More employers are dropping degree requirements and requiring a set number of job skills instead. From soft skills like communication to hard skills like web development, here are 13 in-demand skills to help you land a better job WITHOUT going to college.

As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, employers are starting to rethink their degree requirements.

According to a Burning Glass study, more employers are dropping degree requirements and requiring a set number of job skills instead.

They call this new trend “down credentialing” or “degree resetting,” and it’s great news for anyone who’s looking for a career change — especially the two-thirds of Americans who don’t have a college degree.

But what job skills are in the highest demand?

Here’s a closer look at the top job skills employers are looking for in today’s job market, along with tips on how to learn them.

1. Soft Job Skills

🤓How to learn this skill: Ask for feedback from your peers, practice communicating often, take on a leadership role.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Weave them into your resume or portfolio.

In today’s job market, employers are increasingly looking for employees with strong soft skills. That’s because soft skills are essential for success in any job.

“When employers drop degrees, they become more specific about skills in job postings, spelling out the soft skills that may have been assumed to come with a college education, such as writing, communication, and being detail-oriented,” states the Burning Glass study.

Some of the most important soft skills employers are looking for include:

  • Communication.
  • Teamwork.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Critical thinking.
  • Time management.
  • Conflict resolution.

Read more: How to Choose a Career Based on Your Personality Type

The best way to sharpen your soft skills is through practice. So don’t be afraid to take on a leadership role in your current job, ask for feedback from peers on where you excel and where you fall short, and practice communicating early and often.

That said, let’s move onto some high-paying hard skills you could learn…

2. Copywriting

💸Average salary: $62,170.

🤓How to learn this skill: Take an online course, read blogs, practice on your own.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Build a portfolio.

Are you a wordsmith? Do you have a knack for persuasion? If so, copywriting might be the perfect career for you!

Copywriters are responsible for creating compelling, persuasive, and interesting marketing materials. This can include everything from website content to ads to email campaigns.

As long as you have a willingness to research your target audience and learn to write as you speak, you can be a successful copywriter.

And although the average copywriting salary is $62,170 a year, the highest 10% make $121,670. And several freelance copywriters make a healthy six figures or more.

3. UX Writing

💸Average salary: $96,155.

🤓How to learn this skill: Take an online course, read blogs, practice on your own.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Build a portfolio.

If you’re a fan of both writing and technology, a career in UX writing might be a good fit.

UX writers create user-friendly content for websites and apps. This includes things like error messages, help text, and interface labels. Basically, anything that a user might see while using a digital product.

To be a successful UX writer, you need to be able to understand complex technical concepts and communicate them in simple, human terms. You also need to be able to collaborate with designers and developers to create a seamless user experience.

If you’re interested in a career in UX writing, start by familiarizing yourself with the basics of user experience design. Then, create a portfolio that showcases your skills.

UX Writing Hub and UX Content Collective are two good places to start.

MU30 Tip: Did you know you can also freelance as a UX writer? Check out for a stellar example of what it’s like to freelance for big names like Netflix, Chime, and AfterPay. Slater’s UX writing portfolio is #goals.

4. Graphic Design

💸Average salary: $91,774.

🤓How to learn this skill: Take an online course, learn software, practice on your own.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Build a portfolio.

Do you have an eye for aesthetics? Are you interested in using your creativity to communicate messages visually? If so, a career in graphic design could be perfect for you!

To be a successful graphic designer, you need to have strong visual communication skills and an eye for aesthetics. You also need to be proficient in design software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

If you think you have the talent and creativity for this field, you can learn the basics of graphic design through online courses or by teaching yourself. Then, create a portfolio that showcases your skills.

5. Web Development

💸Average salary: $113,966.

🤓How to learn this skill: Take an online course, learn programming languages, practice on your own.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Build a portfolio.

Web development is the process of creating websites and web applications. Web developers use a variety of programming languages and frameworks to build, test, and deploy websites and web applications — such as  HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Web development is one of the most in-demand skills in today’s job market. And it’s not hard to see why — the internet is an integral part of our lives, and businesses are increasingly looking to develop their online presence.

You can build up your web development skills by taking an online course, or even just teaching yourself through trial and error. And once you’ve mastered the basics, you can start applying for jobs as a junior web developer.

Read more: 42 High-Paying Careers that Don’t Require a College Degree

6. Data Analysis

💸Average salary: $63,299.

🤓How to learn this skill: Take an online course, learn programs, read blogs, practice on your own.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Build a portfolio.

Another highly in-demand skill is data analysis. With the advent of big data, businesses are looking for employees who can help them make sense of all the information they’re collecting.

Data analysts need to have strong math and problem-solving skills. They must be able to understand complex data sets and glean insights from them.

Many data analysts are proficient in SQL, Microsoft Excel, R, Python, and critical thinking. If you think you have what it takes, there are plenty of online courses you can take to get started in this field.

7. Project Management

💸Average salary: $98,420.

🤓How to learn this skill: Take an online course, learn software, get certified.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Build a portfolio.

Project management is a highly sought-after skill in today’s job market, as it is essential for ensuring that complex projects are completed successfully.

If you have strong organizational and communication skills and can stay calm under pressure, then a career in project management could be the perfect fit for you.

In addition to these soft skills, many project managers are well-versed in certain project software, such as Asana, Basecamp, Jira, Trello, and Microsoft Project.

MU30 Tip: Check out @fly.nanced on Instagram for more tips on how to break into project management. Cinneah, who runs the platform, increased her salary from $40k to $200k in just five years by pivoting into project management — all without going back to school!

8. Video Editing

💸Average salary: $76,000.

🤓How to learn this skill: Take an online course, read blogs, practice on your own.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Build a portfolio.

With the rise of YouTube, TikTok, Instagram Reels, digital courses, and online video, businesses and organizations are increasingly in need of skilled video editors.

There are many ways to get started in video editing, but one of the best ways is to create videos yourself — whether for your social media or just to build up your portfolio.

Many excellent online courses can teach you the basics of video editing. Then, you can start applying for jobs or freelance gigs.

9. Trade Skills

💸Average salary: Varies.

🤓How to learn this skill: Get certified or take formal training.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Certification or apprenticeships.

Several trade skills are in high demand in today’s job market. These skills are typically learned through apprenticeships, certificate programs, or on-the-job training.

Here are some of the most in-demand trade skill jobs, along with their average salaries:

  • Aircraft mechanic — $65,550.
  • Civil engineering technician — $58,320.
  • Dental hygienist — $77,810.
  • Electrical engineering technician — $69,070.
  • Electricians — $60,040.
  • Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians — $53,770.
  • Medical sonographer — $75,380.
  • Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters — $59,880.
  • Radiologic and MRI technicians — $61,980.
  • Real estate appraisers and assessors — $61,340.

Read more: 7 Reasons To Consider an Apprenticeship Before Going to College

10. SEO

💸Average salary: $71,394.

🤓How to learn this skill: Take an online course, practice on your own, get certified.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Build a portfolio or website.

In today’s digital world, businesses need to have a strong online presence. And that means ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs). That’s where SEO comes in.

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s the process of optimizing a website to rank higher on search engines like Google. This can be done through techniques like keyword research, link building, and on-page optimization.

If you’re interested in a career in SEO, you’ll need to be able to understand how search engines work and what factors affect SERP rankings. You can learn the basics through online courses or by reading SEO blogs and forums.

11. Marketing

💸Average salary: Varies.

🤓How to learn this skill: Take an online course, read blogs, practice on your own.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Build a portfolio.

Aside from SEO, there are other marketing fields you could also break into without a college degree. Many of these require you to become a subject matter expert in one particular area of marketing — such as paid-per-click advertising or social media.

Some top marketing jobs you could develop skills in include:

  • Affiliate marketing specialist — $68,623.
  • Conversion specialist — $81,048.
  • Email marketing specialist — $90,589.
  • Lead generation specialist — $71,665.
  • Paid-per-click advertising specialist — $70,540.
  • Social media marketing specialist — $67,346.

12. Sales

💸Average salary: Varies.

🤓How to learn this skill: Take an online course, read blogs, practice on your own.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Get certified and/or take formal training.

If you’re a people person, sales could be a good job market to get into. Salespeople are responsible for generating leads and closing deals. This can involve everything from making cold calls to giving presentations.

To be a successful salesperson, you need to have strong communication and negotiation skills, and you need to be comfortable with rejection.

Keep in mind, certain areas of sales will require licenses or certifications to get started, such as a license to sell real estate or life insurance. That said, many of these occupations work off commission and can be really lucrative if you’re good at it.

Here are some popular sales jobs you can get without a college degree:

13. Tech Skills

💸Average salary: Varies.

🤓How to learn this skill: Take an online course, get formal training, learn software.

🏆Best way to showcase skill: Build a portfolio or get certified.

Last but not least is the biggest one of all — tech skills.

According to the Burning Glass study, “Multiple technology companies have publicly announced their commitment to prioritize skills over degrees in IT occupations.” Leading the pack are companies like IBM and Accenture. (Both have looser degree requirements than the national average.)

Some of the most in-demand technical skills include coding, programming, system administration, and network security.

But that’s not all. Employers are also looking for candidates with strong problem-solving skills, critical thinking skills, and the ability to troubleshoot issues.

The easiest way to break into tech is to learn the software or programs required for the job you want. If it’s computer programming, for example, this could include learning Java, Python, C++, or Ruby on Rails.

These top IT jobs seem to be shifting away from degree requirements the fastest:

  • Computer programmer — $93,000.
  • Computer support specialist — $57,910.
  • Network administrator — $80,600.
  • Software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers — $110,140.

How To Learn These Job Skills — WITHOUT Going to College

There are a few different ways you can learn the skills mentioned in this article without needing a degree.

Invest in an Online Course

There are online courses for literally everything these days. Don’t be afraid to invest in Future You and buy a course that can help you break into a new field as quickly as possible.

This is exactly what I did when I wanted to start freelance copywriting. I bought a course that taught me how to do it, and within six months I had replaced my monthly income from my old 9-to-5.

Read more: Apply for Freelance Writing Jobs (and Actually Get Hired)

Scour the Internet for Free Content

Don’t want to spend money on an online course? Most of the information you need is out there on the internet FOR FREE. Watch YouTube videos, read blogs, and visit TikTok. You can find information on just about anything if you’re willing to look for it.

Get Certified

If you want to get ahead of the competition, getting certified in your desired field can help you land a job faster. It may cost a bit of money upfront, but it may still be cheaper than going back to school for a degree.

Build the Right Portfolio

When it comes to demonstrating your skill set, there’s no better way to do it than with a rock-solid portfolio. Your portfolio should include examples of your best work, whether it’s writing samples, design projects, or code snippets.

If you don’t have any previous work to show, create some! Even if it’s for fictitious companies, that’s okay. Get creative and come up with projects that will showcase your skills in the best light possible.

Bottom Line

As more employers move away from degree requirements, it’s predicted that 1.4 million more jobs could open up over the next five years to those without college degrees.

So learning the job skills you need to pivot into your dream career could help you level up your salary without spending a fortune on tuition.

Featured image: Vitalii Vodolazskyi/

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About the author

Cassidy Horton
Total Articles: 52
Cassidy Horton is a finance writer who specializes in banking and insurance. She earned her MBA and bachelor’s degree in public relations from Georgia Southern University — and has since published hundreds of finance articles online for Forbes Advisor, The Balance, Money,, and more. When she's not helping Millennials and Gen Zers gain control of their finances, you can find Cassidy hiking around the Pacific Northwest, cuddling her two cats, and eating way too much fried chicken. Connect with her on or LinkedIn to see what she’s up to next.