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5 High-Income Skills to Boost Your Career Prospects

Becoming proficient in these areas can really pay off.

For many, establishing a job path usually begins with earning a college degree in a field of interest. But thanks to technological advances and changes in the economy, new high-value skills have emerged as demand for those in the know has skyrocketed. Whether you're looking to make a whole new start or just want to bulk up your resume, it's also arguably never been easier to get the training and education necessary to become an expert—sometimes with lucrative results. But what are the best skills to learn and how can you convert them into a bigger paycheck? We've reached out to the experts for the quickest ways to see results. Read on for the high-income skills that can boost your career prospects.

RELATED: 10 Most In-Demand Jobs in 2024.

What Skills Earn the Most Money?

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Keeping up with where the job market is headed can be a full-time gig in and of itself. But there's no denying that in recent decades, entirely new in-demand skills have emerged as the way we do business continues to evolve. And while there are niche areas of study and expertise that have limited scope, experts say there are still some broader trends that are worth focusing on.

According to James Watts, founder of, there's a growing reliance on data-driven decision-making. "Data analysis is an important skill that has a lot of value in many scenarios, including if you want to start your own business, work in management positions, or get into a career as a data scientist or engineer," he says. "Besides understanding and analyzing data, effective coordination, leadership, communication, and project management can be other great skills to earn money."

Of course, interpersonal skills can also be a hugely important trait. Amy Kauffman, chief marketing officer at CMO Room, says the skills that command the highest salaries are those that sit at the intersection of creativity and analytical thinking.

"When you can combine strong technical skills with the ability to communicate ideas effectively and solve complex problems, you become incredibly valuable to employers," she tells Best Life. "Some examples might be a software developer who can also lead client meetings, or a data analyst who can turn insights into compelling stories."

Of course, recent advances in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing have created something of a modern-day gold rush, where an understanding of machine learning has become a high-income skill, says Martin Woods, head of SEO for But he also agrees that a combination of management skills and specialized skills can help job hunters earn the most money.

"Outside the world of athletics, most skills can be learned by anyone with dedication and training." he explains. "Also, develop your soft skills like public speaking, which you can do by joining a debating society or acting class."

5 High-Income Skills to Learn

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Of course, high-paying skills aren't always limited to specific fields. Changes to supply and demand over time can make practically anything a sought-after talent. That's why experts say it can be beneficial to keep an eye on where things are headed when you want to learn high-income skills.

"Where there is a high demand for skill and a low supply of quality talent, there is a greater chance to earn more money," says Emily Walton, founder of Alo Coaching. "This covers a very broad range, from niche medical experts to full-stack web developers, AI and algorithm engineers, and skilled trades and craftsmen such as welders and escalator installers."

But what in demand skills are most popular right now? Here's what the experts say.

Web Development

Our increasingly digital world means that more people are needed to help with everything from software engineering to e-commerce. Naturally, this has helped make web development a high-income skill that may not be as complicated to pick up as you'd expect.

"As a web developer, you need to learn the core programming languages of HTML, CSS, and PHP," suggests Woods.

He adds that rather than trying to learn all possible software, you may be best focusing on a specific content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, Prestashop, or Drupal.

"These are all open-source platforms and allow you to tap into a huge array of modules others have already created," he says. "This reduces the learning time considerably as the CMS does a lot of the work for you."

Really want to stand apart from others in your field? Woods says you should combine this new knowledge with some graphic design capabilities.

SEO Skills

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Laurence Dutton/iStock

At its most basic, a website needs to function well and look good for it to be viable. But making sure as many people as possible can find it comes down to an entirely different high-income skill.

"Search engine optimization (SEO) is about understanding search engine algorithms and staying updated with how they change," explains Watts.

Of course, mastering this can help drastically increase how much you earn. According to Lonnie Jones, founder of Local SEO Help, advanced SEO skills—such as technical SEO, on-page optimization, and off-page strategies—are some of the highest paying, with specialists often charging anything between $50 to $150 per hour based on their expertise.

"Mastering advanced SEO can significantly boost your earning potential, with SEO managers typically making up to $120,000 per year," he adds.

Anyone looking to become proficient should know that it's one skill that requires continuous learning, which often involves online courses, webinars, and industry blogs. It can be especially beneficial to get certified by recognized organizations and get some practical experience through some real projects. But it's not just technical savvy that will help you break into the business.

"A lot of my team comes from word-of-mouth recommendations from people I trust in the industry, so networking is really valuable," he says. "With dedication, you can easily progress from an entry-level position to a senior role within three to five years. And by mastering these high-income skills, you can command higher rates and attract top-tier clients."

RELATED: 10 Highest-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a College Degree, New Data Shows.

Digital Marketing

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Pressmaster / Shutterstock

Marketing careers are nothing new, but the areas they focus on have evolved over time. And because of the need for expertise in the field, digital marketing has become one of the best high-income skills to pursue.

"Digital marketing is a combination of SEO and Search Engine Marketing (SEM), which refers to learning how to manage paid campaigns to generate a good return on investment," says Woods. "The relatively broad field covers areas like content marketing, social media strategies, email marketing, and more."

It's this diverse set of requirements that can make the field as challenging as it is rewarding. "For me personally, learning digital marketing has been a journey of constant experimentation and iteration," says Kauffman. "I've had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, with trying new things and sometimes failing. But every challenge has been an opportunity to grow and refine my craft."

Data Analysis

Computers have revolutionized the way we manage, calculate, and interpret information. But even as powerful tools, they require a human touch to unleash their full potential.

According to Watts, the broad nature of data analysis means becoming proficient can look different on a case-by-case basis. "It can be learning Excel for business analysis to setting up models or visualize data. So it's important to understand which aspects of data analysis you want to learn first," he says.

He points out there are many online courses and platforms to get you started and provide a structured learning path, including Coursera, Codecademy, and DataCamp. But it can also help to attend conferences and join communities to really tap into the field.

"There is so much knowledge in them, and it's also fantastic to connect with others in the same position as you," he says. "Today, a lot of learning happens online and in communities."

Data analytics skills also show invaluable they are based on salaries: According to Jones, you can expect to earn between $60,000 to $100,000.


Even though technology has made our lives more convenient, digitization has also made us more vulnerable than ever before. But this move has also opened up new job opportunities as a result of increased demand

"Cybersecurity has really become one of the most important and highest-paying careers out there," says Stephen Greet, CEO and co-founder of BeamJobs. "Just about every company nowadays, no matter what industry, relies heavily on computers and the internet to operate. But in doing so, they collect all kinds of private info like customer credit cards, medical records, financial data and more. With how connected everything is, hackers are constantly looking for ways to break in and steal that sensitive data."

Now, businesses desperately need cybersecurity professionals to make sure their networks and data are protected—which shows in compensation.

"Given how critical cybersecurity has become, companies are willing to pay top dollar for the best talent," Greet tells Best Life. "In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average cybersecurity analyst earns over $124,000 per year. And that's just the average: Those with advanced skills or certifications can earn even more."

What High-Income Skills Can You Learn For Free?

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Whether it's college tuition or trade school fees, the cost of education can be a significant barrier to entry for those looking to make a career change. But in many fields, there are free online resources that can help get you started.

"The internet has opened a myriad of options in terms of education," says Woods. "I particularly recommend Khan Academy to learn high-income skills free of charge. These include computing, economics, and financial literacy. Bilingual speakers also earn 20 percent more on average than those who only speak a single language, so if you already speak a language reasonably well, keep on developing it until you're fluent."

Those looking to hone their SEO skills can take advantage of YouTube tutorials that walk you through SEO fundamentals. "Many popular tools, such as SEMRush, offer various classes on SEO, which you can take advantage of at no cost," says Daniel Askarinam, founder of SEO agency DA Media.

Watts says that other free resources such as Coursera and Codecademy can help with everything from software development to digital marketing. And even some of the management skills required can be picked up without having to pay.

"People skills can be learned by engaging in roles or activities that require team management," he explains. "You can also take on leadership responsibilities in volunteer settings. And free resources like TED Talks on leadership and management and books such as How to Win Friends and Influence People can be very helpful."

Once you're ready, Askarinam says you can get valuable real-world experience by networking with family and friends to land your first projects. "You can also use freelancing websites like Upwork to get gigs," he adds.

RELATED: ​Career Expert Reveals the Top-Paying Remote Jobs for 2024.

What High-Income Skills Can You Learn Remotely?

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Sometimes, the only thing harder than coming up with the money for training or education can be finding the time in your already busy schedule. Fortunately, the same changes in technology that have reshaped job prospects have also made it easier to do things on your own schedule.

"As someone who's worked both in-office and remotely, I can confidently say that most digital skills can be learned and applied from anywhere," says Kauffman. "Web development, graphic design, SEO work, and digital marketing can all be done with a laptop and a decent internet connection. Of course, there are challenges to learning remotely—such as staying motivated and avoiding distractions—but overall, I think it's an incredible opportunity to gain valuable skills on your own terms."

According to Watts, another benefit is often that you can set the pace of your learning, too.

"Platforms like Coursera or edX offer courses from industry leaders like Google, IBM, and Microsoft. You can also find a wealth of knowledge through YouTube or by joining communities," he says.


The prospect of picking up high-income skills can be enticing for anyone who wants to make more money. Fields including digital marketing, web development, SEO, data analysis, and other technical skills can yield bigger paychecks. Of course, there's no denying that getting to these positions still requires plenty of training and education, which can take time. But given that it can be easy to do so on your own time and potentially at no cost, deciding to pursue these new career possibilities can come down to convincing yourself it's worth it.

"I think the most important thing for anyone looking to pick up high-income skills is to just start," says Kauffman. "Don't wait for the perfect course or the perfect moment. Jump in, get your hands dirty, and learn by doing. With the right attitude and work ethic, you can gain the skills you need to thrive in today's digital economy."

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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