Updated November 03, 2017
A few years after graduating college you may find yourself in a weird spot. You don’t want to go back to school for another degree in the traditional sense, but you want to pursue certification in an area like coding or UX design to give your resume a boost. Or maybe you want to get formal training in an entirely new field through intensive boot camp programs.
Fortunately, there are options outside of “going back to school” that give us the opportunity to continue learning without committing to an entirely new degree. You can also find funding to help ease the burden of paying completely out-of-pocket for career development.
Check out a few of these loan options:
Fixed rates starting from 5.49% APR
When considering loans for career development, SoFi should be a loan at the top of your list because of its customer service and loan perks. The application is completely online and once approved funds are wired to your account. It also doesn’t hurt your credit score to see if you’re pre-approved and your rate.
SoFi offers fixed and variable interest loans. You can borrow $5,000 to $100,000. Loan terms are 3 - 7 years. There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties.
One feature of a SoFi loan that makes it stand apart from other loans is the unemployment protection. If you lose your job, there are resources like career coaching to help you find another position. You can also get payments postponed temporarily during your job search.
Fixed rates starting from 5.25% APR
Earnest offers personal loans for multiple uses including career development. You can borrow from $2,000 to $50,000. Loan terms are 1, 2 and 3 years long with no hidden fees or prepayment penalties. Earnest does a hard pull to determine if you’re approved, so your credit score will be affected.
The loan application process is online as well and you’ll receive a response about your loan application within 2 to 3 business days. Earnest reviews many variables outside of just your credit score to qualify you for a loan. So, if your credit score is impacting the rate you get with other lenders, Earnest is worth checking out.
Earnest will take into account your savings, earning potential, education and your history of on-time payments to find you the best rate. Currently, this loan is not offered in Nevada, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, Iowa, Vermont, Montana, North Dakota or South Dakota. Although, plans are in motion to open up lending to these states.
Rates starting from 7.43% APR
Upstart offers $1,000 to $50,000 in personal loans for courses or boot camps to further your career. Loan terms of 3 and 5 years are available. One negative of Upstart is it does have an origination fee of 0.00% to 8%. Similar to SoFi, Upstart does a soft pull of your credit report to determine if you’re pre-approved.
Upstart will accept borrowers with a credit score of 640 and above. If you have a limited credit history you may still be able to qualify. Similar to Earnest, Upstart reviews your credit score among other factors like your education, area of study and job history to determine if you're eligible for a loan.
Once approved for an Upstart loan, you can agree to terms and get your money within a few days.
Fixed rates starting from 5.99% APR (with autopay)
LightStream has loans from $5,000 to $100,000. Loan terms range from 2 to 7 years. There are no fees or prepayment penalties, but it will be a hard pull on your credit report to see if you’re pre-approved. One positive of LightStream is it’s very clear with how it determines interest rates.
You’ll get the most competitive rates with excellent credit. Since the term “excellent” can be subjective, LightStream outlines what’s considered excellent credit based on a profile of past excellent borrowers. These borrowers tend to have:
- 5 or more years of credit history
- A mix of credit accounts like various credit cards, auto loans and mortgages
- Excellent payment history with no delinquencies
- Proven ability to save
- Stable income
Now, one important thing to mention, you can’t use a LightStream loan for college or postsecondary education. If you want to take out this loan for career development, contact customer service to double check that whatever course you plan to take is eligible for the loan.
5. Wells Fargo
Variable rates starting from 4.49% APR
Wells Fargo has a unique opportunity for students pursuing career training or non-traditional school education. This could be a good option if you’re looking to further your career in the form of certificates and licensing from a university.
There are no application, origination or repayment fees. Wells Fargo offers variable and fixed interest options. Rates include somes discount. You can get a 0.25% discount if you have a previous Wells Fargo student loan or another qualifying account. There's another 0.25% discount if you set up automatic payment.
You can take out up to $20,000 depending on the type of training you’re getting and from what school you’re getting it from. No payment on the loan is required until 6 months after you leave school, but interest will accrue during any deferment.
Wells Fargo does allow cosigners and cosigner release. Cosigners can be removed from the loan after 24 consecutive, on-time payments are made and you meet other credit requirements.
Variable rates starting from 3.25% APR
Sallie Mae has a program relatively similar to the Wells Fargo career-training program. Sallie Mae will fund up to 100% of the cost to attend school for training.
Both fixed and variable rate loans are available. There are no prepayment penalty or disbursement fees. You can apply with a cosigner and your cosigner can be released after you make 12 on-time payments, pass a credit review and meet other criteria.
Prepayment begins 6 months after you’re finished with classes. One perk of the Sallie Mae loan is while taking classes you have the option to pay interest or you can pay a fixed $25 per month to reduce your repayment schedule in the future.
How to decide
The world we live in today is constantly evolving, so naturally our skills will have to evolve as we move forward in our careers. Before choosing a personal loan or student loan for career development, get a good sense of your end goal.
Do you want to simply learn a new skill or do you want to gain a new credential (i.e. certification) from a university for your resume? Deciding your end game will help you choose the loan product that’s best for you.
Goldman Sachs Bank USA High-yield 12 Month CD
Synchrony Bank 12 Month CD
Synchrony Bank High Yield Savings
Barclays Online Savings Account
* All banks listed are a Member FDIC.