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Jobs & Careers

8 free online courses with qualifications to boost your CV

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Finding yourself with free time between classes and hoping to use it productively? We've found some free online courses that will broaden your skillset and boost your CV.

laptop with pens and notebooks

Credit: Unuchko Veronika, Africa Studio – Shutterstock

Trying your hand at some free online courses with qualifications is a brilliant way to keep your brain going during the holidays, or between graduation and landing that dream job everyone keeps talking about.

Distance learning can also introduce you to subjects you've not had the chance to cover at uni. Plus, taking the initiative to learn something new in your free time is incredible CV material.

And it doesn't matter if the course doesn't directly relate to your career plans. Just showing you're happy to learn a new skill will look great on your CV and impress future employers.

All of the courses below are free to do and can be included as completed courses on your CV. However, you'll need to pay to receive some certificates. We've highlighted how much you can expect to pay for each certificate.

What are the best free online courses?

Here are some of the best online courses that you can do for free:

  1. Inbound marketing course with free certification

    hubspot academy logo

    • Course by – Hubspot Academy
    • Duration – Five hours
    • Qualification – Hubspot Academy's own certification
    • Cost of certificate – Free.

    Inbound marketing is something that every business is prioritising in at least some shape or form. As such, a course in inbound marketing is probably one of the best to complete to get a job shortly after graduation.

    Inbound marketing is when businesses use blogs, podcasts, social media and other off-site methods to direct people to their website. Essentially, it's about using innovative methods of getting more traffic onto their website in the hope they'll attract new customers.

    This free learn-from-home course is really simple, with a series of short video lectures and an exam at the end of the process. You can also use this course to brush up on your lingo to help you succeed in interviews.

    Learn inbound marketing skills »


  2. Learn basic HTML from home

    code academy logo

    • Course by – Codecademy
    • Duration – Ongoing
    • Qualification – Codecademy's own certification
    • Cost of certificate – Around £14/month for annual Plus access, which allows you to get a certificate, or £25/month for Pro access (eligible students get over 55% off).

    Learning code might sound super complicated but, in reality, it's more about knowing a fairly simple system. We're talking basic code here.

    Everyone from fashion bloggers to journalists and even eBay sellers are coding regularly these days. In fact, we had to use HTML to write this article!

    So, it makes sense that you'd want to learn at least the basics of HTML coding before entering the job market. Luckily, free home study courses are available and you can start a course as soon as you find the time.

    Codecademy offers a free, easy-to-navigate online course that will help you grasp the basics. And, if you want to develop beyond the basics, there's an option to pay a subscription fee to learn more advanced coding and gain a higher-level qualification.

    As so much of the working world is going online, coding is one of the most valuable skills you can learn from home. And, dare we say, it can even be quite fun.

    If you're hoping for a certificate at the end of the course, you'll need to sign up for Codecademy Plus or Pro. If you're at an eligible uni, you could save more than 55% on the standard monthly price for Codecademy Pro.

    Learn basic HTML »


  3. Free software development courses

    freecodecamp logo

    • Course by – FreeCodeCamp
    • Duration – Ongoing (more than 9,000+ tutorials available)
    • Qualification – FreeCodeCamp certificates
    • Cost of certificate – Free.

    If you enjoy learning basic HTML and want to dive into the world of software development, FreeCodeCamp is the place for you. This non-profit organisation has free courses available in almost anything coding-related, from web design and Javascript to front- and back-end development, Python and more.

    In total, there are more than 9,000 tutorials available. And, best of all, they're completely free to do. You don't even have to pay for the certificate after completing the courses and challenges.

    More than 40,000 people have received their free certificates from FreeCodeCamp, and some even landed jobs at large tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Spotify afterwards.

    Learn software development »


  4. A course on starting your own business

    future learn logo

    • Course by – FutureLearn
    • Duration – Two weeks (two hours per week)
    • Qualification – FutureLearn's own certification
    • Cost of certificate – £75 (to upgrade the course and receive a certificate) or around £30/month on the Unlimited subscription (but you only get a digital certificate).

    This course is offered by the University of Leeds via FutureLearn – a really neat site owned and established by The Open University.

    Their 'Starting a Business' program is an online learning course aimed at preparing young people for the business world. It's technically considered an online taster course for prospective uni students, but it's open to anyone.

    It takes two weeks, and you're only expected to spend two hours per week on them.

    This free online course is pretty varied, giving a good introduction to business and entrepreneurship. The qualification you obtain could really help you stand out with future job applications.

    A business course certification will look great to any employer, regardless of industry, as it shows you've got an entrepreneurial mind and that you've taken the initiative to try and understand how businesses actually work.

    Learn how to start a business »


  5. A certified course on social media strategy

    alison logo

    • Course by – Alison
    • Duration – Two to three hours
    • Qualification – Alison's own certification
    • Cost of certificate – From around £18.

    Social media is now a crucial skill in business, so having a qualification in this will really help you stand out to potential employers.

    A certificate in social media strategy will look amazing on your CV. Your knowledge of different online platforms as a young person is already invaluable to businesses, and something that many companies are desperate to tap into.

    You're in the unique position of being able to help businesses better understand younger markets (their future customers, if not their current ones), so use this to your advantage.

    And, this free course could also help you make some money as a professional social media stalker... if you so wish.

    Learn social media strategy »


  6. Customer service free qualification

    vision2learn logo

    • Course by – Vision2Learn
    • Duration – Nine or 11 weeks (suggested study 10 hours per week)
    • Qualification – Level 2 Certificate in Customer Service
    • Cost of certificate – Free.

    You might think this course would only be useful to people in customer service positions but, in reality, great customer service is beneficial across the board.

    Take this free course to boost your CV and improve communication with colleagues as well as customers. By the time you've completed the course, you'll be equipped with lots of great transferrable skills.

    Having this qualification on your CV will show employers that you understand and respect communication etiquette in the workplace and that you're not likely to throw a strop in front of clients if you don't get your way. Here's hoping!

    Learn customer service skills »


  7. Excel for Beginners

    edx logo

    • Course by – DavidsonX (via edX)
    • Duration – Four weeks (three to five hours per week)
    • Qualification – Professional certificate
    • Cost of certificate – £177.

    While the verified certificate is pretty pricey, the course itself is free and provides you with invaluable skills for work.

    Microsoft Excel is one of the most common pieces of software used by companies. So, even if you think you know loads about it already, there's definitely no harm in learning more.

    This course gives you an introduction to Excel and covers data entering, spreadsheet management and chart creation.

    Having this qualification will likely get potential employers very interested. Plus, arming yourself with some basic Excel knowledge will make the first day of your graduate job much easier and a lot less sweaty.

    Learn to use Excel effectively »


  8. Free search engine optimisation certification

    semrush academy

    • Course by – SEMrush
    • Duration – Ongoing
    • Qualification – SEMrush certificate
    • Cost of certificate – Free.

    If you’re looking for a job in marketing, learning how to use SEO can come in very handy. SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation, and it’s the process of optimising websites and articles to rank higher on search engines like Google.

    By ranking higher, these websites will get more traffic and, ultimately, more sales. Obviously, that's something potential employers love to hear!

    SEMrush offers a host of free courses that will teach you the basic SEO knowledge you need to get started. But the best way to keep improving your skills and create something extra for your CV is by starting your own website and growing the traffic with your new SEO skills. You can even use affiliate marketing to turn your site into a side hustle. Win!

    Learn SEO »


If none of these take your fancy, check out our guide to MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to find the one for you.

Katie Paterson

WRITTEN BY Katie Paterson

Katie Paterson is an accomplished writer from Glasgow. She studied English Literature at the University of Strathclyde, then went on to do a Research Masters in Literature at the University of Amsterdam. As Lead Editor for Save the Student, Katie has covered topics from career tips to ways to make money go further as a student.
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