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14 High Income Skills to Build Your Earning Power

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Last Updated on June 4, 2021 by Daniella

High income skills aren’t just for leveling up your side hustle (but they’re great for that too).

They can help you in several ways from fast-tracking your career to be able to have the means to live a more flexible lifestyle and take care of your family. Most importantly, they can earn you more money at your day job to pay off debt, build an emergency fund, feel more stable about your position in life, save for retirement, and plan for your future.

Ugh, I know what you’re thinking – “No, I don’t want to know how to be a tech bro.”

I have news for you. Tech isn’t the only area of high income skill potential.

We will get to all that in a minute but first – What qualifies a skill as being “high income”?

What are high income skills?

And more importantly, is there a magic number that qualifies a job as being “high income”?

The way that an income is labeled as high income correlates to high cost of living areas. You would need to make enough money after taxes to cover living in the top high cost of living areas in the U.S..

Which if you think about it, some of those areas are pretty expensive. Even though the median household in a high income area like Los Angeles, CA is about $50,000 a year, you need about $76,000 a year to live comfortably there.

However, if I tried to live in an area like Los Angeles,CA on my own software engineer salary, it would be a little difficult after taxes, and would find it hard to save unless I continued my side hustles.

Which brings me to my point. Your income being categorized as high should be relevant to your location and life experience, not some generalized requirement to live in an expensive city.

It means having the income to be able to call and hire someone to fix something for you rather than trying to figure out how to do-it-yourself, pay for a medical bill for a life-saving procedure, help you achieve a life long goal, or not having to worry if you can afford something.

So, what is the magic number to be considered as a high earner? There isn’t one.

What is a high income number for you? Write that number down.

Do you need a degree?


There are jobs out there currently hiring that do not require degrees for the areas of expertise mentioned in this article.

There are definitely high income skills out there that absolutely need a degree like for doctors. Degrees can also help you negotiate higher salary or use for credibility. However, they are not absolutely needed and there are several ways you can obtain training and experience in these higher income skillsets with alternative routes to a degree such as certificates and specialized online training.

The Best Places to Start Learning High Income Skills

Free online courses are great for dipping your toes into some of these skills. You also won’t have to invest too much money while you are still exploring your options.

The following platforms are great for finding these free classes:

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14 High Income Skills to Learn More & Earn More

1. Software & Mobile App Development

If you love constantly creating, learning new things, and evolving with online tools then learning software and mobile app development skills could be a huge leg up for you.

Software engineering is another term for this skill and is actually one of the highest demand skills in the world.

What You Would Do On The Job

“Software & Mobile App Development” is such a blanket term and would entirely be based on your position for what you will be doing day to day on the job.

Some of what you will be doing (but not limited to) are:

  • Installing new computer systems
  • Configuring new computer systems
  • Developing new software
  • Developing new apps
  • Compiling code
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $76,000 per year

2. Database Administrator

2 engineers working in a server room

If you are tech-savvy, love data and problem solving, then database administration may be a great high income skill to explore. Especially as data becomes increasingly valuable every day in our society.

There isn’t any company out there that don’t need database administrators and the skill will only continue to be in demand as companies like Mastercard, Visa, Google, and more rely on big data and cloud computing.

What You Would Do On The Job

Depending on your position and duties, your job might include:

  • Configuring database servers
  • Configuring databases for your applications
  • Creating and tweaking stored procedures in your database
  • Maintaining space on the database and server
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $78,000 per year

3. Web Development

Similar to software and application development, web development is another area where you get to exercise your creative and techy genes at the same time.

Much like developing software and mobile apps using code, you will be developing either websites or web applications using code. You can do this using HTML5, CSS3, and platforms like WordPress (which is what this very website was built on).

What You Would Do On The Job

Depending on your job role, you might be doing any of the following:

  • Configuring a web server
  • Installing and configuring WordPress on the server
  • Installing and configuring a web DB on the server
  • Writing code (like HTML, HTML5, CSS, CSS3) in a tool like Dreamweaver
  • Compiling code for web apps
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $68,000 per year

4. Graphic & Web Design

Let’s say you love designing and putting graphics together but hate having to deal with any code. Web or graphic design might be absolutely perfect for you.

You can even get started using free tools like Canva that have tons of free training for how to get started and get familiar with best design practices.

What You Would Do On The Job

Depending on your specific duties, you might be doing 1 or all of the following:

  • Mood board creation
  • Creating logos and website artifact like banners, footers, icons, and more in tools like Photoshop or Canva
  • Using tools like Astra (a visual page builder for WordPress sites) to place your designs on for your client
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $52,000 per year

5. Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship in itself is much more than 1 skill. It is all the moving parts of running your own business.

Not all entrepreneurs are high income earners and it does entirely depend on how you run your business.

What You Would Do On The Job

Some of what you might be doing as an entrepreneur includes:

  • Coming up with your brand, business plan, and model
  • Using online accounting tools to keep track of incoming and outgoing money
  • Learn which business structure is best for you and get familiar with your local laws about what you need to register for and what licenses you might need
  • Learn who your audience is and how to market to them
  • Learn email marketing
  • Learn Google search console
  • Learn what to outsource and how to do that
  • And more

Income potential: This entirely depends on what your business is but there are online entrepreneurs that bring in up to $500,000 a year.

6. Digital Marketing

It is only appropriate that digital marketing is listed after entrepreneurship on this list as it is a skill I’ve only started learning when I created my website and small business.

Digital marketing can be a variety of things from social media marketing to email marketing and online search engine marketing.

What You Would Do On The Job

Depending on your role, you might be doing any of the following:

  • Creating social media graphics
  • Scheduling content for social media
  • Developing marketing campaigns
  • Reading out to potential partners to collaborate on upcoming campaigns
  • Measuring campaign performance using online tools like SproutSocial
  • Creating and measuring email marketing campaigns
  • Creating and measuring Google search campaigns
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $53,000 per year

7. SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is the optimization that is done on websites for them to rank higher in search engines like Google. What that means is when you search for something on Google, you will see that a certain website ranks #1 while the others trail after it.

The stronger a site’s SEO is, the higher it will rank on a search engine like Google.

What You Would Do On The Job

Depending on who your client is or what your duties are, you might perform the following:

  • Evaluating keywords on posts and pages
  • Evaluating image descriptions and Alt tags
  • Using tools like Semrush for keyword suggestions and research
  • Looking at your competitor’s keywords
  • Updating old content for better SEO
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $62,000 per year

8. Data Analysis

Data has become more valuable than gold. That isn’t an exaggeration and is one of the reasons why that industry has completely exploded the past couple of years.

Data analysis is a huge saught after skill within many companies as they constantly struggle to manage, analyze, and use their data to make more informed decisions.

What You Would Do On The Job

Some of what you might be doing as a data analyst might include:

  • Using tools like DOMO and Tableau to connect up data sources and create data visualizations with
  • Create dashboards to measure specific goals
  • Create and tweak reports
  • Present reports, visualizations, and dashboards to business stakeholders to make informed decisions with
  • Audit existing data
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $62,000 per year

9. Sales

a house for sale

If you have great social and people skills, sales might be right up your alley.

In order to be a good salesperson, you have to be:

  • Friendly
  • Persuasive

You have to remember that you aren’t selling people products. You are selling them the transformation that product offers.

An example of this is selling the allure of having a hot tub such as it being a solution to relaxation, entertaining others, etc.

What You Would Do On The Job

This absolutely depends on what you are selling and where you sell it but could involve:

  • Cold pitching clients on social media or email
  • Cold calling people
  • Visiting Facebook groups for potential clients
  • Putting together online surveys for the audience of what you’re selling
  • If you’re a real estate agent, working with potential buyers to tour homes and write up contracts
  • Going to trade shows and conferences
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $99,000 per year

10. Writing

Writing is such an overlooked high income skill and is much more than the starving artist picture we think of when we think of most writers.

You can make money writing as a:

What You Would Do On The Job

Depending on what your job or freelance gigs are, you might be doing any of the following:

  • Researching upcoming article topics
  • Interviewing sources
  • Networking in online writing groups
  • Writing and running finished work through tools like Grammarly to check for spelling and grammar errors
  • Invoicing clients
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $51,000 per year

11. Photography

Photography is another skill that is highly overlooked as being a big moneymaker. You can either run your own business as a photographer or work on high budget campaigns for brands.

What You Would Do On The Job

Some of the duties you can expect to have are:

  • Choosing a camera that best fits your needs
  • Purchasing a stand and several lenses
  • Using lighting for your photos
  • Working with models to get the perfect shot
  • Uploading photos to online tools for editing
  • Putting together packages for the final result
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $30,000 per year

12. Videography

a videographer filming a scene

Similar to photography, videography is another highly sought after skill. Video is the next big frontier of online content with over 2 billion logged-in monthly users on YouTube.

So, it isn’t any surprise that several online businesses and websites are constantly looking for videographers to help them level up their content.

What You Would Do On The Job

As a videographer, you can expect to take part in some or all of the following:

  • Choosing and purchasing cameras that best fit your need
  • Using lighting for projects
  • Filming events or content
  • Editing content
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $53,000 per year

13. Consulting

Consulting can mean absolutely anything. You can consult on marketing projects, software projects, process improvement, etc.

Companies are constantly looking for consultants to help steer them forward in the right direction and towards more improvement, so they can make better decisions and run their teams and business more soundly.

What You Would Do On The Job

Your job might entail the following:

  • Gathering current documentation on specific processes or what needs to be improved
  • Doing data analysis
  • Communication with various teams and stakeholders
  • Presenting improvements to be made
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $77,000 per year

14. Public Speaking

If you are well-spoken and love entertaining a crowd, public speaking might be a perfect skill for you to explore and build upon.

Public speakers can find work at conferences, online events, corporate internal events, and more.

What You Would Do On The Job

Depending on what your subject is, you might do any of the following:

  • Research on your subject
  • Watch other impactful speeches for inspiration
  • Writing speeches
  • Delivering speeches
  • Interacting with the audience
  • Giving actionable steps and material
  • And more

Income potential: The U.S. national average base salary according to Glassdoor is $59,000 per year

How to Get Started Boosting Your Income

In addition to free online training and courses, you can continue and refine your learning with:

  • Online resource websites to refine your learning
  • Follow people online who are already working in that field
  • Find a mentor
  • Downloading tools that would make it possible to practice your new skill

Start Freelancing

Once you think you are ready for it, consider doing freelance gigs to really exercise your newly learned skill. You can do freelance work as projects, by the hour, a set rate, retainer, or one offs. It all depends on what the gig entails.

You can freelance in almost any skill you can think of like writing, design, coding, and more.

Browse freelance work available through the following websites:

Offer Consulting or Coaching Services

To start using your new skill, see what small businesses might need help with services you could provide. 

For example: If digital marketing is your jam, see what local small business online might need help with this. You can also offer classes and online webinars where you’ll get to know others in the same industry. Once people love learning from you once, they’ll keep coming back.

Write an eBook or Other Digital Download

Writing a book seems like no small feat but eBooks are usually much shorter and you don’t have to buy any inventory. They are purely digital downloads so there is no physical inventory which keeps costs low and they’re easy to manage.

This is why selling digital downloads online have become a popular side hustle.

Start a Blog, YouTube, or Podcast

You can start a content platform like a blog, YouTube, or podcast and monetize your skills and talents. They are also great assets in positioning you as an expert in a certain subject and help you get opportunities later down the line.

What I love most about content creation is that we also get to learn from other content creators. By opening up these platforms to others for collaboration also helps you evolve your skills tenfold.

Share Creative Short Videos on TikTok

There are tons of niche TikTok accounts including everything from dancing, personal finance, education, therapy, to even excel sheet tips. Starting a TikTok to share your knowledge with others and get your name out there will also help you evolve creatively.

You can also choose to show or not show your face in videos if you want to protect your privacy.

Use Your New Skills at Work

The best training is the type of training you can get paid for. If you can use your new skills at your current job, do it! If there are interesting projects that crop up and need your skills, put yourself out there and volunteer to take them on.

Don’t forget to add all outside work and side hustle work to your resume too for when you are putting these new skills on your resume for a new job.

High Income Skills: Conclusion

If you want to make the big bucks, you can start learning and leveraging high income skills even if you don’t have a college degree. Don’t limit yourself to just the skills mentioned on our list either.

There are many skills that didn’t make this list but are just as high income earning such as:

  • Auditors
  • Accounting
  • Home inspection
  • Financial analysts
  • Work in advertising
  • Broadcast communications
  • Network engineering
  • Architect
  • Systems engineering
  • Language translation
  • And more

If there is a skill that interests you but you aren’t sure if you can make money with it or not, search Glassdoor for the companies looking for that skill, any data that Glassdoor might have on reported salaries, and look around for groups you can network with on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Utilize free online learning to dip your toes in anything you want to try and always keep learning and experimenting.

What do you think? What skill will you start learning and exploring?


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