If you're like most people, your income determines your lifestyle. Luckily, you have direct control over your income by the skills you spend time developing. In this article, I'll look at high income skills that can help you expand your opportunities and reach much greater heights.
This is valuable information whether you're currently living paycheck to paycheck or work in a decent-paying yet uninspiring job. As long as your goal is career advancement, you're in the right place.
What are the High-Income Skills?
There are two types of skills.
Hard skills are associated with specific tasks. For instance, if you want to be an accountant, you'll need proficiency in Microsoft Office and other commonly-used programs. Soft skills are more subjective such as being a team leader or a good communicator.
The high income skills I'll be discussing in this article are primarily of the hard variety.
However, keep in mind that soft skills are crucial for landing the highest-paying jobs related to these skills. You'll always need to communicate effectively, for example, whether you're a web developer or a digital marketer. It's just that employers won't necessarily pay you exorbitant salaries solely to communicate.
What Qualifies as High-Income?
Now, you'll inevitably look at some of the median salaries associated with these skills and say, “that isn't high-income!”
However, the important thing to remember is that America's median salary is just under $36,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs associated with these skills pay significantly more, especially as you become proficient and move into higher-earning percentiles.
Whenever possible, I've relied on income data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Top 10 High Income Skills
While many people obtain high income skills through formal education, this isn't always necessary. If it is, you'll benefit from the ability to count on a substantial salary for eliminating any student debt you incurred.
However, most of the skills mentioned in this article can be learned through a combination of formal and self-directed training.
1. Web Development
Median Salary: $73,760 (source)
As the internet's role in our lives continually expands, so does the demand for web developers.
Once you crack into the industry, you'll enjoy relatively recession-proof work (read more about these types of jobs here) since websites need to be built, maintained, and secured regardless of the broader market.
A portfolio is critical when looking to impress potential employers. There's no better way to showcase your skills. Thankfully, setting up a portfolio of web development projects is quite easy once you've familiarized yourself with a programming language. Many courses – including free ones online – push you to create a portfolio by default.
2. Digital Marketing
Median Salary: $135,900 (source)
As a digital marketer, you'll have the tools necessary for helping companies grow on burgeoning platforms such as Facebook.
There are many aspects of digital marketing, including content creation, paid media campaigns, and lead generation. Whichever you choose, online courses – along with proven results on your own projects – can provide the knowledge needed to enter the workforce confidently.
An ability to produce results will be essential for obtaining well-paying jobs with this skill. It's not uncommon for digital marketers to freelance sporadically until they've proven themselves capable of taking on consistent work for a single client or employer.
Median Salary: $63,200 (source)
Copywriters produce the text designed to make readers convert via online advertisements. This is an art form requiring sufficient persuasive skills.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lumps copywriters in with other types of writers, including authors. This explains why the median salary is relatively low despite copywriters being an incredibly vital – and well paid – part of any digital marketing campaign.
You can learn copywriting through online courses and books such as Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini. Results are king when it comes to obtaining the highest-paying jobs in this field; you'll need a proven track record running successful campaigns.
4. Software Development
Median Salary: $107,510 (source)
Software developers design, install and maintain programs used by consumers and business professionals.
They do this using a variety of languages. Among the most popular at the moment (according to Northeastern University) are:
As software and the internet become increasingly intertwined, so too does software development and web development. Nonetheless, there are enough notable differences to qualify them as being separate.
To obtain the highest-paying jobs in software development, you'll generally need a computer science degree. However, you can also cut to the chase and become proficient in a specific software language, then leverage personal projects and freelance experience into high-paying full-time work. Online courses can be great guides along this path.
Median Salary: Varies drastically depending on what you're selling (source)
Your success as a sales agent depends greatly on your ability to persuade potential buyers. You'll need a combination of impressive soft, interpersonal skills and expertise regarding whatever you're selling.
There are a plethora of widely-recognized online courses designed to train people in the art of selling. The Dale Carnegie Sales Training programs have been popular for decades.
Given the availability of online sales training materials, you don't necessarily need formal training. Again, results will make or break you, though – especially since pay is often commission-based.
6. Video Production
Median Salary: $63,780 (source)
Social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook Watch have become huge profit drivers for media companies, including legacy brands. As such, video production is an increasingly in-demand skill.
As with many creative skills, success as a video editor depends more on your work's quality than any specific qualifications. Therefore, you can become a proficient video editor by taking online courses, building a portfolio, and subsequently entering the workforce.
If your goal is to find work in film or television, internships are also a prevalent means of obtaining the necessary skills.
7. Audio Production
Median Salary: $45,510 (source)
Of course, visuals are just one component of any multimedia production. Sound is also crucial, which is where audio producers come into play.
Given that acoustics is a branch of physics, audio producers often have some formal training. After all, the work is about more than just making things sound good. For example, it also requires careful consideration of how the finished product will sound in various environments.
An internship is another popular path to well-paying work as an audio production specialist.
8. Public Speaking
Median Salary: $105,034 (source)
While we all move our mouths and emit words, public speakers do so at a masterful level, communicating valuable ideas to audiences.
As with the other high income skills on this list, you can become proficient as a public speaker by completing relatively affordable courses.
Public speaking isn't just for ex-Presidents or other famous individuals, either. Companies of all sizes rely on public speakers for communicating ideas to large audiences, including customers and staff members.
Success in public speaking depends on a combination of other hard and soft skills, such as organizing information, editing scripts, answering questions, and tailoring messages to specific audiences.
9. SEO Marketing
Median Salary: $54,144 (source)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a specific type of digital marketing. The objective is to help websites appear in Google search results for relevant phrases, known as keywords.
Marketers who possess this skill can generate substantial revenue for clients given Google's popularity. The company's share of the search engine market is a staggering 90%. In other words, billions of people use Google every month to find everything from local restaurants to their next car.
SEO is another skill you can learn online. If you have experience in other digital marketing areas – particularly writing – SEO shouldn't be difficult to pick up.
Once you're proficient, you can pursue freelance opportunities or full-time employment via an agency. As with other aspects of digital marketing, continued success will depend on your ability to generate results, which are very clearly measured using relevant metrics.
10. Real Estate Sales
Median Salary: $50,730 (source)
While I discussed sales earlier, real estate is worth mentioning on its own, given the tremendous income potential. After all, real estate agents broker the biggest transactions most people make in their lives – and get a piece of the action.
This is the only skill on the list that must be accompanied by regional licensing. Generally, you'll need to complete a state-approved course and pass exams.
Real estate is also an incredibly competitive business. To succeed, you'll need a great deal of motivation, persistence, and hustle in addition to general sales skills.
I hope this article has proven helpful in demonstrating the variety of high income skills available out there. If you're currently unhappy with your line of work or otherwise looking for a change, consider picking up one of these skills and spending an hour each day developing your abilities. Within short order, your life could be quite different!