More Than One Way to Get an Education

Is there more than one way to get an education? Can you gain marketable skills without going to college or even trade school? In my opinion, the answer is a clear, “Yes”! The one requirement that you need to make this happen is that you must value learning. Here is a good example.

This week I was working in Virginia at one of our facilities. In my “day job” I manage maintenance technicians at various locations across the country. I was assisting one of my employees with a project and both of us were uncertain about a new part we were installing. There was a component that was missing. We had to remove it from the old part and install it on the new one. My employee, who is very competent and clearly loves his job, made the comment “now I have something new to read up on!”

This is not the first time that I have heard this employee talk about things that he has learned through self-study. He is one of my “go to” guys when it comes to higher tech aspects of the job. Most of this information he learned through independent study, which is more readily available every day.

The question is do employers value this kind of learning or education? Again this answer is yes. An increasing number of employers are more concerned about what you can do then where you received your training. It is far more important that you demonstrate that you actually can do something on day one. You don’t have to be able to do everything, but you must be able to do something!

So unless your goal is to be a lawyer, doctor, nurse, dentist, engineer or some other specialized field, here are some ways to increase your level of training, experience and knowledge:

Take Targeted Online Training Courses

There are several sources for getting this kind of training. They are sites like Udemy, Skillshare, Khan Academy,, and even YouTube. All these sites and more can help you learn new ideas, get an inside look at a particular skill, increase your knowledge about a subject, and give you confidence to take bigger steps forward. Some of these are free and some have fees, but all of the education is valuable.

FREE Online Training from Large Manufacturers

Within my team of Maintenance Technicians, one of the most requested areas of training is in electricity. One day I went looking for training that could be easily sourced at the technician’s convenience. I found some excellent free online training from one of the largest manufacturers of electrical components, Allen-Bradley. Excellent training, unbeatable price!

This company is not the only one out there, nor is this the only field. You can find targeted training in various fields, if you are willing to do some investigation.

Volunteer on Service Projects with Your Local Church

If your church, or even another in town, is well known for mobilizing its members to serve the community through work projects, then this is a very good way to learn from skilled craftsmen in multiple fields. I have had the chance to work with concrete masons, electricians, carpenters, engineers and all sorts of skilled people, and I always learn a ton. It’s also a great way to test your aptitude for different types of work.

Another huge benefit of this solution is for you to work alongside professionals from your community. Many of these people are employers who are constantly looking for hardworking people that are willing to learn new skills. They also find it admirable to see people willing to serve. There is always time to talk and get to know one another at these events, and who knows what could happen. It just might turn into an interview!

Start Your Own Business

You will probably learn more from this than any other strategy. The reason is, you are forced to move forward quickly. There is no time to put off learning. If you are going to succeed, you have to find solutions fast. You need to ramp up your knowledge to meet the demands of your business. This applies to pretty much any type of business that you might start. Need some ideas? Here are a few that would get you started.

This learning opportunity is also very attractive to future employers if you decide not to do it full-time. Most employers understand the hard work involved with running your own business. They understand the need for you to balance multiple demands and the need for you to work with people. This is valuable experience from every perspective.

Hopefully this has helped you identify more than one way to get an education and hopefully you will be able to make one or more of these ideas work for you.

Remember, the most important thing is to GET trained and educated, not WHERE you get trained and educated.

Do you agree? Have you tried any of these options before? Let me know. Let’s connect on Facebook and Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you!

About The Author

Duane Rockensock

Duane (Rocky) Rockensock is a husband, a dad, and the National Reconditioning Manager for AmeriGas Propane. Since he was a teenager, Duane has loved hearing the stories of how people have started creative businesses or found ways to use their talents to accomplish amazing things. For that reason he started this blog to encourage teens and adults to find their purpose and to provide the tools and resources to make that happen!

  • Terrific article Rocky. And, your site looks great.

    You’ve provided some nice resources. I’ll share it on my social media sites. 😉

  • Terrific insight. MIT offers free education, too!