Jobs that pay 100k a year without a degree

Jobs That Pay 100k A Year Without A Degree

Jobs that pay 100k a year without a degree include sales director, air traffic controller, plumber, firefighter, real estate agent, and more! While you may need special training to get specific jobs that pay 100k annually, many of these occupations offer on-the-job training! About 30.7% of U.S. households make over $100k a year, and you could be one of them!1

Here you will find information on some of the highest-paying jobs that don’t require you to attend college or have a degree.  

What Is a College Degree?

A four-year college degree is a certification earned by college or university students after passing a series of classes and exams. While a four-year degree is the most common, there are also other degrees students can earn in their higher education. 

Associate’s Degree

An associate degree is a certification typically earned at a community college. An associate’s degree requires fewer credits and classes than a traditional bachelor’s degree, which is why you can usually earn one in about two years or less. 

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is a traditional four-year degree from a college or university. Approximately 37.7% of Americans have a bachelor’s degree or higher.2 

You can earn a bachelor’s degree in subjects like: 

  • English or writing
  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Teaching
  • Language

The Cost of Getting a College Degree

While a college degree may help you get a higher paying job, the cost may be quite high. Take a look at the average cost of getting a higher education below. 

Degree LevelAverage Cost (Public Institutions)
Associate Degree$3,800 (per year)
$10,950 (annually, inclusive of room and board)
Bachelor’s Degree$15,000 to $45,000
Master’s Degree$35,700 a year (per year)
Doctorate (Ph.D.)$28,000 to $55,000 (per year)

High Paying Careers That Provide On-the-Job Training 

Fortunately, many jobs that are high-paying offer free training!

Sales Consultant or Sales Director 

Sales jobs can be very profitable since they are typically primarily commission-based. Commission is a percentage of a sale granted to the person who made the sale. Sales consultants and directors can work to sell just about anything from physical products like computers to services like personal training. To be the best sales consultant or director you can be, choose an industry that already interests you, so you are selling something that you genuinely believe in. 

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator 

Becoming a reactor operator at a nuclear power plant does not require people to attend college, but be aware that this job can come with a high risk. Nuclear power plants can be a very dangerous place. So, while you can earn a great annual salary as a nuclear power reactor operator, it can be quite a demanding job. 


Radiologists can earn up to $116,000 each year. Radiologists are a particular type of medical expert that identifies and suggests treatment for patients using radiology. Radiology procedures used by radiologists are: 

  • X-rays
  • Computed Tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
  • Ultrasound

Director of Security

There are teams of security officers at just about any major building. Hotels, entertainment centers, schools, office buildings, and other places where many people gather usually have a staff of security monitoring the property 24 hours a day. 

The risk of this job depends on the type of building your team is securing. For example, maintaining security at an office building is typically a less dangerous experience than security at a large and rowdy place like a club or bar. Directors of security can make up to $106,222 a year. 

Master Steward

A steward works in the hotel and hospitality industry and assists guests new to the area on places to eat or visit. Stewards are usually stationed in the lobby of a hotel, so they are easily accessible to guests who need assistance. The only investment you may have to make in becoming a qualified steward is to take the time to attend hotel school, since you don’t need an official university degree. Master stewards can earn a median annual wage of $160,000 a year. 

Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controllers are the people who direct airplanes and let them know when it is safe to take off or land. While not all airlines require their air traffic controllers to have college degrees, there is some official training and schooling you will have to go through and complete. But once completed, you can make an average salary of $179,111 as an air traffic controller. 


Plumbing is a career path that does not require a college degree but does require a few years of training. With plumbing, you will repair, maintain, and even build the pipes that distribute water in a person’s home. Plumbers usually work in rooms like kitchens or bathrooms since they are the areas in a home that distribute the most water. 

Head Restaurant Chef

Being a head chef at an up-market restaurant can bring in up to $150,000 a year! While you may not have to go to a traditional college to become a head chef, you will most likely have to attend culinary school.

Professional Games Arbitrator 

A games arbitrator is someone who judges the fairness and sportsmanship of athletes. As a pro arbitrator, you will have to be an expert on the rules of the sport you choose to arbitrate, but you most likely won’t have to go to a college or university to learn those rules. 

Risk Manager

Risk managers are consultants for businesses undergoing major projects or ventures. As a risk manager, you will offer advice on your client’s business strategy and assess the financial, economic, and/or social risks associated with their proposed strategy. Being a curator of risk strategies can bring in up to $100,759 a year. 


Firefighters are brave men and women who fight local fires in their area. You will have to be trained in certain medical practices as a firefighter, but this training usually does not require a college degree. 

Police Officer

Policing is another community service career that does not always require a college degree. As a police officer, you will help ensure the safety of people in the local community. 

Site Manager

Site managers can make about $40,000 – $130,000 a year. When working in site management, you will be responsible for overseeing projects, distributing the workload, communicating with clients, and ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget

Technical Program Manager

Technical program managers can earn an average pay of $101,855 a year. As a technical manager, you will be in charge of the inner workings of technical projects and ensure that your team hits production targets and deadlines. 

Massage Therapist 

As a massage therapist, you have the potential to earn an annual salary of up to $141,000 a year! Massage therapy is a career that doesn’t require a traditional degree but requires some schooling and training. Massage therapists deal directly with musculoskeletal aspects of a person’s body, so it is important they are properly trained. 

Other High Paying Careers That Don’t Require a High School Diploma or College Degree

There are also other employment avenues to explore if your goal is to earn 100k a year without a degree or high school diploma. Below are a few career paths that may not offer on-the-job training but can be highly profitable even if you don’t have a degree. 

Business Owner

One of the most lucrative jobs that can pay 100k a year without a degree or high school diploma is being a business owner. When you own your own business, you are in charge of everything from managing accounts, business procedures, and distributing profits. It may take a while before you start profiting 100k a year, but with determination and persistence, it is possible! 

Remember that starting a business is no easy feat, and you should plan ahead and perhaps even consult business or financial experts beforehand. This help may be even more valuable if you are looking to start a business without good credit.

Real Estate Broker

Real estate brokers make a national average salary of $131,742 a year. As a real estate broker, you would help people find homes and properties that fit their needs. Real estate can be a tricky business, so it is best to get some training from a senior real estate manager to set yourself up for success. 

Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistant work is another job you may take advantage of even if you don’t have a high school diploma. One of the best things about being a virtual assistant is that it’s a job where you work independently, giving you plenty of freedom and autonomy in your daily life. 

Master Handyman

A handyman is someone who has a wide variety of skills when it comes to practical household repair, maintenance, and building. Being a handyman is one of the most versatile types of jobs and can pay handsomely depending on the work someone needs done. For instance, handypersons with a knowledge of electricity and electrical wiring can make thousands of dollars on a single job. The average salaries for handypersons can reach up to $102,000 a year! 

Freelance Writer

The contracting business can be pretty lucrative. If you enjoy writing, you may consider becoming a contract freelance writer. With the boom of e-commerce, business owners are looking for people to write content for their websites in order to draw in more people and sales. You may be able to snag a gig writing about your interests like books, movies, beauty products, financial products, and more! 

Freelance Delivery

Vehicle owners without a high school diploma may be able to make a sustainable career out of freelance delivery. Depending on the size of your vehicle, you can deliver anything from food, ice, flowers, furniture, or other goods. Keep in mind that with a career like freelance delivery, you may have to pay for your own gas and vehicle repair. 

Digital Nomad

A digital nomad is similar to a handyperson, but for online purposes. People need all types of assistance online, from social media engagement managers, website builders, graphic designers to personal finance account managers. Depending on your skill set, you may be able to be a successful contractor doing various jobs for people online. Some employers even offer on the job training for contracted employees. 

Professional Athlete

Professional athletes can have a salary ranging anywhere from hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to millions! However, if you want to become a professional athlete, you may have to make this decision early in life. Professional sports can make for a demanding job, so athletes usually start when they are quite young and retire at or a bit before they are middle-aged. 

How To Get Money When You Don’t Have A Job

Need a bit of extra money to get by while you find a job? Some quick cash options you may consider are: 

  • Using Installment Loans — If you are looking for a long or short-term loan option, consider using an installment loan. Most people use an online personal loan for emergencies due to the versatile and convenient loan terms. A good credit score is not always required for qualification. 
  • Fast Payday Loans — If you only need a minimal amount and can pay back your balance within two weeks, you could consider using payday loans or cash advance loans. But keep in mind that these loans tend to have higher interest rates. It’s also critical to research the financial company to avoid working with a predatory lender
  • Asking Friends/Family — If you are able to ask a trusted friend or family member for money, you could save money on interest charges. But it’s essential to adhere to a repayment schedule to avoid damaging your relationship. 
  • Working Extra — Looking for part-time jobs that pay well can help you increase your income. For example, you can deliver takeout orders or work as a cashier.   
  • Selling — Selling items you don’t need or use at a garage sale or online can help you get money without a degree. 

Frequently Asked Questions About the Highest Paying Jobs

Do all high paying careers require a four year degree?

Not necessarily. Many high paying jobs, such as air traffic controllers and real estate agents, don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Instead, they might require specialized training or certifications.

Can I earn a six-figure salary even if I only have a high school diploma?

Absolutely! There are several jobs that pay 100k or more annually that don’t require more than a high school diploma. With dedication and the right opportunities, you can achieve a six-figure salary.

What kind of on-the-job training can lead to jobs that pay a lot?

On-the-job training varies by profession. For instance, air traffic controllers undergo rigorous training approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), while real estate agents might receive training from a brokerage. But completing extensive training could help you get a higher income. For example, getting a certification from the Federal Aviation Administration may help you earn over 100k. 

How do web developers fit into the list of jobs that pay 100k?

Web developers are in high demand and are typically referred to as six figure jobs. While some might have a college degree, many are self-taught or have taken specialized courses to develop technical skills.

Are there jobs that offer both a good salary and a work-life balance?

Yes, many jobs that pay well also offer a good work-life balance. It’s essential to research and find high paying employment that aligns with your personal and professional goals.

How do I transition to jobs that pay 100k if I’m currently in a different field?

Start by identifying any transferable skills you have. Then, consider getting certifications or on-the-job training specific to the high paying job you’re interested in. Networking can also open doors to new opportunities.

Is the average salary for real estate agents consistent, or does it vary?

The income of a real estate agent can vary based on location, the housing market, and individual performance. While it has the potential to be a high paying job, it often depends on commissions from sales.

How long does it typically take to start earning a high  salary in jobs that pay 100k or more?

The amount of time it takes to start working jobs that pay a lot varies by profession. Some roles, like certain sales positions, might offer the potential for a high salary relatively quickly, while others might require years of experience or climbing the corporate ladder.

Are there industries or sectors known for offering more high paying gigs than others?

Yes, industries like tech, finance, and healthcare often have a higher concentration of jobs that pay well. However, opportunities can be found in almost any sector with the right skills and experience.

How can I increase my chances of securing high paying employment without a degree?

Focus on building a strong professional network, gaining relevant certifications, and showcasing your experience and skills. Continuous learning and staying updated with industry trends can also give you an edge.

CreditNinja: The Bottom Line on Jobs That Pay 100K a Year Without a Degree

There are numerous jobs out there that have a high average salary. If you are searching for jobs that pay 100k a year without a degree, rest easy knowing that you have multiple options to explore. But securing high paying jobs requires time, effort, and a financial investment of some kind. 

If you need tips on improving your finances, check out our online blog! CreditNinja provides free financial articles online that cover a wide range of personal finance topics, such as learning the difference between wants vs needs and whether Mvelopes or YNAB is better for financing


  1. How Many People Make Over $100k A Year? | The Hive Law
  2. The Percentage of Americans with College Degrees in 2023 | College Transitions 
  3. What Is a Radiologist? | American College of Radiology
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