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The best UK online courses: how to gain new skills and qualifications from home

Our list of the best courses to help you begin a fulfilling career, develop your professional skills, or start a new hobby or interest.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Jun 28, 2021

Woman working at desk

At the best of times, online learning can be a great way to flexibly improve your skills or change your career. Whether you’re considering a completely new direction — from cyber security to fitness training — or you’re looking to get ahead in your current industry, here are some courses, qualifications and certificates to help you to do just that.

Courses for a career in IT and Technology

Woman working at desk

Changing career can be a scary prospect, but these courses are designed to make it as easy as possible. So why not spend your time thinking about what you really want from your job? Jobs in IT are usually in high demand, so they're a good path to take for people who need a lot of job security.

1. Cyber Security for Beginners

This online course from Hudson is perfect for anyone curious about a career in cyber security. No IT experience needed — the course takes you through everything you need to know to gain a prestigious CompTIA Security+ qualification.

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2. Cyber Security Traineeship (job guaranteed)

Cyber security is a fast-growing market with extremely high demand, so if you’ve got a few IT basics under your belt, you could try this course. Study time is between six and eight weeks, and offers a guaranteed job at the end of it.

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3. IT Support Technician Certification

Support Technicians are the backbone of any IT department, so becoming qualified for this role opens up a lot of opportunities.

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4. Codecademy

Coding is as close to you can to a guaranteed demand – and it's lucrative, too. This site lets you learn to code for free.

5. LearnSmart

This site focuses on IT and Project Management qualifications, but there are a few options in other areas too.

Courses for Digital Content and Marketing

Woman working at desk

If you love being creative, marketing or digital content can be rewarding industries to work in. As a first step, these courses will give you the skills and qualifications to start a new career in a creative field.

6. Web Design

This month-long course is perfect for anyone wanting to get their design on, whether you’re a complete beginner or already have some experience.

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7. Digital Marketing (professional diploma)

This 30-hour course can be done at your own pace, with a three-hour exam at the end.

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8. Introduction to Social Media Marketing

Would you like to tweet for a living? If you're an Instagram whizz but not sure where to start, Hootsuite are the experts to ask.

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9. Graphic Design for Beginners

The University of the Arts London offers this short online course to give you the best introduction to graphic design.

Courses in Leadership and Career Development

Woman working at desk

If you're happy with your current career path but want to use this time to get ahead, these courses could be your answer. Whether you're aiming to skip a few rungs on the corporate ladder or just improve your management skills, this could be an opportunity to reach your goals without even having to change out of your pyjamas.

10. Introduction to Management Diploma

This course is well-suited to team leaders aiming to move up the ranks to the next level. It’s also a way in for anyone looking to study Business at university, as you may be able to skip a year.

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11. Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring

This qualification is aimed at middle management professionals who are looking to move into a more senior position.

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12. General Certificate in Health and Safety

A health and safety qualification is must in many industries, and can help give you an edge over your competition.

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Courses in Health and Social Care

Nurse making notes

Healthcare is rightfully at the forefront of everyone's minds, but it's an equally vital role even when there isn't a global pandemic happening. If you're after a career that's truly rewarding, consider one of these courses.

13. Health and Social Care Fast-track

This course provides you with an Undergraduate Level 4/5 Health and Social Care diploma, equivalent to the first and second years of an undergraduate degree.

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14. A range of courses with The Open University

The Open University offers online courses in health and social care at all levels, from complete beginners to finishing off your studies.

15. Counselling Level 3

This counselling qualification is open to all, and can be completed at your own pace (though the website estimates it would take about 100 hours of study time).

Courses in Education

Woman working at desk

Education is another highly rewarding sector which always has high demand. If home-schooling your children during lockdown hasn't put you off, why not use this time to fast-track a teaching career?

16. Level 3 Certificate in Learning and Development

Although this is a Level 3 course, anyone can sign up. It’s quite intensive, and so is a little longer than other courses, taking five to eight months to complete, but it’s a great way to accelerate a career in Learning and Development.

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17. Teacher Training (University second year)

If your studies have been interrupted by coronavirus, this is an excellent way to keep going remotely. While the second part of the course requires an in-person placement, by the time you’re done with the first part, it shouldn’t present a problem.

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18. Become a Personal Trainer

This online course allows you to become a qualified personal trainer, ready to work for any gym – or, of course, for yourself.

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Related: The best online learning resources for children of all ages with courses recommended by real parents. 

Careers you may not have thought of

woman working in wedding dress shop

You're ready to try something different. But what? If you know you want to change your career but can't decide what to move to, you may just find what you're looking for here.

19. Level 2 Certificate in Logistics and Transport

It’s fair to say we’ve all learned to appreciate the importance of good chain management. If you have some limited experience in this area — and you’re not currently being rushed off your feet — this online course is perfect for you.

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20. Foundation Certificate and Advanced Diploma in Accounting

An effective way to fast-track a career in accounting, this online course is perfect for someone with little to no experience.

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21. Level 3 Foundation Diploma in HR Practice

This 12-month course leads to an internationally recognised accredited route into the Human Resources industry.

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22. Event Management and Wedding Planning

While most weddings may have been postponed, it’s undeniable that this sounds like an exciting career in normal circumstances. This course provides the knowledge needed to start your own business.

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Free university online resources

Woman working on sofa

Unfortunately very few things in life are free, and most professional qualifications require some kind of cost upfront. But if the thought of forking out fills you with dread, don’t despair – there are quite a few free online courses available. Most of these sites allow leading professors at top universities to upload their lectures, which you can then access at your leisure.

23. Academic Earth

If you’re itching to go back to university, now’s your chance — these online academic courses cover a huge range of subjects.

24. Coursera

This website allows professors at world-renowned universities to upload classes for free.

25. Alison

This site has a range of free professional development courses for all industries and levels.

26. EdX

Another university-led course website, offering free ways to get qualified with leading experts as tutors.

Just for fun

Woman practising yoga

Life shouldn’t be all work and no play. As well as reflecting on your career plans, this enforced down-time is a great opportunity to try new things and find a hobby or interest you could potentially enjoy for years to come. Ever wondered just what exactly is so fascinating about Early Modern Scottish palaeography? Now’s the time to find out.

27. Yoga with Adriene

Want to improve your fitness, and hopefully gain some mental calm, in the comfort of your own home? Adriene has multiple yoga courses that are suitable for all levels of experience and flexibility — plus, you don’t have to worry about the person next to you twisting themselves into an annoyingly impressive human pretzel.

28. Skillshare

While YouTube is known for its multitude of how-to guides, Skillshare is designed with learning in mind. Find instructional videos for all kinds of activities here — from gardening to crafts, and even creating the perfect Instagram post.

29. FutureLearn

Free courses on everything from historical Royal fashion to tackling coronavirus (maybe ‘fun’ isn’t the right word for that one).

Related: The best audiobooks on Audible.

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