Short Term Courses With The Biggest Pay-Off (In Singapore)

You’ve heard it before. We need the best educated workforce, we need lifelong learning, we should keep upgrading…yadda yadda. I don’t know about you, but I barely have time for an extra toilet break, let alone an after-hours degree course. So how is the average (i.e. overworked) Singaporean going to upgrade? The answer is low investment, high yield courses. In this article, I look at short self-improvement programs with tangible benefits:



The pay-off in the following programs will vary based on your profession. For the most part, they are picked based on their ability to:

  • Expand career options
  • Generate side-income
  • Increase savings
  • Build resumes / portfolios


1. Blogging Courses

There are a growing number of blogging workshops in Singapore. With businesses relying more on online communications, it pays to have a voice on the Internet.

LinkedIn and job site accounts don’t cut it any more. For professionals, a blog provides a 24 hour showcase of your portfolio. Blogs have room for pictures, videos, and journal entries; they persuade in ways that traditional resumes can’t. And when articles or pictures get reposted, a well designed blog can turn a nobody into a cult personality.



The cost of a blog is negligible; services like WordPress and Posterous are free. All that’s needed is the expertise to use them, and that’s what blogging courses provide. A two week course will familiarize you with all the basic tools. Advanced courses are ideal for the self-employed: They’ll teach you how to sell online and grow your following.

Chris Smith runs blog courses for total beginners to veterans, but he’s one amongst many. Check your local community club to see if you’ve got cheaper (or even free) courses.


2. FISCA Financial Planning Workshops

With our fellow blogger Mr. Tan Kin Lian at the helm, FISCA provides the most cost effective finance workshops. Membership is $36 a month, and opens up a range of events and seminars. Contrast that with the $500 – $4000 (not kidding) investment workshops, which have been going around like a virus.



Financial planning workshops are preferable to textbooks and online coaching. Rich Dad, Poor Dad is as applicable here as it is in Zimbabwe (That is, it lines bird cages all across the country). Workshops are obviously localized, and face-to-face talks mean you have specific questions answered.

Besides, attempting financial stunts you learned out of a book is hazardous to your wallet. A seminar might save you a bundle in bad investments.


3. Computer Repair Courses

Singapore’s a plugged-in society, and most of us have computer problems at some point. After the 100th time you pay to reformat a hard drive or re-install Windows, you might start thinking about a repair course.



These are common at community clubs, but there are also open courses at ITE. Apart from fixing your own PC for free, you might be able to start a sideline business in repairs. Most PC users tend to call repair people for minor problems, which can be fixed in under an hour. When you get paid $80 – $200 to format a hard drive or re-install Windows, you’ll see what I mean.

Some repair courses also teach you to upgrade your system, and find the best deals when buying PCs.


4. Violin or Piano Lessons

Welcome to Singapore, where musicians can make more money teaching music than actually playing it. Fact is, almost every parent wants their children to play the piano or the violin. While it doesn’t change the fact that our only cultures might be on a petri dish, it does give parents bragging rights.



Learning the basics of violin or piano music (just the basics) will take a year with constant practice. While the price is about $240 a month, you can easily tutor four or five students for $240 each when you’re done. Don’t worry about being a virtuoso; when it comes to basics, it doesn’t matter whether I teach you the C Chord or you have Elton John personally fly down and show you.

If you can play at the Grade 5 level (easy in a year), you’re good enough to tutor children on the side.


5. Business English Courses

Business English can make the difference between wooing clients, and being locked in a back room like an inbred relative. I’m not suggesting you need to be Shakespeare; but when it looks like your English teacher needs to be hunted down and euthanised, your boss is not putting you in touch with customers.



Poor business English means no entry into marketing and public relations; even if it could advance your career. And if your team needs the Coxford English Dictionary to hold a five minute conversation with you, forget about making the big presentation.

The British Council runs Business English courses, for about $1495 (total course). A hefty price, but the pay-off is a significant career boost.

Image Credits:
SFU Public Affairs and Media Relations, iBjorn, Mike Licht, cheesechoker, Tulane Public Relations, Ed Yourdon, ToastyKen

Have you attended any short term courses that paid off? Comment and let us know!

Get more Personal Finance tips and tricks on

Click to Compare Singapore Home Loans, Car Insurance and Credit Cards on our other sites.

More From MoneySmart

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Phl aviation has met int’l safety standards – CAAP
    Phl aviation has met int’l safety standards – CAAP

    The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said that the country’s aviation has met international safety standards and is currently being reviewed by the European Union. Members of the EU delegation recently made a courtesy call on CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III. Beda Badiola, CAAP’s Flight Standards and Inspectorate Service chief, said all air carriers in the country have followed regulations that the agency was able to oversee properly according to standards. “They …

  • Absence of full-time PNP chief affecting police services
    Absence of full-time PNP chief affecting police services

    Despite the pronouncement of the leadership of the Philippine National Police that it’s business as usual, some basic services are undeniably affected by the absence of a full-time PNP chief, particularly the issuance of gun permits. The PNP had deferred the issuance of permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) since Dec. 3, a day before the Office of the Ombudsman slapped a six-month suspension on former PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, who is facing plunder charges. …

  • Expanded Phl-US war games start today
    Expanded Phl-US war games start today

    The Philippines and the United States will kick off today this year’s Balikatan military exercises amid concerns over China’s reclamation activities in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea. More than 11,000 Filipino and American troops will join the drills to be held simultaneously in different locations until April 30. …

  • Budol-budol, dugo-dugo scams now online
    Budol-budol, dugo-dugo scams now online

    Authorities warned the public yesterday to be more careful in dealing with people they meet online as the “budol-budol” and “dugo-dugo” gangs have expanded their deceptive operations on social media. Senior Inspector Robert Reyes, assistant chief of the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) investigation section, said online financial fraud is one of the emerging forms of scams in the country. Reyes said scam operators are looking for prospective victims online through …

  • Noy wants next PNP chief to serve beyond his term
    Noy wants next PNP chief to serve beyond his term

    President Aquino is inclined to name a new Philippine National Police (PNP) chief who can serve beyond the 2016 elections. Speaking to reporters at the Tarlac National High School before the weekend, Aquino said he was bewildered by the amended PNP Act that requires all deputies of the PNP chief to serve or stay at least one year in his post. Among the contenders for PNP chief are Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr., suspended Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta and Director Juanito …

  • ‘Stronger global action sought on China moves’
    ‘Stronger global action sought on China moves’

    Stronger international action is needed to counter China’s rapid reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday. Belmonte noted that statements of condemnation from global powers on the continued encroachment of China in the disputed waters have been ineffectual. He added that China’s blatant expansion activities are making the problem not just a regional security problem, but a global one. “China is obviously violating our territory in front …

  • MILF refusal to surrender fighters jeopardizing talks
    MILF refusal to surrender fighters jeopardizing talks

    Leaders of the House of Representatives renewed their call yesterday to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to surrender its fighters allegedly involved in the killing of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the House independent bloc, said the continued refusal of MILF leaders to turn over their men is causing the further erosion of support for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress. “I hope the MILF …

  • China ignores global outcry vs reclamation
    China ignores global outcry vs reclamation

    On Wednesday, G-7 foreign ministers issued a Declaration on Maritime Security expressing alarm over “unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions” in the region. In their communiqué, which did not specifically mention China, the ministers expressed belief that reclamation activities were meant to “change the status quo” in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, through which 40 percent of global trade passes. …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options