There have been times I have seen employees who are frustrated because their employers don’t help them with their education, typically getting paid while getting educated and/or paying for classes. What is sad to see is when they don’t do anything about it, including getting a new job that is more in line with your knowledge hunger or investing in yourself. You can pay for classes or find low cost or free resources. Don’t let an industry, short sighted employer, or controlling manager keep you from advancing. Just the mere act or attitude of fighting for yourself can land you an improved position, better job, or increased credibility.
So where to start? While this is focused on the Windows platform, these approaches are available for Linux and Mac systems. Or even cloud based options using Chrome OS or tablets.
Podcasts are great ways to stay current with technology. TWIT.TV has a bunch of IT-based content. .NET Rocks has great developer information. Using a podcast player (e.g. Pocket Casts is a favorite) on a mobile device allows you to subscribe and play back content while you workout, drive, do house chores, etc.
With development, if your employer hands you a poor performing machine, you can still buy your own home machine with some decent RAM and CPUs (recommend quad cores). You can freely use Hyper-V on Windows 10 Pro or use VirtualBox to run multiple systems at the same time on the machine. Microsoft offers a lot of free resources to help. You can use Azure for virtualized machines. Visual Studio Community 2017 and Microsoft SQL Server Express are free editions for development and database respectively.
If you want to education credibility, you can work hard to prepare for a Microsoft Certification Exam. Take the right exams to obtain a MTA, MCSA, MCSE, or MCSD (the last one is best for developers) certification. While the exams aren’t free, you can find deals on purchasing multiple exams, typically with time limit restrictions. Or if you are nervous about taking your first exam, you can opt-in for an exam replay (if you fail the first time) or exam replay with practice test.
In short, there is no reason to not educate yourself, whether you are new, need to catch up, want to shift areas, or want to stay current.