14 Benefits of Online Learning for Working Professionals (2023)

In a world powered by digital technology, online education has gained tremendous popularity in recent years. And it’s likely here to stay for the long term. In our 2021 Global Consumer Sentiment Survey of more than 2,100 adults worldwide who planned to further their education in the next year, 78% of respondents said they believe the adoption of online education will increase in the near future.

Given the greater need for virtual communication amid the ongoing pandemic, along with a renewed emphasis across industries on upskillingand reskilling, it’s safe to say the benefits of online learning and online classes have become much clearer to working adults.

What to Expect in an Online Course

Online learning can take all sorts of shapes and sizes. So, what to expect varies widely depending on the type of course or program you seek.

If you’re looking to gain basic knowledge of a specific topic, a free online course may be the answer. These are more likely to be self-paced, which often means less direct guidance from an instructor. Offerings are available in virtually any subject area that comes to mind, including both soft and hard skills.

You may consider a paid online program offering a credential if you’re looking to make a more dramatic career change or advance into a managerial role (or help members of your team move into new internal positions or gain new skill sets). This credential may be a certificate, professional certification, or a full online degree program, among others.

14 Benefits of Online Learning for Working Professionals (1)

Paid online classes also vary in structure and format. Some require you to attend live lectures at a set time. Others have you complete coursework on your own schedule with weekly deadlines. Even classes designated as “online” may have some sort of in-person, or on campus, requirement. That’s why it’s important to explore your program’s website for details before enrolling. Each program will offer a unique learning experience.

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In online classes, you may interact with your classmates in a variety of ways, whether through your virtual classroom (often referred to as a learning management system, or LMS), email, videoconferencing, and more. Group work may be required with some online classes.

Before committing to online learning, look into what credentials and types of coursework can help you reach your goals—whether you’re furthering your own education or enrolling your staff in courses to help keep their skills up to date. But first, you should decide whether learning online is right for you or your employees.

Benefits of Online Learning for Adults

If you’re looking for courses to factor into an already busy work schedule, then online education may be the route you ultimately decide to take. So, what are some advantages of online learning? Here are 14 to consider when weighing your next move.

1. Flexibility

Many people turn to online learning for its flexibility. Learning virtually from anywhere allows you or your team to pursue coursework without having to commute to a physical campus. While some online courses require learners to attend live lectures, you can otherwise factor your coursework into your already busy schedule and move at your own pace.

2. Ability to Advance a Career

In the Emeritus survey, career advancement was respondents’ main motivation for furthering their education. This is also very much the case in online education broadly speaking. Career advancement may include upskilling or reskilling, earning a promotion or salary increase, or switching career fields. Since online learning is a flexible option, this format appeals to working professionals seeking career pathing opportunities.

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Globally, the survey found the following among its respondents:

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  • 10% were career restarters, or those looking to re-enter the workforce after a break
  • 23% were career builders, or were hoping to build upon existing skills
  • 21% were career switchers, or were looking for ways to expand opportunities
  • 31% were career advancers, or were hoping to advance in their current field
  • 13% were career launchers, or those looking to start a new career
  • 1% fell into the “other” category

3. Wider Range of Courses and Programs

One of the great advantages of online learning is that professionals can learn from schools around the world and find the program that best meets their needs without uprooting their lives. In contrast, those studying on campus are limited to local options or must move to another city for a full-time program. Many renowned, well-established universities now offer online classes. This provides a greater span of options to help you achieve your goals or train your staff. (At Emeritus, our learners are located across 80 countries, with our partner institutions spanning the U.S., Europe, Latin America, Southeast Asia, India, and China.)

4. A Broader Range of Perspectives

Given that your online classmates may be based around the world, you can gain perspectives from professionals in a range of countries. You can explore how businesses operate overseas and prepare for a global workforce. Better yet, because online learners typically have a wide range of goals and professional backgrounds, you can gain insights from other adults both within and outside your industry.

5. Immediately Applicable Coursework

One of the great benefits of online learning for professionals is being able to directly apply your coursework to your full-time job, especially if you’re upskilling and want to stay in your current industry. What you learn from your instructor, classmates, and course materials may very well align with your tasks the following day at work. You can put what you learn into practice in the real world.

In fact, 78% of learners polled in the Emeritus 2021 Global Career Impact Survey said their coursework was immediately applicable to their work, and 7 in 10 respondents feel that completing an online program enabled them to be more effective at their jobs.

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6. Affordability

Overall, online program costs vary, but with a wider range of offerings and types of credentials comes a wider range of price points. You can choose an online program that not only meets your professional needs but also that fits within your price range. Generally, you will save money that would otherwise be spent on housing and commuting to campus each day. Your employer may also be willing to pay for your education or reimburse you for tuition if your program aligns with your current or future responsibilities.

7. Time Management Skill Development

In all areas of life, managing your time is an important skill. You may juggle family and personal obligations with your professional responsibilities—along with everything else life throws your way. As a professional in an online course, you’re likely balancing your job with your education. This requires you to plan ahead and perhaps break your assignments into smaller chunks. Knowing how to manage your time is a skill that will serve you well in the long term.

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8. Virtual Collaboration Opportunities

Especially as COVID-19 persists and many professionals continue to work remotely, virtual collaboration skills are more important than ever. Completing an online course or program teaches these valuable skills as you will collaborate on group work, engage in live and offline discussions, and analyze viewpoints from classmates based worldwide. This is also important as many companies, big or small, hire teams with employees across the globe, and working with people across various time zones may be part of your job.

9. Networking Without Geographical Boundaries

Emeritus courses leverage the power of cohort-based learning, an educational approach where multiple learners move through a course or series of courses together. In the online format, these courses often combine synchronous (live) and asynchronous (self-paced) learning. Because your classmates in an online class aren’t restricted to living locally, you can build relationships with a broader range of learners who work in your industry. One of the major benefits of online learning is the chance to build your professional network without geographical boundaries.

10. Ability to Gain Technical Skills

Also among the advantages to online learning: You will gain technical skills that will benefit you in and out of the classroom. You will learn about how to use different hardware and software (like Zoom or Google Hangouts). And you will become a master at using your course’s learning management system and navigating digital learning materials. Especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, knowing how to use different kinds of technology is critical.

11. A Customizable Learning Environment

With online classes, you can complete coursework from anywhere you’d like—whether that’s from your kitchen or living room, your office, a coffee shop, and so on. While some students simply learn better in a traditional classroom environment, others might prefer to watch lectures in a comfortable setting of their choice. That’s one of the great benefits of online learning—even if you’re traveling for work or fun, your coursework is still accessible regardless of your location. Plus, distance learning has become a safe option throughout the course of the pandemic.

12. A More Sustainable Option

For several reasons, online learning is an environmentally friendly option. For one thing, you aren’t consuming gas on your way to and from a physical campus. Plus, you’re most likely not depending on printed materials to complete your coursework.

13. Multiple Modes of Communication

With online learning, it’s expected that you will communicate with professors and classmates through multiple channels—email, videoconferencing, and in your course learning management system, to name a few examples. Online education encourages you to ask questions, complete group projects, and even attend lectures in whatever format works best for you.

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14. Opportunities for Remote Team Training

If you’re an organizational leader or team manager looking to upskill a remote workforce, online learning may be your best option. Team training in any form has its benefits, including increased collaboration and employee engagement. The shift to remote and hybrid work has become one of the defining workplace trends of the past few years, so it only makes sense that team upskilling initiatives would also move online.

Does Online Learning Make Sense for You?

Different learners have different learning styles. What type of learning experience would you thrive in? Knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie will help you reach a conclusion on whether online learning is right for you. Make sure to educate yourself on the advantages and disadvantages of online learning.

Online learning may be the right choice if you’re self-motivated, have strong time management skills, and don’t want to commute to a campus. But if you prefer face-to-face guidance from an instructor, you should carefully weigh the pros and cons of this learning format.

To truly experience the benefits of online learning, make sure you have clear goals in mind when enrolling. That way, you will pick not only the right learning format but also the best credential and course of study to meet your needs.

Experience the Benefits of Online Learning

Looking to move forward with online learning? View our full list of online courses for individual enrollment.

You can also learn more about how you can work with Emeritus Enterprise to develop online employee training programs with top university content tailored for your industry, company, and team.

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This blog post, originally published in 2021, has been updated for 2022.


What are the 10 advantages of online learning? ›

Ten Advantages of Online Courses
  • Online courses are convenient. ...
  • Online courses offer flexibility. ...
  • Online courses bring education right to your home. ...
  • Online courses offer more individual attention. ...
  • Online courses help you meet interesting people. ...
  • Online courses give you real world skills.

What is the main benefit of online learning? ›

One of the great advantages of online learning is that professionals can learn from schools around the world and find the program that best meets their needs without uprooting their lives. In contrast, those studying on campus are limited to local options or must move to another city for a full-time program.

What are the top 20 advantages of online learning and digital courses? ›

20 advantages of online learning

Comfort of learning from your own home. Ability to work a job while you study. They offer ultimate convenience and flexibility. Earn bonus points for your resumé

What are the advantages of online professional development? ›


Compared with the one-time workshops and face-to-face sessions that are characteristic of most current professional development, online programs can take a very wide variety of forms, with concomitant advantages of convenience, scalability, and adaptability.

What are the 3 main advantages of elearning? ›

What are the 5 biggest advantages of E-Learning?
  • Flexibility. The first advantage of e-learning is flexibility in terms of time and place. ...
  • Availability. ...
  • Efficiency. ...
  • Low Cost. ...
  • Mobile. ...
  • Internet connection. ...
  • Discipline. ...
  • Distraction.
15 Sept 2020

Why online learning is better than in person? ›

Online courses allow students to learn at their own pace on their own schedule, which is an approach to studying known as asynchronous learning. This format empowers students to take notes, review lectures, and go over other course materials in a way that works best for them.

Why is online better than face to face? ›

A lot of academic institutions have embraced virtual classrooms. In addition to helping students stay safe, here are some benefits of online learning: You can study whenever you want in the comforts of your home. You can learn at your own pace and time through online learning.

Why is online professionalism important? ›

Professional behaviour in an online environment will allow you to improve your communication skills and create professional relationships with both your peers and professors. Maintaining these relationships, along with being respectful and exhibiting academic integrity, are integral to your success.

What are the benefits of professional development? ›

5 Benefits of Professional Development
  • Increase Retention. ...
  • Build confidence and credibility. ...
  • Make succession planning easier. ...
  • Re-energize your staff. ...
  • Improved efficiency.

What is online professional? ›

1. Refers to professional development workshops, courses and programs that are primarily delivered online following asynchronous or synchronous approaches depending on the nature of topics and goals.

What are two 2 benefits of eLearning? ›

Advantages of e-learning are:

Efficient way of delivering courses as the resources are available from anywhere and at any time; Students can interact with their peers from all around the world through group discussions and private chats; The studying material can be accessed unlimited number of times.

What is the meaning of online learning? ›

Online learning is education that takes place over the Internet. It is often referred to as “e- learning” among other terms. However, online learning is just one type of “distance learning” - the umbrella term for any learning that takes place across distance and not in a traditional classroom.

Why is online study important essay? ›

It reduces nervousness among students, as many are able to communicate more through online education than regular classes. One can learn from merely anyplace as long as they have an available internet device. Online education normally provides a chance to study at our own speed as there is no rush.

Is online learning cost effective? ›

In general, online learning is a more affordable option, as you'll get a high-quality education at a much lower cost due to the lower overhead needed to operate these programs.

How do you feel about online classes? ›

The responses from students were largely positive overall – 85% said their online courses felt like a “classroom community”, 84% said remote learning environments can be effective and 70% said they would consider taking more virtual classes in the future.

What is your opinion about online classes? ›

Online education encourages a greater balance thereof, particularly for those who manage multiple commitments at once–such as work, family life and school. Individuals can work at their own pace, which allows them to manage their obligations suitably while also optimizing the retainment of the information being taught.

How do you maintain professionalism online? ›

Avoid impulsive, inappropriate or heated comments. Ensure that your comments do not incite others to make discriminatory or other professionally unacceptable comments. Use your professional email and social media accounts for professional electronic communications; avoid using your personal accounts.

How do you maintain a positive and professional online presence? ›

Follow the steps below to ensure you have an online presence to impress:
24 Oct 2022

Why is professional important? ›

Professional behavior helps separate business from the personal; it keeps relationships limited to the business context at hand. For example, a judge cannot have personal conversations with a plaintiff or defendant. Bank tellers represent the institution as they perform transactions for the customers.

What is a professional benefit? ›

Merriam-Webster defines benefits as “a service or right provided by an employer in addition to wages or salary.” Every employee receives a wage for their work, but benefits go beyond that and can include vacation time, health insurance, pensions, paid holidays, life insurance, tuition reimbursement, retirement plans, ...

What are the benefits of professional qualifications? ›

Why is a Professional Qualification Important?
  • Expand Your Skill set. You will gain job-related skills, as well as refreshing any knowledge you may already have. ...
  • Gain Access to More Courses and Qualifications. ...
  • Broaden Career Opportunities. ...
  • Improve Your Chances of Career Progression. ...
  • Show Commitment. ...
  • Network. ...
  • Feel Empowered.
8 Sept 2022

Why is learning professional skills important? ›

Professional development increases earning potential and hireability. Professional development and continuing education offers both young and experienced professionals opportunities to boost their earning potential and future hireability by increasing their knowledge and updating their skill sets.

What skills can a person learn online? ›

Here are some examples of popular skills that one can learn online:
  • Coding. Coding is a skill that many employers value in several industries. ...
  • Spreadsheet software. ...
  • Photography. ...
  • Digital marketing. ...
  • Typing skills. ...
  • Graphic design. ...
  • Research online resources and learning options.
2 Jul 2022

What profession can you learn online? ›

That's because many of these job skills can now be learned inexpensively available online.
Getting High-Paying Jobs In The Digital Economy:
  • iOS App Developer. ...
  • Android App Developer. ...
  • Web Developer. ...
  • User Experience Designer. ...
  • Content Marketer. ...
  • Online Advertising Professional.
12 Mar 2022

What kind of work can be done online? ›

10 Online Jobs for Students that You Can Turn into a Career or a Business from Home
  • Online Tutor. ...
  • Search Engine Evaluator. ...
  • Social Media Manager. ...
  • Freelance Writer. ...
  • Resume Writer. ...
  • Transcriptionist. ...
  • Freelance Web Designer. ...
  • Micro-Freelancing At Fiverr.

Why is online better for students? ›

Online education enables you to study or teach from anywhere in the world. This means there's no need to commute from one place to another, or follow a rigid schedule. On top of that, not only do you save time, but you also save money, which can be spent on other priorities.

What are the 5 advantages and disadvantages of online classes? ›

Online education must support the social aspect of learning to match the effectiveness of traditional classes.
  • Online Learning Requires Self-Discipline. ...
  • Online Learning Requires Additional Training for Instructors. ...
  • Online Classes Are Prone to Technical Issues. ...
  • Online Learning means more screen-time.
28 Dec 2021

Do you think online learning is effective? ›

Online learning is not only more effective for students, but it is also better for the environment. Online courses consume 90% less energy and release 85% less CO2 per student than traditional in-person courses, according to the Open University in the United Kingdom.

Why online learning is better than face to face? ›

Online courses give students full control over what they are learning, so students are able to work at their own speed. They are able to work quickly through areas they understand, and spend more time on areas they do not.

What are the effects of online learning? ›

A lack of face-to-face interaction with the instructors or other peers inhibits student feedback, causes social isolation, and may lead to students feeling unmotivated since there is no sense of pressure from the teacher.

What are the good qualities of online classes? ›

A good online course is engaging and challenging. It invites students to participate, motivates them to contribute and captures their interest and attention. It capitalizes on the joy of learning and challenges students to enhance their skills, abilities and knowledge. A good online course is cognitively challenging.


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