Are you interested in learning high-income skills to advance your career or start a side hustle? While you may think you need a college degree, that’s not always the case.
Thanks to the internet, anyone can learn a high-income skill to make more money.
But which skills should you consider? How exactly should you learn them? After all, learning a new skill will require an investment of your time and maybe even some money.
If you’re asking yourself these questions, you’re in the right place. This article will cover:
What Is a High-Income Skill?
A high-income skill is any professional expertise with high demand that you can leverage to make more money, such as software development.
Learning a high-income skill is a great way to advance your career and make more money or start a side hustle that generates six or more figures. It’s also a great way to improve your job security.
People with high-income skills typically earn an annual salary of $100,000 or more. However, this will vary from city to city because of differences in living expenses.
For example, someone with a high-income skill who lives in Los Angeles will typically make much more than someone with a high-income skill who lives in a small town.
With that said, a six-figure annual salary is an excellent monetary benchmark for defining what constitutes a high-income skill.
12 High Income Skills You Should Learn
Now that you know what a high-income skill is, here are 12 high-income skills you should consider learning:
- Software Development
- UX Design
- Search Engine Optimization
- Digital Marketing
- Data Analysis
- Project Management
- Graphic Design
- Video Editing
- Soft Skills
The skills are listed in no particular order. However, there is a heavy focus on technical skills relating to computing. This reflects the growing influence of technological abilities on high-income skills.
Keep in mind that these skills will take time to develop. If you need to make some money fast, consider selling stuff you no longer use, driving for Uber, or doing odd jobs with TaskRabbit.
1. Software Development
Software development is well-deserving of the number one spot on our list. It is one of the most in-demand and lucrative high-income skills.
According to U.S. News, the median salary of software developers was $110,140 in 2020. The top 25 percent made $140,470.
Simply put, software is the programs and other operating information used for computers and other electronic devices. The developers are the ones who write the code that makes it all run.
Because we rely so much on electronics like smartphones, a world without software developers is unimaginable. As a result, this skill is highly sought-after.
While some employers may require a degree in computer science, that’s not always the case. Many top employers like Apple and Google have gotten rid of their application requirement of a degree.
They now recognize that many talented software developers are self-taught or have acquired the appropriate skill set outside of traditional education.
2. UX Design
User Experience (UX) is all about the front-end design of consumer-facing platforms like apps, social networks, blogs, eCommerce stores, and other websites.
UX designers ensure the front end of these platforms offer an enjoyable and friendly user experience.
This is a rapidly growing field, and UX designers are highly demanded. According to Indeed, the average base salary of a UX designer is $95,062 per year.
While UX design was traditionally reserved for people with advanced degrees, Google recently announced the Google UX Design Certificate as an alternative to traditional education.
The certificate program teaches the foundations of UX design, how to build wireframes and prototypes, and how to conduct research to test your designs.
3. Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization, better known as SEO, is another extremely valuable technical skill for which businesses pay top dollar. According to glassdoor, SEO specialists can make up to $355,000 per year!
SEO is the process of increasing a website’s traffic from search engines like Google.
To achieve this, SEO consultants work on the technical aspect of the website, on-page content, and build links in an effort to make the website rank as high as possible.
The higher the website ranks in search engines, the more traffic it receives, which may convert into sales.
SEO is an excellent high-income skill to learn if you’re tech-savvy, understand the internet, and are interested in marketing.
As long as you have the right expertise and experience, your academic background will not determine your success as an SEO specialist.
4. Digital Marketing
Generally speaking, digital marketing refers to advertisements that are delivered through digital channels.
In this context, digital marketing is an umbrella term that covers many sub-areas that you can specialize in.
Some sub-areas that digital marketing includes are:
- Content marketing
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Search engine optimization (seen above)
The more specialized your digital marketing skill set, the more you can earn. For example, if a company needs help with social media marketing, they will want to hire a social media marketing expert and not a digital marketing generalist.
However, when you’re just starting, it’s okay to learn the general basics of digital marketing and then specialize later on.
5. Data Analysis
Data analysis is another high-income skill that also has high growth. In fact, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report forecasted it as the top skill.
According to glassdoor, data analysts make anywhere between $76,398 and $153,00 per year.
Simply put, data analysts help businesses improve their products, services, and operations through data analysis. The interpretation and usage of the data allow them to make the most informed decisions possible.
To interpret and use the data, analysts use various tools like SQL, R, Python, Tableau, Microsoft Excel, and Google Sheets.
There are several jobs that involve data analysis, such as data scientist, business analyst, data engineer, and data analyst.
While some of these jobs may require a degree, not all do. If you develop your data analysis skills outside of traditional education, you should be able to land a job.
If you’re not interested in learning technical skills, sales is a great option. Sales is a high-income skill that has been around for countless centuries.
It’s also not going anywhere because companies will always be selling products and services. Whether it’s B2C or B2B, every industry has an element of sales.
Salespeople are responsible for taking care of the company’s bottom line by generating revenue.
As far as earning go, it can be difficult to pinpoint how much salespeople make. However, they typically work for commission.
This means that they have the opportunity to boost their income potential because it’s directly related to their job performance. With that said, the top performers can easily earn more than $200,000 per year.
While sales doesn’t require a technical background or even a specific degree, you will need a persuasive personality to succeed.
You will also need to understand the market, stay up to date with industry developments, and follow the latest trends.
Are you a talented writer who would love to write for a living? If you are, copywriting may be the perfect high-income skill for you to learn.
While you may have never heard of copywriting, it’s a vital skill within the marketing world.
Copywriting is a specialized form of persuasive writing. It focuses on informing potential customers of a product or service through marketing material and encouraging them to make a purchase. The text on the marketing material is known as copy.
Copywriters make significant money by negotiating to be paid a percentage of every sale that their copy makes.
For example, a copywriter may earn a flat fee of $6,000 plus a 6% commission on all sales. In this case, they would earn $120,000 in commissions alone if their copy brings in $2 million in sales.
While some copywriters prefer to work for marketing agencies, copywriting is a particularly excellent high-income skill for freelancers.
8. Project Management
Project management skills are a bit of a catch-all. They are universally valued abilities that will help you advance your career.
Project management is all about communicating, organizing, and leading a team. This means having the ability to complete work on time, stay within budget, and use resources efficiently.
It also means having the ability to manage a company’s daily operations to complete large-scale projects.
For example, if you work in public infrastructure, you may oversee the design and execution of a new bridge. If you’re a project manager for a retail company, you may manage the production and launch of a new product.
While a bachelor’s degree in project management is always an option, many employers are moving away from traditional education.
For example, Google offers the Google Project Management Certificate to help people get started in the high-growth field of project management.
9. Graphic Design
Graphic design is another excellent high-income skill for freelancers. Graphic design freelancers can easily make more than $100,000 per year if they market their skills correctly.
Graphic design is the visual element of things like offline and online advertisements and is everywhere you look. Don’t confuse this with web design, which is the design of websites.
Instead, graphic designers create logos, banners, infographics, brochures, magazines, etc.
While you can take courses on graphic design principles at your local college or university, there’s no need. You can easily succeed as a graphic designer if you’re self-taught through online courses.
However, you will need an artistic eye, creativity skills, and an understanding of graphic design software to succeed.
10. Video Editing
Video editing hasn’t always been a high-income skill, but things have changed with the rise of video content—many freelance video editors on platforms like Upwork charge more than $100 per hour.
Just take YouTube and TikTok, for example. Videos on these platforms are far more engaging than written content you find elsewhere.
Because of this, more and more companies are moving toward this form of content as a way to promote their products or services.
However, putting together professionally produced videos is not easy. It requires insider expertise of multiple software suites, video editing platforms, and much more. For example, Adobe After Affects and Adobe Premiere Pro.
As a result, companies are always looking for skilled video editors to strengthen their marketing efforts.
While growing up, you probably never heard teachers or high school advisors mention the value of trade skills as an alternative to a college degree.
However, a trade is another excellent high-income skill to learn if you’re not tech-savvy. Most trades only require a high school diploma. However, keep in mind that some do require an associate’s degree.
Simply put, a trade is any occupation that requires special training of practical skills rather than useless knowledge and information.
While not every tradesperson makes six-figure or more, many do, and If you’re good at your trade, you will too.
However, don’t expect to make 6-figures right away. As you become more proficient, your earnings will too.
Here are several of the highest-paying trade skills/jobs:
- Elevator repairer
- Radiation therapist
- Nuclear medicine technologist
- Dental hygienist
12. Soft Skills
While hard skills – professional expertise relating to a specific career field are essential – don’t forget about your soft skills.
Soft skills, commonly known as core skills, are attributes that define your ability to work with others and apply to all professions, such as teamwork skills.
Soft skills also determine your ability to adapt and navigate new conditions and the changing nature of work.
These types of skills can be considered more of a talent than a skill because they require practice to learn as opposed to being taught by the book.
Like hard skills, developing your soft skills will also help you advance your career.
Here are several soft skills to consider:
- Critical thinking
- Public speaking
- Conflict resolution
- Time management
How Do You Develop High-Income Skills?
Now that you know the best high-income skills, how exactly should you develop them?
Because we live in an age where knowledge and information is so readily accessible, you have several options. Here are a few of the best ways to learn a new skill:
Take Advantage of Free Resources
From blog posts to YouTube videos, there’s an endless amount of free knowledge across the internet.
For example, there are blogs dedicated to everything from SEO to software development.
Use these free resources to learn the basics of whatever high-income skill you choose.
Simply find two or three blogs and YouTube channels and learn everything they have to offer.
Invest in Paid Courses
Although there’s an endless amount of free knowledge across the internet, it can only take you so far.
Once you learn the basics of a high-income skill, you may want to invest in a paid course to take it to the next level.
To find the best courses, you should check out Udemy, Coursera, Skillshare, and EdX.
These are all online course provider platforms where experts teach others specific skills. There are literally thousands of topics and courses to choose from.
Get an Internship
One of the best ways to develop a high-income skill after learning the basics is by getting an internship or even a job in the field.
Although your first instinct after learning the basics may be to start a side hustle or freelance, getting an internship will allow you to get paid to learn.
While it may not be as exciting as starting a side hustle, it will accelerate how quickly you become an expert. It will also allow you to make mistakes that would be detrimental if you make when you have a side hustle.
Once you become an expert, you can then take your expertise and start a business. This way, you will be as prepared as possible when you do.
Find a Mentor
While a mentor won’t be able to teach you the ins and outs of a high-income skill, networking is critical to you’re overall success.
The right mentor who’s been there and done that will be able to provide you with a blueprint to follow, help you avoid common mistakes, and give you invaluable advice.
This will accelerate your new skill development and drastically increase your chances of success.
Final Thoughts on High-Income Skills
The best high-income skills are software development, UX design, search engine optimization, digital marketing, data analysis, sales, copywriting, project management, graphic design, video editing, trades, and soft skills.
If you’re a talented writer, consider learning copywriting. If you have an eye for creativity, graphic design may be your calling. If you’re very persuasive, learn sales!
While it may be challenging to learn a high-income skill, it’s well worth your time. Not only will it help you make more money, it will also improve your job security and create a positive outlook for your future.
To develop a high-income skill, take advantage of free resources, invest in online courses, find a mentor, get an internship, and utilize any other learning opportunities you have available.