If you’re a blogger or your career involves anything in the web design, social media or online marketplace, one of the best ways to hone your skills and keep yourself at the top of your professional game is to take online courses. In the technology-driven marketplace, online courses and professional certifications are becoming as critical to career success as having traditional degrees.

Some of the most popular online certifications and courses available right now include SAS training and other big data courses, soft skills training, such as courses on time management and leadership, and technical training including coding and other in-demand skills. These courses and online certification programs provide flexibility and an easy, relatively inexpensive way to learn new skills and become more marketable in your career field, but how do you successfully navigate these courses?

Commit To The Course

Many professionals who decide to take on an online course or training program are already working full time. They may go into it with the perception that it’s easier than an in-person class or program, but this isn’t the reality. These courses are typically just as challenging, but are just offered in a different and often more convenient setting. To be successful, commit yourself to dedicating the necessary time to complete the course, and schedule enough time each week to work toward completing it.

Choose a Course Well-Suited to Your Learning Style

Not all online courses are going to be the same. In fact, they’re all going to differ, even if slightly, in how content is delivered. Try to be realistic about your learning style and what will work for you before you select a course. For example, you may find it easier to learn when you’re completely working on your own and reading content. On the other hand, you may be a visual learner, so you might want to look for programs that are mostly delivered in video format. Maybe you enjoy collaboration and interactivity, so instead of a self-paced course, look for one led by an instructor.

Be Organized

Whether you’re a blogger taking a course on web design, or an IT professional who wants to take an ITIL certification course, you want to complete it successfully. Otherwise, you’ve wasted your time. In order to do this, it’s important to be organized. Create a timeline for how you want to complete the course, and what you need to do each day or week to get to your goals. Keep a calendar of important dates and deadlines, and organize your files. You should also count on taking notes while you’re reading or listening to lectures or videos, just as you would in any other training situation.

As a final note, if you’re just starting your foray into online learning, and you’re already a working professional, don’t take on more than you can handle at any one time. Start small with your courses, and read reviews to make sure you’re not going to struggle with the workload that might be expected of you. Once you get the hang of online courses, you can move onto more complex programs, such as professional certification training.