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.

  • China breaks ground on lighthouse project in South China Sea

    China hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the building of two lighthouses in the disputed South China Sea, state media said on Tuesday, a move that is likely to escalate tensions in a region already jittery about Beijing's maritime ambitions. China's Ministry of Transport hosted the ceremony for the construction of two multi-functional lighthouses on Huayang Reef and Chigua Reef on the disputed Spratly islands, state news agency Xinhua said, defying calls from the United States and the …

  • SE Asia Stocks - Thai, Philippine indexes weak after trade data

    BANGKOK, May 26 (Reuters) - Most Southeast Asian stock markets rose in line with the rest of Asia on Tuesday but the Thai index pared early gains after weak trade data in April, while the Philippine benchmark ... …

  • Is your home on top of a faultline?
    Is your home on top of a faultline?

    The Philippine Institute of Volcanoly and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) recently issued an updated and high-resolution "atlas" of the East Valley Fault and West Valley Fault, two major faultlines that run through sections of Metro Manila. Metro Manila may be due for a 7.2-magnitude earthquake within this lifetime, say experts from the institute, among them PHIVOLCS director Dr. Renato Solidum, Jr. According to records, the last major earthquake caused by the West Valley Fault took place 357 years …

  • Filipina maid photographs "modern slavery" in Hong Kong

    By Emma Batha LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A Filipina maid in Hong Kong has published stark photographs of burned and beaten domestic workers to highlight the "modern slavery" she says has long been the city's shameful secret. "Hong Kong is a very modern, successful city but people treat their helpers like slaves," said Xyza Cruz Bacani, whose black and white portraits won her a scholarship from the Magnum Foundation to start studying at New York University this month. It's common …

  • Want to buy a brand new car?
    Want to buy a brand new car?

    Tired of fixing your old car? Maybe, this is the best time for you to invest a brand new car. BPI Family Savings Bank, the country’s leading consumer bank, is extending its newest campaign “Bagong Kotse, 1-Month Libre” promo until June 30, 2015 which allows potential car buyers to avail of a car loan term up […] The post Want to buy a brand new car? appeared first on Carmudi Philippines. …

  • ‘Kentex owners still in Phl’
    ‘Kentex owners still in Phl’

    The daughter of one of the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. owners has assured the government that the businessmen are still in the Philippines, contrary to some reports that they have fled the country. Barbara Ang, daughter of Kentex shareholder Veato Ang, said her father and his business partners have no plans of leaving the country despite the razing of the Valenzuela slipper factory, which killed 72 workers on May 13. Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian also stood by his promise to punish any local …

  • Lawmakers to review building code provisions
    Lawmakers to review building code provisions

    Lawmakers are set to review provisions of the National Building Code and Republic Act 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, to strengthen contingencies and policies to prepare the country for possible major earthquakes. The move came following proposals from Reps. Winston Castelo of Quezon City and Lito Atienza of the Buhay party-list to review the two laws and other regulations during a hearing of the House committee on Metro Manila development on the …

  • Noy: Phl may attain first world status with continued reforms
    Noy: Phl may attain first world status with continued reforms

    The Philippines’ attaining first world status may soon be imminent if significant reforms initiated by the current administration would be consistently pursued, President Aquino suggested yesterday. “Kung madidiligan ang ating mga pinunla, at makaka-graduate ang mga pinag-aaral natin upang makapasok sa maaayos na trabaho, baka po tuluyan nang nasa first world status tayo sa panahong iyon (If we water the seeds sown and those we sent to school will find better jobs, then time will come that …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options