter. You won’t get rich off of these programs, which aren’t subsidized by the government, but you’ll hone your skills, gain hands-on experience, and have a leg up when searching for a permanent job.

Higher education

Many two- and four-year colleges and trade schools offer graduates job training either for free or at a low cost; you may even be able to take these courses online. If you’re a college grad, check with your alma mater’s alumni relations or career services department to see what training opportunities are available to you.

Private industry

One of the benefits of being a member of a union or professional association is that these organizations often offer free or subsidized job training. Contact your union rep or association’s board to see what programs you’re eligible for.

You can also find skills training at these organizations:

  • Goodwill: The community-based nonprofit offers free job training focused on equipping professionals with the skills and certifications they need to find work in today’s competitive labor market.Training programs can vary depending on where you live, since each state operates its own Goodwill center (e.g., only some centers offer training courses online). Contact your local Goodwill organization to find what skills training services are available to you.
  • AARP Foundation: Aimed at helping low-income, unemployed individuals aged 55 or older find work, AARP’s Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) matches eligible job seekers with local nonprofits and public agencies that offer skills training courses. The foundation currently operates in only 21 states. Check this AARP list to see whether one of the program’s 72 locations is near you.
  • SCORE: In conjunction with the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE provides entrepreneurs and small business owners—or those who want to own a business—with free career-education and business counseling. With more than 300 chapters throughout the U.S., SCORE pairs participants with free mentors in their field, across 62 industries. (Mentoring is offered in person, via email, or by video.) The organization also offers free or low-cost local business workshops and webinars.
  • Online: There are so many sources for free or low-cost online classes that can help you brush up on Excel, Photoshop, public speaking, and other skills. You can learn at your own pace from your computer or mobile device.

Next steps for your job search

Job training can help you develop valuable skills that employers are looking for. But you also need to get noticed by companies that are hiring for your specific area of expertise. Need some help standing out from the crowd? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads. Those are two quick and easy ways Monster can help you get started on an awesome new career path.