11 High Income Skills You Can Teach Yourself in 2021
Your degree gave you a set of skills, but it’s only a small part of who you actually are and what you can give the world. You have a whole bucket of skills you’ve acquired from a bunch of different experiences, and the more you can put in there the more in-demand you will be.
When you type something into a search engine (which you might have done before you landed here), the search engine, let’s say Google, makes some complex decisions about which pages–of the millions that might fit–it’s going to show you.
And there’s a lot of strategies to make websites BETTER so that Google moves them up the list. We call this Search Engine Optimization (AKA SEO). This page was high enough up in Google for you to click on it. If it was on page 57 of your search results, you never would have seen it.
SEO is in high demand as companies try to bring in organic views to their websites and products.
Organic views are super valuable since the alternative requires bringing in traffic through social media posting or advertising. But organic traffic is different; it’s made up of people who are driven to find the answer to the questions they’re asking.
Neil Patel, the SEO wizard, even has a tool on his website that tells you how much SEO traffic is worth in dollars.
ZipRecruiter puts the average salary of an SEO consultant at $69,499, while a well-rated SEO consultant on Upwork can make anywhere from $60-250/hour. Not bad for a skill you can teach yourself.
How to learn
The way I learned SEO was by taking courses on SkillShare. Start with Rand Fishkin’s Introduction to SEO: Tactics and Strategy for Entrepreneurs, it’s a great overview!
Then, check out my favourite sites that talk about SEO:
Blockchain is a way of storing information. In the blockchain, valuable information is stored across a system in which each computer stores a record of information that is linked together.
In non-computer speak, it’s simply that information is shared and duplicated across a system, making it harder to compromise, versus the model of storing information on a server that each computer accesses. Each computer has a record of any transactions, which makes it way safer than a centralized server. Get it?
How to Learn
Blockchain is in high demand and continuing to grow. Because of this, there are a TON of courses and resources of there for learning, with many companies creating their own programming in a desperate bid to get more qualified workers.
3. Video Editing
I freaking love video editing… weird as that may sound. And in the age of the pandemic, when more companies are moving online, decent video editors are in short supply.
Although a Video Editor’s salary on ZipRecruiter isn’t huge, $47,000 yearly, talented Video Editors on Upwork can make $40-150/hourly. This is good news for talented video editors who want to work freelance, especially if you’ve got chops and the ability to market yourself.
How to Learn
With phones now capable of making ridiculously high-quality videos, there’s a low barrier of entry to become great at video editing. You can take your phone out today and start playing around. There are a few free video editing programs, I’ve used FilmMaker Pro.
But above all else, I love Adobe programs. I work in Adobe Premiere, and I play around with AfterEffects a bit. If you want to learn video editing, you can take courses on SkillShare here too, or just start diving in on YouTube! There are lots for free there.
BTW- I have about $3,000 worth of pro camera gear. But lately, I’ve just been using my Samsung A50 with a DJI Mimo Gimble and a Lav Mic. While it’s not perfect, it’s quick, no-hassle, and I’m having fun learning. You can see my newest work here.
4. Digital Marketing
Digital marketing is a term that encompasses a lot. It might even include SEO (above). But developing your skills as a digital marketer will pay off.
Digital marketing used to be the job companies gave to the intern. “Post this on Tweeter for us.” But no longer. Companies are throwing big budgets at digital marketing, recognizing that it has the potential to overtake traditional marketing—digital is now around 60% of all ad spends.
How to Learn
You can learn digital marketing. But make no mistake, this doesn’t mean tweeting all day. If you’re serious about becoming a digital marketer, I’d recommend doing a deep dive on learning advertising across different platforms, especially Facebook. Learn Pixel, retargeting, and get serious about metrics and analytics.
Where do you do this? Well, again, I’d give a shout-out to SkillShare, which is where I learn most of the things I want to learn. I also found this fantastic list of free online marketing courses from HubSpot
Selling has been around for thousands of years. Unlike most of the other things on this list, it’s not fancy or sexy, and it’s not strictly tech. But sales aren’t going anywhere. Companies need to sell things.
Sales IS changing though. Like everything else, it’s been upended by tech. From fancy AI customer databases to email lead generation software, sales will keep evolving. But at the base of sales is a relationship. As the famous saying goes, “people do business with people they know, like, and trust.”
As far as the money goes, sale is a tough salary to pin down. After all, that pushy guy at the cellphone booth in the mall is a salesperson but might not make that much. But top salespeople can make multiple six-figures a year, actually, potentially more than any other job on this list.
How to Learn
I’m not sure if everyone is cut out for sales, but if you think you might be, you can always improve your abilities. And don’t just assume that because you’re great with people you’ll be able to sell.
It’s not surprising that coding is still a valuable skill, and it’s also something you can learn yourself. Developers are in high demand as we transition to a tech economy. And contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to have a computer science degree to be a developer.
Anyone can learn to code!
How to Learn
There are so many free coding courses out there, particularly because everyone needs coders. Codecademy is a great place to start.
If you’re wondering what language to learn, it’s important to choose one that fits within your career goals. The most popular language is python, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you.
“I always suggest to my students that are about to go on the market to look at 25 job openings and see what themes emerge. For someone like me, the most logical programs to know are things like Stata, SPSS, and R. For others Python.”Dr. Raeda Anderson Research Scientist, Shepherd Center & Statistical Consultant, Department of Energy
Are you a writer at heart? Have you always imagined living in a Starbucks, writing for a living?
Now imagine that life, but with a solid income.
Copywriting is the skill of using words to sell things, and it’s valuable. It’s one of those skills that a lot of people think they have, but few actually do.
It’s hard to write bulletproof prose that perfectly captures your ideal customer, stopping them in their tracks and helping them overcome objections to buy something. And that’s why companies pay.
The average copywriter salary on ZipRecruiter is $59,084/year. But this is another one of those skills that will command you top dollar if you’re the best. Great copywriters are in high demand and charge a lot—the average copywriter salary on Upwork is around $100/hr.
If you want a taste of amazing copywriting, drop by Laura Belgray’s blog, Talking Shrimp. She’s one of the best copywriters around, and a read of her homepage will tell you why. I also love Eddie Shleyner’s blog, Very Good Copy.
Copywriting is about selling. But go read the best wordsmiths in the business, and you’ll see why they’re great. There’s none of that “But wait, there’s more” crap.
Just beautiful, crafted words that make you smile and fall in love with a mission or company.
How to Learn
The blogs I mentioned above are a great place to start, and they have awesome resources. You’ll need to develop a portfolio, so writing a copy should be a part of your learning. Reach out to local businesses or non-profits to see if you can practice for them. And keep a portfolio of your work!
And, if you’ve got that SkillShare account handy, there are some great copywriting courses here too. Start with Copywriting For Beginners: How To Write Web Copy That Sells Without Being Cheesy
And if you want to learn the art of wordsmithing, perhaps *ahem* reading should be part of it? Try some of these famous titles on for size:
Ogilvy on Advertising, David Ogilvy
8. User Experience (UX)
User Experience is a rapidly growing field, and it’s perfect for people with advanced degrees. It requires a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research. This means that most degree holders have some point of entry, but it’s an especially great choice for grads with social science and humanities degrees.
Hold your breath, because UX Designers make an average of $98,816 in the U.S. UX Managers make $125,712 while UX Directors make $166,940. Who said you weren’t going to be able to use that anthropology degree? UX is the perfect place for it.
How to Learn
I found this little guide from Career Foundry for launching a career in UX, and it’s awesome!
If you happen to have a SkillShare membership, which I keep handy, there are also some great UX courses on there like Intro to UX: Fundamentals of Usability or User Experience Design Essentials – Adobe XD UI UX Design.
9. Project Management
Project Management is a bit of a catch-all title. Project Managers might do anything from designing a new road to overseeing a research project. So, if you want to move into project management, you’ll need to figure out what type you’d like to do. The type of projects that interest you.
How to Learn
It’s important to recognize that you might not be able to do every type of project management out there. If you’re a history grad, becoming a project manager is probably NEVER going to mean overseeing a bridge project.
So your goal is to figure out which domain you’d be applying project management skills in. You can do some free project management courses, there’s a good list here, to get a sense of the requirement and the discipline. You might even choose to invest in a PMP (Project Management Professional) certification, which is widely recognized. You can find more information about how to get certified here.
Google also has its own Project Management training coming soon!
10. AWS Cloud Certifications
What is Amazon? You might say a bookstore, and you’d be sort of right. You might even say an online marketplace, and you’d be partially right too.
But did you know that one of Amazon’s most profitable branches has nothing to do with books or products? It’s the cloud. Amazon Web Services, AWS, brought in 10-12% of Amazon’s revenue last month, but that number is growing year over year. And businesses are paying big bucks for AWS-certified developers and architects. In fact, an AWS certified developer makes an average of $122,000/year, while an AWS architect commands an impressive $165,748 yearly.
How to Learn
11. Content Marketing
If you’re creative and love to write and/or edit, content marketing might be another skill for you. Unlike copywriting, content writing isn’t strictly designed to sell. Copywriting is a type of content.
But content is a much bigger bucket. When a company writes a blog post, its goal might not be immediately to sell… “get it now for a limited time!” In fact, its goal might be to educate, create brand awareness, inspire, tell stories, or any number of things.
Content writing and copywriting are, therefore, two distinct skills. It’s not a guarantee that copywriters are great content writers and vice versa.
According to ZipRecruiter, Content Managers make an average salary of $63,000/year.
How to learn content marketing…
Okay, it’s not necessarily that straightforward.
But it is vital to find places to create content and hone your craft. I also found this course on SkillShare: Web Writing Secrets: Create Content That Captivates Your Audience, which I think covers some basics really well. Start finding avenues to write for, pitch content to blogs and magazines or start your own, and create a portfolio of your work to show potential employers.
Or start a blog! I would never have called myself a content writer when I put my first few thoughts down on this website. But as it turns out, I’m pretty damned good at this. One great way to cut your chops with content (and build your brand and make some money too) is to start your own blog.
If you feel like you’re stuck in your career, especially if you have a degree that feels useless, why not learn one of these in-demand skills and level up? They’ll help you define the value you offer in the marketplace, and get paid more! Good luck!