The Best Six-Figure Jobs (and the High-Income Skills You Need to Get Them)

By: Adda Birnir

Category: Blog, Get Hired

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One hundred thousand. Six figures (or 6 figures if your fingers are feeling lazy). Regardless of how you write it, $100k seems like a magical number, doesn’t it? It’s as if breaking that mark carries psychological weight—it’s kind of like saying, “I’ve made it! I’m successful by objective standards!”

Now, I don’t think you need a six-figure salary to be successful, but you’ve got to admit that adding an extra zero to the end of your paycheck has an appeal. But when you’re making $30k, $50k, or even $75k, cracking six-figures can seem so far away—like a Space X trip with Elon Musk far.. How on earth (pun intended) do you get a salary bump to the point where you’re making $100k? You know, preferably before inflation makes it the equivalent of $50k?

In This Article:

  • How to Land a Six-Figure Salary by Learning New Skills
  • The 8 Most Common Six-Figure Jobs
  • And 6 Six-Figure Jobs in Tech

How to Earn a 6-Figure Salary by Filling Skill Gaps

There are a bunch of different ways to earn $100k. You can move up in a company or position over time by gaining experience (yawn). Or you could do work that companies consider to be extremely valuable—because more valuable skills means more zeroes on that paycheck!

Of course, some skills take years of experience and tens (or hundreds!) of thousands of dollars in student debt to break into, like medical or law school, but going back to school for a new degree isn’t necessary in a lot of jobs. Even ones that pay very, very well. Like those in tech! Rather than spending years working your way up or learning an entirely new career, you can spend a few months learning awesome tech skills—way more effective, fun, and efficient than a new degree.

In the tech industry, there are certain skills that will make you automatically worth more money than your peers. These new skills are the keys to building a successful career in tech—one that is both rewarding and high-paying. Some of these are hard skills, like coding and website design. Others are soft skills that you can learn in or out of the tech industry, and apply to almost any job.

Examples of Hard Tech Skills

Examples of Soft Tech Skills

  • Project management techniques
  • Presentation skills and/or public speaking skills
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Effective time management
  • Problem solving and critical thinking skills
  • Research skills

Once you’ve learned some digital skills and figured out where you want to hone your new tech talents, you’ll make yourself a much more valuable asset to any company, whether you’re looking for a promotion or raise or to embark on an entirely new career path. Don’t believe me? Don’t just take my word for it! I’ve compiled a list of the eight most common job titles in the USA that make at or just over $100k a year, and a list of the top high-earning jobs in tech. Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

The 8 Most Common Six-Figure Jobs

1. Airline Pilot

  • Average Salary: $111,930 annually
  • Skills Required: Bachelor’s Degree in Aircraft operations, aviation, aeronautical engineering, or a related field. Commercial pilot’s license required, instrument rating certification or airline transport pilot certification may be required.
  • Job Requirements: Flying aircrafts safely from one destination to another

2. Nurse Practitioner

  • Average Salary: $110,930 annually
  • Skills Required: Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Nursing, a registered nursing license, and other certifications depending on the state in which one is practicing.
  • Job Requirements: Diagnosing patient illness and other conditions. Duties vary depending on what specialization a practitioner chooses.

3. Physician Assistant

  • Average Salary: $104,860 annually
  • Skills Required: Complete your bachelor’s degree in a science or healthcare related major. Gain experience either working or volunteering in a healthcare setting. Apply to an accredited physician assistant programs. Complete a 2-3 year, master’s level PA program. Pass the PANCE licensing exam.
  • Job Requirements: Examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the supervision of a licensed physician.

4. Software Developer

  • Average Salary: $103,560 annually
  • Skills Required: Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, a strong understanding of tech systems, and experience with development work.
  • Job Requirements: Create computer programs, develop the applications that allow people to perform specific tasks, or develop the systems that control networks or run devices.

5. Actuary

  • Average Salary: $101,560 annually
  • Skills Required: Physician assistants typically need a master’s degree from an accredited educational program. All states require physician assistants to be licensed.
  • Job Requirements: Evaluating, managing, and advising on financial risks.

6. Optometrist

  • Average Salary: $110,300 annually
  • Skills Required: Physician assistants typically need a master’s degree from an accredited educational program. All states require physician assistants to be licensed.
  • Job Requirements: Providing primary vision care to patients, examine eyes for any illnesses or diseases.

7. Dentist

  • Average Salary: $158,120 annually
  • Skills Required: Dentists must be licensed in the state(s) in which they work. Licensure requirements vary by state, although candidates usually must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical exams.
  • Job Requirements: Diagnose and treat problems with patients’ teeth, gums, and related parts of the mouth. They provide advice and instruction on taking care of the teeth and gums and on diet choices that affect oral health.

8. Sales Manager

  • Average Salary: $121,060 annually
  • Skills Required: Most sales managers have a bachelor’s degree and work experience as a sales representative.
  • Job Requirements: Leads and guides a team of sales people within an organization. Set goals for sales, track results, organize data, and assign tasks to team.

6 Six-Figure Jobs in Tech

1. Software Architect

  • Average Salary: $103,560 annually
  • Skills Required: Strong computer programming and project management skills
  • Job Requirements: Work with developers, designers, product managers, and programmers to create a new software systems based on client needs.

2. Computer Network Architects

  • Average Salary: $107,870 annually
  • Skills Required: In addition to hard technical skills, ability to understand company business needs in order to design an efficient, secure and scalable network that aligns with strategic goals. Most network architect jobs require 5 to 10 years of relevant experience, strong business acumen, and computer networking or a related field of study.
  • Job Requirements: Ability to understand an organization’s business plan to in order to design a network to fulfill the needs of the business.

3. Machine Learning Expert

  • Average Salary: $114,520
  • Skills Required: Most jobs for computer and information research scientists require a master’s degree in computer science or a related field. In the federal government, a bachelor’s degree may be sufficient for some jobs.
  • Job Requirements: Program machines to perform specific tasks as required by the business

4. Engineering Manager

  • Average Salary: $137,720
  • Skills Required: Architectural and engineering managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree and considerable work experience as an architect or engineer.
  • Job Requirements: Develop and troubleshoot the concept for a new product, and supervise the team the builds the product

5. Software and Application Developer

  • Average Salary: $103,560
  • Skills Required: Software developers usually have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and strong computer programming skills.
  • Job Requirements: Design, install, test, and maintain software systems.

6. IT Manager

  • Average Salary: $139,220
  • Skills Required: Typically, candidates need a bachelor’s degree in computer or information science and related work experience. Many computer and information systems managers also have a graduate degree.
  • Job Requirements: Plan, coordinate, and direct activities that maintain the software and information systems of a company.

How to Make Your Own Six-Figure Job

Maybe you’re ready to make bank but not so excited about working for a major company. If the freedom to call your own shots while still raking in the cash is what gets you out of bed in the morning, then it’s time for you to step into the wonderful world of freelancing.

Tech is perfect for freelancers or for people looking to add a healthy and lucrative side hustle to their work life. Why? Every business needs digital products. Think about it—do you know of any business that doesn’t have a website in this day and age? How about online checkout? Or social media pages? Everyone is online which means that everyone needs tech services.

Still, how exactly do you start in the wide wonderful world of freelance? I’ve pulled together a list of resources to help you figure out if this career track is right for you and how to get started building your empire.

How to Start Earning As a Freelancer

Other Good High-Income Skills to Learn Now

Have a job title in mind and ready to start trucking towards those added zeroes on your next paycheck? Before you start submitting your resume, take a look at these high-earning skills and consider adding them to your career toolbelt.

How to Write Basic Code

Basic coding—using HTML and CSS—is a really important skill that you can use in a ton of different kinds of jobs. It’s a necessary job skill if you want to be a designer or developer, but it can also be a really useful toolkit to have in your back pocket if you want to work in content marketing, customer support, or many other tech-related fields.

Being able to code using basic HTML and CSS can help you write blog posts and emails as a content marketer. (In fact, here are 5 HTML Tags Every Content Marketer Should Know plus Must-Know CSS Tricks for Making Blog Posts Look Pretty.)

Basic HTML and CSS aren’t difficult to learn. There are tons of basic tutorials online. Or if you want to get more in-depth knowledge so you can write it from scratch (cha-ching), check out Skillcrush’s Web Designer Blueprint or our Web Developer Blueprint.

And if you want a free primer to get started, check out these brief introductions to HTML and CSS, or sign up for Skillcrush’s FREE 10-Day Bootcamp and write your first lines of code.

Specializing in Advanced Coding Languages

The basics of writing HTML and CSS are key to a lot of tech jobs. But some of the best paying jobs in tech are developer jobs. For those roles, you need some more advanced knowledge of coding.

While the “it” coding language changes all the time, often based on what platforms and content management systems (CMSs) are most popular, the skills you learn when you dive into one programming language can often be applied to working with the others (even if the particular syntax changes, the logic is often very similar).

A few “hot” languages to consider learning: Ruby on Rails, PHP and WordPress (the most popular CMS out there), JavaScript, or Python. If you have no IDEA where to start, read up on JavaScript, find out why developers love Ruby on Rails, learn more about Python, and find out why Skillcrush founder Adda Birnir thinks learning WordPress will supercharge your career.

How to Manage Projects and People

Managers and senior staff in virtually every industry make more than those just starting out, and that’s also true in tech. Project management experience is key to becoming a lead on a design or development team. Being able to manage people is valuable regardless of whether you want a career in design, development, marketing, or some other tech-adjacent field.

You can pick up some of these skills through experience, but it’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the most popular apps used in the tech industry. For project management, check out Atlassian’s JIRA, Basecamp, and Asana. You don’t have to be an expert, but if you at least know what they are if they’re brought up in an interview, you’ll be ahead of a lot of your competition.

Beyond the technical aspects of management, taking leadership seminars, reading management books, and working in volunteer positions where you can manage teams or projects are all great ways to boost your skills and earning power.

Digital Design Skills

Basic coding skills are a great way to increase your earning potential. But being able to write code does not make you a designer. Before writing one line of code, the best web designers and developers walk through a step-by-step user experience design process to make sure that the website will be perfect for its users.

Even if you don’t want to build websites from scratch, knowing what actually makes a good design is a really valuable skill to have. It lets you work better with the design team, which is important if you want to work in marketing or development (among other jobs).

Senior designers, on the other hand, can often make over $100k. And if you specialize in something like mobile user experience, you can make two or three times that (or more!).

There are tons of great books out there about web design, user interface design, and user experience design. And if you want to go more in-depth, you can take our Web Designer Blueprint or dive into our Visual Design Blueprint.

How to Understand Full-Stack Development

Full-stack is the big new thing in design and development. “Full-stack” basically means that you understand everything that goes into creating a finished product, from the very beginning to the final phases (all the way up “the stack”). As a full-stack developer, you can work on websites, web apps, mobile apps, and more.

Knowing how to actually create an app or website from the ground up will make you an incredibly valuable asset at any company. If you want a career in web design or development, learning the process from start to finish is one of the most reliable ways to boost your earning power.

And luckily, you don’t need to spend years training before you can start earning. The great thing about tech is that you can start making money off your new skills as a beginner, and earn more as you learn more over time.

How to Manage Your Time Effectively

Time management is a key skill if you want to get ahead, regardless of your industry. The tricky thing about time management is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. You have to figure out what solution (or combination of solutions) work for you.

Personally, I use a combination of a paper planner and Todoist for my daily tasks. The paper planner lets me do long-range planning and keep track of what I have coming up, while Todoist makes it easy to keep track of smaller daily tasks as they come in. It integrates with Gmail, and lets me add emails as tasks, which comes in super handy when tasks are assigned to me in our project management software.

You may find that prioritizing your tasks each day and then tackling them one-by-one works for you. Or you might want to plan out the exact times you’ll work on various tasks for the week. There’s no right or wrong way, just whatever works for you and lets you stay on top of what needs to be done.

Good time management allows you to get your work done efficiently and take on more work without stressing yourself out. Bosses notice when their employees are efficient and get their work done on time, and that means you’re more likely to get a raise, a promotion, or get hired at a better job.

How to Self-Motivate

Taking initiative and motivating yourself to take on new projects shows commitment to your company and that you’re passionate about your work. If your boss always has to remind you to do things, or that a project is due, or if your team members are constantly having to wait for you to finish your work in order for them to complete theirs, you’re going to have a very hard time moving ahead or finding a better job that cracks the 6-figure mark.

Being able to stay on top of your work and complete it on schedule makes you a stellar employee. It also makes it easier to manage a side hustle or a side business, where you can earn more and bring your salary into the “extra zeroes” range.
If you’re ready to start down the path to making at least $100k per year, check out our free Roadmap to Your Dream Career for expert advice on exactly how to get there!

woman in glasses with hand on face, thinking

Is Tech Right For you? Take Our 3-Minute Quiz!

You Will Learn: If a career in tech is right for you What tech careers fit your strengths What skills you need to reach your goals

Take The Quiz!

Adda Birnir

Adda is the CEO and founder of Skillcrush. She lives in Queens, NY with her husband and young son.

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