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Upskilling: What it is, and How to Use it to Earn More

Written by Nicole Dalbo on Monday, 27 February 2023. Posted in Helpful Tips

Young woman smiling and looking proud while holding laptop in front of a blurred city background.

You may have heard of upskilling, but what is it and how does it work? As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, businesses are seeking more and more upskilled candidates for their open roles. Discover the importance of upskilling, how it can help you earn more, and how you can use it to your advantage.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling is the process of learning new skills that can be applied to the workforce. Earning diplomas, certifications, or degrees are forms of upskilling that may help you get promoted, earn more in your job, or become more competitive in the job market.

How does upskilling help you?

When done purposefully, upskilling can give you many advantages in both your career and personal life! Here are four ways that upskilling can help you.

1. Upskilling can help you earn more

The skills you gain from your education can have a huge impact on your wallet. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those that have earned their high school diploma make $10,000 more per year on average than those without. The same data shows that on average bachelor’s degree holders earn more than $36,000 more per year than someone who hasn’t earned their high school diploma.

The skills you learn throughout your educational journey can translate into desirable skills for employers. Graduating from high school requires a certain level of reading, writing, mathematics, and critical thinking skills that you’ll slowly develop as you work your way through your classes. When employers list openings that require a certain education level, they’re looking for the skills that match up to that level of education—your diploma, degree, or certificate is just a way to prove that you’ve earned these skills.

2. Upskilling can unlock new job opportunities

As you acquire more skills through education, more opportunities will become available to you. Being able to choose from a wider selection of jobs means that you can be selective about what you want. You’ll have a greater choice of income level, job duties, and have more to fall back on in case your current job doesn’t work out.

3. Upskilling can show your managers that you’re motivated

Developing relevant skills for the field that you’re in can show your manager that you understand the work you do and that you’re able to do it. When you level up your skillset, it shows your manager that you’re getting ready to level up your career as well. Make the time to have open dialogues with your boss and discuss what you should focus on skill wise to get to where you want to be. This can also let your manager know that you have an interest in career growth and can get the ball rolling!

4. Upskilling can help you improve yourself

The benefits of upskilling continue beyond your work life—you can make some serious improvements to yourself, too! The lessons you learn extend beyond the content in them.

Upskilling requires commitment to see it through, time management skills, and the drive to push yourself forward. Although these skills may not be taught directly, chances are you’ll develop them over the course of your upskilling journey.

Whether you use these newfound abilities on the job, as support for your next upskilling pursuit, or to help you out in your everyday life, upskilling can help make you into a better you!

Upskilling Examples

Upskilling can take on a ton of shapes and forms, especially considering what path you’d like to take to reach your goals. Here are concrete examples of what you can do to upskill yourself.

1. Earn your high school diploma

If you don’t already have your high school diploma, earning one is a great way to upskill yourself. High school diplomas are important because they can open doors to a variety of new professional opportunities that are otherwise inaccessible without one. Whether you’re planning to begin a new career, enter college, or enlist in the military, a diploma can help be a starting point to those goals.

Your high school diploma displays that you have met a certain level of reading, writing, mathematical, and critical thinking abilities needed in order to graduate. In fact, finishing high school is one of the most well-rounded ways to get upskilled because the required subjects cover so much ground.

2. Gain career certifications

Career certifications can be a great upskilling choice if you’re looking to target specific skill gaps. With the highly specialized nature of certifications, you’ll also find that you’ll have more control over what skills you’re aiming to upskill.

Because career certifications are usually concentrated toward a particular skill, they can be much quicker to earn than other forms of education upskilling although all certifications may differ in length. Although career certifications are highly stackable, the skills they provide may not be as transferable as other methods of upskilling.

3. Take accredited courses

If you’re not ready to commit to the cost and time of a full degree, but still want to upskill toward a field you’re interested in, taking accredited courses is a valid way to work toward your upskilling goals. Accreditation displays to potential employers and colleges that your education is legit and meets strict standards set up by the accrediting agency.

Accredited courses are also more likely to be transferrable to other colleges and universities and can be applied toward credits needed for an undergraduate certificate or a degree.

4. Join a professional network

While joining a professional network is not upskilling on its own, its full of other career-minded professionals also looking to upskill their own talents. Although all professional networks function in different ways, chances are you’ll be exposed to a wide array of opportunities to take your skills to the next level—and may even uncover career opportunities for yourself.

At the very least, you’ll be able to connect with others in the industry and see what is needed to get to where you want to be. If you have a particular career in mind, check to see if there is an industry standard network and look into the process needed to join.

How to upskill

Although the exact steps to upskilling will look different to every person, the steps to reach your goals will look the same! If you’re wondering how to upskill, these four steps will show you what you need to do.

1. Discover which skills you’re missing

To upskill efficiently, you’ll need to figure out which skills you need for the career you want.

If you’re someone that already knows what job they’re aiming for, then it may be a good idea to search job listings on LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, or other job recruiting websites and see what skills and credentials they’re requesting in the application. You can also use LinkedIn to see people currently in your intended role and can review what skills they have listed on their personal pages. Make a list of these skills and start working toward the ones that appear most frequently and make the most sense to you and your goals.

Read more: How Social Media Can Help You Get Jobs

Not everyone is set on their career path, and that’s okay. A good path forward for you may be to work on more general skills that can be applied to a wider variety of job opportunities. In this case, if you’re someone who has not yet finished high school, working toward earning your diploma may be a smart choice. However, it’s important to start seriously considering which career may be the best fit for you. Narrow down your pathways with careers that may best fit your lifestyle, educational commitment, and personality.

Read more: How to Choose a Good Career After High School?

2. Decide what method(s) to take to earn those skills

Can you gain the skills you need by earning a certificate? Do you need to go to high school, college, or can it be learned on the job? These are all things to consider once you’ve figured out the area you want to upskill.

You may want to look into industry standards to see how most other people in your chosen industry obtained that skill. It may also be a good time to decide how much time, effort, and money you can invest toward your upskilling in order to realistically reach your goals. Every career path and skill subset are different so make sure to do your research so that you can make an informed decision on which path you’d like to take.

3. Follow through with your upskilling

The most important part of upskilling? Doing it and following through. Your upskilling process won’t matter if you don’t have the credentials to prove you’ve done it. At times, staying motivated can certainly be a struggle, but power through and make it to the finish line! Remember your goals and why you made the decision to upskill in the first place.

4. Use your new skills to get the job

So, you’ve identified the skills you needed, did the research into what to do, and then upskilled your way to your latest set of credentials—so now it’s time to put them to use. Start applying to the jobs that were once goals and start the process to make them your reality.

Don’t forget to add your new skills to your resume! Wear them proudly like a badge of honor. You’ve definitely earned them!

Get started in your upskilling journey

Whether you plan on jumpstarting your upskilling by earning your high school diploma, career certificate, or college credits, we’re here to help you own your journey with affordable accredited programs. At JMHS and our parent school, Ashworth College, you can learn at your own pace, wherever and whenever your busy schedule takes you with self-paced online programs. Get started as early as today by enrolling online at or or reach out to one of our admissions specialists at 1-800-349-6861.

About the Author

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo

Nicole Dalbo studied English Literature with a minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Scranton and is currently working toward her MS in Marketing. When she isn’t writing, Nicole can be found watching the newest Marvel movie, baking something sweet, or jamming out to live music.