For many people, their goal is to learn high income skills so they can earn a six-figure income. Let’s be clear: Whether or not you take home six figures does not define whether or not you are successful.
But if it’s a goal that you’ve set for yourself, then right on! Know that you can take concrete steps to achieve it. And this is possible even if you don’t have a degree.
Yes, you can earn a high income without having a college degree. It’s all about learning the right skills, high income skills!
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What are high income skills?
First things first: What are high income skills?
Quite simply, high income skills are knowledge and/or experiences that people are willing to pay a good price for.
It’s true that going to college can help you start off on the right path to learning these high income skills, but a degree is not necessary for success. When it comes to high income skills without a degree, what’s most important is your knowledge and your experience.
Developing high income skills without a degree
Unless you get lucky and take home the lottery, there is no way to get rich quickly. But there are ways for you to achieve financial wellness over time, slowly and steadily.
What does it take to create a high income without a degree?
You need skills, knowledge, and experience.
But remember, just because you learn a new high income skill, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to make six figures out of the gate.
Instead, it’s more likely that you’ll grow over time. As you continue to develop your skills, gain more knowledge, and build up more experience, you’ll move closer and closer to achieving your financial goals.
So what are these high income skills you can learn without having to go to college?
Whether you’re a creative, a techie, a social butterfly, or something in between, here are some of the best high income skills you can learn without a college degree.
The best high income skills without a degree for creatives
Some people are great creative thinkers. If that's you, here are the best skills to have.
SEO stands for search engine optimization. As an SEO specialist, you'll learn what it takes to make web pages appear on the first page of search engine results to increase website traffic.
Most SEO specialists will start off making about $49,000 per year but can progress to $80,000 or more per year.
You probably don't think about it super often, but copywriting is everywhere. Blog posts, website copy, product descriptions, books, you name it. Copy is everywhere, and someone has to do all that writing.
Copywriters average $54,000 per year when they work in-house. But many copywriters also moonlight or work full-time as freelancers, where salaries can comfortably enter the six-figure mark.
3. Content marketing
Want to expand a bit more beyond writing? While content marketers definitely need to flex their writing chops, they’re responsible for taking a more holistic approach to marketing, developing a brand’s strategy for deploying videos, blogs, and other marketing materials.
And there’s certainly room to grow!
On average, a marketing coordinator starts out making about $46,000 per year. But as you grow from manager to director, you can end up taking home as much as $152,000 per year!
4. Email marketing
Another specific niche of content marketing, email marketing is on the rise—and there’s a big demand for good email marketers.
On average, an email marketing manager takes home $74,000 per year, but there’s also the potential to earn above the coveted $100,000.
Like copywriting and content marketing, email marketing also affords many opportunities to go freelance, either full-time or to make some extra cash alongside your day job.
5. Social media marketing
Like email marketing, you can also opt to hone your skills and specialize in social media marketing—and you can be sure there’s no shortage of demand for social media managers.
If you consider yourself an expert at Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media platforms, you can turn your skills and passion into a well-paying career—that could earn you up to $80,000 per year.
The best high income skills without a degree for techies
If you're great with computers, these skills are just what you need to earn a high income.
The job market can be an unpredictable place, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is betting on coding. They estimate that computing and information technology employment will grow 15% between 2021 and 2031. That’s much faster than the projected growth rate on average across all jobs.
Coding is not only a skill that’s high in demand—it’s high in income. The average software developer salary is $74,000 per year, but many are earning much more.
7. Web development and design
Do you get frustrated when browsing a website that doesn’t work well or is poorly designed? You could be the one who fixes it!
You don’t need to go to college to become a web developer or web designer—but you can still take home the big bucks. A web developer’s average base salary is $60,000 per year, with room to grow up to the six-figure mark.
8. Graphic design
At $45.8 billion, you can’t ignore that the global market for graphic design is huge—and 90% of that market share is made up of freelancers.
That’s part of what makes graphic design one of the best high income skills you can pursue without a degree.
Whether you’re taking on graphic design as a side hustle to earn some extra cash or you’re prepared to become a full-time graphic designer, you can learn the skills you need to succeed without ever going to college.
9. Video editing
In the same vein as graphic design, video editing is a great high income skill you can learn on your own, whether or not you want to pursue it as a side hustle or focus on becoming a full-time video editor.
One of the big perks of video editing is that you have options. From YouTube videos to documentaries to films and even Instagram reels, video content is on the rise.
As a matter of fact, nearly nine out of ten people report that they want to see more video content from brands, says Hubspot. Ultimately, that spells more demand for you as a video editor.
10. Data science
Are you great with numbers and identifying and analyzing trends? Then a career in data science may be the perfect fit for you.
It’s also one of the most lucrative. The average base pay for data scientists starts at $98,000 per year but can grow well past $130,000.
And don’t let the high pay fool you—you don’t need a college education to become a data scientist, as there are plenty of other resources to help you get started learning what you need to know.
The best high income skills without a degree for social butterflies
Do you love to be around people? Don't miss out on these skills that can make you some serious cash.
Careers like social media marketing and coding may be getting a lot of chatter lately, but one of the oldest job skills in the world still stands out as one of the best high income skills without a degree: sales.
When you work in sales, you can truly work in any industry. From cars to clothes to cookware, there’s a job in sales for pretty much any product or service under the sun.
And because most sales associates and directors work largely based on commission, the sky is truly the limit for how much you can take home each month.
12. Real estate
One of the biggest sectors of sales is real estate, and there are a lot of advantages to opting for a career as a realtor.
For one, you get prime flexibility, as you can get licensed to practice real estate practically anywhere and anytime. It also offers enormous room for development.
As teenagers approach the end of high school, many are encouraged to continue pursuing their education in a four-year university program. But this is certainly not the only option—nor the best option for everyone.
Trades, like plumbing and electrical work, are not only respectable, in-demand careers, but they can also be extremely lucrative.
For example, on average, plumbers take home about $59,000 per year. But when they work for themselves (i.e., when they start a small business or work as an independent contractor), many make $100,000 or more.
Did you know that anyone can be a coach? It’s true! Coaching isn’t just about sports, and it’s certainly not as pyramid-scheme-y as many people fear it is.
The fact is, a coach is just someone who teaches others by sharing their skills, experience, and knowledge.
And guess what—coaching is extremely popular, with an average yearly growth of 6.7%. From life coaching to business coaching, career coaching, and health coaching, you can turn your knowledge into a high income skill without ever going to college.
Unfortunately, it’s no secret that teachers in the American public school system have notoriously low pay. But being a teacher doesn’t necessarily mean working in a traditional school.
Today, many teachers (whether professionally trained or not) are expanding the way they teach. Like this ESL teacher who made 120k in a year.
Like coaching, there are tons of things you can teach without a formal education—and learning how to grow your student audience will help you grow your income.
How to learn high income skills without a degree
There’s no getting something for nothing; learning how to develop high income skills without a degree takes hard work and determination. But it is possible.
Ready to get started? Here’s where to look to start learning high income skills:
It goes without saying, but books are (obviously) a great resource to get started learning about … pretty much anything.
Even with the boom of online content, your local library is still an invaluable source of (free!) knowledge, so get yourself a library card if you don’t already have one, and hit the books!
Take online courses
Sure, you don’t need to go to college to learn these high income skills—but you need to start somewhere to start building your knowledge base and gaining experience.
Not sure where to turn? Here’s a line-up of top online courses and certifications to help you get started learning high income skills:
- LinkedIn Learning: Find video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills.
- Google Digital Garage: Explore more than 100 different courses of online content, from digital marketing to the basics of code.
- Skillshare: Discover this online community of educational videos.
- Google Career Certificates: Learn job-ready skills for high-growth, high-demand career fields like data analytics, digital marketing, eCommerce, IT support, project management, and more.
- Hubspot Academy: Complete free certifications and boost your credibility by adding industry-recognized badges to your LinkedIn profile.
Learn from experts in the industry
Remember when we talked about coaching and teaching? Whether or not you see that as the right career path for you, leaning on online coaches and/or teachers is a great way to get knowledge in a new industry that interests you.
If you’re unsure where to start, try checking out your favorite bloggers. Many bloggers today offer online courses or coaching to help educate their readers either through 1:1 teaching or group sessions.
You can learn high income skills without a degree!
Ready to start developing your high income skills? You can do it without a college degree—and there are still more options! Check out these other 13 high income skills to help you earn more money.