Why you can trust ZDNet
Our recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product through our links. This helps support our work but does not influence what we write about or the price you pay. Our editors thoroughly review and fact check every article. Our process

‘ZDNet Recommends’ What exactly does that mean?

ZDNet’s recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNet nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNet's editorial team writes on behalf of YOU, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form

Close

Free online tech courses with certificates

Information technology professionals can advance their careers without breaking the bank by taking these free online courses with certificates.

Online classes with certificates have made professional development more accessible than ever before. Tech students can complete free online courses with certificates to qualify for entry-level careers, and experienced professionals can use online certification classes for advancement opportunities. Free online classes with certificates offer accelerated and flexible schedules and demonstrate mastery over a subject.

Here, we examine the benefits of online tech courses and credentials and highlight some of the best options available.

Why take a free online class that offers a certificate?

The free online courses with certificates below provide numerous benefits. Learners can find courses for the easiest programming language to learn and the most difficult. They can specialize in a particular tech field or answer the basic question, is computer science hard? 

The following are some additional reasons individuals choose this type of training:

  • Try out a new discipline with little risk
  • Few cost and travel limitations
  • Flexible and accelerated training
  • Build new interests and new careers
  • Update their skills and stay on top of industry changes
  • Demonstrate proficiency in a specific discipline or technology
  • Advance their technology careers 
  • Strengthen their resume and LinkedIn profile

What do tech employers think of certificates?

The value that IT certificates hold depend on the employer and the situation. For some employers, these credentials complement a college degree and offer specialized training opportunities. For others, certificates in specific technologies or with specific vendors may be mandatory for employment. 

For example, Adobe-specific credentials may be required for aspiring developers in organizations that use Adobe development platforms. Even more flexible organizations still likely prefer candidates who possess some of the popular vendor-neutral credentials. 

Learn tech skills and earn certificates from these free online class platforms

For beginners, new graduates, and industry veterans, free online courses with certificates come with many professional advantages. In the following alphabetical list, we highlight the platforms offering the best online certification classes. Some offer access to online classes from postsecondary institutions, and others feature third-party training programs and credentials. 

Alison

Focused and thoughtful man. Coder, programmer or developer using laptop in dark. Businessman working late. Student studying at night.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Location: Online 

Cost: Free to $115.00

Certificate: Yes, with fee

Time to complete: Less than three hours

Alison features more than 3,500 free online certification classes covering academic, personal, and workplace training. Each study area features three difficulty levels. Among the many study topics available, students can pursue online classes with certificates in cybersecurity, engineering, and project management.

Self-paced and accessible through an online dashboard, the courses feature materials provided and reviewed by subject matter and training experts. Learners complete module readings and videos before taking an assessment to demonstrate their understanding of the material. In addition to its free online classes with certificates, Alison offers diplomas for learners. 

edX

edx-shutterstock-1816834112.jpg
puhhha -- Shutterstock

Location: Online

Cost: Free to $300

Certificate: Yes, some courses with a fee

Time to complete: Self-paced

Offering more than 3,000 courses to more than 35,000 users, edX connects learners to open access courses from educational institutions around the globe. Learners can pursue online classes with certificates in fields like computer science, data science, and business. The self-paced studies include video lectures, visualizations, and interactive components, capped off with quizzes and assessments.

EdX's online classes help students better themselves personally and professionally. The platform offers beginner, intermediate, and advanced training from some of the best instructors in the world. While students do not gain the same level of interaction as real-time courses, these studies provide unmatched flexibility and accessibility. 

Free Code Camp

Woman wearing hijab checking code implementation
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Location: Online

Cost: Free

Certificate: Yes, some courses

Time to complete: 300+ hours

A nonprofit coding community, Free Code Camp offers free online courses with certificates in responsive web design, data visualization, and algorithms and data structures, along with various Python credentials. Participants train by reading articles, watching videos, and completing lessons. The programs feature several build projects and tests that can help guide learners through their studies. 

By completing all six of the free online classes with certificates, learners qualify for the full stack development program certificate. Free Code Camp's materials and tutorials come from industry professionals and educators, along with a community of thousands of volunteers from around the globe. 

FutureLearn

woman looking at code on a computer
Shutterstock / Africa Studio

Location: Online

Cost: Free to $189/year

Certificate: Yes, some courses with a fee

Time to complete: Two to 10 weeks

For personal or professional development, FutureLearn offers hundreds of free online courses with certificates. Some of the study topics available include business and management and information technology and computer science. The training includes audio clips, video lectures, articles, and class discussions, and learners must complete quizzes and activities to graduate.

Through FutureLearn, students gain access to courses from universities and industry organizations. Participants who pay for certificate access take tests to qualify for the credentials. Individuals, classrooms, and employers can use FutureLearn's online certification classes for various types of development. 

Microsoft Learn

microsoft logo with woman in background
Imaginechina/Corbis

Location: Online

Cost: Free to $200

Certificate: Yes, some courses with a fee

Time to complete: Self-paced

Microsoft Learn provides online learners with access to beginner, intermediate, and advanced online certification classes. Aimed at current and aspiring developers and administrators of various Microsoft technologies and solutions, the online platform offers courses for specific roles and technologies. Each module comprises videos and articles, along with activities and quizzes.

Students can progress through many of Microsoft Learn's courses at their own pace, though live and instructor-led courses are available. The online classes with certificates require participants to pay a fee and pass examinations designed and reviewed by subject matter experts. Microsoft certifications can help individual professionals enter or grow within a field and assist organizations in the training and development of their staff.

OpenLearning

man working at computer and writing things down on notebook
By Jelena Zelen -- Shutterstock

Location: Online

Cost: Free to $40/month for individuals

Certificate: Yes, some courses with a fee

Time to complete: Varies

OpenLearning provides its nearly three million users with access to more than 275 courses from educational institutions and over 4,000 private courses from other sources. The platform allows learners to stack their training to qualify for credentials from institutions, such as graduate certificates in security and network administration from the University of Newcastle. 

The online classes include activity-based lessons, community discussions, and collaborative projects. Students can use the training to gain access to entry-level careers or for lifelong learning. Some of the disciplines available include math and science, computers and technology, and engineering. 

Pluralsight

online-training-company-pluralsight-sets-up-base-in-india.png

Location: Online

Cost: Free to $450/year

Certificate: Yes, some with a fee

Time to complete: One to 10 hours

Pluralsight features more than 1,500 course authors, industry and education professionals who create the video lessons, labs, and adaptive assessments. Students have access to over 50 free online courses in subject areas like software development and data. Pluralsight also runs online classes that prepare paying students for industry certifications in cybersecurity, cloud computing, and machine learning. 

Pluralsight's platform offers beginner-level training for aspiring professionals. It also provides assessment programs that help experienced professionals measure and upgrade their skills. The platform also hosts a workflow system for information technology leaders and project managers.

Thinkful

image-1.jpg

Location: Online

Cost: Free to $600

Certificate: Yes, some courses with a fee

Time to complete: Three to six months

Thinkful offers courses for students and professionals at all levels, including free webinars and workshops. They also host complete coding programs in software engineering, data analytics, and data science with deferred tuition options, personal mentors, and career services. The training features one-on-one video sessions with industry experts and mentors, along with community collaboration and individual lessons. 

The organization provides online classes with certificates as well, such as Oracle, Python, and web development credentials. Beginners have access to free coding tutorials to help take them to the next level.

What are the best certificates for developers?

The best certificates for developers depend on the employer. Organizations that want vendor specific credentials may value Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, or Oracle certificates. 

What are the best certificates for cyber security?

The best certificates for landing cybersecurity jobs may include certified information systems security professional and CompTIA security+. However, the answer varies depending on the employer and the professional.

How long does it take to earn an online certificate?

Some programs grant certificates after a couple of hours of study, whereas others take several months to complete. The length of online certification classes varies considerably by program and platform.