Money is difficult. Everyone needs it, but it’s hard to get and keep it in steady enough flow to meet your needs. We made this list of the 30 most lucrative skills you can learn online from the point of view that a new skill to learn puts you in line for new income streams. That’s not all–certain skills can staunch the flow of dollars out of your account, which while not lucrative in the classical sense, serves the same end. If you are looking for skills to learn that can diversify your income sources, or just change up your career, this list can prove helpful. A few of these skills to learn can only be followed so far before attendance at a university is called for. In that case, we have listed online degree programs below the write up.
Disclaimer: Some courses may include an affiliate link. Courses were chosen first based on the methodology with affiliate links only added after the ranking was complete.
#1 – Learn to Code and/or IT
The Odin Project is an open source project that pulls from curriculums all across the web to give you the tools it requires to become an employed web developer, including a portfolio of projects on Github. The enterprise is named the allfather of the gods in Norse mythology whose defining characteristic, above all, was curiosity for new knowledge. If you are curious about a career in computers, this course promises to take you through to the other (employably skilled) side in about 1000 hours.
#2 – SEO and/or Google Analytics
Take it from me, a lot of people are currently making their living writing for the internet and anything that you write for the internet needs to be cognizant of search engine optimization and that is a field that is CONSTANTLY changing. A good way to stay abreast of best practices as they now stand is to read a blog that posts daily on the topic. Search Engine Journal is just such a blog. They also run regular webinars on new topics and sponsor a weekly podcast, the Search Engine Nerds.
#3 – Better Cover Letter and Resume = Better Job
Lynda.com (run by LinkedIn) is an online course provider that offers 30 days of free access to their multitude of courses. The particular class we are interested in is in the Writing Resumes and Cover Letters section. This course is designed for college graduates, but many of the lessons are useful at other career points. Work in the class includes a focus on networking and establishing your personal brand. The course is approximately 90 minutes in videos and is a segment of the larger “Job Hunting for College Grads” segment.
#4 – Microsoft Excel
An unexpected hurdle in researching online Excel courses was the unhelpful design of several otherwise seemingly perfectly useful resources. Being confronted with unranked grids of data while I try to improve my skills to learn about using grids of data, sets one up for frustration. One site that avoids this pitfall is Chandoo.org, where the information is beneficially organized and free, at least for the basics. Paid components are available for those who wish to truly become “excellent” at Excel.
#5 – Learn Chinese
You already know all the compelling reasons to pick up this language that is spoken by more than a billion potential clients. Now with Domino Chinese’s flexible pricing plans starting at just $2 a month, you are that much closer to broadening your horizons and your customer base. As is typical of contemporary online language study, Domino Chinese balances video, brief lessons, and live chatting practice, against the backdrop of a former Chinese television host named Felix who serves as your language guru.
#6 – Podcasting
Who doesn’t have a podcast idea kicking around in the back of their head? If you have decided what format of podcast you will be doing, the next step is to obtain the highest quality equipment that a limited budget (and, all budgets are limited) can afford. Podcastconsultant.com has a good list of necessary equipment at multiple price points for each piece of gear. A lot of resources recommend having at least one co-host, and the more chemistry you have together the better your end product will be.
#7 – YouTube
A really solid resource for developing a knowledge base of what YouTube is, and how it can be utilized to put money in your pocket is the Creator Academy at YouTube itself. It is a series of 31 lessons that start with the basics and branches out into how to avoid burnout among other topics. The lessons are of course submitted in YouTube video format coupled with multiple choice questions that help you define your vision for what you are hoping to gain from this online platform.
#8 – Photography Skills
You got a sweet deal on a nice DSLR on Facebook Marketplace and are ready to get your side hustle off the ground. Now you just need…some skills to learn. Luckily, the internet has your back. YouTube is an amazing resource in this department. The popular website FStoppers expanded into YouTube and both the channel and the website are a great resource to learn basic skills, and commune with other shutterbugs. They offer tutorials, equipment reviews, and they have a regular video feature where photography pros review amateur photos in a helpful manner.
#9 – Technical Writing
Study.com features the online class English 305 which starts with the basics of technical writing and ends with writing instructions, manuals, and proposals. This class does not count for college credit, but it can prepare you to access their paid service of proctored testing for college credit. For $29.99 a month you get basic access to this course and hundred of others, complete with video lessons, graded assignments, and the aforementioned testing for college credit.
#10 – PhotoShop
TUTS+ is our choice for the top site to learn the ins and outs of Adobe Photoshop online for free. They do offer paid content as well, but the freebies offered here will get you well on your way being Photoshop proficient. With how-to tutorials and reviews of new effects packages, this site will keep you abreast of best practices in the field of photo manipulation. With paid access, the site offers complete courses and ebooks. But there is plenty of free content to keep you busy.
#11 – Project Management
Alison.com offers their content for free, and then if you wish to receive a diploma at the end of coursework, that costs. Their diploma in project management is a good beginner’s option for learning the terminology, methodology, and “project life cycle.” It takes six to ten hours to complete the coursework, and the assessment at the end is no easy A. In case you do not choose to purchase your diploma, you are still eligible for Learner Achievement Verification on the site’s dashboard.
#12 – Microsoft Word
LinkedIn offers 30 days free access to their 10k+ classes taught by experts in the field. They have multiple courses on Microsoft Word that can get you inserting charts and using macros, no matter which version of Word you are using. After 30 days, access costs $24.99 monthly, with up to a 20% discount for those who pay annually. LinkedIn helpfully points out that many employers find this a valuable resource and will reimburse you for expenses in this area.
#13 – Public Speaking
This course offered by the University of Washington through the platform of Coursera is part of a four course Public Speaking Specialization. Taking about sixteen hours to complete, the 100% online course offers flexible deadlines to meet your scheduling needs. The coursework consists of about an hour of lecture per week, readings, and quizzes. Skills to learn through the class include confidence and presentation planning. Full access to the course requires paid membership, but completion of the four course sequence will unlock a specialization that can be added to your LinkedIn profile or CV.
#14 – Personal Finance
Forget old school budgeting. This task causes most people unwanted stress and wastes time tracking things that are already tracked if you primarily spend with a credit or debit card. Current research points to three key things that can help soothe most money worries. 1) Be aware of what your financial responsibilities are each month and year. 2) Automate as many bills as possible to minimize missed payments and also keep you from spending that money before you need it to pay the bill. 3) Know how much money you have to spend each month (not on expenses or debt paydown) and STICK TO THAT NUMBER. If you see that your funds for non-essentials are dwindling faster than the days left in the month, then cut back where you can and let the savings accrue.
#15 – Mac Skills
If you are looking for Apple IT skills to learn, the company offers online seminars and tutorials that are geared for the education sector, but often the topics apply more universally. Registration is required to participate or view archived content, but access is free. The site also offers the Lion Server Documentation Guide, which can be a good resource for other Apple concepts as well. As a company, Apple places special emphasis on the education sector as it grows the user base and gets their products into wider circulation.
#16 – Human Resources
This free online course from Udemy is about 75 minutes in length and titled Introduction to Human Resource Management. It is a good place to start for anyone wanting to go into general business management who is foggy on the purpose and skill set of the HR department. The special management needs of human resource departments are also covered. The course comes with a Certificate of Completion. Tips for effective HR management are the capstone element of this course.
#17 – Microsoft Access
Microsoft Access training for Microsoft.com is a well laid out introduction to databases, tables, and relationships used in the program. Hint: This course assumes you know your way around Excel, so you might run over the resources at #4 on this list if you are not up to speed in that department. The resources offered by Microsoft are a series of introductory videos and then a series of decision trees to help you suss out your particular needs from the program.
#18 – Math
Introduction to Mathematical Thinking offered from Stanford University teaches you to think the way a mathematician thinks. This is an intermediate course that takes about 3-5 hours per week for a total of 39 hours. You will learn number theory and logical thinking.
If you are interested in problem solving and “thinking outside-the-box”, the way a professional mathematician thinks, try this Introduction to Mathematical Thinking.
#19 – Culinary Skills
Learning new culinary skills expands your repertoire of meals you can cook which makes eating at home more interesting, which can save you money by keeping you out of restaurants. Ordering a weekly food box (like Hello Fresh of Blue Apron) is a good way to learn new recipes and automate some of your food spending. Deals for food boxes abound, and you can easily skip from one meal box company to the next as the deal prices run out. The Food Box is a good fit for savings as you try new things, but you should also get input into the system so you aren’t spending money on food you won’t want to eat.
#20 – Pet Care
Rover is a great resource for finding a little side hustle and getting in some quality doggo time if you find yourself short on this important natural resource. The sign up process is quick and you can use their app to track your appointments and mark your availability on your own terms. The website mentions earnings of up to $1000 a month and you select which services you want to offer, from in house dog/cat sitting (the best paying option) to doggy daycare or simple dog walking.
#21 – WordPress
WP101 offers monthly and yearly all-access passes to their coursework on WordPress and its attendant plugins like Yoast and Jetpack. WordPress was originally just for blogs, but now can be used for complete websites, stores, and many others. WP101’s website also offers exclusive discounts for companies offering web hosting and themes for WordPress. The site also partners with Codeable to provide WordPress experts for hire, starting at $60 an hour. Which you can take as reinforcement to how lucrative upping your WordPress game can be.
#22 – Accounting
The Open University offers a plethora of online accounting knowledge that is, in keeping with their mission, completely free. They start with basics like introduction to bookkeeping, but branch into specifics like liquidity management. If you are interested in becoming credentialed in accounting, a more formal program from a community college or university would be required. But the open university can get you from basics up to operating speed, and you get a digital badge or statement of participation for completing their free coursework.
#23 – Credit Score Repair
The first step is to ascertain your position by obtaining all three credit reports for free from annualcreditreport.com. Check for errors and be prepared to dispute them with all three credit bureaus. If raising your credit score is your aim, make a schedule so you can make all payments on time going forward (you can shift payment dates on borrower websites), and try not to open any new lines of credit while you focus on paying down your current debt. One counterintuitive thing to try is to ask the borrower to raise your limit. If you are in good standing, this will lessen your ratio of credit used and often boost your score a bit.
#24 – PowerPoint
Skillshare.com’s Presentation Design for Smart People class can be accessed for three months on the site for just 99 cents, according to a current promotion. The 3+ hour course covers narrative arc, the three types of presentations, and storyboards. The latter half of the class entails graphic design and visual hierarchy as well as helpful dos and don’ts for fonts and colors. The program includes one well designed visually pleasing presentation that you will present to the class.
#25 – Investing
The Investing Classroom at Morningstar.com is offered to holders of a free membership to the website and provides access to more than a hundred classes on topics including stocks, funds, bonds, and portfolios. As you pass through the curriculum, you gain points and once you reach a certain number of points you are rewarded with a free 60-day membership to Morningstar.com so you can start putting your new knowledge to work accessing the site’s analyst reports and stock buy and sell recommendations.
#26 – Digital Marketing
Google Online Marketing Challenge is a program for college students at any level to gain real world marketing experience assisting a participating nonprofit with their online ad campaigns. Google provides the teams of 2-5 students with a Google Ad Grant of up to $10,000 per month to purchase Google ads for the nonprofit. The students work under a faculty member and ideally build a relationship with the client and provide a Post-Campaign Analysis at the end of the program.
#27 – Ethical Hacking
The complete ethical hacking bundle sold by BoingBoing is an eight course bundle that, true to the spirit of Boing Boing’s ethic, requires you pay what you want. They mean it. Course titles include: “Learn Website Hacking and Penetration Testing From Scratch,” “From Zero to Hero in Web, Network, and WiFi Hacking,” and “Hack People Systems and Mobile Devices.” Remember that white hat/ethical hacking is designed to test and strengthen systems protections and make us savvier consumers and producers of electronic content.
#28 – Copywriting
Writing of any kind needs to be clear and concise with a strong voice. Copy Hackers can help you take the prose you construct for pay to the next level. One of its co-founders, Joanna Wiebe, describes their outlook as not one of crass direct-selling but of finding each client’s voice that also happens to draw readers and, potentially, clients. In their introductory page, they offer free ebooks that offer how to write newsletters that get read and a guide for “Conversion Marketers” to achieve marketable copy.
#29 – Finance and Economics
If you are of a certain, self-directed mindset and ready take advantage of sophisticated–and free–course materials in economics from a model research technical institution, MIT offers dozens of graduate and undergraduate course elements from Principles of Microeconomics to Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy to Advanced Macroeconomics. Offered since 2001, currently MIT Open Course Ware offers access to previously run courses that have run through 2018. These courses often include supporting texts in PDF, syllabi, clearly-arranged topic units, exams, and other supplementals. Most courses also have a single-location site to download all the course materials and links for recorded lectures.
#30 – Keyboarding
If you have made it this far in life on the hunt and peck method alone, a) congratulations and b) it’s really time you learned the correct method. Speedtyping.com offers free lessons that get you through the basics and once you have that down, life should throw you enough practice to keep your skills sharp. If opportunities with the keyboard do dry up, the site also offers games to keep your newly learned skills up until they are called upon again. This skill to learn may not directly add dollars to your pocket in the immediate sense, but it will (eventually) increase your productivity at work and thereby make you a more valuable employee, which can lead (down the road) to raises and promotions.