Today while I’m at work I’m going to spend some time talking with a senior manager about taking a new job within the company.

My goal is to move into the Mobile Phone and Tablet division because I believe mobile software is the future of technology. I want to get into the field while it’s still relatively new so I can get great experience and make myself a much more valuable and marketable employee. There’s only one problem.

I don’t have any mobile development experience.

I’ve actually looked into taking a mobile development class at the local community college, but after looking through their course catalog I’ve realized they don’t offer mobile programming courses. In fact there are very few colleges or universities that offer courses in this new and exciting field.

So college is outrageously expensive, many graduates can’t find jobs or work jobs that require only a high school degree, and they can’t even stay current and offer courses on the latest technologies? I’ve already written about how I believe higher eduction is a huge bubble waiting to burst and tank our economy, but they can’t even teach the latest and most highly sought skills? What a rip off.

I’m Gonna Learn Mobile Development from a Web Course

I realized that if I want to learn mobile development I’m going to have to do it without the help of a college, and unfortunately I’m not a good enough developer to just “learn as I go”. I needed to find some way to get instruction without going to a college.

androidEnter this kick-butt site Udemy.

This site allows people to create their own classes and charge users to access their content. It looks like anyone can create a course and there is a built-in review system so users know which courses are best. Unlike college where you take the courses that are required with instructors that may or may not be more helpful than Sheldon Cooper, on this site you get to read the reviews, take what you want, and learn at your own pace.

I haven’t tried any of the courses yet (because I’m a little busy building my own site), but once my new site launches I plan to take either Android Programming for Beginners ($49) or Android Apps in 1 Hour: No Coding Required ($99) using this awesome free tool built at MIT called App Inventor.

The best part is that either one of those classes is going to be a heck of a lot cheaper than a class at my community college.

Skills Beat Education Almost Every Time

Imagine you take one of these courses and learn to build mobile phone apps. Then you use that knowledge to build a few apps, publish them for the iPhone and Android, and maybe even make a few bucks along the way. Now imagine you and some guy with a Masters Degree in computer programming are interviewing for a mobile development position. He has the edge when it comes to education, but all you have to do is pull out your phone in the interview and say “Look what I’ve built.”

If I’m the hiring manager, I’m hiring the person who has proven he has the skills and experience to do the job and I don’t care if he or she has been to college or not.

Mobile development might not be the right career path for you, but if you know what you want to do then I suggest you figure out how to learn the skills. It could be going to college, or it might be an online course or an apprenticeship. Don’t worry about a piece of paper; when you have awesome skills it doesn’t matter.

Readers: What’s the next thing you plan on learning, and how are you going to learn it?