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How to become a highly paid professional

Success in the workplace is frequently determined by through terms like influence, credibility, gravitas as well as hard data like title, compensation.

Every one of us is interested in becoming a professional who’d be in demand in the industry and also, by effect, the highest paid professional in an area, domain or company.

If we were to consider just compensation as a metric, let’s look at Bloomberg’s chart that shows professions with high incomes.

Well, that’s rad.

But the question remains: how can you become the most highly paid and most in-demand professional in your area?

Let’s consider a framework to answer this question.

Professionals that are successful are often in two broad categories: athletes and experts.

Let me explain.

Top professionals athletes and experts


An athlete is someone that is on top of the game regardless of any project or work. Usually, you can identify these people pretty quickly: these folks are successfully running projects even though they may not be close to the subject matter of the project itself. That is an interesting situation. Because here we have a strong individual contributor or manager, but at the same time, this person may not be the most knowledgeable in the team.

But an athlete can figure out how to engage with the others, create energy and drive towards results.

Athletes are in-demand because they produce results: they drive, engage, execute and create results.


Becoming a subject matter expert is another way of getting to the numero uno professional status in your area. A subject matter expert is simply a person that has deep expertise in specific areas or domains. This person is totally in command of the area, knows all the details and is supremely knowledgeable to the point where that person can be called a guru.

An expert can be highly paid and in-demand because of their authority and competency in the subject matter. Especially if that subject matter is in great demand, then compensation can really go up.

But wait, there is another category. Drumroll please…

Expert Athletes!

However, there is a third category of professionals that could be the most highly paid and the most in-demand.

This category is a combination of expert and subject matter expert; these professionals are not only great athletes on top of their game, they also have expertise in specific areas.

This creates an unbeatable combination for any company: these people deliver business results and are natural leaders.

Of all the three professional categories, Expert Athletes are the most highly paid and in-demand.

How can you become the highest paid and most in-demand professional?

The path to becoming the most highly paid professional is usually not a straight line.

You might start out as an athlete or an expert….or in many cases, neither. But by working your way towards any of these areas, you can keep learning from your environment. This learning helps you to shape yourself as an Athlete or an Expert with opportunities to demonstrate behavior in both forms.

Some folks start out as athletes, and some honestly start out with expertise. But regardless of the starting point, you have three options for becoming the highest paid and most in-demand professional: Athlete, Expert or Expert Athlete.

What is your current trajectory? Where would you like to be?

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