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Advice / Career Paths / Exploring Careers

Best High-Income Skills to Learn in 2024

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Getty Images

The start of the year is historically considered one of the best times for job searching. To make yourself even more hireable, you’re going to want to highlight relevant skills in your job application. And while you’re at it, why not prioritize your high-income skills?

You may be wondering: "Which of the skills I already possess are considered high-income skills?" The good news is: There’s no hidden meaning. High-income skills are those that employers are willing to pay more for—because they feel certain the ROI will exceed their investment in hiring you. And if you haven't acquired them yet, don't worry; learning these skills is totally within your reach.

To narrow in on what’s in-demand in your industry, you could apply the same tactic you would to make it past an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). If there’s a role you already have in mind, you’d look for keywords that are repeated throughout the job description and put them on your resume (including a designated skills section).

Career changer? Take steps to acquire a valuable skill. Not looking for a new role? That’s no reason not to learn; a new, high-income skill could make you even more valuable in your current role (hello: reasons for a raise!)

Here is a list of high-income skills that may lead to more compensation in 2024.

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Primary Skill for AI Research Scientist

Nasdaq recently interviewed an expert who said “there has been a 20-fold increase in the number of job postings requiring generative AI skills.” 20-fold is a lot.

What’s even more exciting is that AI is an emerging field, meaning that you can develop your skills alongside the advances in tech. In other words, you can become an expert in decades-less time than it would take in an established field, because you were there from the outset.

It's no surprise that AI jobs call for technical skills, such as machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. However, don't underestimate the importance of soft skills. Being someone who's eager to learn new things and a good team player can definitely work in your favor when seeking a job in AI.

2. Sustainability

Primary Skill for Sustainability Lead

As consumers demand transparency around sustainability, companies are spending more funds and attention on their sustainability efforts. This means that a related skillset is increasingly valuable.

There are numerous skills you can acquire to help a company go green, but don’t overlook this: when sustainability is a core value, team members often live it. In other words, everyone onsite recycles. No one would bring a plastic water bottle or any disposable takeout containers for that matter. A foundational skill for success in sustainability is genuinely caring about the Earth and environment. From there, the (clean) sky's the limit.

3. Social Media

Primary Skill for Social Media

15 years ago, I would have lengthy discussions with business owners about why they needed to be on social media. No more. Everyone is on social media; but if we’re being honest, results may vary. Many figure out quantity; but quality, results, conversion is trickier. Social media know-how that helps people move the needle is highly valued.

My best recommendation, as someone who runs a marketing firm, is to specialize in one area. For example, we manage all social media, but I’m known for helping people go viral on TikTok. So, that’s the platform people come to us for. In other words, don’t make it your goal to be a generalist; learn a little bit about every platform.

If you want to monetize your social media skills, begin as a specialist: Learn best practices for YouTube videos or how to write the best LinkedIn newsletter. Be a go-to person, not another social media jack-of-all trades.

4. Empathy

Primary Skill for Customer Service

Far be it from us to overlook soft skills, when they’re absolutely essential. It’s been well-documented that the pandemic frayed connections and our ability to connect, so empathy is a key skill that’ll differentiate you on the job.

According to Nidhi Tewari LCSW, emotional intelligence is key: "Being attuned to your clients’ needs is a top high income skill. It means that we anticipate what’s needed by our clients and we give that to them. If we can connect with them deeply and empathetically, ask the right questions, and get to the root challenges, we can offer them support and solutions that address the core struggles. It’s an offering that they can’t afford to say no to and because you attuned to them, they will have an emotional connection to you and your offering, which is what really drives people to invest in your services."

While essential–particularly in client-facing or people-centric roles, empathy and emotional intelligence isn’t something you just list off in the skills section of a resume. This is a skill you can showcase through storytelling in your cover letter and through how you treat everyone in the office (at the job interview, and every other day of the year).

5. Copywriting

Primary Skill for Copywriters

This may be a tough truth to read: Copy direct from ChatGPT is identifiable a mile away. It’s kind of like how AI can make beautiful pictures of people, but oftentimes it messes up their hands, giving them a sixth finger or all thumbs.

Ironically, the availability of mass quantities of not-quite-impressive writing has made copywriters more valuable than ever. Copywriters can take that overly flowery, gimmick-y, sales-y, impersonal, AI-generated copy and make it sound like a human wrote it. When AI writing is paired with a strong editor (and the right prompt), the output stays rapid but the quality is exponentially superior.

6. Blue Collar Skills

Primary Skill for Mechanics

It’s been widely-reported that blue collar workers have seen wage increases in the post-pandemic economy. In fact, blue collar work is being touted not only as an option for those without a college degree to make a good living, but also a profession where you can proportionately scale skills and income over time.

No matter how great computers are, if your pipe bursts you need a plumber, and if your car breaks down you need a mechanic, and you keep blowing fuzes, you need an electrician. Blue collar skills are too often overlooked as a well-paying alternative. 

Unsure which skill to start with? One great option is to look at what you enjoy learning or what you have a natural predisposition toward. If computers are your thing, look into AI. If you’re a people person, consider leadership training. For a skill to truly help you earn more, you have to keep you in the equation.