What Training Is Best?

What Training Is Best?

It might be hard to decide whether to commit time to doing a training course about a topic you know nothing about. You might ask yourself if the course is too difficult, worth the money or even worth the time. Many tech employers will even offer training when you begin your job, so why bother at all? We have tried to answer some of these questions here and have compiled a list of courses that we have tried and recommend.

If it is industry recognised certifications you are thinking about, look here.

Finding a good course

There are a few things to look out for when looking for a training course. You do not want to waste your time and money so putting some energy into finding the right course can be extremely valuable.

Every course that you consider should, at minimum, provide you with a list of expected outcomes; that is, a list of all the things you should know after taking the course. These outcomes are often broken down into learning objectives which give an overview of what you might learn in each lesson or lecture. Learning objectives are important as they allow you to align your expectations of the course with what the course is promising to deliver. By looking through the course outcomes you can determine whether the course will satisfy your needs. Furthermore, the lesson plans and learning objectives allow you to determine the pace of the course. If each learning objective seems like a massive step in a video lecture that is only one or two minutes, you might find that the course is too fast paced for you – and vice versa.

It is also important for a course to set out its prerequisites; these are all the things you need to know before you start the course. For many courses, there might not be any and so you can conclude that these are targeted towards beginners. Other courses might have a long list of prerequisites which are out of your league. These courses are more likely designed for those with a bit more experience with the topic. Although it’s important to know all of the prerequisites for a course, if you want a challenge it can sometimes be useful to find a course with one or two prerequisites which are a little more uncomfortable for you.

The teaching style is also something to consider. Many courses will include video content, which is a useful way of learning a lot of material very quickly. However, if you prefer to learn at a slower or faster pace maybe a course with more reading material is useful for you. Furthermore, for many tech concepts, the best way to learn is by doing, so try to find courses that have practical exercises in them too. For a programming course you might be asked to write code, whereas for a machine learning course you might be asked to train and test a model.

Courses should also be affordable. If a course is expecting you to pay hundreds of pounds for just a few hours’ worth of content you should confirm the author’s credentials to ensure you are not being scammed. Courses which you take in a classroom or in person will cost a little more so check out the venue and course provider before you sign up.

Finally, try to find courses by verified providers such as Udemy, Coursera or Google. Although there are some legitimate courses provided by individuals, you should research these and find reviews for them before you sign up to them.

Why Bother?

It is not uncommon for employers to provide you with training courses that will provide you with all the skills that you need to do your job and so you may need some convincing before you pay for a course yourself.

Although this is true, tech is a rapidly changing industry and staying on top of your skills is important to being employable. In interviews and recruitment processes you will regularly find that you must demonstrate your skill level either through conversation, group activities or assessments. You might find that many of these tasks do not demand skills that are directly relevant to the job for which you are applying and so having a broad and general knowledge of what tech is, can make all the difference.

Training Courses

Course List

Here is our list of courses which we have tried and would recommend. We will continue updating it as we discover new courses.

Programming / Development

Programming is a huge area but once you understand the basics, you can apply the concepts to many languages and contexts.

Codecademy.com

Pros

  • Interactive console and editor for practical exercises.
  • A quiz to match you up with the right language if you don’t know where to start
  • Introduces basic concepts quite well
  • Community forums to discuss with other people

Cons

  • Mainly text based with little/no video content
  • Not many courses available for free
W3schools.com

Pros

  • Well written and comprehensive tutorials for different languages and skills
  • Good if you have some programming experience already
  • You can start from any place and do the tutorials in any order
  • Interactive sandbox to play with code
  • Good reference
  • Completely free

Cons

  • No set exercises
  • Only text content with no video content
  • Can be a little unclear if you’ve never touched code before
Udacity.com

Pros

  • High quality courses to cover several career paths
  • Focussed teaching with personalised services
  • Courses structured as “nanodegrees”

Cons

  • One of the most expensive available
  • Courses run at certain times and require enrolment
  • Content is only available for a certain amount of time
Freecodecamp.org

Pros

  • Completely free
  • Introduces basic concepts well
  • Learn by doing with practical exercises
  • Lots of different languages and career paths

Cons

  • Difficult to navigate the site
  • Only text content with no video content

Cloud Computing

There is a lot of demand for cloud engineers in the tech industry and so having just a basic understanding of how things work will be worth it.

ACloudGuru

Pros

  • Well paced courses for AWS, GCP and Azure
  • Mainly video content
  • Exercises and practical tutorials as well as theoretical
  • Blog and Forum
  • Generous free tier
  • Leads well to Cloud certifications

Cons

  • A lot of the best courses are in a paid membership
Coursera

Pros

  • Has some free courses run by Google and AWS
  • Mainly video content
  • Hands on projects
  • Leads well to Cloud certifications

Cons

  • Not all courses have practical exercises

Specific Course

  • Cloud Engineering with Google Cloud
  • If you are aiming to complete the Google Associate Cloud Engineer certification, this set of 5 courses is the officially endorsed training and provides the majority of the knowledge you’ll need to pass the exam.
Qwicklabs

Pros

  • Provides hands-on tutorials to cloud environments for practical learning
  • “Quests” to structure the course.

Cons

  • No free labs available
  • No theory taught – just practical exercises which might not suit everyone.

Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence

Google Crash Course

Pros

  • Mixed video and text content
  • Practical exercises to learn by doing
  • Completely free

Cons

  • Gets quite technical quite quickly
  • Requires some prework
Coursera

Pros

  • Mainly video content
  • Hands on projects
  • Generally very thorough and comprehensive teaching

Cons

  • Must pay for the official certificate

Specific Course

  • Machine Learning by Andrew Ng
  • An excellent, very popular, mathematically focused introduction to machine learnings. This course provides the best grounding we’ve come across if you plan on taking machine learning seriously.
Fast.ai

Pros

  • Good if you already know how to code
  • Completely free

Cons

  • Audio in the videos is poor quality
  • Content delivered in long lectures instead of shorter clips
  • No set exercises just “Suggested Practice”

Cybersecurity

Enigma Group

Pros

  • Interesting and realistic practical challenges
  • Well written and organised training around web security
  • Can do many of the challenges for free

Cons

  • Not massive amounts of preparation training for the challenges
StationX

Pros

  • High quality courses which cover the basics
  • Unlimited access once you have a membership

Cons

  • Quite expensive with no free tier
Securecodewarrior

Pros

  • Learn by doing, highly practical
  • Well known and used by many tech firms

Cons

  • Free membership is only a 21-day trial