Should I do a short course? 5 Tips to help your decision

Making career decisions or getting your ideal job is like a poker game. Some people have very good cards, and it’s easier for them to play the table or win the round. However, some don’t have the cards they need. 

Your challenge: upgrade your cards. 

Qualifications help you upgrade your skills, but if time is against you, short courses provide a solution. 

Short courses offer a quick way to upgrade the cards that you have in the game. However, there’s a lot of noise out there. 

How do you know a short course is worth the money or the time? 

How do I know this short course is a return on investment? 

Follow these tips to see if a short course is worth the commitment.  

1) Connect with people in the industry to and ask their opinion about the course.

Use a platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. Connect with somebody in the career field you want to work in. Ask them if they recommend any short courses and check with them if they know about the course you are considering. 

Connect with people in your community and ask if they know someone you can talk to. Eventually someone will connect you with a person in a field. 

2) Look at the course ratings

Look at both the positive and negative ratings of a course. Look at the 5 start and the 1 start ratings. Commit if the positives outweigh the negatives and you’re okay with gripes people have about the course.

Filter for objective viewpoints in the comments of a course. An objective view provide you with both the positives and negatives. Be skeptical of courses that only have positive feedback. This might indicate some dishonesty or paid ratings. 

3) Experiment with a course

Look at the possibility of having a trial period or money-back guarantee, before you make a big financial commitment. Alternatively, see if the short course offers a free module. Work through a free module and see if the course content is a relevant and a good fit.

4) See if SAQA accredited the course

Go to the SAQA website and see if the course is NQF accredited.

A side note, do your research about the industry. Most of your online courses will not have a SAQA accreditation. In some industries accreditation is a deal breaker, but in other industries your proof of work (portfolio) is important. 

Rather complete an accredited course if the industry requires a NQF accreditation. However, you can look at a free or cheaper option to see if the curriculum content resonates with you. This helps you get a feel for the industry and the type of content you will work with. 

5) Be careful of the hype.

Marketing gurus use psychological tricks to manipulate you into buying a course. FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is the oldest trick in the book. Don’t commit if you feel hyped and pressured. Often making a decision when you feel hyped will have you commit when you can’t live up to the financial or time requirements.

Go to a website like and ask about the course or see if anyone has offered their opinion on the course.

A note on upgrading your skills

Being proactive, learning a variety of skills and building up a portfolio of work is essential. Research suggests having a proactive career attitude, increases your ability to navigate your career life. Your capacity to adapt and tolerate change will be superpower in your career. 

A cool way to get noticed and be proactive while you are still making a name for yourself, is the concept of a “Permissionless Apprenticeship”. (see Jack Butcher’s thread for more on this). 

In short, permissionless apprenticeship entails, using your skills to create something valuable for an opinion leader in your field. The risk is low but can have big rewards. You practice your skills, get to network, gain experience and open up more doors for success. 

Comment below and let me know what tips and tricks you have to update your skills or filter short course.