“For the times they are a-changin’” – Bob Dylan
We live in a new world. One where technology can cause entire industries to disappear overnight.The taxi industry after Uber drop kicked them.
It can feel scary to face all this uncertainty. I know I get anxious thinking about artificial intelligence.
The good news?
If you’re here reading this, you have the opportunity of a lifetime.
We’ve been blessed with near unlimited access to information. It’s never been easier to build a skill (whether online or offline) than any generation before.
Even better still.
You can build these high income skills while working a full time job as a side hustle (you do have a side hustle right??).
As Darwin said – only the fittest survive. In this new landscape we’re in, skills and adaptability will determine your income capability.
That’s why I’ve spent hours researching the 9 most lucrative skills you can learn right now to double your income. This way you have the best chance of not only surviving in this new age, but thriving.
In this article you’re going to learn:
- What high income skills are & why you need to learn at least one
- The best high income skills for 2021 and beyond (9 total)
- The earning potential of each
- How to develop these skills
- And much more.
Even if you have zero previous experience with these skills, I’m going to provide you a way you can actually get paid to learn them!
If you’re ready…
What Are High Income Skills?
Skill definition: the ability to do something well; expertise.
So think of something like this:
Okay. Maybe not this. But you get the point.
A skill is just something you do with more accuracy than your peers.
Really, anything you do can be a skill. For example, I really love to play chess, and I’m pretty good at it. That would be a skill.
Also typing quickly would be a skill. If you can type at a 85 word per minute pace with above 95% accuracy, you’re pretty skilled.
Not every skill is created equal. Spending time playing chess won’t help me make more money. It’s a nice skill to have, sure, but does it move the needle for my side hustle income? Nah, not really.
That’s why this article is focused on the most highly sought after skills right now. Skills that clients (or employers) would be willing to pay serious money to have.
The skills I’ve listed below are both highly relevant today, and evergreen (which means they’ll always be needed in the future).
I’ve also picked these skills based on the following criteria:
- You don’t need formal education for them. College degrees are quickly becoming worthless with the rise of virtual education.
- You can get started learning these skills right now
- You can get paid to learn and grow your skill set (more on this below)
This means there’s no excuses to get started. Pick one and give it your full effort to learn.
9 High Income Skills You Can Learn Right Now
In my personal opinion, sales is the most important skill you can learn in life. It’s also one of the most transferable skills you can have.
As Zig Ziglar would say: “selling is essentially the transfer of feeling.”
Why is sales the number 1 skill you can learn right now?
Because if you know how to sell, you will overcome your fear of rejection. Being ostracized, being treated as an outsider from your tribe, is one of the biggest fears you’ll have to face in your life.
If you overcome this, you’ll make A LOT of money.
In fact, sales is one of the only skills with untapped earning potential, and every industry needs a great salesperson.
Whether you’re selling medical devices, enterprise SAAS products, freelance consulting services, books, or teddy bears online. You need to learn how to sell.
When I first got started as a freelance writer, I quickly realized I was going up against a lot of competition. If I wanted to charge more for my services, I had to prove to clients why they should trust me over competitors half the price.
I dove head first into learning sales. From prospecting to closing deals. I got good enough at sales I was hired by a financial technology company where I cleared over $110,000 in my first year. Not to mention the money I made with my side hustles.
Your ability to bring in new business will keep you employed for life. You can have everything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.
Learn to sell. I promise you won’t regret it.
Look around you. Technology is everywhere, and it’s not going away anytime soon.
Software engineering is the best high income hard skill you can learn. The world is moving online at a faster rate than ever before. COVID only accelerated the inevitable.
Look at this graph:
That’s the percentage of people purchasing online.
Why is this important?
Because all of this online activity requires software engineers to make sure it works correctly.
There are 2 kinds of software engineers:
- Front End
- Back End
Basically you’re building the websites or web apps we used on a day to day basis. You’ll be responsible for the client facing processes.
This is where the bulk of software engineering will happen.
Back end engineers will be responsible for helping ensure the server, database, and application all communicate with each other correctly.
Generally the languages used for back end engineering are:
No wonder software engineers get paid a median of $107,000 per year.
The best part is there’s near unlimited content about how to learn these programs without needing a specialized degree.
If you become a freelancer and use software engineering as your side hustle, clients won’t even ask you if you got a degree. They’ll only want to know if you’ve done work similar before.
Digital marketing is the process of advertising through digital channels. From SEO to email, you’ll be handling the way people view your brand online.
It’s an incredibly broad field, so I’ve broken it down into sub sections for ease of understanding:
- Pay Per Click
- Content Writing
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
One of my personal favorites. SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of creating and building web content so it’s easily indexed by search engines.
The best way to explain SEO is through an example:
Have you ever moved to a new town and needed a haircut? Typically millennials do 1 of 2 things. They either:
- Ask a friend for a recommendation
- Type in Google: Barber near me
If you’re the barber shop, you’re going to use SEO to be the top result for that search. Like so:
Look at that!
201,000 people per month are searching the term barber shop near me. The companies using SEO are:
- Barbon’s Barbershop
- Marshall’s Barber Shop
- Sorek Barbershop
That’s the power of SEO!
Pay Per Click
This is the process of paying for advertising impressions. The 2 main channels for PPC are:
- Google Adwords
- Facebook Advertising
To keep with the example take a look below:
The arrow is pointing to a PPC advertisement. Scissors & Scotch is essentially manufacturing they’re way into an organic position with Google Adwords.
The other main channel for PPC is Facebook advertising. If you have a facebook I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. It’s the sponsored posts which slip in between your feed.
Here’s an example:
The goal with these ads is to drive lead generation, and ultimately sales (where have we seen this before!?).
Copywriting is just sales in print form. Copywriting is the process of driving people to take action through print.
Sending a follow up email to a prospect?
Yea, that’s copywriting.
Writing to convince the company you work at to purchase a much needed tool?
Sending a text to your spouse to convince her to go jet skiing instead of horseback riding?
Hopefully you get my point. Anytime you’re trying to convince someone of your position, and more importantly, take action, you’re copywriting.
Copywriting typically falls within to these forms:
- Advertising (Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Direct Mail, etc.)
- Landing Pages (Video Sales Letters, Static Websites, etc)
- Email (B2B, B2C, B2G, etc.)
- Presentations (Pitch Decks, Sales Demos, etc.)
- Blog Posts (Like this one!)
- Lead Magnets (White Papers, Cheatsheets, Reports, etc)
The best way to make this skill generate the most amount of income is by either creating your own product and writing for it, or by collecting royalties from your landing pages when it’s used for sales.
This is the process of outlining, writing, and editing content on the web. There’s a lot of crossover between content writing and copywriting.
In my opinion, content writing is the type of writing you would find for blog posts, articles, guest posts, white papers, podcasts, and such.
Basically you’re writing for the purpose of education compared to conversion. (Although good copy should educate, and good content should convert).
Most of the time you would see content writing being needed for SEO purposes. Basically helping a blog or business get the content needed to rank!
Social Media Marketing
This is the process of using social media for connecting with audiences and building your brand. Have you ever seen those meme channels on Instagram? Yeah, that’s social media marketing.
To be frank, social media is a minefield. It can be downright brutal trying to make it work, which is why it’s a highly sought after skill.
It’s also why influencers get paid big money to plug businesses on their feed. Because the businesses themselves have a hard time connecting with their audiences in ways that resonate.
One brand that’s done it right? Wendys.
I mean – here’s a taste of the savagery:
I guarantee you they hired a consulting firm to help them build this kind of engagement.
Twitter isn’t the only spot for social media marketing. There’s so many like:
- Clubhouse (pretty new right now)
- Tik Tok
- And new ones popping up every day.
The goal with this is always the same. Drive traffic and engagement. You could be the person to help them do this.
Email slaps. Here’s the stats to prove it:
Imagine walking up to a slot machine with this kind of knowledge.
You wouldn’t leave. Ever.
That’s why focusing on email marketing is a fantastic starting point.
Create visual content for your audience using typography, pictures, and visual hierarchy rules.
Bit of a wordy way to say you communicate messages through visuals (instead of words like copywriting!).
Here’s a quick glimpse of the work you’ll most likely do:
- Web Design – this involves creating intuitive and engaging web design for users. You’ll be the person responsible for the layout, navigation, color scheme, and beyond. When you complete the design you’ll be sending it to a front end developer for final coding and development.
- User Experience Design (UX) – this is a step beyond web design where you’ll be making a web application easy to use.
- Motion Graphics (Animation) – have you ever come across a whiteboard animated video? That will also fall under graphic design where you bring out the visual elements in video, animations, and other moving pictures.
Here are the elements of this skill:
There’s obviously much more, but this should be enough to give you the basics!
Video & Audio Editing
Youtube is the second most used search engine on the planet. In fact, people watch more than a billion hours of video a day.
For marketing, it’s even more powerful.
All this to say, when there’s a gold rush, be the person selling shovels.
That’s what video and audio production is. You’re the person behind the scenes helping create, produce, and edit all the video content.
Everything from documentaries, to commercials, to in house training videos. They need production and editing to make it actually look good.
This one might need a little more formal education than the other high income skills on here, but it’s still an incredible skill to have.
Investing, accounting, day trading, running financial models, heck even deal valuation, can be done as a consultant for companies.
One of the highest paying careers immediately out of college is investment banking on wall street.
You don’t have to be an investment banker building financial models either. You could be a research expert helping corporations make good decisions related to foreign exchange or you can help people file their taxes correctly.
Side Note: freelance bookkeeping is a fantastic side hustle…
There’s a lot of ways to learn finance related skills, and sell consulting services, without needing a MBA.
Blockchain is the foundation upon which Bitcoin is built. The technology is based on cryptography and eliminating the 2-payer problem.
I recommend you read the original paper written when Bitcoin was launched. It’s only 5(ish) pages long and it’s a masterpiece in simplicity.
The reason I’m listing this skill?
Because it’s already being used in data centers, programming, decentralized finance, and much more.
Over the next 10 years you’re going to see blockchain explode in popularity and use.
Public speaking is the number 1 fear in America. Still.
Don’t believe me? Here’s a graph from Chapman University proving this haunts people still:
That’s why it’s a valuable skill to have.
If you can go on stage, present a strong voice and motivate them to take action, you’ll be a very wealthy person.
The Harvard Business Review gives this rule of thumb for speaking prices:
- New speakers should charge $500-$2,500 per talk
- Speakers with social proof (and books) typically charge $10,000-$20,000 per talk
- Best selling authors and celebrities can charge $35,000+ per talk.
That’s a lot of money for a 1 hour session.
Most of the skills we’ve discussed here have been online. They’re great because you can do them from anywhere as a side hustle, and they earn a lot of money relative to their time investment.
These skills on the other hand are offline, but are still worth talking about because they’re some of the most valuable skills society needs right now.
Trade skills typically require certification (much less schooling than a Bachelor’s degree) and some form of an apprenticeship before you can get started.
The good news?
You’ll always have work, and it pays really well.
Some of the highest paying trade skills include:
- Dental Hygiene
- Elevator Mechanic
- Airplane Mechanic
Why should you consider these skills?
- No College Debt – seriously, you won’t go $100,000 in debt right before you start your life.
- Paid Training – you’ll learn the skills on the job.
- High Income – these trades can often pay more than knowledge workers with a 4 year degree.
- Start Your Own Business – these skills will allow you to start your own business. In fact, there aren’t enough tradesmen to replace the ones retiring right now which makes it a great time to get in while supply is low!
How To Develop These High Income Skills
You now have 9 high income skills to help you make money in 2021 and beyond (either as a side hustle or a full time gig).
You’re probably thinking, “great, but how do I actually develop these skills?”
Glad you asked!
Below is a step by step process you can follow to develop one of these skills.
Quick Note: These steps might not be correct for trade skills. Double check with your locality before you start on your journey.
Step 1: Use YouTube To Start
There’s a wealth of information on YouTube. From learning about financial modeling to C++ backend engineering.
If you have the will to learn, YouTube will teach you.
Let’s say I want to learn Facebook advertising. The first thing I would do is go on YouTube and start poking around to learn who the experts within the space are. This way I can get the basics down about the platform and the theory behind it.
Don’t spend too much time on this step. You can fall into the analysis paralysis trap which is devastating to productivity.
Once you get the “gist” of it, move onto step 2.
Step 2: Produce The Thing
Keeping with the example of learning Facebook ads. After I understand the basics from a couple hours of research on YouTube, I’m going to go to Facebook and I’m going to produce an ad and turn it live.
Only give yourself a day to “ship” a live version of your skill.
Why do this?
Because in my personal opinion, learning only counts when you produce and ship something. You can do dry runs and work in theory all day long, but you’re only spinning your wheels without making any meaningful change.
Want to learn copywriting? Write a landing page and send traffic to it. See if it converts.
You’ll learn a lot faster doing this than quietly working away at your “masterpiece” only to learn it sucks (not trying to be harsh, but I suffer from perfectionism myself and this is the only way I’ve found to beat it).
Step 3: Keep Producing
Don’t stop after your first live run. Keep going and track your improvements.
Where do you find yourself getting stuck?
Have you noticed any qualitative improvements over time?
Can you improve your efficiency?
Try doing a challenge where you do your skill for 30 days straight. I did that when I first started blogging and it helped me with creating content.
Step 4: Get A Paying Client To Expand Your Experience Levels
If you can get a client to pay for your skill, you’ve officially become a professional. Doing this will also help you step up your game.
You’re not going to fail for your first client. Even if you do a mediocre job, as long as you give it your all then keep your chin high. There will be many more clients down the road.
Step 5: Get A Coach
Once you have experience producing live work for your skill, and you’ve gotten a paying client or two, then you can get a coach to teach you.
You won’t get the most from your experience with a coach unless you have these prerequisites complete.
A coach will also help you learn efficiency tricks and point out your blind spots.
Think of them like a mentor. They’re going to give you tough love to make you better.
Tiger Woods – one of the greatest golfers of his generation – was known to pay well over $1M per year on coaching.
He could easily coach himself, but he knows that he has blind spots. So do you and I.
Trust me, paying for coaching is an investment worth making.
Executive Summary: High Income Skills
There you have it. The best paying skills for 2021 and beyond.
Hopefully this has given you some good ideas about where to build your skillset moving forward.
If you have any thoughts, leave a comment!