High income skills
Boost your earning power with these high income skills you can learn without a degree
While a university degree can be important to generating great income and may be required for certain fields, it’s still possible to develop high-income skills without one.
Thanks to the internet, you can learn pretty much anything that can translate to boosting your salary or starting a successful side hustle.
No matter what, it will still require time and experience to really ramp up your income.
What are high income skills?
High-income skills are the experiences and knowledge you gain and develop where employers or customers and clients will pay larger sums of money for your work. These sets of skills are how you increase your annual income or salary to six-figures or more per year, and keep it there.
Becoming a high-income earner is a lucrative and financial game-changer for you and your family. So what skills are in demand that can give your income a serious boost?
With many of the below skills you may not start-off making six-figures, but there is a high-demand for the work and with a bit of experience, you can make good money whether full-time or as a side hustle.
Coding of computers is required in nearly everything these days.
2. Web development
Those same coding skills are needed to build the back-end of websites. You might focus on building out the website structure (like on a templated system such as WordPress), or other technical elements.
3. Teaching and tutoring
Now that a lot of teaching has moved online, some students might never look back. Particularly for those of us native-English speakers, there are many opportunities to teach or tutor children and adults overseas who are learning English as a foreign language.
4. Real estate agent
Real estate commissions can be lucrative, so you might be pleased to learn that those working within the industry don’t require a degree.
5. Trade skills (plumbing, electrical, construction)
There’s huge demand for this right now to help solve our housing woes!
While you can’t learn these skills online, qualifications in plumbing, electricity, and construction can be highly valuable. With time, these should give you all the knowledge you’ll need to set up a business in the area and may come with accreditation or certification too. Tradespeople who are working for themselves can earn six figures a year.
6. Public speaking or presenting
While you may first think that “soft skills” like public speaking are not valuable, they can be applied to presenting videos, giving talks, or consulting at companies. These are practiced skills, rather than learned, which means your success is not determined by awards or accreditations.
While it can be tough to build momentum, the best established YouTubers make six-figure incomes, and keynote or motivational speakers can earn a lot for just one speaking engagement.
If mastered, this is probably the most valuable skill anyone can have. It also applies to plenty of other roles on this list.
While the mention of sales might generate negative images in our head of a slick-haired and smooth-talking salesperson going door-to-door with some sort of consumer item, there’s a lot more to sales than that. A career in sales can provide exciting and lucrative opportunities in both your personal and professional life. Nearly all businesses need good salespeople in some form, and there’s plenty of other organisations that need them too. Sales are needed in many areas we may not usually think of:
- Manufacturer’s representatives selling whatever a manufacturer makes.
- Selling medical devices or pharmaceuticals to hospitals.
- Charities or non-government organisations seeking donations.
- Importer’s representatives selling whatever an importer brings into NZ.
- Selling software to companies and organisations.
- Really, just about anything you can imagine.
Many businesspeople consider sales to be the most important business function, as even if a business has the best product or service, if there are no proficient people selling it then the business will nearly always fail. Even during periods of economic turmoil, the best salespeople are still invaluable to a company, which leads to great job security during good times and bad.
People who are creative, knowledgeable, strategic, independent, confident, and motivated can become top earners as salespeople. Even entry-level positions provide plenty of opportunities for growth and a competitive starting salary, and anyone willing to practice can become an excellent salesperson.
8. Social media marketing
Now that social media is one of the biggest factors for customers choosing to buy, dedicated teams will work on creating materials and building engagement on their platforms.
But social media can be a tough market as pretty much everyone these days has developed some sort of social media skills.
9. Day trading
There’s no denying this is a long shot.
Day trading is when you buy and sell something for profit. This was commonly shares (stocks) in the share markets, but could now include cryptocurrencies or other emerging areas.
This is a high-pressure environment with a lot of risks so it is best avoided by most people.
10. Lead generation
If you can learn sales techniques or build a system to generate leads, companies will invest in you to generate returns. This ROI (return on investment) is directly related to your performance in the job, so results matter and you’ll need to stay motivated through the setbacks that arise!
The best in this area can be very well compensated.
11. Application (app) creation
If the software development and coding roles above sparked your interest, then app creation may be another high-paying skill to add to your roster. App stores are no longer filled with online games and digital toys, nowadays every shopping website, airline and bank tends to have an app.
What’s more, companies will pay top dollar to have a great user experience and retain their mobile customers, which means this is a very high-paying skill.
Are you a fast-typist? Transcriptionists type out audio into a legible document, sometimes in a monologue format, and sometimes as a conversation. You’ll have to know your grammar, spelling and potential accents to do well in this type of role, as it might require some guesswork. Transcriptions typically earn in the region of $30-40 per hour while freelancing.
13. Cyber security
We’ve probably all noticed a well-reported rise in cybersecurity threats. Protecting a company or other organisation from these threats is very necessary, so can be a great skill to have.
This area is constantly evolving, so those who stay up to date with the latest threats and countermeasures can position themselves as the most valuable in the industry.
14. Course creation
Creating online courses can be a great way to generate passive income. This could be in two ways:
- You could be a specialist online course creator, who could contract to other businesses, educators, and entrepreneurs to assist them develop their courses, or
- You could create your own courses on topics that you know a lot about. This could be on areas as diverse as arts and crafts, business-related topics, recreational skills, or anything else.
Coaches are in high demand right now, both virtually and in person. This could be life coaching, business coaching, health and nutrition coaching, or something else. Many of these roles don’t even require accreditation, as the industries are unregulated.
It means that “anyone” can call themselves a coach. Having said that, the way to generate consistent income is through good service and retention of customers or clientele, so you’ll need to be good at what you do and provide value. Do not trick people into paying for value that you cannot provide!
Otherwise known as Search Engine Optimisation, SEO is a highly-regarded skill that companies pay top-dollar for. You’ll work on technical aspects, on-page content, and link-building to have the site rank higher on search engines like Google.
17. Video editor
If you’re willing to learn how to do creative transitions and colour correction, you can earn a high income as a video editor. Putting together professionally produced videos is harder than you might think and requires insider knowledge of multiple editing platforms and software suites, too.
18. Podcast editor
Like above, podcasts are on the rise and could one day be as big as YouTube. Refining the audio, cutting at the right points, inserting adverts, and seamlessly merging parts of a podcast can require a highly skilled individual.
If you’re good at telling stories, this might just be the job for you. Copywriters are hired to write persuasively, relate to their audience, and sell products. Your work may be used on the website, inside emails, or across social media.
Copywriters might not earn much to start, but can quickly ramp up based on results. Strong writing skills will always be in demand and there is plenty of work, whether in a freelance or full-time position.
20. Graphic design
Although most universities offer classes in graphic design, you can also excel in the role from a self-taught or non-traditional background. Graphic designers will ensure your brand fits in all aspects and appeals to your customers.
21. Web design
Web designers focus on the UX (user experience) elements of the website (that's the front end of a website). It’s not all pretty colour coordination, designers will also work on branding and navigation to ensure the site map and pages are logical for customers. Little improvements to this can lead to major improvements in the effectiveness of a website or individual webpage. Think about it, if a webpage selling widgets usually sells five widgets each day, and a few tweaks lead to better UX which increases sales to eight widgets each day, that’s a 60 percent lift in sales – which might otherwise take the company years to achieve!
While entry level roles might not always pay well, those who are skilled enough to achieve great results will usually obtain great rewards. If you can show how much of an improvement to sales (“conversions”) the web designer has made for the company, such as in the example above, then it is likely you will be paid more.
Where to start learning these high-income skills?
Most of the above skills you can learn in university in some way.
However, thanks to the internet, a university degree isn’t needed to gain most of these skills and then to excel in these areas. In many ways, skipping university could be a wise idea as rapid innovation and technological advances are making some formal qualifications outdated before they can be finished by the students taking them. For example, the same three or so fulltime years that it takes to gain a degree could be spent diving headlong into an industry as a fulltime employee, perhaps backed up with some part-time online courses and plenty of relevant reading etc.
Which brings us to the many ways to master your interests or craft. Here are some ways to learn these high-income skills.
One of the most obvious places to get educated and develop skills is by reading books on the areas you are looking to work in. You can find numerous books on pretty much anything you want to learn about.
Udemy or Skillshare
Online communities of experts teaching others specific skills have been a growing market for years. Two of the most popular learning communities are Udemy and Skillshare, which offer thousands of courses and topics to choose from at highly economical rates.
Similar to the sites above, LinkedIn Learning offers thousands of high-quality video-based courses.
Websites like Codecademy have in-depth courses on various computer programming languages and have you type in code you’ve learned, which may suit those of us who “learn by doing” rather than through more traditional or education-based courses. You can sign-up for Codecademy for free, or pay a small monthly subscription which gives access to more content, support, and certifications.
“Grow with Google” offers a plethora of free certifications and courses that can develop your tech skills in areas like coding, digital marketing, or data and analytics. Such certifications only get you so far, but it at least sets the foundation you need to start making more money.
HubSpot is known for its inbound marketing which it offers to businesses, but they offer tons of certifications for free with something called Hubspot Academy. These include inbound marketing, social media, content marketing, advertising, inbound sales, and more.
Many online experts offer formal training on systems like Udemy, Skillshare, or LinkedIn Learning but you can also find many with their own content online. This might be on their own website, podcast, YouTube channels, or elsewhere. This is often free to access.
Private training providers
The systems above are all international, though closer to home we have a range of private training establishments which offer all manner of courses. Especially after Covid-19 struck, most of these can be completed online from the comfort of your own home. You can search the NZ Qualifications Authority (NZQA) webpage for details.
The bottom line - income-boosting skills without a degree
Whatever channel you take to learn one or more of the skills above, do your research on the advice you follow and training you receive.
Learning and certifications are great, but just getting started and doing the work (even if it’s your own project) is surely the best way to help you build and prove competence.