According to a report by McKinsey & Company, one in three workers increased their salaries by learning the right high-income skills.

You don’t need to go back to school to learn these skills—anyone can teach themselves at any point in their career. There are lots of resources available online.

In this article we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the most valuable high-income skills, how much they pay, and how you can learn them. Plus, get tips on how to include high-income skills on your resume.

What is a high income skill?

High-income skills are abilities that lead to better pay and earning potential.

What makes a skill valuable is determined by the expertise and knowledge required. Emerging jobs and technologies are also factors. The more specialized or rare the skill, the more lucrative it is.

Skills can be either hard or soft. Hard skills are abilities that you learn from school or training, like JavaScript, coding, copywriting, or Excel.

Soft skills are abilities that help you get along with other people in an organization. That’s why they’re sometimes called people skills. They include communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, and time management.

16 high-income skills that are in demand

According to a study by Harvard Business School and EMSI, college degree requirements are on the decline for a majority of jobs. Instead, hiring managers are prioritizing skills.

This means your skillset is more important than ever. But some high-income skills are more versatile than others and will likely stay in demand well into the future.

Here are the top high-income skills that are projected to be highly valuable in the coming years.

1) Video and audio production

Creating video and audio content is one of the most in-demand skills today. This is because it’s applicable to many areas, from cinematography to social media. With the growth of podcasting, the field is only becoming more profitable. In fact, it’s expected to become a $4 billion industry by 2024.

  • Salary range: $55,000 to $72,000 (video producer); $51,000 to $88,000 (audio producer).
  • Career possibilities: Video editor, videographer, audio engineer, podcast producer.
  • How to learn: Get a start in video and audio by freelancing and filming your own TikToks and Reels. Also, familiarize yourself with software like Final Cut Pro and Audacity.

2) Content creation and management

From YouTube vloggers to brands’ Instagram pages, content creation has turned into a high-profile career. It involves coming up with relatable content, driving engagement, and increasing followers. You also have to know how to manage a content calendar and analyze data.

According to ZipRecruiter, freelance TikTok creators, content designers, and content strategy leads are the highest paying jobs in content creation.

  • Salary range: $32,500-$128,500
  • Career possibilities: Social media director, content creator, brand manager.
  • How to learn: While you can learn a lot by managing your own social media, there are also online courses and resources to take advantage of. Learn about content strategy on SkillShare or earn certifications on HubSpot.

3) Sales

Having sales skills benefits you in any field that turns a product or service into revenue. All kinds of industries want people who know how to sell.

And you don’t need a degree for a lot of sales jobs. What you do need are a few soft skills. These include being personable, maintaining relationships, and communicating.

Many sales jobs also involve commission, meaning you have the power to maximize your earnings.

  • Salary range: Varies depending on career; $52,000 to $71,000 for sales representatives.
  • Career possibilities: Salesperson, sales director, sales engineer, account executive.
  • How to learn: Before signing up for any courses, determine what kind of sales you want to get into. Are you interested in enterprise sales or B2B? SaaS or direct? To grow your general knowledge, take intro to tech sales classes through Uvaro, basic training with Udemy, and expert-taught MasterClass sessions.

4) Digital marketing

Digital marketing skills allow you to broaden your career potential, as today’s brands need a strong online presence. Whether you’re interested in affiliate marketing, SEO, social media, or email marketing, being able to reach a wider audience will make you stand out.

  • Salary range: $37,000-109,000
  • Career possibilities: Social media marketing, marketing manager, digital strategist.
  • How to learn: Google’s Digital Marketing & E-commerce Professional Certificate is one of the best credentials in this area. This course from the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI) gets you globally-recognized certification and teaches you SEO, email marketing, website optimization, and more. You can also enroll in a bootcamp (like this one from JobPrepped) to create a portfolio to show off your projects.

5) Copywriting

If you work in the field of communication, being able to call yourself a copywriter will take you far. Copywriting means understanding your audience, keeping up with trends, and increasing brand awareness. All these skills will be marketable for the indefinite future.

You don’t need a degree to learn how to become a copywriter. Start by freelancing, reaching out to brands, reading copy of brands you love. Use social media or a personal website to practice your writing skills.

  • Salary range: $40,000-$91,000
  • Career possibilities: Social media copywriter, public relations, SEO copywriting.
  • How to learn: Skillshare offers a plethora of copywriting classes. Udemy’s Copywriting Bootcamp gives you tools for writing catchy headlines, promotional emails, and more. You can also find plenty of helpful books on copywriting. Start with Everybody Writes by Ann Handley and The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly.

6) SEO

The need for SEO, aka Search Engine Optimization, only continues to multiply in today’s job market. Getting on Google’s top search engine results page (SERP) brings in more traffic and growth. This is something all brands and businesses strive for.

As it’s a newer industry, there’s plenty of room for growth and opportunities. Getting ahead by learning SEO skills sets you apart from other candidates. Plus, there are plenty of resources out there to help you gain experience.

7) Data analytics

The need for data analysts has skyrocketed in recent years. The internet is a large place, and there’s a gigantic amount of data to analyze. Data analytics helps businesses optimize their performance and discover patterns in information.

Industries like travel, healthcare, and retail rely on analytics to troubleshoot and look for trends. Being able to use tools like Google Analytics, Microsoft Excel, Tableau, and Looker will boost your resume.

8) Blockchain

Since the rise of cryptocurrency, having skills in blockchain technology is super valuable. This is because few people understand all the complexities. In fact, blockchain expertise is the fastest growing skill, according to the latest skills index.

A blockchain developer is likely the most popular role in this industry. In this position, you’ll create applications for blockchain. You also will use programming languages like C++, Python, and Javascript.

Big companies, from banks to insurance to retail, want to take advantage of the technology and stay up to date on it. Blockchain is popular at startups, tech companies, and governments. It’s already influencing online payments, voting security, file storage, and more.

  • Salary range: $40,000-$200,000
  • Career possibilities: Backend developer, blockchain solution architect, blockchain project manager.
  • How to learn: Gain an understanding of digital currencies with Coursera’s program. Work with Bitcoin and Ethereum protocols and build real-world projects with Udacity’s four month course. Plus, browse over 50 classes through edX.

9) Software/web development

As a software developer, you create and update applications using the six following stages: planning, analysis, designing, implementing, testing and integrating, and maintaining.

Software development skills translate to working in engineering, testing, and bug fixing. In this field, having an understanding of coding is crucial. Consider what projects you’d be most passionate about before choosing your niche.

Web development is also valuable in pretty much any career avenue today. This skill can range from making a simple webpage to building a mobile application or social network service. Again, knowing coding languages is very beneficial here.

  • Salary range: $91,000-$152,000
  • Career possibilities: Software engineer, software developer, front end web developer, applications developer.
  • How to learn: Learn programs like Java, Angular, and JavaScript with online tools like W3Schools. Take classes to gain respected credentials, like the IBM Full Stack Software Developer Professional Certificate. Improve your skills through programs like Codefinity. Offer to help small businesses for a lower rate while you’re working to gain experience.

10) UX and UI

Also known as User Experience and User Interface, UX and UI makes apps and websites easy to use and visually pleasing.

With UX, you’ll conduct research to find out what users want and how to give them the best experience. UI focuses on visual and interactive design. You’ll consider the color scheme, typography, buttons, and images. The goal is to make everything as attractive as possible.

Any business or brand with an online presence values UX and UI. Good design and usability help grow a customer base, so they need someone who’s skilled in this area.

  • Salary range: $55,000-$138,000
  • Career possibilities: Project management, user research, visual design, content strategy.
  • How to learn: Start building your career with Design Lab’s UX Academy. It features 1-on-1 mentoring, a Foundations course, and 6 to 9 months of skills training. You can also get a UX Design Professional Certificate from Google. Once you’re comfortable, reach out to brands and businesses for freelancing work.

11) Cloud computing

Cloud computing involves delivering services on the internet like storage, data, and servers. Cloud providers help organizations create applications, store and back up data, and more.

Examples of cloud providers include Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Being an expert in cloud computing is valuable in a range of industries. Healthcare, retail, hospitality, and, of course, technology all lean on these skills. More and more businesses have started to use the Cloud in recent years.

12) Data science

There’s a lot of data out there, and the need for data scientists is on the rise in every industry. While similar to data analytics, it’s not quite the same.

Data science involves predicting future outcomes using unorganized data. Scientific methods, algorithms, and processes help you provide insights to your clients. This allows them to make better decisions and can increase their profits.

Data enlists a combination of technological skills, which is why it’s so valuable. You need to be comfortable with math, statistics, programming, analytics, and artificial intelligence. If you have experience in these areas, you’re off to a great start.

  • Salary range: $82,000-$189,000
  • Career possibilities: Data scientist
  • How to learn: Further your knowledge by contributing to open-source projects via Python or C++. You can also freelance, volunteer, and take courses through platforms like Codecademy and Harvard.

13) Artificial Intelligence

At this point, you’ve likely heard of artificial intelligence, or AI. This technology allows systems and machines to learn from data.

As the technology advances, so does the career potential. Companies and organizations are spending more time than ever trying to understand AI. So if you’re an expert, your skills are in demand.

Having a background in programming or data science benefits you in this field. You should understand complex math, problem solving, and technology.

On a related note, learning about natural language processing (NLP) can also help you get ahead. NLP is a form of AI that aims to interpret human language. It’s used for creating chatbots, voice recognition, and customer service support systems.

  • Salary range: $93,000-$239,000
  • Career possibilities: AI engineer, consultant, business intelligence analyst, robotics engineer.
  • How to learn: Enroll in a bootcamp like Caltech’s AI & Machine Learning Bootcamp, which provides in-depth training and certification. Udacity’s Nanodegree program teaches you the core concepts of artificial intelligence and how to apply them to real-life problems.

14) Project management

Project managers are the backbones of any business or organization. Their responsibilities include planning, organizing, and executing projects. They set goals and raise morale, plus take budgets and schedules into consideration.

To be a successful project manager, you must communicate, close deals, lead meetings, and be personable.

You can find project managing opportunities in any industry. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), careers in consulting, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, and food and beverage have the most earning potential.

  • Salary range: $56,000-$136,000
  • Career possibilities: Project manager, web project coordinator, construction manager.
  • How to learn: Expand your skill set with the PMI Project Management Professional credential. You’ll need to take an exam before enrolling. To qualify, make sure you have 35 hours of project management training, a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification, and 36 hours of experience leading projects. For the best courses, find PMI Authorized Training Partners here.

15) Entrepreneurship

If you’d rather work for yourself try building up your entrepreneurial expertise. It’s hard to define exactly what makes up this skill set, but you need motivation, determination, and spirit. Plus, an original idea, of course.

Once you have your idea, you need to be able to transform it into a real product or service. Networking and building relationships with established entrepreneurs is essential. Troubleshooting will also likely be very valuable.

16) Leadership

Considered one of the most valuable soft skills, leadership encapsulates a broad range of high-value skills itself—some natural, some learned. And it’s a quality you can always improve upon. Good leaders are confident. They have strong abilities in public speaking, motivating, and empathizing.

  • Salary range: $34,000-$240,000. Leadership can take you far in any career—all the way up to CEO (for which the salary falls between $624,364 and $1,063,83).
  • Career possibilities: CEO, department supervisor, business manager, brand manager, editor-in -chief.
  • How to learn: Develop your skills as a leader through LinkedIn Learning, Master Class, and a 6-week online course from Harvard Business School Online. There are also plenty of Ted Talks on the leadership you can watch.

How to add high-income skills to your resume

If you have any high-income skills, showcase them in a skills section near the top of your resume. It could look something like this:

Skills section of a resume.

If you completed any courses, training, or certifications, be sure to include those too.

Tailor your resume skills to the job you’re applying for

Don’t just create a single resume that you send out with every application. You’ll have greater success in getting job interviews if you tailor each resume to the job you’re applying for.

When you submit your resume it goes directly into an ATS database. Hiring managers search the database for suitable job candidates by typing keywords into the search bar. These keywords are usually skills. If you have the right skills listed on the resume it will be found by the hiring manager. If your resume doesn’t list those skills it will remain in the database.

That’s why you need to tailor each resume – so you can be sure to add the skills required for that particular job.

How to tailor your resume

Tailoring each resume can be time-consuming. That’s why most job seekers don’t do it.

The best solution to this problem is to use a resume scanner. This will help you speed up the process of tailoring your resumes. A scanner works like this:

Step 1: Paste your resume into the scanner.

How to upload a resume into Jobscan's resume scanner.

Step 2: Paste the job description into the scanner.

How to paste a job description into Jobscan's resume scanner.

Step 3: Click “scan”.

You’ll then receive a Match Report. This report contains a score that tells you how closely your resume matches the job description. You’ll also learn exactly which keywords to add to increase your score.

Here’s part of a skills section of the Match Report produced by Jobscan’s resume scanner.

Jobscan's skills comparison on the Match Report.

As you can see, you’ll need to add the required keyword “billing” if you want your resume to stand out.

Using Jobscan’s resume scanner to tailor your resumes can increase your chances of getting job interviews by 50%.

Try it for free here:

Make your resume stand out and get noticed

Upload your resume to see what’s missing and get a free match rate.

View full results and optimize your resume


What are high-income skills?

High-income skills are particularly valuable career skills that have high earning potential. They can be either hard or soft skills, from data science to leadership. Many are based on modern technologies and emerging fields.

How do you learn high-income skills?

If you don’t have a degree related to the high-income skill you want to learn, you can find accreditations, certifications, and courses online. You can also get experience freelancing, building a portfolio, volunteering, and more. Watch video tutorials and Ted Talks to get a basic understanding.

Which high-income skill is best for the future?

The high-income skill that’s best for the future depends on your career goals and the area you want to work in. But the skills with the most longevity can be used in a wide range of fields that aren’t yet oversaturated. They also take more time and effort to learn.

More expert insights on this topic:

Click to rate this article
[Total: 0 Average: 0]
author image
Robert Henderson, CPRW, Resume Expert

Robert Henderson, CPRW, is a career advice writer and a resume expert at Jobscan.

More articles by Robert Henderson, CPRW, Resume Expert
Follow On: LinkedIn