The Best Way to Spend Your Professional Development Stipend: Online Courses

attentive student with laptop studying on sofa at home

 

If you’re looking for a quick way to spend your professional development stipend, look no further than these online learning platforms. Many of these websites offer all-you-can-access memberships to their libraries of 1000+ courses across hundreds of topics. From beginning coding classes to advanced cooking classes – there’s something for you to learn on one of these online learning platforms.

Not interested in online learning platforms? Read our ultimate guide on professional development stipends to see what else you can buy with your learning benefit.

Why You Should Spend Your Professional Development Stipend on an Online Learning Platform

Learning doesn’t stop after formal education. The most successful professionals continue to learn day in and day out. It pays to keep your knowledge base fresh for your current job, and for future job interviews.

According to Linkedin, 94% of employees who quit their jobs, would have stayed if their companies invested in helping them learn. As a result, companies offer their employees professional development stipends to spend on learning and education outside of work. Needless to say, online learning platforms are the perfect way to spend your professional development funds from your employer.

If you’ve already made the decision to try an e-learning platform, the next step is choosing which one. Regardless of profession, interests, or budget, this guide will help you. We’ve asked experts, teachers and professionals to help us compile this list of the best online learning platforms to spend your professional development stipend on in 2022.


Best for Business: Udemy

Best Learning Platform for Business

Pricing: For Business Teams ($360 per year for 5-20 users) | Pay per Class ($10-$200)

Course Topics: Python, Excel, Web Development, JavaScript, Drawing, Business, Design, Human Resources, Sales

Top Courses: 2021 Complete Python Bootcamp From Zero to Hero ($139.99), The Complete Digital Marketing Course ($149)

Udemy is our pick for the best online learning platform of 2022.

Udemy has 6,000+ courses across hundreds of topics. It features an easily searchable library, academia quality courses, all ataffordable prices. Udemy also has an enterprise plan called Udemy for Business. It’s specifically tailored for professional learning and up-skilling employees. If you can find 5 or more coworkers, Udemy for Business will cost $360 per person per year. Their features for this plan are unmatched.

4 Reasons Why Udemy is the Best Online Learning Platform:

  • On-demand access to 6,000+ courses for any department in your company
  • Dedicated onboarding and customer support
  • Integrations with single sign-on and in-house learning management systems
  • Analytics and Insights to track team engagement and retention on the platform

Although Udemy doesn’t have an all-you-can-access subscription, there is a huge library of courses for all types of professionals. Starting at $10, Udemy makes it easy to find and take classes a la carte. Every class is audited for quality, and certificates are rewarded upon completion that can be shared to your Linkedin profile for clout. As far as online training solutions for employees and business, we love Udemy.


Best Prestige: Coursera

Coursera logo

Pricing: Coursera Plus” Unlimited Access ($399 per year) | Individual Courses (Starting at $29 per course) | Specialized Programs (Starting at $39 per month) | Degrees (Starting at $15K per degree)

Course Topics: Business, Data Science, Physics, Information Technology, Marketing, Social Sciences, Health, Language Learning, Arts and Humanities

Top Courses: IBM Data Science Certificate, Introduction to Project Management, Global Master of Public Health by Imperial College London

Best online learning platform
Coursera Homepage to Search 1000’s of Online Courses

Coursera offers courses across hundreds of topics for professionals taught or affiliated with top institutions and organizations like Stanford and Google. Coursera is the most prestigious e-learning platform out there.

Coursera Plus is a great way to use a bulk of your professional development stipend if you have one. For just $399 per year, you can get unlimited access to 3,000+ quality courses from over 170 prestigious organizations. Although degrees and MasterTrack courses aren’t included in Coursera Plus, it is an extremely affordable deal if you plan on taking multiple courses.

You can also buy courses guided specialized programs or accredited Master’s degrees a la carte. The user interface is extremely easy to use and curriculums are structured just like a college course. If this is your first time trying an online learning platform for professional training, you should definitely give Coursera and their 7-day free trial a shot.


Best for Life Skills: Masterclass

Masterclass Logo

Pricing: “Standard” Unlimited Access ($15 per month) | “Plus” Unlimited Access ($20 per month) | “Premium” Unlimited Access ($23 per month)

Course Topics: Arts & Entertainment, Home & Lifestyle, Business, Music, Sports & Gaming

Top Courses: Effective and Authentic Communication, Business Strategy and Leadership, Art of Negotiation, Sales and Persuasion

For life-long learners, Masterclass was made for you. An eclectic variety of classes makes Masterclass the best online learning platform for those looking for life skills. They offer classes in business taught by Bob Iger, tennis by Selena Williams, and music from Alicia Keys. In addition to learning from a famous figure, these courses will help you excel at your job, in life, or whatever you want to do.

The drawback of Masterclass is its limited course selection. There are only 100-200 courses. At the same time, each and everyone of them is taught by a master in their field and thoughtfully designed. You will learn life skills that can transfer to any subject matter. It’s also a fun and informative way to learn about topics outside of your professional realm of expertise.

Take a break from your day job and learn about something new with your professional development stipend through Masterclass. Masterclass plans start at $15 per month.


Best University Affiliated Courses: EdX

EdX Logo

Pricing: Accredited Master’s Degree ($10K+) | “MicroMasters” Condensed Master’s Degree ($600-$1500) | Professional Certificate Programs ($150-$1,000)

Course Topics: Computer Science, Leadership, Finance, Marketing, Cybersecurity,

Top Courses: Online MBA Degree from Boston University, Enterprise Sales Certificate from Queen’s University, Inclusive Leadership Certificate

EdX is another reputable online learning platform with a very strong pedigree. They partner with top universities like Harvard and MIT to offer 3,000+ self-paced courses. There are classes for engineers, project managers, data analysts, and any other profession you can think of. Like Coursera, courses can come in the form of Master’s Degrees, “MicroMasters” Degrees and professional certificate programs.

If you’re looking to sharpen your skills or earn certificates for future job prospects, EdX might be your golden ticket. Courses are purchased a la carte and EdX certificates can hold strong weight for an employer if listed on your resume or Linkedin profile. Your professional development stipend could easily be put towards an online Master’s degree from a prestigious university.


Best for Personal Development: MindValley

Mindvalley Logo

Pricing: “Mindvalley Membership” Unlimited Access ($499 per year) | “Mindvalley Membership Pro” Unlimited Access ($999 per year)

Course Topics: Body, Mind, Relationships, Money, Career, Entrepreneurship

Top Courses: Superbrain, The Longevity Blueprint, The Mastery of Sleep, Mastering Authentic Networking

Online Learning Platforms

MindValley is the best online learning platform for personal growth and development. In addition to improving on-the-job skills, it is extremely important for working professionals to focus on self-development. Courses focus on mind, body and spirit. Ultimately, their goal is to teach you how to live a fulfilling and joyful life.

MindValley classes are all taught by subject matter experts and costs $499 per year for unlimited access to all classes. You can get exclusive access to a ” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener sponsored”>7-day free trial using this link.

Courses for meditation, relationships and performance hacking are some of the more interesting finds on the platform. MIndValley is a fantastic e-learning site to spend your professional development stipend on. These on-demand courses will allow you to focus on personal growth and keep you at your best in the office.


Best for Creatives: Skillshare

Best Online Learning Platform

Pricing: Annual Unlimited Access ($15 per month) | Monthly Unlimited Access ($32 per month)

Course Topics: Design, Illustration, Photo & Film, Writing, Business, Marketing

Top Courses: Mastering Illustrator: 10 Tips & Tricks, Designing for the Future: UI/UX Prototyping, Storytelling 101

Designers, Marketers, and Creators love Skillshare. It’s an online learning platform dedicated to creatives. Although you’ll find a lot of classes for music, photography and art, you’ll also find some business related topics. They have business analytics courses, productivity courses and more.

If you don’t have a professional development stipend, Skillshare offers 2000+ free classes to browse on-demand. Skillshare is also one of the more affordable online training platforms. Annual memberships include access to 27,000+ courses starting at $144 a year.


Best for Employees in Tech: Udacity

Udacity Logo

Pricing: 2-6 month Nanodegree (Starting at $399/month)

Course Topics: Programming, Data Science, Business, Product Management, Cybersecurity

Top Courses: Data Engineering Nanodegree (5 months at 5-10 hrs/week), Product Manager Nanodegree (4 months at 10 hrs/week)

Online Learning Platform for Tech Workers

Most tech companies offer professional development stipends to keep ambitious employees learning and satisfied. Udacity is an online learning platform that specializes in teaching tech employees the most in-demand skills of our generation. Software Engineers, Data Scientists and IT professionals will find incredible content dedicated to techies on Udacity’s website.

Courses are project-based and extremely hands on. Unique to Udacity, courses include curriculum partners, expert instructors and personalized feedback on projects. Even if you aren’t working in tech, Udacity is a great online training resource for learning a new skill that is sure to be in-demand in today’s complex digital world. However, the price tag is high.

Udacity costs $399 per month, but with Udacity’s 2 to 6 month nano degree, you might walk away with a skill that will land you a six-figure job. That might be well worth the investment, especially if you have a professional development benefit from your employer.


Best for Networkers: Linkedin Learning

Linkedin Learning Professional Development

Pricing: With Linkedin Premium Subscription ($29.99 monthly or $240 yearly)

Course Topics: Business, Creative, Technology, Leadership, Networking

Top Courses: Leadership, Tips Tactics and Advice, Creating a Business Plan, Managing Teams, Managing Your Career as an Introvert

Linkedin Learning is a new, but powerful online learning platform for professional development. Since it comes with a Linkedin premium subscription, it can be great for professionals looking for all the premium features that come with Linkedin premium. That is why Linkedin Learning wins our award as Best Learning Platform for Networkers.

For a learning platform, Linkedin Learning has great content. They recently bought Lynda.com, a well respected online learning site and have integrated it into Linkedin Learning. It is still less robust and less technical than other platforms. High quality classes for business, leadership and soft skills may be worth the $240 per month when you consider that you get Linkedin premium too.


Best for IT and Cybersecurity: Pluralsight

Pricing: “Standard” Unlimited Access to Core Courses ($299 per year or $29 per month) | “Premium” Unlimited Access to Courses, Exams, Projects and Hands-on Learning ($449 per year or $29 per month)

Course Topics: Software Development, Machine Learning & AI, IT Ops, Cloud Computing, Information and Cybersecurity

Top Courses: Mastering Bash and Z Shell Scripting Syntax, Implementing and Managing Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection

If you work in IT or Cybersecurity, Pluralsight is the best online platform for developing skills and getting ahead in your profession. They only offer courses on technology, but have a library of over 6,000+ courses. You can check out a full course catalogue here. Classes tend to be shorter in length and aren’t structured like college level classes. They are often more specific and can take just a few hours to complete.

Pluralsight offers highly regarded professional certificates that look great on a resume to prove your skills. Courses are catered towards beginners and experts alike, and are of incredibly high quality. At $299 per year, Pluralsight is an affordable way to spend your professional development stipend if you’re interested in technology.


Best for STEM: Brilliant.org

online learning brilliant

Pricing: “Monthly” Unlimited Access ($24.99 per month) | “Annual” Unlimited Access ($150 per year)

Course Topics: Logic, Scientific Thinking, Math, Computer Science

Top Courses: Statistics Fundamentals, Math for Quantitative Finance, Quantum Computing, Intro to Neural Networks

Brilliant Review

Brilliant.org is the last online learning platform on our list and is perfect for professionals in STEM related fields. You can brush up on algebra, stats, or learn new fields like quantum computing and AI. Brilliant.org is one of the cheaper online learning platforms on our list at $150 per year. However, the content is definitely not cheap.

Our favorite part about Brilliant is it’s emphasis on hands-on-learning. Although it’s an e-learning platform, interactive content enforces complex STEM topics for all to learn. With so much video content out there in 2022, Brilliant.org really sets itself apart in teaching the basics of a fundamental education.


Online Learning Platform Comparison

Learning PlatformBest ForPricingBest Features
CourseraBest Overall• “Coursera Plus” Unlimited Access ($399 per year)
• Individual Courses (Starting at $29 per course)
• Specialized Programs (Starting at $39 per month)
• Degrees (Starting at $15K per degree)
• Large course selection of high quality content (5,000+ courses across dozens of topics)
• Varying levels of courses from individual certificates to Master’s degrees
• Partnerships with prestigious universities and institutions tied to certifications
UdemyBusiness• For Business Teams ($360 per year for 5-20 users)
• Pay per Class ($10-$200)
• Large and high-quality course selection (6,000+ courses across dozens of topics)
• Lifetime access to purchased courses along with certificates
• Udemy for Business provides an affordable option for teams with more than 5 people
SkillshareCreatives• Annual Unlimited Access ($15 per month)
• Monthly Unlimited Access ($32 per month)
• Course content curated for creative professionals (marketing, designers, photographers)
• Very affordable ($144 per year) for huge course selection (27,000+ courses)
UdacityTech Workers2-6 month Nanodegree (Starting at $399/month)• Huge selection of technical courses for beginners to experts
• Nanodegrees offered by Udacity are highly regarded in tech professions and look great on resumes
• True college style courses that have structured two to six month curriculums
MasterclassLife Skills• “Standard” Unlimited Access ($15 per month)
• “Plus” Unlimited Access ($20 per month)
• “Premium” Unlimited Access ($23 per month)
• Courses taught by high-profile leaders in their respective fields
• On-demand courses in more niche and fascinating life topics
• Affordable annual subscription at $180 per year
MindValleyPersonal Growth• “Standard” Unlimited Access ($499 per year)
• “Pro” Unlimited Access ($999 per year)
• Widest selection of classes dedicated to mind, body and soul
• Strong and supportive community of learners on the platform
• Reputable teachers for every course
Linkedin LearningNetworkers• With Linkedin Premium Subscription ($29.99 monthly or $240 yearly)• Linkedin Learning comes with a subscription to Linkedin Premium
• Integrated with top learning platform Lynda.com
• Well-documented transcripts for courses
PluralsightIT and Cybersecurity• “Standard” Unlimited Access to Core Courses ($299 per year or $29 per month)
• “Premium” Unlimited Access to Courses, Exams, Projects and Hands-on Learning ($449 per year or $29 per month)
• Widest selection of bite sized courses catered specifically to technical professionals and learning
• Interactive labs, sandboxes and projects for hands on learning
• Up to date courses at an affordable price
BrilliantSTEM• “Monthly” Unlimited Access ($24.99 per month)
• “Annual” Unlimited Access ($150 per year)
• High quality course selection focused on STEM topics
• Interactive learning experiences with engaged and supportive community
• Unique focus on learning to think and problem solve
Prices are reflected as of October 2021 and are subject to change

Which Online Learning Platform Should I Choose For Professional Development?

Online Learning Platform Comparison

You have the information, now the only thing left is to decide which online learning platform you’ll go with. If you still can’t decide, just know that all the options above are highly reputable and you can’t go wrong with any of them. A well-structured class with an engaging and knowledgeable teacher is more important than the learning platform itself. You can go here for our curated selection of top online courses by profession across all these platforms.

At the end of the day, online learning is a merely a series of content packed videos, so don’t stress out over the decision. Again, all of these online learning platforms are packed with thousands of courses across hundreds of topics for professionals. You can always switch or peruse multiple platforms: especially if your professional development benefit exceeds $1,000. Whatever you choose, congratulations on investing in yourself and your professional career.

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