No matter what those spammy online messages promise, there is no secret to making $100,000 overnight. To earn a higher income and other benefits like a stronger sense of purpose or better work-life balance, you need a skill that is both fulfilling and in demand.
If you happen to be a student or young person you may still have the time and ability to pursue an advanced degree and set yourself up for a lucrative career in a growing field like machine learning or software development. For the rest of us, however, articles that tout the payoff of complex skills that take years of study to acquire are of little use.
That’s why we’ve compiled 10 skills that are accessible to anyone with a bit of time and a desire to learn. These jobs are in-demand, high-paying and the best part is that you can get started in any of these fields with less than a year of training. Here’s what we’ll cover in this blog:
- The 10 in-demand skills to earn a higher income
- Tips for choosing a skill to learn
- Advice for making a career change
The 10 in-demand skills to earn more money this year
Without further ado, here are our top suggestions for skills that can lead to a better income and lifestyle. None of them require a college degree, but some do involve a short training program. Others can be learned online. You’ll find options in all industries from wellness to transportation, administration, IT, and more.
1. Digital or social media marketing
The advertising landscape has changed drastically over the past decade and companies are continuously looking to keep up. Skills like content creation, social media management, and digital marketing for brand campaigns can all pay big bucks. Since a lot of this work can be done on a short-term basis for multiple clients, these skills make a great option for those who want to become digital nomads or open their own creative agency. Get your start by developing your own social channels or asking small business owners if you can help them build their online presence for a reduced fee.
Earning potential: $50-70k per year, with the potential for more if self-employed
Training: Skills can be self-taught online for free and developed through practice
2. Scheduling and administrative skills
You already know that CEOs earn great money, but did you know that their assistants do, too? If you enjoy organization and know how to write effective emails, you’re halfway to the skills needed to work as an executive assistant. This job requires a strong sense of professionalism and the ability to represent your boss well. If you want an administrative job that’s a bit more lowkey, consider working from home as a virtual assistant helping clients with organization. tasks. You can also make great money as a scheduler. This up-and-coming skill requires a few weeks of training on software like Primavera but can be high-paying once you begin to apply to project management roles.
Earning potential: $50-100k per year, varies widely depending on the company
Training: Short training course online, prices vary
3. Driving skills
There are several types of transportation skills in high demand. One of the most common and most lucrative is becoming a semi-truck driver. Getting your CDL (or equivalent license in your country) can take a month or two, but many companies are willing to pay you during your training. While truck driving is known for long hours, there are a surprising number of short-distance roles that can allow you to return home at the end of the day. If trucks aren’t your thing, consider learning to become a train conductor or air traffic controller. Both of these jobs can pay six figures with just a high school diploma.
Earning potential: $60-80k per year with CDL
Training: One to six months to obtain CDL, many companies pay for training
4. Skilled trades
Construction is known for being back-breaking work, and while that’s true in certain roles, there are also in-demand trades that allow you to earn a good living with minimal toil. Electricians, for example, can finish schooling in as little as one year. You might also consider more specialized construction skills like tile laying or plastering which can fetch higher salaries with less competition for available jobs. If you’re a young person who has decided a 4-year degree isn’t for you, trade schools can make a great alternative.
Earning potential: $40-60k per year, varies depending on the trade
Training: Several months to two years depending on the trade
5. Dog grooming
If you love animals but don’t dream of becoming a vet, dog grooming might be the perfect high-paying skill for you. While it may take a bit of time to build your clientele, once you are established you can count on furry return customers and word of mouth to keep business booming. Believe it or not, you can even complete courses online to learn everything you need to know in just a few months. Or, if dog grooming doesn’t sound appealing, believe it or not, you can make great cash by taking care of and walking others’ pets, especially in high-demand areas like cities.
Earning potential: $40-50k per year, with the potential to earn much more if self-employed
Training: Several months, some training can be completed online
6. Massage therapy
Massage therapists are expected to increase in demand as doctors and patients discover the healing power of massage. In the U.S., massage therapists must be licensed before they can practice, so you will need to complete a training course that could take several months. Massage therapists may also specialize in various types of procedures or methodologies, allowing them to build customer bases around these areas. If the medical field sounds more appealing than massage, you can also consider training for a healthcare role that doesn’t require a degree like sonographer, phlebotomist, or dental hygienist.
Earning potential: $50-60k per year, with the potential to earn much more if self-employed
Training: 300-1,000 hours of coursework and license needed
7. Data analysis
If you’re an analytical thinker, you can teach yourself the skills you need to land a lucrative job in the field of data analysis. Consider programs like Python as a programming language, combined with Tableau for data visualization and SQL to extract data. A base in statistics or mathematics can help. Luckily, most of the information you’ll need to get started is easily found online. Perfecting your high-value skills can take a few years but once you develop the basics, you can land your first job and get paid while you learn.
Earning potential: $60-80k per year, with the potential to earn much more if self-employed
Training: Three to four months for the basics, several years to develop advanced skills
8. Writing, graphic design, or photography and videography
Who said creatives can’t earn good money? If you’ve always been a strong writer or have a knack for visuals, you can develop these high-value skills and turn them into a business. The best part about these options is that they allow you to work on your own terms. You can even practice them on the side while working another job in the meantime. Wedding photography and videography are particularly lucrative and can be done on the weekends. It might take some time to build your clientele but once you develop a reputation in your field, you’ll quickly find plenty of opportunities.
Earning potential: $40-100,000k per year, varies widely depending on skill level
Training: Six months for basic skill set, several years to develop advanced skills
9. E-commerce management
With so many companies selling online, the ability to manage e-commerce operations is highly sought after. E-commerce jobs can vary from operation management to customer service, marketing, and ads management. Each of these high-income skills can be learned online and without a college degree, making e-commerce one of the hottest fields to enter this year. Try proposing your services to small business owners to start. Once you’ve built a portfolio showing your success, you should have no trouble finding high-paying positions.
Earning potential: $70-90k per year, varies widely depending on skill level
Training: Two months for basic skills, which can be learned online for free
10. Online tutoring
If knowledge is the new currency, teaching others can make you rich. Parents are willing to pay big bucks to tutors who can help their children get accepted into prestigious university programs. All you’ll need to get started is an understanding of the academic system where you live and the writing or math skills your pupils lack. You can build a clientele within the school system of your area or offer your services online. If high schoolers aren’t your thing, consider tutoring younger students who may have fallen behind after the switch to remote learning a few years ago.
Earning potential: $50-100,000k per year, with higher earning potential if self-employed
Training: Short training on subject matter, plus a few months to build clientele
How to choose a high-income skill
A successful career change means fully investing yourself in your new high-income skill and remaining dedicated to it as you build experience. Therefore, it’s important to choose a skill that interests you and motivates you to continue learning and working towards your goals.
Before deciding on a new high-value skill, ask yourself the following questions:
- What areas of my previous work did I enjoy and what areas did I dislike?
- What are my most prominent traits or interest areas?
- What are the most important values I look for in a job or company?
- What is my ideal work environment?
- How much social interaction do I enjoy in my job?
- What does my ideal work-life balance look like?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can begin to eliminate the skills that would lead to jobs that don’t fit your goals and interests. Unless you’re particularly drawn to one skill, it’s wise to settle on two or three options and research them in-depth.
Here are a few ways to gain more information:
- Contact people you know who work in these fields and ask them a few questions about how they got started and the pros and cons of their work.
- If you don’t know anyone with your desired skill, ask family and friends if they might know someone they can connect you with.
- Go online and get feedback from real people in Facebook groups and LinkedIn. Search testimonials on sites like Reddit or Glassdoor.
- Understand what the legal requirements are for your skill. Some jobs on this list require licenses, while others are solely dependent on how well you perform the skill.
How to make a successful career change for a higher salary
Making a career change can seem like a daunting endeavor. With so many of us tied to the identity our jobs provide, choosing something completely different often feels more like a personal reinvention than a professional one. If you’re ready to make a change, however, you’re not alone. One recent study found that half of workers who quit their jobs did so to enter a completely new field. If having two or more professions in a lifetime was rare 50 years ago, today it is the norm.
Today’s job market, however, remains competitive and workers who quit don’t always find a new opportunity overnight. A career change is a big life decision that should be thought about carefully. By setting realistic goals and developing a plan to achieve them, you can successfully transition to a better future.
Here are some factors to consider:
- Income and savings. Making a career change is infinitely more complicated if you don’t have the financial means to hold yourself over while you learn a new skill and look for new opportunities. If quitting your job is not an option, consider the skills above that allow you to learn while you work full-time. Digital marketing, e-commerce, data analysis or photography, and videography are good examples.
- Desired lifestyle. Just because a skill has great earning potential doesn’t mean it will be conducive to the life you imagine for yourself. Make sure to be realistic about what your ideal work-life balance looks like and the type of work that best suits your lifestyle.
- Time needed to make a transition. Some skills require a longer investment of time than others. For example, you might test out scheduling during a week-long course and decide it’s not for you, but it would be a shame to spend 500 hours learning before discovering you don’t like massage! Consider how long it will take to learn your new skill and do your best to determine if it’s truly a job you can see yourself in.
- Passion begets motivation. The more interested you are in a skill or job, the more motivated you will be to continue learning and developing your abilities. When choosing a new career, focus on your interests and your natural abilities and choose something that will truly motivate you to work with a smile on your face.
- Location and job market. Certain skills are universal, while others are much more in demand in certain locations or environments. Consider where you live and whether or not you are willing to move to pursue your new career. Even for skills that are mostly done online, being able to meet and network with others can give you a big boost. Think about the need for your chosen skill in the area where you plan to work. Too much competition can be just as much of a barrier as not enough demand.
- Learning a new skill is the first step to earning more money and making a career change this year.
- There are plenty of skills that can be self-taught or learned through a short training course. Don’t underestimate the value of investing in yourself.
- Consider the pros and cons of each skill and the type of work-life balance the job would lead to.
- Focus on your natural abilities and motivation when deciding which skill to pursue.