8 Best Paying Careers Without College Needed

by Sean Bryant on May 1, 2012

When I was growing up one of my biggest goals was to go to college. My mind was set and I worked hard throughout high school trying to achieve that goal. Everyone has different goals, and some do not have the same desire to go to college which is completely acceptable. Whether it’s that the thought of continuing education is daunting, maybe school has never been a priority or the cost plays a big factor in skipping out on college to the fact that some decide to go right into a career field of their choice.

The truth is that success with a six figure job minus the four year degree is attainable. In fact, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard before he reached graduation and television personality Ryan Seacrest dropped out of the University of Georgia.

Best Paying Careers and No College Degree Needed

Below is a list of eight jobs that provide the possibility of earning a six figure income without a college degree

Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controllers have one of the most stressful jobs. They ensure that all flights are routed correctly and are essentially responsible for hundreds of thousands of lives each day.

No college degree is required, however, air traffic controllers go through rigorous testing from the FAA and they are also required to have frequent health and mental checkups. Because this is such a demanding career path, air traffic controllers can make as much as $170,000.

Real Estate Broker

While college can cost thousands of dollars, the cost to take a few classes to become a real estate broker is much less. Keep in mind that being a real estate broker is not a 9-to-5 type of job. Real estate brokers often work nights and weekends.

During the height of the real estate boom, house flipping became extremely popular and the need for brokers skyrocketed. Over the past few years, the housing market has crumbled in the U.S. and real estate brokers have been known to go weeks or months without income.

The average salary for a real estate broker is just over $104,000 and can stretch into the millions.

Construction Manager

My first job when I graduated college was managing a construction company. The pay was quite nice but not six figures. Construction managers have a pretty stressful job, as they are in charge of managing all of the sub-contractors. If it is a large commercial building this can mean thousands of people. If things get behind schedule it can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars. On the plus side salaries for construction managers can get upwards for $130,000.

Dental Hygienist

Dental hygienists clean teeth and examine oral areas, head, and neck for signs of oral disease. They sometimes will educate patients on oral hygiene, take and develop X-rays, or apply fluoride or sealants.  They tend to work an 8-to-5 shift and have the opportunity to make around $126,000.

Sales Manager

Most sales managers start out working in B2B or B2C sales but can progress up the ranks to become a sales manager. Sales managers coordinate sales distribution by establishing sales territories, quotas, goals and establish training programs for sales representatives.  There is a high income potential of making over $330,000 as a sale manager.

IT Manager

IT managers are in charge of making sure computers and business networks run smoothly.  IT managers have consistent 9-to-5 hours but can attain salaries as high as $150,000.

Small Business Owner

Knowing first hand about small business owners, I can say they pretty much hold their fate in their own hands.  They can have very stressful lives with endless work hours, but they also have a lot of advantages. They get to set their own hours, work from wherever they want and they have no one looking over their shoulder. They also have the luxury of being able to claim several small business tax deductions.  Most small business owners start off small but have an endless potential for salary.

Executive Chef

While most chefs opt to go to culinary school, it is not a requirement. Many chefs are just born with natural talents in the kitchen. One of the biggest downsides to executive chefs is that they have horrible hours. Popular restaurants in big cities can stay open until midnight or later. This means that once the chefs have finished their closing duties, they are getting home as late at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m.  The upside is that they can earn as much as $100,000+ at five star hotel restaurants.

Final thought

If you were to tell me ten years ago that there would be a handful of jobs that pay over $100,000 without a college degree needed I would have said you were lying. That however is the truth. While I am not saying a college degree is not worth it, I am simply saying that if college is not an option for you there is still plenty of opportunity for success and financial independence.

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Sean Bryant

Sean Bryant created OneSmartDollar.com in 2011 to help pass along his knowledge of finance and economics to others. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a degree in economics he worked as a construction superintendent before jumping into the world of finance. Sean has worked on the trade desk for a commodities brokerage firm, he was a project manager for an investment research company and was a CDO analyst at a big bank. That being said he brings a good understanding of the finance field to the One Smart Dollar community. When not working Sean and he wife are avid world travelers. He enjoys spending time with his daughter Colette and dog Charlie.

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