On some level, we all have dreams of living in beautiful homes, driving fancy cars, and taking extravagant vacations, but they can feel out of reach if you don’t have job prospects with a lot of upward mobility.
When you learn a high income skill, you open yourself up to an entirely new world of possibilities—things that once seemed unattainable can suddenly be yours when you master an in-demand ability.
To help you grasp this concept, we’ll dive into some specifics surrounding high-income skills, and provide some tips for how you can endeavor to learn a few.
So let’s dive in!
What Is A High Income Skill?
A high-income skill is precisely what it sounds like: an ability that will earn you a large income. More specifically, high-income skills are often defined as ones that can earn you six-figure salaries, even if you don’t have a college degree.
If you’ve ever glanced at a list of the highest paying jobs in America and thought, “I could do that” about half of them—you’re probably right.
The truth is that you don’t necessarily need to spend the entirety of your 20s in college in order to accrue massive earning potential; learning a high-income skill can often be achieved through real-world experience in less time than you’d think.
Are High Income Skills A Better Route?
The question of college vs. experience is a highly personal debate; at the end of the day, you have to do whatever feels right to you, but you should assess all of the facts before you make your decision one way or the other. The current job market is over-saturated with educated candidates, but they don’t necessarily have the skills to get the jobs that they’re after.
When you opt to learn a high paying skill as opposed to getting a degree, you take on little to no debt. On the other hand, the average college graduate is saddled with more than $35,000 in student loans that they’re left to pay off for decades into the future. Given that interest starts accumulating just six months after graduating, most degree-holders barely have time to find a job before they have to start repaying their loans.
High-income skills can often be taught through hands-on experience rather than lectures or traditional education; you might think this would hurt your chances of getting a job, but work experience can almost always be substituted for education when applying for government jobs or positions with large companies. This means that when you see job postings saying that they prefer a Bachelor’s Degree, about four years of work experience will usually suffice just as well.
When it comes to actually performing in a job, there’s no question that genuinely grasping skills is more valuable than earning a degree. In 2018, 93% of surveyed workers said that skills training had helped them in their careers, whereas only 79% said that their college education was useful.
The bottom line is that you have to decide whether or not college is the right route for you, but if you do choose to pursue a degree, be sure that you’re investing time in truly learning skills along the way.
22 High Income Skills You Can Learn To Make More Money
2. Digital Marketing
4. Web Design
5. Web Development
6. SEO and SEM Marketing
7. Trade Skills
8. Video Production
9. Content Writing
10. Software Development
There are certain professions that you will obviously need a degree to enter into.
For example, you’ll never become a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist without some traditional schooling to back you up, but these 23 skills are ones that you can earn through experience and self-teaching.
If you invest the time to hone these abilities, you’re liable to find that you’re income potential skyrockets.
If you’re a persuasive person who has a natural ability to spin things in a positive light, then you’re well-suited for a career in sales. Persistence is key in this field because you’ll hear the word “no” a lot, but when you find your groove, the possibilities are endless.
Certain sales sectors are more high-paying than others, but one of the best things about working in sales is that it’s often based around commission; this means that your earnings are directly proportionate to your performance. The better you get at sales, the more money you will earn.
2. Digital Marketing
This is an umbrella term that encompasses an entire industry. From SEO and SEM to content marketing and social media management, digital marketing is a critical component of the modern landscape.
These are natural candidates for the high-income skills list because the digital world is constantly evolving, so it’s tough to teach these skills in a classroom setting—you simply have to learn them through experience. Even a mid-level digital marketer can make more than $100,000, so once you’ve established yourself in this arena, you’ll have no trouble reaching new heights with your income.
Maybe you don’t quite have the face-to-face confidence to work as a sales representative, but you’ve got the communication skills to come up with perfect sales-driven language.
Copywriting is an art that’s tough to master, so if you have the ability to weave words, you can hone that into a highly lucrative skill. Be sure that you seek out a mentor if you’re looking to explore this industry; there are many companies out there that will take advantage of you and pay far less than you’re worth when top copywriters can easily bring in six figures.
4. Web Design
Although you will likely want to invest in some sort of training course to learn web design basics like visuals, UX, HTML, CSS, and different design software, the cost of this training will pale in comparison to that of a college degree.
In fact, you can likely find free courses through outlets like YouTube—just make sure they’re produced by a credible source. Web design is an incredibly flexible career path, and the income potential is virtually uncapped; as your skills grow and you build a client base, you can gradually raise your rate.
5. Web Development
The more technical aspect of websites is known as development, or programming. Every business in the modern world needs a website, so if you can learn how to build high-quality ones, then you’ll have positioned yourself for a long-term career path.
As in-depth as web development may be, you can learn the ins and outs in less than six months if you dedicate your time to free courses; once you’ve done that, you can begin earning more than $60,000 to start and move up to more than $100,000 in just a few years.
6. SEO and SEM Marketing
This specialized set of skills technically falls under the digital marketing umbrella, but it only concerns search engine optimization and marketing. Considering that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine, this skill set is only bound to become more popular in time.
You will need to learn about keyword research, PPC campaigns, and other important details related to effectively wielding the power of search engines, but this information can easily be found for free online.
7. Trade Skills
Some of the most high-paying skills are actually labor-intensive ones. These trades generally require that you attend a vocational school, but even the longest programs can be completed in less than two years.
This is a very minimal amount of time to invest, and you can often complete an apprenticeship while you’re in the program, so you’re still earning money as you learn. Once the proper training has been completed, trade skills jobs can earn you upwards of $100,000 per year.
8. Video Production
There are three main phases of video production: pre-production, filming, and editing. This means that if you want to offer comprehensive video editing services, you will need to understand how to develop a strategy, utilize filming equipment, and edit with top-tier software.
The good news is, 85% of all Internet users watch video content regularly, so if you take the time to learn this skill, you can rest assured that it will be in high demand.
9. Content Writing
A huge part of any effective digital marketing strategy is well-written content. Unlike copywriting, which is generally geared toward sales, content writing may have any number of intentions, like education or entertainment.
If you’re a naturally gifted writer who understands how to connect with audiences through words, then this could be a great path for you. Certain large companies will pay top-dollar for, especially skilled content writers.
10. Software Development
Like web development, software development requires an understanding of coding; the difference is that software developers are creating specific programs which are meant to mitigate some pain points rather than websites which are intended to expand a digital presence.
There are many coding languages, so the first step in becoming a software engineer is deciding which one you want to learn. From there, you’ll need to study and practice quite a bit; you’ll have the most luck if you find a group of supportive coders who can help you along the way.
Once you have sharpened this skill, you can easily be making six figures.
11. UI/UX Design
User interface and user experience design fundamentally change the way that audiences interact with an application, website, or device; the job of a designer is to make the user journey as streamlined and enjoyable as possible.
There are many technical aspects of this sort of work, but the good news is that plenty of experienced folks are willing to share their expertise online.
12. Cloud Computing
Today, 96% of enterprises use cloud computing, and it’s easy to see why—enhanced collaboration and accessibility are expected benefits of business in the modern world. There are lots of different roles you could take on related to cloud computing, ranging from a database administrator to a computer support specialist.
13. Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence has grown by more than 150% annually for the last few years, and it will keep pace with that rate for the foreseeable future. To get involved in this industry, you could work to become a data scientist or a machine learning engineer; in order to be truly competitive for these jobs, you’ll need a firm grasp on all of the modern programming languages.
Basically, if artificial intelligence/machine learning is your end goal, then you can set out on the same path that you would in order to become a programmer since you’ll need the same foundational knowledge.
14. Public Speaking
Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, and it’s one of the most common forms of anxiety. If you’re lucky enough that you aren’t plagued with any worries over talking in front of large crowds, then you could earn big money through public speaking.
Often, public speaking becomes a high income skill when coupled with sales; if you have the confidence to get up on a stage and close hundreds of deals in a matter of minutes, you could be earning millions before you know it. Even if you’re more interested in working as a motivational speaker, you can earn thousands of dollars for a single speaking engagement.
Consultants provide clients with valuable, customized insight in a particular area, and they get paid thousands of dollars per session to do it. Whether you have years of experience in a particular niche or you’re just the sort of person that gives exceptional life advice, you could build a lucrative coaching/consulting business for yourself.
It might be tough to get started in this industry because you won’t have a client base yet, but once you build up a set of satisfied customers, then word of mouth will likely bring in new leads for you.
By now, practically everyone has heard of crypto currencies, and the blockchain technology that powers them. Given that there’s some speculation that cryptocurrency could eventually replace cash, forging a career in blockchain might prove an incredible long-term investment.
The great thing about this industry is that it’s very nontraditional, so you can easily learn everything there is to know about blockchain with online research; from there, you’ll have to find an entrepreneurial path in the blockchain industry that aligns with your goals.
17. Day Trader
Day traders actively monitor the stock market, buying and selling securities based on trends that they see emerging. You’ll need an analytical mind and an eye for patterns if you hope to find success in this field, but you can earn an unbelievable amount of money if all goes according to plan.
In order to become a day trader, you’ll need some capital to get started and a whole lot of time to invest in trial and error. Because the truth of the matter is that it’s a very hard trade. Still, you can find tons of resources online that can help you pick up tips, so be sure to do your due diligence.
18. Legal and Administrative Skills
Some of the most universal skills in the entire world of business are legal and administrative ones; if you sharpen these basic but necessary skills with the right company, then you can climb the ladder and end your career with a six-figure salary easily.
Administrative jobs are some of the easiest entry-level positions to receive without prior work history, but if you play your cards right and work your way to the top, you could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars in time.
19. Mobile Development
In this digital world, 96% of Americans own a cellphone, and everyone wants the newest, most innovative solutions out of their mobile devices.
Once again, you will have to dedicate time to learning programming languages if you want to get into mobile development, but once you’ve spent a few months on this pursuit, you can begin designing and selling applications for huge sums of money.
20. Ecommerce Expert
If you’re like most people, you probably enjoy a bit of online shopping, but have you ever thought about the infrastructure that backs up those digital stores?
Plenty of businesses have great products but lack the skills to properly sell them online; if you can learn how to manage popular platforms like Shopify plus develop basic marketing skills, your eCommerce expertise will earn you a high income in no time.
21. WordPress Developer
WordPress is by far the most popular content management system in the world, but plenty of people still don’t have the skills to manage their WordPress sites on their own.
Many businesses simply don’t have the time to update their own sites, so if you can spend a few months getting familiar with all of the details of WordPress, then you can start out making major cash right off the bat.
22. Business Development
Some people simply have a mind for business; they can see perfect paths toward success that are invisible to others. If that sounds like you, then it’s a great idea to pursue a career in business development. You’ll need to be able to generate leads, create strategies, and complete negotiations to thrive in this industry.
How To Master A High Income Skill?
Once you’ve settled on the high income skills that you are looking to learn, the real challenge begins. Fortunately, there are many ways that you can sharpen your abilities and tackle the task of learning new skills.
1. Get A Mentor
You’d be surprised just how willing veterans in the industry are to impart knowledge to newcomers. Find someone whose work you admire and ask if they would be willing to show you the ropes—the worst they can say is no.
2. Welcome New Challenges
Have you ever heard the term “baptism by fire”? When you take on big challenges as you try to learn new skills, it will feel incredibly tough at first, but you’ll learn much faster than you would ordinarily.
3. Read Books And Apply What You Learn
You don’t need to go to college in order to read textbooks, and if you apply yourself to reading, then you’ll gain valuable insight from relevant books.
4. First-Hand Experience
Depending on the skill you’re looking to learn, you might be able to complete an internship or job shadowing in order to gain some experience. Otherwise, you might simply need to download some software and start practicing; either way, you’ll never get better if you don’t get to work.
5. Network With Others In Your Industry
In many cases, who you know is more important than what you know. The right industry connections can pay off in a major way, so stay in contact with as many people as possible.
6. Take Courses And Leverage Online Learning Platforms
Sites like Skillshare, Udemy, YouTube, Google, and the Internet, in general, are brimming with information on literally every subject. Often, you’ll find you don’t need to pay for any training in order to thoroughly learn a new skill.
High Income Skills Q&A
As you consider the different opportunities that high-income skills present, you’re bound to have a few lingering questions; here are answers to some of the most frequent areas of curiosity.
Truthfully, there isn’t a single tech skill that isn’t widely in demand, but programming skills are the most desired. If you can learn a few (or all) of the most popular modern programming languages, then you’ll have no trouble whatsoever finding a job where you earn six figures.
This answer depends on a few different factors, like what experience you already have, and whether you’re willing to dedicate hours of attention every day to learning the new skill. Because development skills generally require more technical knowledge, those would be practically impossible to fully learn in a month if you’re starting from scratch. You could, however, learn digital marketing, copywriting, content writing, sales, video production, public speaking, and administrative skills within a month.
Hard skills are the practical on-the-job knowledge needed to complete a role. For example, if you’re hired for video production, then some necessary hard skills would be shooting and editing film clips.
Soft skills are the interpersonal abilities that you bring to the table; these are often referenced when talking about things like company culture and fit. Examples of soft skills include creative thinking, time management, and conflict resolution. The right soft skills can make someone far more effective at their job than hard skills alone.
If you’re looking for a surefire way to earn a great income without a degree, then learning a trade skill is the way to go because there is no doubt that you can earn a great income as an electrician, plumber, mechanic, or something of the like. If you’re willing to gamble on yourself a bit, then working in sales has the potential to be the highest paying job without a degree, but there are no guarantees since much of your earnings will come from commission.
Some of the most in-demand job skills for the current market include cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and sales ability. It’s clear that the world of business is fixated on tech, so there’s major growth potential if you choose to sharpen one of those skills.
It’s easy to feel locked into a certain path once you start out in that direction, but the truth is that there are limitless options for the direction your life can take if you’re willing to invest some effort into learning a new skill.
Some of the most lucrative skills in today’s job market don’t require a college degree, they simply require passion and drive. If you’re ready to boost your income potential and change the trajectory of your life, then set out to learn a new high-income skill today.