13 High Income Skills To Make More in 2021

by Make Money

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A way to make more money is to develop high income skills. These skills get high-paying jobs and open your opportunities for the future. No matter what skills you develop, you become more valuable to your company.

In this article, we will talk about some of these skills:

  • Software Engineer
  • Sales
  • Digital marketing
  • Copywriting
  • Web Design
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Graphic Design
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Content Creator
  • Trade skills
  • Public speaking
  • Entrepreneur

In addition to covering these tangible skills, we’re also going to talk about the intabgible ones that apply across any field and how to develop them.

Software Engineer

Software engineering is in high demand in practically every industry. Some employers require a 4-year degree, but many, including Google and Apple, have gotten rid of this requirement. Instead, they give you a series of competency tests. Competency is easy to test in software engineering because so much of it is problem-solving through experimenting.

In addition, you can learn software engineering online or through a book. There are coding boot camps and schools that provide this skill in as little as 12 weeks. That is so short to get a job that can earn $100,000+. Also, the software industry often gives out year-end bonuses to keep employees. Companies have to pay their best engineers well enough not to want to leave!

Are you willing to trade three months of your life for that pay increase?

One of the benefits of a school like Lambda is that they offer an income share agreement (ISA). This ISA means you only pay back your loan when you have a job in engineering, making over $50,000 a year. It provides an incentive for the school to help you get a high paying job.           

If you’d rather go the free route, there are thousands of YouTube tutorials for all sorts of coding languages like python, lisp, HTML, Java, C, C++, and more.

With your software engineering skill, you can make a six-figure income!


The whole world runs on sales which means you can do almost anything with this high income skill. If you love talking to people, learn to sell.

The best part about sales? It requires zero degrees or technical training.

Salespeople earn so much because the pay is commission-based. The company pays a percentage of what you bring in sales. It is 100% performance-based pay.

You can work for a company that sells Business to Business (B2B) or join as an independent worker of a firm. The B2B space typically has higher commissions and potentially a base salary, but independent’s can have a higher (or unlimited) earning potential. An example of an independent worker is selling insurance, financial advisors, or real estate agents.

No matter what, it pays to learn how to sell.

Digital Marketing

The world is digital and a great place to freelance. The marketing field is so massive that you can specialize in just one area, and that’s enough for a sustainable income.

The best way to start is by learning to be a marketing generalist, then specializing. As they say, “niches make riches.” Here are a couple of specific ways to get into digital marketing

  • Email Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Online advertising
  • Graphic Marketing

Even within these, you can specialize in one space! Here’s an example of email marketing for non-profits. The internet is big enough that if you can think of it, people are probably willing to pay for it!


You may not even know what a copywriter is; it’s salesmanship in print. Copywriters get readers to take a specific action. It’s advertising and sales!

The specific action varies – buy this, click this link, sign up for this newsletter, but it’s something you see every day. Copywriters are experts in persuasion and language to get a response.

In addition to print ads, companies hire copywriters to create scripts for video ads. When you think of a late-night infomercial, pieces of that are written by a copywriter.

Copywriters are paid with a flat rate and a percentage of the sales. Just think, if you get 2% of sales, you make $200k if the site sells $10 million of product!

Web Design

Every business needs a website. Even those that already have a website need a refresh regularly, and you can provide this service.

Web design doesn’t pay as well as some of the other jobs, but top-tier designers earn well over $100k. If you can combine website designing and copywriting, you have a powerful niche for providing a service.

Depending on experience you can make a good chunk of change. For those just getting started, expect something in the range below:

  • Small Site (1 page) – $750-$1,500
  • Medium Site (2-5 pages) – $1,500-$3,000
  • Large Site (5+pages) – $3,000-$5,000+

The price can change based on the number of integrations, revisions needed, amount of content, and more. Also keep in mind you may have to do a couple super-low to free designs to get your name out there, but once you have a couple clients, you can begin ramping up your prices.

Convert Your Clients to Monthly Customers

On top of the fee for design, you can convert your customers to monthly maintenance and retainer plans that can range anywhere from $40-$500/month. Get a couple of those and you’re rocking some great side hustle income for pretty minimal work.

Search Enging Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is something you use every day. Simply put, SEO is teaching companies how to show up on google! Companies are willing to pay tons to show up in the top 10 Google results.Our SEO work is why you found this post!

SEO is excellent for freelancing or starting your own business because, like web design, it doesn’t cost a lot to do and can be lucrative.

SEO freelancers often have clients on retainer for a monthly fee to manage a companies site appearance and to help them grow.

SEO proficiency includes learning about site speed, keyword research, link optimization, graphic optimization, and page load speed. Beyond this, you can specialize in SEO for other sites like YouTube, Amazon, Pinterest, as well as mobile, local, onsite, and more.

Graphic Design

Graphic designers create visual content for online and offline use. The creation of logos, banners, short videos, infographics, or more can make you valuable to your team.

This is a skill that you can learn at the local community college or online resources. As you get serious with this skill, you can pay for higher quality computers, software, and create truly extraordinary graphics!

Affiliate Marketing

Think of affiliate marketing as sales for someone else. You receive a commission for selling a product or service online – it is how almost every blog makes money.

If you want to learn this skill, there are a few courses that teach you. Beyond selling someone else’s content, you can also sell your product on other people’s sites. This cross-pollination grows your potential customers while making money for others – truly a win-win!

Video and Audio Production

Being a video or audio creator requires basic production gear and animation skills.

Great audio equipment starts as low as two hundred dollars, and you can use your camera phone to make videos while you’re learning the basics. Other than that, all you need is some editing software.

The biggest production companies create TV, movies, or commercials. If you’re looking for something smaller, volunteer to make something for your company. Another option is to find local non-profits who are trying to create content!

If you prefer to make your own stuff, start a YouTube channel or a podcast. Both can make you lots of money with this high income skill!

Trade Skills

Learning a trade is a high income skill as there’s high demand. You can earn six figures with any of these trades:

  • Plumber
  • Electrician
  • Mechanic
  • HVAC Installation and Repair
  • Home Inspection
  • Carpet Installation
  • Welding

You will need to find a union near you and apply if you want to join. There usually is some schooling involved and on-the-job training. Often, you can learn a trade with little to no debt as unions pay for learning on the job. There is licensing of some sort from the union and local government. After that, start earning!

Public Speaking

No matter what industry you’re in, communicating well is worth its weight in gold. The best public speakers are interesting and share stories in relatable ways. They often find themselves being promoted because being able to communicate well is often associated with leadership.

Great speakers command $1,000’s of dollars to be on stage and get airfare and hotel compensation as well. If you want to grow your public speaking, join Toastmasters, make a Moth Radio story, or take a class.


The ultimate high income skill is being an entrepreneur – taking a risk on yourself and your skills.

Generally speaking you must be a jack of all trades for your business to survive and thrive. This is because when you first start out, you are responsible for everything.

You don’t have to become the biggest in the world or even your city to have a great business. Just specialize in something and work hard until you do it better than anyone else. As stated before – “niches make riches.”

Build your niche, build your business, and develop this high income skill.

Intangible High Income Skills

We have many high-income jobs listed, but there are skills beyond just jobs that make you valuable. Intangible skills are more challenging to develop because they’re harder to measure and often invisible. Internal work is the hardest because we have to grow. It’s the most difficult route, but it always pays off long-term!


Leading is a timeless skill. True leaders are those who choose to do what’s right instead of what’s popular or defensible. Leaders push the team to get better and own risky decisions. When you work under a secure leader, you feel safe to unleash your potential.

Great leaders are rare, so when you find them, learn as much as you can to be that kind of person.

Be a leader everyone loves to work for!


There are two kinds of people in the world – complainers and problem solvers. Complainers look at something and loudly tell you all the reasons why it is terrible. Problem solvers look at the same thing and, instead of merely talking, take action to fix it.

If you’re a problem-solver, you are invaluable. You look at something, find weak points, and make them better without having to be told what to do and how to do it. You think independently and tons of companies are desparate for people like that to be in high-paying leadership positions.

Learning How to Learn

Oddly enough, we care a lot about schooling but are indifferent to learning. While they sound similar, they’re not the same thing. In fact, many people with lots of schooling, actually learned very little.

If you learn how to learn no skill is beyond your reach.

If your team knows that you can learn anything, you will get assigned interesting things to implement and teach others. As you do that, it builds multiple skills which can be great if your interested in becoming an entrepreneur or taking on more responsibility at your current job. Either way, you’ll likely end up with a pay bump!

System Creation

Most jobs have systems, proceses, and standards that ensure quality and consistency of the final product. Someone created those processes and standards, and you can learn to be that someone.

It’s valuable to be the person who notices where pain points are and how to fix them. This type of work combines problem solving with system creation and good communication (usually written) skills.

If you can master this balance, you can be the one setting the standard for your business and your boss will never want you to leave.

Decision Making

Decision making is learning to think and act with incomplete information. Great decision-makers consistently get promoted because they add value to the company. Examples include knowing where to put the company’s time, when to continue or bail on a project, and helping your team chose the correct path when multiple are available.

This is the primary skill of CEOs. Imagine if they can make decisions 5% better than the next guy and the company’s profit is in the ballpark of $5 billion, that CEO provides $250 million in value.

Decision making is hard to improve because it’s easy to assume you made the right decision when something worked out and to believe you made a poor decision when you failed. This isn’t always true because randomness occurs and that that always impacts the outcome.

Poker is a great example of the impact of randomness. You can play a perfect hand and still lose (or a poor hand and win).


“Ex nihilo” is an old word that means “something out of nothing.” Creators are those who make something out of nothing.

Creating doesn’t mean that you need to be an inventor. Instead you apply your learning in new ways. From new standards and policies, to media, ways to show appreciation, company rhythms, and beyond. Creators make existing things better and new things to add value.

How to Develop High Income Skills

There are multiple ways to develop high income skills. This is not a complete list, but enough to get you started!

Invest In a Paid Course

Investing in a paid course shouldn’t be intimidating. Courses can cost as little as $10 and as much as $40,000. There is a variety of online, in-person, or hybrid to learn a skill.

Before you pay for any course, read the reviews. This pause will help you decide if it is worth the investment of your time and money. After you choose, see if your work will pay for the course.

Not all courses are created equal, so find the best ones!

Take A Formal Class

Go to the local college, university, or community college and take a class or two. Sometimes your employer will pay for these as well.

Find A Mentor or Coach

It takes a google search or plea on social media to find experts. There are also plenty of networking opportunities if you know where to look. Start by reaching out to your local chamber of commerce to see what networking events they have.

Once you’ve identified a potential mentor, don’t be shy in asking them to mentor you. Most will say no, but finding a mentor is worth getting rejected a few times. You can also sweeten the pot with an offer to take them out for lunch in exchange for answering some questions you have. Bonus points if you send them questions ahead of time!

Learn on the Job

Instead of learning something on your own time, what if you got paid to learn it? Ask your boss if you can start something new, change positions, or propose a new project. If you’re job hunting, find positions that give you experience and growth in a new high income skill.

Check Out the Library

The library is full of free books for you to learn from. Anyone who’s taken the time to write out their method knows. Not all books are created equal, so rent four to six at a time to see who is the best author. The library is just like the internet, but with fewer distractions!

Related Questions

What are High Income Skills?

High income skills allow you to earn a high income. The more skills you have, the more valuable you are, and the more likely it is you can land a high paying job. Get enough high income skills and you can also strike out on your own!

What High Income Skills Can You Learn for Free?

Almost all of these skills you can learn for free. Search for organizations to join, start reading a book, or watch tutorial videos. At some point, you will hit a paywall, but most information is free somewhere!

What High Income Skills Don’t Require a Degree?

The best skills that don’t require a degree have to do with the internet – digital marketing, coding, web design, video and audio production, speaking, SEO, and more.

If you want to work with your hands, most trades do not require a degree but certification through your local government. You can study for these exams on your own, take a test, and get certified.

Let’s Recap

High-income skills are possible for anyone willing to learn, try, and fail. They aren’t magical but are accessible to everyone. Choose one that you’re going to pursue and see where it takes you. Best of luck as you pursue the Wealthy Life!

Ryan Pramberg

Ryan Pramberg

Ryan loves to serve people. The more he learned about money, the more it became apparent that he enjoyed talking about it with other people. My goal is to be wealthy in all aspects of life: faith, family, friends, and financial. I hope the things I learn help you live a life of purpose.

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