17 High-Income Skills You Need to Know in 2024

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May 31, 2024
Edited by
Camille Trent
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min read

3 key takeaways

  • Mastering certain hard and soft skills can significantly increase your earning potential.
  • Some high-income skills require formal education and a degree while others can be honed with online courses, bootcamps, and certifications.
  • Teal’s AI Resume Builder can help showcase your high-income skills on your resume to capture the attention of hiring managers at sought-after companies.

There’s a lot to be said for loving your job. But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re working to collect a paycheck. As much as you want your career to provide a sense of personal and professional fulfillment, you also need financial fulfillment.

Yet only 29 percent of workers say they’re satisfied with their current pay. And while asking for a raise is always an option to increase your earnings, it’s not your only choice. Identifying high-income skills to learn and develop can help you advance your career, increase your value in the job market, and boost your earning potential.

So what in-demand skills are worth investigating? This guide breaks down high-income skills worth learning, along with related job titles, the average salary, and the education required to land relevant roles.

Struggling to land interviews with your resume? Get started with Teal’s AI Resume Builder for free.

What are high-income skills?

High-income skills are the abilities or expertise that allow a person to earn a substantial income, typically through career paths or roles that command high demand and value in the job market.

A graphic of types of skills for a resume
Include a combination of relevant hard, soft, transferable, and industry-specific skills on your resume

Many high-income skills and careers require significant training, education, and experience. However, gaining the right skills can be well worth the effort. People who commit the time and energy to learn high-income skills benefit from lucrative job opportunities, increased job security, and better financial stability.

And while plenty of high-earning careers still demand formal education (doctor, lawyer, engineer), the digital world means high-income skills have never been more accessible. Online courses, certifications, and other resources make it easier than ever to learn new skills and land lucrative jobs.

Examples of high-income skills to learn

So what key skills are worth looking into? This roundup has a mix of technical skills and soft skills commanding higher pay.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary in the U.S. in Q4 of 2023 was $59,384. In order to be considered a “high-income skill,” all of the core skills on this list have a median salary above that average. That said, compensation is nuanced. Your expected earnings can vary based on your experience level, location, industry, employer size, and numerous other factors. 

Here’s an in-depth look at some of the most in-demand skills, their typical salaries, and how you can build those skills to advance your career and your earnings. 

1. Software development

The software development field has grown at a rapid pace, with software engineers seeing a 30 percent increase in demand over the course of the decade. Despite concerns of AI displacing software developers, demand for developers doesn't show signs of slowing. A recent BLS jobs report projects an average growth rate of 25 percent for this career path—significantly higher than the average three percent growth rate.

Software engineers focus on web and mobile app development. They design, code, test, and maintain software architecture, programs, and applications. To do so, they need proficiency in programming languages, problem-solving, and the ability to work with an assortment of development tools and frameworks. 

Related job titles

  • Software developer
  • Software engineer
  • Programmer
  • Web developer
  • Mobile app developer
  • Front-end developer
  • Back-end developer
  • Full-stack developer

How much does software development pay?

The typical pay range for a software developer is between $54,000 and $119,000, with a median salary of $78,268. 

What education do you need to become a software engineer?

A bachelor’s degree is a typical prerequisite to land a software engineering or development position, with 73 percent of software developers having this type of degree. But as more employers switch to skills-based hiring, it’s becoming more possible to land this type of role with alternative education options, like coding bootcamps and online courses.

2. Digital marketing

Digital marketing is a broad term for creating marketing materials to promote products, services, or brands through digital channels. That can include social media marketing, search engine optimization, content creation, and a variety of other related or specialized skills used to understand consumer behavior, reach a target audience, and craft effective marketing campaigns.

The job growth outlook for people who work in digital marketing is also better than average, evidence that demand for digital marketing skills will continue to grow. As it does, so will the pay.

Related job titles

  • Digital marketing manager
  • Digital marketing specialist
  • Digital marketing coordinator
  • Social media manager
  • Marketing analyst

How much can digital marketing managers earn?

The typical pay range for a digital marketing manager is $48,000 to $113,000 with a median salary of $74,411. 

What education do digital marketing managers need?

74% of marketing professionals have a bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, advertising, communication, psychology, or another related field. However, more and more marketing job postings are shifting to a focus on skills rather than formal education credentials. 

3. Sales

Sales and negotiation are strengths that rely on communication skills, interpersonal skills, and emotional intelligence to effectively persuade and influence people. These are some of the best high-income skills to learn as they’re so applicable to a variety of careers—from sales to legal to human resources.

Looking at sales specifically, sales manager roles are growing at a steady pace. And when plenty of companies are planning to increase their sales investment in the years ahead, people with these skills will hold a solid position in the job market. 

Related job titles

  • Sales representative
  • Account executive
  • Business development manager
  • Sales manager
  • Account manager

How much can salespeople earn?

The typical pay range for a sales manager is $35,000 to $132,000 with a median salary of $70,139. However, many people who work in sales also earn commissions on top of their base pay.

What education do salespeople need?

Depending on the specific sales position, some professionals have a college degree while others hold a high school diploma along with relevant experience. What’s most important is that you develop the numerous skills related to successfully selling and negotiating.

4. Data analysis and interpretation

When you build your skills in data analysis and data science, you help organizations make data-driven decisions. This core skill typically involves aspects of data collection, data visualization and data storage to ensure decision-makers always have current and accurate information to reference.

The field of data science is growing at a 5 percent clip, significantly higher than average. And data analysis consistently appears on lists of fastest growing and most in demand skills, making it one of the best high-income skills to focus on if you love of numbers, organization, and analysis. 

Related job titles

  • Data analyst
  • Business analyst
  • Data scientist
  • Data engineer
  • Business intelligence analyst
  • Data architect

How much can data analysts earn?

The typical pay range for a data analyst is between $45,000 and $94,000, with a median salary of $67,349.

What education do data analysts need?

A bachelor’s degree is the most typical educational requirement for data or business analysts, with 65 percent of data analysts holding this type of degree.

5. Financial planning and analysis

Thorough financial understanding is crucial for strategic business planning. Companies rely on people with strong math and analytical skills to help them make sound financial decisions. 

There are many different roles and specialized skills in this field. But speaking generally, employment in business and financial operations is expected to grow at a much higher rate than average, so careers in this valued field will continue to demand higher pay.

Related job titles

  • Financial analyst
  • Financial reporting analyst
  • Budget analyst
  • Financial consultant
  • Finance manager
  • Cost analyst

How much can financial analysts earn?

The typical pay range for a financial analyst is between $50,000 and $92,000, with a median salary of $67,009. 

What education do financial analysts need?

Most financial analysts obtain their bachelor’s degree, with 76 percent of professionals in this field doing so. Additionally, depending on your chosen path, you might also need to pursue professional certifications like becoming a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Certified Financial Analyst (CFA), or Certified Public Accountant (CPA). 

6. Project management

Project managers (or people in related roles) plan, execute, and oversee company projects to ensure they’re completed on time, within scope, and within budget. Nearly every type of organization has a need for project managers, which is why this occupation is growing at an above-average rate.

Project management also allows you to build valuable transferable skills applicable to a variety of other career paths, such as management skills, organization skills, and communication skills.

Related job titles

  • Project manager
  • Project management specialist
  • Program manager
  • Project coordinator
  • Project director

How much can project managers earn?

The typical pay range for a project manager is between $51,000 and $125,000, with a median salary of $79,900. 

What education do financial analysts need?

Many project managers have their bachelor’s degree. However, it’s possible to excel in this field with an associate degree or high school diploma, particularly if you pursue your Project Management Professional (PMP) certification or a similar professional designation. 

7. Cybersecurity

A cybersecurity professional protects a company’s computer systems and networks by implementing and managing security measures to defend against cyber threats. In short, they maintain the organization’s network security to prevent unauthorized access and data breaches.

As company operations move online, the demand for this technical expertise is growing at a breakneck pace. That translates to boosted job security and high earnings.

Related job titles

  • Cybersecurity analyst
  • Information security analyst
  • Network security engineer
  • Security architect

How much can cybersecurity analysts earn?

The typical pay range is between $53,000 and $124,000 with a median salary of $81,316. 

What education do cybersecurity analysts need?

Most cybersecurity or information security analysts need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or another related field.

8. UX or UI design

User experience (UX) or user interface (UI) design focuses on ensuring a product is easy and enjoyable to use by focusing on user needs and their experience. People with these skills create the visual and interactive aspects of a product while confirming they look good and function well.

This career field is experiencing stable and steady growth, making it a solid option for people who enjoy research, design, and collaboration. 

Related job titles

  • UX designer
  • UI designer
  • User experience researcher
  • Interaction designer
  • Product designer
  • Usability analyst

How much can UX designers earn?

The typical pay range for a UX designer is $54,000 to $119,000 with a median salary of $79,024. 

What education do UX designers need?

While some UX designers have bachelor’s degrees, it’s not a firm prerequisite in this career field. Your work experience and core skills carry far more importance than formal education.

9. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence has become a household topic in recent years, and that explosive growth is expected to continue—meaning artificial intelligence jobs like machine learning engineer will become more in-demand than ever.

Working in artificial intelligence involves using computers to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as understanding language (natural language processing), making predictions based on data (predictive analytics), and learning from examples (neural networks).

You might create programs that can understand and respond to human speech, analyze data to forecast trends, or develop algorithms that mimic the way the human brain learns and recognizes patterns. It's all about teaching computers to think and learn like humans do.

Related job titles

  • AI engineer
  • Machine learning engineer
  • AI research scientist
  • Deep learning engineer
  • AI solutions architect

How much can machine learning engineers earn?

The typical pay range for a machine learning engineer with AI skills is $80,000 to $189,000, with a median salary of $126,606. 

What education do machine learning engineers need?

63 percent of AI specialists have a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field like computer science, mathematics, or engineering. However, as AI continues to gain steam, we’ll likely see more informal education opportunities become available. 

10. Investment management

People with investment management skills manage and grow their clients’ or company’s assets, such as stocks, bonds, and other securities. This often involves researching investment opportunities, analyzing financial data, and making informed decisions to maximize returns, manage risk, and help companies meet their financial goals.

Job opportunities for investment or financial managers are growing at a much faster rate than average. And people in these roles don’t just work with money—they earn a lot of it too.

Related job titles

  • Investment manager
  • Portfolio manager
  • Financial analyst
  • Investment advisor
  • Wealth manager
  • Asset manager

How much can investment managers earn?

The typical pay range for an investment manager is $75,000 to $231,000 with a median salary of $122,403. 

What education do investment managers need?

Investment managers often have undergraduate degrees in business, finance, mathematics, accounting, or other related fields. Many of them also pursue their MBA or other professional certifications.

11. Copywriting and content creation

Despite all of the talk about generative AI replacing writers, job opportunities in writing and content creation are still growing at an average pace—proving that writing is a top skill for career and financial stability.

When you work in copywriting and content creation, you’ll write compelling material to engage and persuade audiences. This includes content for various mediums, including websites, blog, social media, advertisement, and other marketing resources. Many content creators also choose to develop their video editing skills or audio production skills as mediums like videos and podcasts continue to gain popularity.

Related job titles

  • Copywriter
  • Content writer
  • Content creator
  • Marketing writer
  • Creative writer
  • Brand copywriter
  • Content strategist
  • Communications specialist

How much can copywriters earn?

The typical pay range for a copywriter is between $39,000 and $86,000, with a median salary of $58,759. However, many people in this field either choose self-employment or quickly climb the ranks to management positions, which significantly increases their earnings. For example, a content marketing manager has a typical pay range of $50,000 to $112,000 and a median salary of $75,061. 

What education do copywriters need?

Some copywriters hold a college degree in marketing, communications, or English. However, those degrees are not a firm requirement for this field. Work samples and experience carry far more importance than degree type.

12. Web development

Companies today need websites, which is why web development is a rapidly-growing skill and career field. Organizations hire web developers in-house, but many web developers choose to go the self-employed route, working with a variety of clients on their websites.

Working in web development involves building and maintaining websites by writing code, designing layouts, and ensuring the site is functional across different devices and browsers. It requires plenty of technical skills, as well as soft skills to successfully communicate and collaborate with clients or other team members.

Related job titles

  • Web developer
  • Front-end developer
  • Back-end developer
  • Full-stack developer

How much can web developers earn?

The typical pay range for a web developer is between $41,000 and $97,000, with a median salary of $64,673. 

What education do web developers need?

While some job postings ask for an associate or bachelor’s degree, it’s not required to become a web developer—especially with so many coding bootcamps, courses, and other online resources available.

13. Cloud computing

Cloud computing is a skill and career that wasn’t on the radar a few decades ago but has since exploded in popularity. In fact, LinkedIn named cloud computing as one of the fastest-growing jobs in the tech industry

People with cloud computing skills manage and access computer resources such as servers, storage, and databases, over the internet instead of on local hardware. This means organizations can scan, store, process, and analyze data remotely, often using platforms like Google Cloud. It makes IT operations far more scalable, flexible, and cost-efficient. 

Related job titles

  • Cloud engineer
  • Cloud architect
  • Cloud solutions architect
  • Cloud administrator
  • Cloud developer

How much can cloud engineers earn?

The typical pay range for a cloud engineer is between $55,000 and $129,000 with a median salary of $91,409.

What education do cloud engineers need?

Most cloud engineers need at least a bachelor’s degree in a field related to information technology, such as computer science or engineering.

14. Blockchain

Blockchain is another future-facing career that would have been a hard concept to communicate only a few years ago. Today, people who work in blockchain manage and secure digital transactions and records using decentralized and immutable technology. Put simply, blockchain technology makes these transactions secure and hard to change.

Blockchain professionals develop and maintain blockchain networks, create smart contracts, and ensure data integrity and security. As cryptocurrency continues to grow, blockchain job opportunities are growing, too. Increased demand usually translates to increased pay.

Related job titles

  • Blockchain developer
  • Blockchain engineer
  • Blockchain architect
  • Blockchain analyst
  • Blockchain consultant

How much can blockchain developers earn?

Salary information for this type of role is tougher to come by as it’s still relatively new. However, some data reports that the average salary for a blockchain developer is $111,845, proving it’s a lucrative career path. 

What education do blockchain developers need?

Many blockchain developers hold degrees in computer science, information technology, or software engineering. However, the educational backgrounds of blockchain developers are varied and the field is becoming more open to people with interdisciplinary skills.

High-income skills without a degree

While there’s always nuance and exceptions in job criteria, making a career out of most of the above skills will likely require you to pursue formal education. But that doesn’t mean all high-income skills will force you to go back to school.

Here’s a quick look at three more skills that are highly valued but have looser education requirements. That also means they have slightly lower pay than most of the high-paying skills above, but you don’t need to invest as much in education. Plus, as you climb the ladder in any of these skills, you’ll continue to earn more.

15. Coding or programming

Average salary: $70,278

Coding and programming is the broad category that includes more specific skills like software development, data scientist, and UI/UX design. While some coding jobs require a formal computer science degree, coding bootcamps and other educational opportunities are gaining more credibility. In one survey, 72 percent of employers said they thought bootcamp graduates were just as prepared and likely to be high performers as people with computer science degrees.

16. Graphic design

Average salary: $50,995

With a career as a graphic designer, you’ll create visual concepts for a variety of projects like advertisements, logos, brochures, websites, and more. A degree can be helpful for this career path, but a portfolio of work that showcases your design skills is far more important.

17. Search engine optimization

Average salary: $52,601

SEO skills continue to be in demand as search engines continue to adapt their algorithms. With a career in SEO, you’ll conduct keyword research and develop strategies to help companies rank well on search engine results pages. While a degree can offer some foundational knowledge of search engine optimization, there are plenty of  online courses, videos, tutorials, and other paid or free resources that can equip you with the necessary skills.

Future high-income skills

When you’re choosing a career path or deciding which skills to develop, you ideally don’t want to choose something with fleeting demand. Instead, you want to know those skills will stay in high demand for years to come. 

Many of the above skills have experienced steady growth that likely won’t slow down anytime soon. But in looking at Google Trends data and other resources, the following skills have the best opportunity for high demand in the years to come.

Trending high-income skills

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning (includes prompt engineering)
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data analysis

And of course, resume soft skills like leadership, organization, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, and adaptability will always see high demand from hiring managers and employers. They’re a necessary supplement to technical knowledge and expertise.

How to list high-income skills on your resume

Your resume skills section is where you’ll showcase your professional and personal skills in the hopes  you’ll land a job interview and eventually a high-paying role. With Teal’s AI Resume Builder, creating your skills section doesn’t have to be tedious and time-consuming.

High-income skills on a resume example
Teal offers one- and two-column resume templates to showcase your skills in a variety of ways.

It’s easy to save all of your skills, add new ones, and use the checkboxes to select the best skills for each job application. Need to move your skills section around? That’s easy to do with the drag-and-drop editor.

Teal lets you add, remove, and reorder skills on a resume
Teal makes it easy to add or remove skills from certain resume versions

When you’re ready, use Teal’s Matching Mode to see how your resume compares to the job posting and make strategic improvements to your soft and hard skills on your resume

Ready to create your own standout resume and skills section? Sign up for Teal for free today to get started.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which skill has the highest salary?

There isn’t one specific skill with the highest salary, as compensation varies based on experience level, industry, location, and numerous other factors. Certain hard skills like data analysis, machine learning, and software development command a high salary but so do many interpersonal skills and competencies like effective communication and strong leadership skills.

What is the highest-paying IT skill?

Some of the highest-paying IT skills include generative AI, deep learning, and computer vision.

What skills earn the most money?

It depends. From project management skills and sales to coding and cybersecurity, there are a variety of skills that can lead to high earning potential. Ultimately, the skills that will command the most money are the ones that are most in demand in the current job market—and that level of demand can change regularly.

Kat Boogaard

Kat is a freelance writer focused on the world of work. When she's not at her computer, you'll find her with her family—which includes two adorable sons and two rebellious rescue mutts.

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