10 Classes That Can Pay for Themselves

by Jennifer Holder on 13 June 2012 9 comments
Photo: Jerry Bunkers

Classes already help you grow as a person, but a lot of classes offer more than knowledge — they offer a way to make money in the long run, whether it be through resume-building skills or honing a particular crafty talent. Below is a list of 10 classes that can pay for themselves. But remember — you only get out of a class what you put into it, so expect to do a little grunt work. (See also: 10 Awesome Money-Making Hobbies)

1. Business Class

Small business incubators are popping up in cities across the country. Most are non-profits, there to help wannabe entrepreneurs figure out what they need to make their business idea work. Others are offered by a city or town, there to help the community grow. I’m currently taking a collaborative business class from Launch Chattanooga. Learning how to market my ideas and budget my money and time, as well as meeting my fellow community members, has already made the class well worth it.

2. Language Class

The ultimate benefit? Understanding half the people around you. Living in New York, I heard languages from all around the world, but I could never understand a word they said. While learning a language isn’t easy, it’s rewarding, and learning in a class environment gives you a chance to practice. Try to pick a language that could help you professionally. Do your research — if there is an international company in town, there are likely bilingual jobs available.

3. Cooking Class

If you’re in a relationship, this is a great date option. Not only do you get to hone your cooking skills, but you also get a chance to eat a meal prepared together. And of course, eating in is usually cheaper than dining out.

4. Exercise Class

The obvious advantages of an exercise class are a slimmer tummy, tighter muscles, etc., but an exercise class can also give you confidence in yourself. And classes are far better than DVDs, especially when it comes to complicated yoga moves. Additionally, doing a class with others gives you an opportunity to network and create lasting friendships. I have a ton of friends who have done CrossFit, and they hang out with their fellow class members on a regular basis.

5. Certification Class

From CPR to computer skills, a certification can go a long way on a resume. If anything, it shows that you’re a fast learner (especially since a lot of those classes move quickly), have the wherewithal to accomplish personal goals and tasks, and, especially in the case of computer certifications, can use a variety of programs. And who knows, maybe one day certificate programs will replace college degrees.

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6. Writing Class

When I was considering a major for college, all advisors told me the same thing — my major didn’t matter as long as I learned how to communicate. They were right. The more I move through society and consider a “career,” the only thing that matters is the fact that I can communicate well. Since college, I’ve taken a writing class, and it not only gave me a renewed sense of purpose for my writing career, but also helped me develop my communication skills just a little more. These classes help you express yourself, and when it comes down to it, expressing yourself is one of the most important things to know how to do.

7. Photography Class

While you might think that stunning picture that you took of a mountain proves you have skills, unfortunately, it’s probably just your camera and its nifty automatic settings. Why not take a class and learn how to use that camera at night (something I struggle with — everything always comes out so blurry) and what terms like aperture mean? You’ll walk away with an appreciation of all things beautiful and probably some original pictures of family and friends.

8. Improv Class

Improv classes are the perfect way to open up and become more personable in everyday situations. I’ve seen it with my own eyes — people who are naturally shy slowly come alive through improvisation. Improv also generally has a fantastic, supportive community. While some might be doing it to get ahead, most are just having fun. By the end of a few classes, you’ll be more able to talk to strangers, network at work functions and, most importantly, laugh.

9. Craft Class

What you get out of this is a craft (duh). And crafting skills. And craftiness. Okay, maybe not the last one, but you will walk away from this class with a tangible product, whether it be pottery or painting or sewing. There are a lot of painting and drinking classes nowadays too, which is perfect for a grown-up birthday party.

10. Resume Writing Class

Writing a resume is, in my opinion, one of the most important skills a person can possess. You may have worked your butt off at a job and know everything there is to know, but if you don’t know how to express it on a resume, you’ll never get called for an interview. I used to suffer from this problem, unfortunately. I ended up using my friend’s knowledge of “good” resumes, and once she fixed mine up, I got calls non-stop. If you know you can do the job, you should get the job — don’t sell yourself short on your resume.

What are some classes you’ve reaped more than just knowledge from?

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Guest's picture

I agree with this list! I want to start taking a photography class to improve my skills (which I have none of).

Meg Favreau's picture

I agree about the communication skills. I was a writing major in college, but I took one class that I think has been more useful in work than any other -- Proposals, Grants, and Reports. While I've never actually been employed as a grant writer, the combination of marketing and business writing has served me incredibly well in my working life.

Guest's picture
FenrirGrey

I'd strongly advice against taking Photography classes. Until a year ago and a half ago, I had no idea what is a shutter speed and what is an aperture. Since, I've watched countless youtube tutorials, books, and free year/six month subscriptions to photography magazines. Basically anything I could get my hands on.

I've so far won 3 photography contests and have even made a respectable sum from paid gigs.

If you are serious enough to learn, 99% of the information you need is freely available online. If anything, I'll advice to get Lighting classes much later in your "quest". Just my two cents.

Guest's picture
Drew C.

I definitely agree with that. Everything can be found online. I'm no professional by any means, but I also have only read a couple articles on the basics of photography. I can take good, quality pictures with my D3100 and everyone I know is impressed.

I KNOW that I could find what I needed online if I need it. That is the most comforting thing. All I need is the internet and my camera in my lap and I can learn whatever I need to know.

Guest's picture
Adam

Fantastic list! I have a couple friends who have taken acting and improv classes with great results. They feel more confident about themselves, which leads to better job interviews, better meetings, and more fun at work.

Guest's picture
Heather

Look for an Auto Shop or Beginning Mechanic class at your local community college. I just took one that cost only $90 for ten three-hour sessions. We all worked on our own cars, with the help of the instructor, our class partners, and other classmates. Considering the hourly labor charges at most shops, the class will pay for itself the first time you do an hour's worth of your own work. Even if you don't plan to do any of your own maintenance or repairs, you'll learn how to maintain your car and watch for potentially serious problems before they become expensive or dangerous. You'll also be better able to spot a dishonest mechanic who is trying to sell you unnecessary services. It's is well worth the tuition, and it's fun!

Meg Favreau's picture

As someone who feels totally frustrated by how little she understands about the workings of her car (and dislikes owning things she can't personally fix), I LOVE this idea.

Guest's picture
Thad P

So, what do you think about online class options for these?

Guest's picture
Nathan

This is kind of boring compared to photography and other artistic pursuits, however I learned the programming language Python and it was the best thing I ever did. I now earn money (outside of my day job) on providing small businesses with their IT requirements. I'm not the finished article and there is a ton of stuff I don't know, however I know enough to earn money and that is all I wanted to do when I embarked upon my 6 class course and I can do a load of stuff for my own websites.