Climbing the career ladder can be daunting. You frequently need new skills to move ahead, but it's not always practical to take time off just to get some new credentials. However, AT&T and Udacity may have just solved this conundrum by unveiling "nanodegrees:" short online courses that are designed to boost your talents without disrupting your life. The upcoming programs teach subjects like app development and data analysis over the course of six to 12 months, assuming you devote 10 hours per week; you won't have to use up vacation time just to earn a certificate. You'll even get career help in the field you're studying, so you should have a better sense of how any new talents will apply in the real world.Nanodegrees won't be cheap when they're available this fall, with prices hovering around $200 per month. You'll get to skip ahead if you already have a partial understanding, though. Also, companies and organizations like Autodesk, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Technet are backing the initiative -- you'll get real recognition for your efforts. While these micro-courses won't do as much for your status as a full college degree or work experience, they may give you just enough of an advantage to land that new job or swanky promotion.