5 Valuable Skills That Can Earn You an Extra $10,000 Per Year

Breaking Bad's Walter and Skyler White stare at their earnings

Breaking Bad‘s Walter and Skyler White stare at their earnings. | AMC

If you’re serious about earning more money, learning some new skills that you can apply directly to your career is one of the best ways you can spend your time. There are tons of things you can learn, many of them in less than a day, which can be of immediate use to you the next time you head to work, or think of how you can start a business or new hobby. The truth is, if you’re looking to bump your salary by a considerable amount, say $10,000 or so, it’ll really just take some investment of your free time, and a little work ethic.

Employers value different things in today’s economy than they did in years past. With jobs moving overseas or being shifted to foreign workers to take advantage of reduced costs, many businesses and employers are looking for a different type of employee — an employee who adds significant value to their organization, and does so in ways that are often hard to define.

This can be tough for job seekers, or those looking to get a promotion or raise, as we often don’t know what employers are looking for. But we’re starting to get a better idea, and aside from hard skills that you can pick up with a college degree, soft skills — or, those that are harder to quantify and define — are becoming increasingly valuable.

If you’re serious about beefing up your earning potential and value to employers, the following five skills could potentially lead to a big raise.

1. Social skills

Chatting on an elevator

Learn the art of chit-chat. | Thinkstock

First and foremost, if there’s one skill that is clearly catching employers’ attention, it’s the ability to be sociable. This is tough for many people, and as anyone who has worked in an Office Space-like environment can tell you, the fun and sociability can quickly be drained from the most flighty of social butterflies. Even so, businesses want and need employees with social skills. As computers are increasingly able to handle more menial tasks, employers need people who can network, empathize with co-workers, and get chummy with clients.

Social skills are as valuable in today’s job market as ever before.

2. Leadership and charisma

A man taking the lead

Take the lead. | Express/Express/Getty Images

Social skills allow workers to blossom into leaders. By being able to connect with fellow employees, management, and clients, leaders have the ability to see problems differently, and take a holistic look at issues. Employers value leadership skills highly, and if you can demonstrate leadership qualities, it’s an easy ticket to a management position. There are numerous leadership strategies you can employ to prove your worth, and if you’re feeling particularly Machiavellian, you can learn from some of history’s greatest.

3. Perseverance

man climbing and obstacle with the hlep of other participants at Tough Mudder

Don’t give up. | Tough Mudder

Employers hate people who throw in the towel too easily. And when faced with some very serious and complicated issues, sticking with it can be difficult. Even more difficult is finding people who are mentally tough, productive, and who can persevere. These folks are rare, as perseverance is not an easy skill to learn — if you can learn it at all. That’s what makes perseverance valuable, and why employers are willing to shell out higher salaries to those who can hang tough.

One way to get started becoming more mentally tough? Take a cue from some of the world’s top athletes.

4. Data skills

IT engineer or technician builds communication network rack for ethernet and fibre switches in datacenter

Look into further education. | iStock

If you’re looking for some skills that are more technical, or easier to list on a resume, you’re going to want to learn to work with data. There’s a reason STEM careers and tech jobs pay so highly, and it’s because people who can work with data are relatively few and far between. If you can prove your worth working with data, you should easily be able to command a higher salary. Specifically, look into skills related to data management, data architecture, application development, and cloud computing.

If your current employer doesn’t see the value in these skills, there are several other companies that will.

5. Confidence and the ability to confront

Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden in Fight Club

Be confident. | Fox 2000 Pictures

People generally don’t like confrontation. It’s uncomfortable, and we typically do what we can to avoid it. But sometimes, it’s needed. And people who thrive under high-pressure situations involving confrontation? They’re rare, and therefore, they’re valuable.

As we’ve covered previously, the ability to remain cool and confident is highly valued by business executives, and if you’re willing to fight some battles for your superiors, it can advance your career fast. But it’s not easy to become comfortable in this role. You’ll need to have social skills, as discussed, along with leadership qualities, confidence, and the ability to persevere. So, keep that in mind.

But if you’re willing to take up arms — metaphorically speaking, of course — it could result in a serious pay increase, or promotion.

Follow Sam on Twitter @SliceOfGinger.

More from The Cheat Sheet: