Perhaps you’re a parent returning to the workforce after taking several years off with young ones and need to update your skills. Or you’re someone who started off in one career direction, but belatedly realized you’d much rather be following a different path. Maybe you love what you’re doing, but you’re ready to take it to the next level professionally—and you’ll need more schooling to do so. Or you’ve watched one too many co-workers get laid off, and you’re ready to make the leap from a dying industry into one with growth potential.

Updating your skills

When you’re at a career-transition point, one of the best ways to turn change into opportunity is by updating your professional skills. And one of the most popular and effective ways to do that is through online learning.

Why has online learning become the go-to option for so many in the midst of shifting career directions? For starters, adults who are pursuing college courses or credentials are often juggling full-time jobs and family commitments along with classes and coursework. Time is critical to these students, and for many, online programs have been what made further education possible.

“Given today’s unpredictable workplace, this may be the perfect time to get started on that career transition.”

Now, however, there’s an equally compelling benefit to online learning: the increasing focus among schools on market-driven courses and degrees. As they shift their offerings to better meet the needs of adult students, colleges and universities are now offering online courses, certificates and degrees that reflect the realities of career transition.

“We’ve seen a substantial shift toward career-driven educational offerings—and a corresponding surge in student interest,” says Jason Steele from eLearners.com, a web resource that connects prospective students with information about online education.

More schools now offer single courses for alumni needing to update their knowledge, certificates in new skill areas or cutting-edge degrees in fields that promise to be tomorrow’s job hot-spots, such as medical information, green technologies and cyber security. Given today’s unpredictable workplace, this may be the perfect time to get started on that career transition.