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By donnarosato
November 13, 2014
Thomas Barwick/Getty (man at desk); Russell Burden/Getty (bird)

Working just a few years beyond traditional retirement age can significantly boost the odds that you’ll have enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle in retirement. That’s because earning a paycheck until you’re say, 68 or 70 allows you to delay tapping your nest egg, gives you fewer retirement years to fund, and, most important, means you can wait to take Social Security and get a larger benefits check.

But having a career with staying power isn’t just a matter of deciding to remain on the job. While many people who are behind on retirement savings say they plan to work longer, the reality is a lot different. The median retirement age in the U.S. has remained at 65 for the past two decades. And even for those who intend to work longer, health reasons may knock them out of the workforce earlier than planned.

But often older workers are vulnerable to layoffs because they are perceived as complacent and not up on the latest technology. If you want to stretch out your working years, you need to make an active effort to stay up to date on technology and trends in your industry.

The good news is that the proliferation of free and relatively low-cost online courses makes it easier to keep your skills current. Chances are if you extend your working years, you’ll be reporting to someone younger. Here are eight online courses that will help you show younger folks at work that you’ve got 21st-century skills too.

1. Course: Big Data Demystified

Who offers it:
Cost: $40
What you’ll learn: What “big data” means and how the systems powering big data work. For product managers, digital strategists, web developers, and anyone who works around data-gathering

2. Course: Social Media Strategy Bootcamp

Who offers it: MediaBistro
Cost: $349
What you’ll learn: How to create and implement a social media strategy for your brand or product

3. Course: Introduction to Marketing

Who offers it: Wharton Business School via Coursera
Cost: Free
What you’ll learn: Fundamentals of marketing and brand strategy, taught by top business school professors

4. Course: Principles of Project Management

Who offers it: Open2Study
Cost: Free
What you’ll learn: Basics of project management and how to run projects effectively

5. Course: Introduction to Statistics

Who offers it: BerkeleyX via edX
Cost: Free
What you’ll learn: Introduction to statistics and how to present numerical information in a useful and illuminating way

6. Course: Understanding Media by Understanding Google

Who offers it: Northwestern University via Coursera
Cost: Free
What you’ll learn: How media companies, journalists, marketers, politicians, and social networks use Google to target you, and strategies for adapting those principles to your own business

7. Course: Techniques and Concepts of Big Data

Who offers it:
Cost: $37.50 (for unlimited courses monthly on
What you’ll learn: Techniques and concepts involved in capturing, storing, manipulating, and analyzing big data and how big data impacts consumers and businesses

8. Course: Programming for Non-Programmers

Who offers it: General
Cost: $49 per month (for live streams and on-demand classes)
What you’ll learn: For people who work in teams with developers, you’ll learn how to speak their language as well as basic programming concepts