7 of the Best Places to Learn New Skills

When was the last time you learned a new skill? If you’re like most people, you love the idea of broadening your skillset, but you’re either intimidated at the idea of getting started, or you don’t have time to track down the right resources to actually learn the skill.

Fortunately, when you know the right places to look (and the right people to contact), learning a new skill is relatively easy, and you can manage it in just a few hours a week.

Motivations for Learning New Skills

If you need a little extra motivation for learning new skills, remember these benefits, in both personal and professional applications:

  • Greater pay. Having some skills may help you earn a raise, or negotiate a higher salary when you start a new job.

  • More career opportunities. Other skills may equip you with the experience necessary to open up a new career path, whether it’s a side gig or a full-time job.

  • New hobbies. Certain skills are perfect for hobbies to help you relieve stress and pass the time, especially those that require creativity.

  • New friends. Learning a new skill can expose you to a new community, and from there, it’s easy to make new friends or expand your professional network.

  • Saving money. Why pay a professional $100 for something you can do for free with your new skill? The more capable you are, the more money you can save.

The Best Resources

Now let’s focus on some of the best places to learn those new skills:

  1. Museums. While some museums are semi-stagnant places meant only to present historical artifacts, others are more hands-on, offering practical knowledge and skills to visitors that they can carry into their personal or professional lives. This is especially true if you work in an area of art, science, or other common museum-related fields.

  2. Libraries. Your local library is another good choice. Depending on the size of your city and your specific branch, you can probably sign up for a free (or inexpensive class) on everything from starting a home business to cross stitching. Check out the bulletin board or calendar, or talk to your librarians to see what’s coming up.

  3. Local classes. There are likely several organizations in your city dedicated to teaching people new skills, such as the YMCA, the Red Cross, or a cultural development center. Walk in to find out what classes are upcoming, and schedule yourself in advance. You may also be able to sign up for an email list, so you’re always in the loop about what’s happening.

  4. Free online classes. If you’ve never looked before, you’d be amazed at the number and quality of online classes you can take for free. Organizations like edX and Coursera specifically offer college-level courses from top universities, which can help you master new subjects and learn new skills in practically any conceivable area.

  5. YouTube. If you want to learn the basics of a new skill quickly, look for it on YouTube. You’ll likely find a wide range of expertise from instructors here, from total amateurs to seasoned professionals, so you might have to do some digging to find quality material, but the content is free, and you’ll almost certainly walk away more informed than you were at the outset. Just be wary of tackling especially dangerous types of work, such as electrical engineering, with the help of YouTube tutorials alone.

  6. Specialty shops. Consider visiting specialty shops in your neighborhood and talking to the owners (or anyone else who’s interested in this subject). For example, you might visit a metalworking shop to learn more about welding, or you could visit an organic bakery to learn more about the culinary arts. After a quick conversation, the experts there may offer to teach you some of their skills for a fee, or even offer to take you on as an apprentice. At the very least, you’ll get some tips on how to get started.

  7. Networking events. Attend more networking events and work on building up your professional network. You’ll meet not just people who can teach you new skills immediately, but people who can connect you to their extended network, opening the door to an even wider range of experts.

Whether you’re interested in learning how to code, how to sculpt clay figures, or how to change the oil in your car, one of these resources should have the teachers, equipment, and information necessary for you to master the art—and most of them are free or cheap. Beyond that initial introduction, it’s on you to put in the hours necessary to become a master (which is upwards of 10,000, by some estimates). Stay committed, and there’s no limit to how far you can develop your new skill.