8 Skills That'll Help Your Career the Most (And How to Learn Them)

August 17, 2016

Recently, MONEY – the business section within Time Magazine – and PayScale.com teamed up to discover the career skills a professional could learn today that would most help them in their current job.

Specifically, using 54 million profiles, MONEY and PayScale compared people with the same title, age, location and experience, isolating what specific skills correlated with higher pay and more career opportunity.

That means these aren’t just the eight most valuable skills a person could possibly learn starting off their career, like the most valuable college majors. Instead, it means these are the skills that any professional could learn right now, which would most help their career (of course, some skills will help some careers more than others, but it should be relatively obvious which ones apply most to your career).

Here are the top eight most valuable career skills, linked to a Lynda.com course that teaches it:

  1. Statistical Analysis System (SAS). Pay Premium – 6.1%
  2. Data Mining/Data Warehousing. Pay Premium – 5.1%
  3. Search Engine Marketing. Pay Premium – 5%
  4. Data Modeling. Pay Premium – 5%
  5. Contract Negotiation. Pay Premium – 5%
  6. Software Development. Pay Premium – 4.9%
  7. Strategic Project Management. Pay Premium – 4.4%  
  8. Strategic Planning. Pay Premium – 4.3% 
Two takeaways

Clearly, data is front-and-center here, with three of the top four skills related to data science. Essentially all jobs today are becoming more data-driven, so it would behoove anyone to get a stronger grasp on making sense of big data.

Aside from data science, there are several legacy skills on the list that have been important for some time. For example, strategic project management, contract negotiation and strategic planning are applicable to nearly all professionals in all industries and likely shall continue to be valuable for decades.

That means, if you learn those skills today, they’ll likely remain useful throughout your entire career.