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We all know that employers are desperate to hire people with advanced software engineering skills. You know, people with multiple computer science degrees and years of programming experience behind them. 

But did you know that thousands of employers are looking for candidates with more basic tech skills — the kinds that can be learned in an afternoon on YouTube?

1. Photo-editing software

One example is proficiency with Adobe PhotoShop or another photo-editing software program. Job postings requiring PhotoShop skills grew 31% between 2017 and 2018 in the ZipRecruiter employment marketplace and offered a median salary of $85,000 in 2018 — more than double the median annual pay nationwide, which was $38,640, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

There are dozens of high-quality video tutorials on YouTube — from a five-minute beginner tutorial to a four-hour crash course — that can help you build the photo-editing skills you need for a job as a graphic designer, photographer, web developer or social media marketing assistant. And if you don’t end up using PhotoShop on the job, at least you’ll be able to delight your social media followers with playful memes and GIFs.

2. Computer-aided design software

Another example is the ability to use CAD software programs like AutoDesk AutoCAD, Solidworks or Mastercam. CAD skills are among the most valuable job skills in ZipRecruiter’s Skills Index, which ranks skills in terms of the number of jobs to which they provide access, the rate at which those jobs are growing, the geographic breadth of the job opportunities and pay levels. 

Several YouTube channels offer CAD tutorial videos, from basic to advanced, that are free, quick (often just 4-5 minutes each), engaging and easy to understand. Spend a weekend watching some videos and practicing some examples, and you could become a competitive candidate for more than 50,000 well-paid positions at manufacturing, engineering, product design and interior decorating companies around the country.

3. Business management software

A third example is mastery of any of the myriad software programs modern companies need these days to function. One candidate is Intuit’s QuickBooks for accounting, accepting business payments, paying bills and managing payroll. Another is Oracle’s Netsuite software for accounting, enterprise resource planning and e-commerce. 

Several other software programs for business management, project management, team collaboration and office management scored well on ZipRecruiter’s Skills Index. 

Why being self-taught can help you stand out

Job seekers without formal degrees or credentials often lack confidence going into a job interview, and feel shy admitting they learned a skill online, outside of a formal course. But with the unemployment rate for college graduates at just 2.2%, employers are having to cast a wider net, rethink the skills requirements they list in job descriptions and remove requirements that aren’t absolutely necessary. 

But employers aren’t just settling for candidates with non-traditional credentials because they have to. In a world of constant technological change, employers are increasingly coming to appreciate what self-taught candidates have to offer: initiative, discipline and the capacity for lifelong learning.