Top 6 Personal Loans & Student Loans for Career Development

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Updated on Friday, November 3, 2017


A few years (or more) after graduating from college, you may find yourself in a weird spot. You don’t want to go back to school for another traditional degree, but you want to pursue certification in an area such as coding or UX design to give your resume a boost. Or maybe you want to get formal training in an entirely new field through an intensive boot camp program.

Fortunately, there are options that can give you 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.

Here are some loan options for you to consider.

1. Earnest

APRs from 5.99% to 17.24% fixed

Earnest offers personal loans for multiple uses, including career development. You can borrow from $5,000 to $75,000. Loan terms are from 36 to 60months, with No origination fee or prepayment penalties. When you initially check your rate, Earnest may perform a soft credit pull. But when you submit your application, Earnest may do a Hard Pull, which means your credit score will be affected.

It should be noted that Earnest’s personal loan is not eligible to use for accredited school programs. It can only be used for unaccredited education programs, such as culinary schools, boot camps and midwifery schools.

The loan application process is online, and you’ll receive a response about your application within five to 10 business days. Earnest reviews many variables outside of your credit score to qualify you for a loan. So if your credit score is affecting the rate you get with other lenders, Earnest is worth checking out. However, you should have at least a 680credit score.

Earnest will take into account your savings, debt levels and history of on-time payments to calculate your rate. Currently, this loan is offered in all states other than Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada and Rhode Island.


2. Upstart

APRs from 8.13% fixed

Upstart offers from $1,000 up to $50,000 in personal loans for courses or boot camps to further your career. Loan terms of 36 or 60 months are available. One negative of Upstart is that it may have an origination fee is Up to 8.00%. The fee is deducted from the loan before it’s distributed. Upstart does a Soft Pull of your credit report to determine if you’re preapproved.

Upstart will accept borrowers with a credit score of 600 and above. If you have a limited credit history, you may still be able to qualify. Similar to Earnest, Upstart reviews your credit score as well as other factors such as your education, area of study and job history to determine if you’re eligible for a loan and what kind of rate you’ll get.

Once approved for an Upstart loan, you can agree to the terms and get your money within a few days.



Credit Req.


Minimum Credit Score


36 or 60


Origination Fee

Up to 8.00%


on LendingTree’s secure website

Upstart is an online lender created by ex-Googlers.... Read More

3. Wells Fargo

APRs from 3.75% variable

Wells Fargo has a unique opportunity for students pursuing career training or non-traditional 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. You can also use this loan for a two-year community college.

There are no application, origination or early repayment fees. Wells Fargo offers variable and fixed-interest options. 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 an automatic payment plan.

You can take out up to $20,000 depending on the type of training you’re getting and the school from which you’re getting it. No payment on the loan is required until six 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.

Wells Fargo
Fixed APR

3.99% To 9.99%

Variable APR

3.75% To 9.74%





on Wells Fargo Bank’s secure website

4. Sallie Mae

APRs from 1.25% variable

Sallie Mae has a program relatively similar to Wells Fargo’s career-training program. Sallie Mae will fund up to 100% of the cost to attend school for professional training and trade certificate courses at non-degree-granting schools.

There is no prepayment penalty and no disbursement fees. You can apply with a cosigner. While taking classes, you can either pay a fixed $25 per month or choose interest repayment, which would lower your total loan cost more than the fixed repayment option.

Fixed APR

4.74% To 11.85%

Variable APR

1.25% To 9.44%




on Sallie Mae Bank’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

Borrow responsibly
We encourage students and families to start with savings, grants, scholarships, and federal student loans to pay for college. Students and families should evaluate all anticipated monthly loan payments, and how much the student expects to earn in the future, before considering a private student loan.

This information is for undergraduate borrowers attending degree-granting institutions only. You must be attending a participating school located in the U.S. or have attended one during an eligible prior enrollment period. You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident or a Non-U.S. citizen borrower with a creditworthy cosigner (who must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident) and required U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) documentation. U.S. citizens and permanent residents enrolled in eligible study abroad programs or who are attending or have attended schools located outside the U.S. are also eligible. Applications are subject to a requested minimum loan amount of $1,000. Current credit and other eligibility criteria apply.

1Interest is charged starting at disbursement, during school and the separation/grace period, and until the loan is paid in full. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan's Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. Payments may be required during the grace/separation period depending on the repayment option selected. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs assume a $10,000 loan to a freshman with no other Sallie Mae loans. Borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month and may be suspended during periods of forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan.

2Although we do not charge you a penalty or fee if you prepay your loan, any prepayment will be applied as provided in your promissory note: First to Unpaid Fees and costs, then to Unpaid Interest, and then to Current Principal.

3This promotional benefit is provided at no cost to borrowers with loans that first disburse between July 1, 2018 and April 30, 2020. Borrowers who reside in, attend school in, or borrow for a student attending school in Maine are not eligible for this benefit. No cash value. Terms and Conditions apply. Please visit for complete details. This offer expires one year after issuance.

4Loan amount cannot exceed the cost of attendance less financial aid received as certified by the school. Sallie Mae reserves the right to approve a lower loan amount than the school-certified amount.

5Based on a comparison of approval rates for Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loans for undergraduate students who applied with a cosigner versus without a cosigner during a rolling 12-month period from October 1, 2017 through September 30, 2018.


Information advertised valid as of 4/27/2020.

Sallie Mae, the Sallie Mae logo, and other Sallie Mae names and logos are service marks or registered service marks of Sallie Mae Bank. All other names and logos used are the trademarks or service marks of their respective owners.

© 2019 Sallie Mae Bank. All rights reserved.

SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries, including Sallie Mae Bank are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

Alternatives to a personal loan

You should be aware that there are alternatives to taking out a personal loan to pay for career development programs. Here are a few:

  • Reimbursement from an employer: Some employers provide the benefit of reimbursement for certain educational programs, particularly if they are related to your current career or position. Before getting a personal loan, find out if your employer can help with the costs of any program you’re considering.
  • Scholarships and grants: You may be able to get at least a portion of your program paid for through a scholarship or educational grant. Find out if your program offers this kind of assistance before you consider a loan.
  • Loan from a family member or friend: A loved one may be willing to provide an interest-free loan — or even a gift — to help you get ahead in your career, or explore a brand new one. Just ensure that, if a family member or friend does provide you with a loan, you can easily pay it back. You never want to cause strain in a close relationship because of money issues.
  • Zero-percent APR credit card: If you’re able to secure a credit card with a 0% — or relatively low — APR for a certain period of time, and you can pay off your balance before the promotional period ends, using a credit card to pay for your preferred program may make more sense than taking out a personal loan.

Bottom line

The world we live in today is constantly evolving, so our skills will also have to evolve as we move forward in our careers. Before choosing a personal loan or student loan for career development, you should have 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 from a university for your resume? Deciding your end game will help you choose the loan — or other option — that’s best for you.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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