High-Income Skills You Can Learn Without College

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Table Of Contents

Written By: Michael Gardon

If you’re not sold on the ROI of college, you’re not alone. For the vast majority of us that don’t really know what we want to do for a living, college may be a very inefficient path to get there. I believe that you’re better off focusing on accumulating high income skills that make you more valuable and marketable. This requires you to take control and invest in yourself to acquire new skills. Fortunately, acquiring this lucrative know-how is easier than ever, with an entire world’s worth of knowledge at your fingertips online. We’ll show you what skills to focus on and how to pick them up so you can get paid and build wealth.

What Are High-Income Skills And Where Can I Learn Them?

High-income skills are in-demand abilities that can generate a solid paycheck. While “high income” is a relative term based on where you live, cracking (and exceeding) six figures generally qualifies in most people’s minds. That means if you work 40 hours per week, you’ll need to earn at least $50 per hour to join the high-income club.

Learning high-income skills is your ticket out of underearning in your career. The increased cash flow will help you break the cycle of financial struggle, shed debt, buy assets, and have more fun. Plus, as your time goes up in value, you may be able to work fewer hours and still reach your financial goals, giving you more time to focus on what matters most to you. The bottom line? This profitable knowledge will help you live the life you want today and set you and your family up for comfort and security in the decades ahead.

Luckily, thanks to today’s technology, learning high-income skills can happen from the comfort of your own home. Check out the best online learning platforms to find a variety of sites to learn high-income skills.

Pro Tip: Since $100,000 will stretch further in lower cost of living areas, consider finding a remote job that pays well and moving to an ultra-affordable location. That way, you can improve your financial situation faster.

List of High-Income Skills + How To Use These Skills

Without further ado, let’s dive into the top high-income skills you can learn and how to put them to work in your career.

Software or App Development

We run our lives with software and mobile apps, and that trend is here to stay.

How you can use this skill

If you learn how to write code in popular languages, you can help meet the demand for these digital tools — and make a great living doing it.

How you can learn this skill

There are many ways to learn software development skills, but participating in a coding boot camp may get you up and running the fastest. Devmountain is a highly ranked bootcamp and design school that offers a variety of courses.

Related: Software Engineer Resume

Web Development

Countless new websites pop up every day to deliver news, entertainment, shopping experiences, and more.

How you can use this skill

As a web developer, you’ll build the technical infrastructure of websites and write the code that powers them.

How you can learn this skill

You can pick up web development know-how by taking an online course, watching video tutorials, or signing up for a coding boot camp. Microsoft Learn offers an interactive and customizable approach to web development.

Web Design

Websites require a sound technical foundation, but they also need to be visually appealing and user-friendly.

How you can use this skill

Web designers build upon a web developer’s work, making each site captivating to the eye and giving it an intuitive interface.

How you can learn this skill

You can hone your web design skills by watching videos, taking classes, and studying websites that you think are beautiful or well-thought-out. Webflow University offers free web design training.

Graphic Design

Every visual piece of content you see (in print or online) had to be created by a graphic designer.

How you can use this skill

By developing graphic design skills, you can conceptualize and produce striking infographics, banners, brochures, templates, advertisements, and more.

How you can learn this skill

You can teach yourself graphic design techniques by watching videos, taking online classes, or playing with software like Photoshop or Canva (which offers a free version!). Alison offers a variety of highly-recommended graphic design courses.


Animators bring graphic designs to life.

How you can use this skill

As an animator, you can create video games, 3-D characters, computer-generated images, and more.

How you can learn this skill

Join The Break Community

To develop animation skills, you can experiment with related software, watch videos online, or take web-based courses from e-learning marketplaces like Udemy.

Digital Marketing 

Marketing builds company brand and product awareness and fosters customer loyalty. Digital marketing harnesses the power of the internet to reach potential buyers.

How you can use this skill

As a digital marketer, you’ll develop and implement strategies to engage prospective customers and drive sales.

How you can learn this skill

The discipline is vast, so you may want to specialize in content marketing (blogging, podcasting, video creation), social media marketing, email marketing, or another area.

You can study digital marketing by reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts, watching videos, or taking online courses. Google offers a Fundamentals Of Digital Marketing course for free to help you get started.


Have you ever read content (online or in print) and then felt compelled to buy a particular product or service? If so, that’s copywriting in action.

How you can use this skill

As a copywriter, you can wield your pen (or keyboard) to persuade a target market to make a purchase. You could find yourself writing copy for paid advertisements, social media posts, web pages, and more.

How you can learn this skill

Like many other skills in this list, you can acquire copywriting knowledge by reading, listening to, and watching instructional content. You can also analyze the copy you see to determine what makes it effective (or not). The Copy Cure offers both a free and paid course to help you get started.


Search engine optimization (SEO) is creating and refining online content to appear towards the top of internet search results. When that happens, the link is more likely to get clicked and generate revenue for the website owner. I got my start in SEO, and now I apply this skill to multiple businesses that I am involved with.

How you can use this skill

You can leverage SEO to drive traffic to a website and increase sales. You can start your own business, or join a company that is trying to generate more organic traffic to their site.

How you can learn this skill

You can become well-versed in SEO by enrolling in online training and watching informational videos. Semrush has a free SEO course to help you learn the basics.

Audio or Video Production

Every podcast you listen to or video you watch has to go through a production process.

How you can use this skill

By learning audio or video production techniques, you can help content creators put out a better product to engage their audience.

How you can learn this skill

To master audio or video production skills, you can take online classes, watch tutorials, or ask a current expert for mentorship. Check out this course on Udemy to get started with audio and video production.

Business Skills

Being business savvy can help you earn a high income, whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur. There are multiple skills here, so you’ll need to pick and choose.

How you can use this skill

You can use business skills to make a company more profitable and efficient.

How you can learn this skill

Since business is a broad discipline, you may want to focus on developing one skill set at a time, such as sales, marketing, or leadership. You can get the education you need by consuming instructional content, joining a related professional organization, attending conferences, interviewing subject matter experts, and more. Edx has a wide variety of business skills courses for you to check out.

Project Management

Project management is the practice of coordinating labor and other resources to achieve a defined objective within a set budget and timeframe.

How you can use this skill

As a project manager, you’ll help a company reach its goals effectively and efficiently.

How you can learn this skill

You can pick up project management skills by taking online courses and reviewing other educational resources. You could also pursue the industry-coveted Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. Grow with Google has a project management certificate available.

Data Analysis

Data analysis involves collecting, organizing, reviewing, and interpreting data to make sound decisions.

How you can use this skill

As a data analyst, you’ll help a firm make critical business decisions using available information.

How you can learn this skill

You can hone your data analysis skills by watching videos, signing up for classes, or playing with software like Minitab or Tableau. Simplilearn has a data analyst training course to consider.

How To Learn High-Income Skills

The strategy you implement to learn a high-income skill will vary based on the specific ability you want to hone. I always recommend starting with the 6 steps for investing in yourself first, so you can sequence your skill building. But, here are some best practices to follow on your self-study journey:

  • Assess what skills you have right now. This is your Circle of Competence. Everyone has some skills.
  • Figure out your Highest Point of Leverage. This is the domain that your Circle of Competence is already suited to. Any additional skill acquisition in this direction will have the most impact.
  • Figure out why you want to enhance your skillset. Keeping this reason in mind can help you stay motivated when you experience setbacks or delays along the way.
  • Choose what skill you want to develop that gives you more leverage and break the task into smaller, manageable bites. For example, if you want to become a copywriter, start by learning how to understand your target audience.
  • Create a time-bound roadmap to reach key learning milestones. But, be flexible because you’ll inevitably have to tweak your timeline at least once.
  • Have patience with your brain. It can’t absorb everything you need to know in a single sitting, so be reasonable about the expectations you set for yourself.
  • Set and commit to practice what you learn regularly. Knowledge requires action to become a skill.
  • Track your progress. Seeing everything you’ve already achieved can help you stay motivated and hold you accountable.
  • Consider getting a mentor or hiring a coach. Some expert guidance could accelerate your success.
  • Join a community of other folks learning or practicing the skill you’re pursuing. The camaraderie and collective wisdom can be invaluable.
  • Get feedback on your work to know what you’re doing well and where you need to improve.
  • Welcome mistakes and take lessons from them. If you never stumble, it means you’re not challenging yourself.
  • Have faith in yourself. Learning a new skill takes hard work and commitment, but you’re up for the task!

If you follow even a few of the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to honing your latest high-income skill.

The Bottom Line

Having high-income skills will take you far in your career, and acquiring them may not be as hard as you think. But, now that you know which skills you should go after, you may be wondering how to highlight them to an employer. So, if you need a little help crafting the perfect job application, check out the best resume writing services. Happy learning!