These business communication courses can help grow in-demand skills for a changing workplace in 2024

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If you ask almost any professional about the most important hard skills, communication is almost always top of the list. 

The ability to discuss strategy, goals, and solutions with others is paramount to any business; communication can truly be the make or break for companies small and large. Millions of dollars can be lost each year because of inadequate communication.

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For these reasons, communication skills remain highly desired. Digital communication skills are the second most in-demand technical skill and communication more broadly—including written, oral, and presentation—remains among the top soft skills sought after by companies, according to Wiley’s Closing the Skills Gap 2023 report.

And with the workplace looking a lot different than it did just five years ago—with more remote work and AI integration, for example—the best ways to communicate are also changing.

“Skills today can generally get outmoded in about three to five years and so that means that we need to upskill really often,” says Angie Kamath, dean of the NYU School of Professional Studies.

Changing communication dynamics

One way to get ahead of the curve is to explore business communication courses. While they previously focused more on writing professional emails, completing research reports, creating effective presentations, today, the area has shifted to focus more deeply on data analytics, customer communication, social impact, and social media, Kamath notes.

Social media in particular has created new opportunities for businesses to sell products. According to Pew Research Center, 3 in 10 adult social media users have purchased a product after seeing it on social media—with the number rising if it is mentioned by a content creator they follow.

Because this shift is so broad and impactful, Kamath says integrated marketing has become the most popular master’s program that NYU’s professional studies school offers. For those who work deeply in the marketing and communications space—upskilling via a graduate program could be a great opportunity. 

For others, completing a certification program or even simply taking a one-off communication course could be a great way to learn the most up-to-date practices—especially in the wake of new technology.

“So, we often try to help people understand how to use technology—flavor of the month or flavor for year is AI—but how to use technology to enhance what you’re doing from a communications standpoint,” Kamath tells Fortune.

At the same time, there are also human dynamics that have changed in the workforce, including around gender, diversity, aging, hybridity, and Gen Z. Therefore, in part, exiting your algorithm is critically important to learning new ideas and having conversation, Kamath says.

“Whether it’s in our job life or work life or personal life like social media, is sucking us in,” she adds. “We get to be in our echo chamber because the algorithm is telling us what to consume.”

Her advice is to find an offering that best addresses your interests and learning desires within three large skill buckets: human, business-enabling, and technical. A course may be able to touch on all three or focus deeply on one subject. 

The good news is that there are a variety of program lengths, costs, requirements, and focuses, and while certificates are offered, you can also choose to just enroll in individual courses. Ultimately, it is most important to choose one that best fits into your modern career goals as well as personal circumstances. 

Fortune has laid out some of the offerings on the market for you to upskill in the world of business communication. 

Requirements: 2 courses to gain certification

Cost: $145 per course; $250 for package

Format: Online

Timeline: 10–20 hours to complete entire package

Course examples: Effective Business Writing; Effective Presentations; Communicating Collaboratively

Cost: $3,900

Format: Online

Timeline: 3 months

Course examples: Cross-Cultural Communication; Persuasive Writing; Impactful Unscripted Communication

Requirements: Take 3 business communication courses to gain certification

Cost: $9,660 ($3,220/course)

Format: Online or in-person

Timeline: Within three years

Course examples: Information Technology Finance and Communications; Grant Proposal Writing; Negotiation and Organizational Conflict Resolution

Requirements: Take 3 18-hour courses to gain certification

Cost: $11,400 ($3,800/course)

Format: Online or in-person

Timeline: Self-determined

Course examples: Interpersonal Communication & Conflict Management; Written and Visual Communication; Public Speaking for Professionals

Requirements: 3 core courses + 3 electives to gain certification

Cost: ~$5,400 ($799–$999/course)

Format: Online; instructor-led or self-paced options

Timeline: Within three years

Course examples: Digital Communication in a Changing Workplace; Persuading in Business: Leadership, Public Speaking, and Executive Communication; Strategic Communications and Corporate Storytelling

Requirements: Complete 7 courses (5 required + 2 electives)

Cost: ~$6,700 (includes fee, tuition, program materials)

Format: Online or in-person

Timeline: Self-determined

Course examples: The Dynamics of Interpersonal Communication; Crisis Management and Communications: Safeguarding Image and Viability; Best Practices in Social Media for the Communications Professional

Requirements: 4 course series

Cost: $49/month

Format: Online

Timeline: 2 months (10 hours/week)

Course examples: Business Writing; Graphic Design; Successful PresentationBeyond these examples, platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and edX offer a variety of course offerings in the business communication space. 

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