Online IT training courses enable you to learn and develop new skills from anywhere in the world. The average US salary for a computer programmer is $84,280, while it rises to an average of $109,080 for a software engineer. An IT Manager's average salary is $142,530. In this article, we’ll review the best IT development training courses for 2020, providing you with all the information you need to decide which provider has the most appropriate courses for you and your career.
IT jobs are becoming increasingly popular as more organizations realize the value of advanced IT infrastructure and processes. What’s more, as cyber threats increase, so too does the need to employ cybersecurity specialists to protect businesses from malicious actors. Even industries that may not have required any IT staff previously are finding themselves searching for IT professionals—think butcher shops branching out into online sales.
With so many new technology companies requiring trained IT professionals, like software developers, there’s never been a better time to get involved with the industry. Flexible and often suitable for remote workers, IT positions are growing more attractive all the time.
Whether you’re keen to begin a new career, expand your knowledge of the IT space, or find a second job to supplement the work you already do, read on to find the right course provider for you.
What you need to know
Do I need prior experience?
As a rule, it’s best to have some prior experience before starting an online IT training course as many providers require pre-requisite qualifications, some even provide the training themselves. It’s best to check this first before proceeding with the enrolment process.
How long does it take?
Each and every course will vary in the time it takes to complete. Some take a few weeks, others a few days, while some specific certifications can be achieved within a matter of days. Check before starting your course if you can complete it at your own pace or whether there is a fixed time limit.
Can I pay in installments?
Many courses enable you to pay in installments, but others will require full payment up front. If budget constraints are an issue, you might want to opt for a provider that offers a monthly subscription plan. Subscription rates can be very reasonable but check in advance the service you recieve on the lowest-priced plans, in some cases it might be better to upgrade for more comprehensive features.
Is financing available?
Some providers offer in-house financing options, often loans with low interest rates. In other circumstances, you might need to look into other options like a career development loan or another financial contract.
Where are IT qualifications accepted?
There are hundreds of possible certifications available. Do your research on the one you are set to receive after completing a training course. As a rule, if a certification is awarded by a well-recognized technology provider like Google or Amazon it should be universally accepted. Otherwise, try to aim for a course verified by an academic institution.
It’s important to note that not all training courses include a certification at the end, and sometimes you’ll need to do a follow-up assessment to receive a specific certification.
What does an IT training course cost?
It’s hard to say exactly how much you’ll pay for equivalent IT courses as each provider is different and some are more costly than others. That said, a lot depends on how you intend to pay for your course.
For example, a subscription model enables you to pay on a month-by-month basis for, in many cases, under $50 per month. However, if you decide to pay for a full course upfront, it could cost thousands of dollars.
You also need to consider how a course is taught. In general, an instructor-led course is far more costly than a course that you can complete in your own time. Remember, though, that the cost of a self-paced course will depend on how long it takes you to complete it if you’re on a monthly plan.
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How we review IT training courses
With so many variables, we needed to complete extensive research before deciding which online IT training course providers to review. The review process itself is also comprehensive. We look at value for money, the variety of courses on offer, existing customer reviews, pricing, and more.
Only the very best services make it on to our “best of” list, so you can rest assured that whichever provider you decide to go with, you’ve chosen an industry leader.
|Price||Course length||Alternative learning options||Mentoring available|
|NextGenT||$12,500||400 hours approx||Yes||Yes|
|Infosec||From $34 per month||Variable||Yes||No|
|Pluralsight||From $30 per month||Variable||Yes||No|
IT development training courses reviews
NextGenT — Best for deferred payment
Price: $12,500 | Course length: 400 hours approx | Alternative learning options: Yes | Mentoring available: Yes
Pay nothing until earning a $40k salary
Highly trained teaching staff
Basic training is required for non-skilled IT students
NexGenT is a well-respected provider of IT development courses, with a focus on cybersecurity. On its website, NexGenT is described as a provider of military-grade cybersecurity training. This is a nod to the former US Air Force (USAF) security specialists that make up part of the teaching staff.
Alongside USAF instructors, NexGenT employs a committee of chief information security officers (CISO) who provide students with feedback and guidance. NexGenT Basic Training is a pre-requisite, but you can opt out if you’re able to complete a series of four tests and pass an admission interview. If not, the course can be completed in three to six months.
Other courses include Network Engineering, with the opportunity to gain three separate certifications in the subject, and a cyber security specialization that can be completed in just 400 hours.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about NexGenT is its pricing mechanism. Courses aren’t cheap—$497 per month for Basic Training and $12,500 each for the other two—but for the higher tier, it’s possible to defer payment using the provider’s income share agreement (ISA).
This innovative system enables students to start paying course fees only once they achieve a minimum of $40,000 a year in an IT role. After this, 48 payments are due at 10% of your income. Either that or you reach the $25,000 payment cap or a period of seven years elapses following the completion of your course.
Read our NextGenT evaluation.
Infosec — Best for course options
Price: From $34 per month | Course length: Variable | Alternative learning options: Yes | Mentoring available: No
Low-rate monthly subscriptions
Nothing of note
Infosec provides a wide range of professional IT courses and cybersecurity awareness training. The company can effectively be split into two: Infosec IQ focuses on training employees to recognize cyber threats, while Infosec Skills is a series of courses focused on IT training and certification.
Infosec is a well-respected brand with a number of industry awards under its belt. Specialized training courses cover several different areas in IT security, and students have the opportunity to train as a cybersecurity specialist, cybercrime investigator, incident responder, IT auditor, cybersecurity analyst, cybersecurity consultant, penetration tester, cybersecurity manager, cybersecurity engineer, or cybersecurity architect.
Altogether, the Infosec Skills program has over 700 courses to choose from. Users pay a monthly subscription fee of $34, gain access to all the courses on the roster, and can train at their own pace. Teams can train together at a cost of $599 per learner per year. There is also an option to participate in a boot camp to earn specific skills in a set period of time, but you’ll need to contact the company directly for a quote.
Pluralsight — Best for upskilling
Price: From $30 per month | Course length: Variable | Alternative learning options: Yes | Mentoring available: No
7,500 IT courses in numerous areas
Very reasonably priced
Nothing of note
Pluralsight is an IT training platform that focuses on upskilling. It provides online training to individual students and teams, enabling learners to get up to date with the latest IT developments.
Areas covered include software development, IT ops, data management, architecture and construction, manufacturing and design, cloud computing, machine learning/AI, business skills, information and cybersecurity, and creative IT skills.
Training is split into three distinct parts: courses (e.g. IT networking), paths (e.g. Fundamentals of IT Operations), and assessments (e.g. Planning Microsoft Azure infrastructure). Course lengths vary drastically depending on the options you choose. For example, the Fundamentals of IT Operations path takes 87 hours, while another IT networking path like CompTIA Network+ takes just 16 hours.
Pluralsight’s pricing is very competitive. On a monthly basis the cost is $30, annually you pay $325, and for the Premium plan, which includes practice exams and interactive courses, the price is $485 per year.
Sans — Best for certification
Price: Variable | Course length: Variable | Alternative learning options: Yes | Mentoring available: Yes
Extremely well-respected organization
Courses can be expensive
SANS was in the business of providing IT training courses long before the emergence of the internet. Established in 1989, the company is a research and education organization as well as a training provider and has a very well-respected presence in the IT industry.
SANS courses are focused on information security and despite starting as a provider of classroom-based learning programs, the organization has over 30 courses hosted online. These courses cover numerous information security disciplines, from digital forensics and incident reporting to penetration testing and ethical hacking.
On completion of their course, students can attempt to achieve a Global Information Assurance Certification (GIAC), a well-regarded IT certification established by SANS back in 1999.
Online courses can be undertaken in numerous formats. There is a four-month limit if you choose to complete your course using OnDemand, the service by SANS that enables you to access course content at your own pace. The other option is Live Online. Here, you follow scheduled live teaching sessions broadcast by SANS instructors.
Course prices vary but expect to pay thousands, not hundreds, of dollars. It’s also important to note that some courses require certain qualifications before you begin.
5. Coursera — Best for new starters
Price: Variable | Course length: Variable | Alternative learning options: Yes | Mentoring available: Yes
Courses backed by reading companies and institutions
University and college students study free (September 2020)
Course prices are a little difficult to find
Coursera is a popular online training platform with more than 60 million active users. Although not a specialist site for IT training, Coursera has a wide range of courses across relevant areas including data science, computer science, and IT. It’s also possible to study up to degree level for some subjects and achieve specific business-sponsored certifications.
Coursera’s certificates are awarded by some of the most important tech companies in the world, including IBM and Google. Coursera’s IT-focused training courses are also backed by big names in the industry—Google actually has an entire course range dedicated to using its IT tools—as well as notable universities, such as Arizona State.
As of September 2020, in light of COVID-19, Coursera is offering 3,800 courses free to university and college students. Check its website for more details. Otherwise, course fees vary greatly. Most courses include a seven-day free trial, but you are required to begin the enrollment process before you can see how much the course is going to cost if you continue it.
Some courses require users to have existing qualifications or experience, This ensures beginners don’t attempt to enroll in a course they may find too difficult to complete.
Although a number of providers require upfront payment, subscription models enable users to pay on a month-by-month basis.
Check whether the course you opt for includes a certificate and whether this certificate is recognized by the IT industry.
Instructor-led courses don’t tend to be as flexible as DIY alternatives. Make sure you know the teaching schedule before you start.
Short for IT operations, IT ops courses teach students how to manage and administer IT services within an organization.
Some courses will give you the option to choose when and how you learn and complete your training at your own speed.
Information security training
Information security is a broad IT term encompassing many areas including cybersecurity and network security. Information security training enables users to compete for a wide range of relevant IT positions.
Training as an ethical hacker gives you the tools you need to find vulnerabilities in an organization’s architecture before a malicious hacker does.
One of the most important emerging branches of IT is big data. This field covers the way that companies handle the large amounts of data they collect. The data job market is incredibly buoyant.
In the context of online training, a mentor will give you one-to-one advice as you work through your course.