Six-Figure Jobs You Don't Need a College Degree For
Here are 14 ways to get to six figures without doing four years first.
Maybe you don't want to spend all that time taking classes in obscure subjects while hoping to find your calling and piling up student loan debt. Maybe you don't really care so much about college. You just want to work and make money.
You can do it, but there aren't many fields where it happens very often. In our list of 14 potentially six-figure jobs that don't require a four-year diploma, only two have a median wage of above $100,000. For the rest, you'll have to be in the top 10% of earners, and even then you may find yourself working 50 to 60 hours a week.
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Dr. Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis at Payscale.com, says that most of these jobs share a few qualities. (Payscale's research provided the numbers that made this list possible. The company measured the average earnings for people with eight or more years in their field.)
No test can tell an employer how good you might be at some of these lines of work -- real estate broker or fashion designer, for example. That's why a degree is less important to a potential employer than field experience and demonstrated past success. Either you're good at it or you're not.
Many of these jobs rely on variable pay (commission and overtime) to break six figures. Good plumbers, ultrasound techs and construction managers generally do a lot of overtime. It's far more valuable to a company to pay them extra than to hire an additional employee, Lee says. And that means workers can break past what they would earn if confined to 40 hours a week.
Stress is pretty much a given in all these occupations. A high price for failure is not uncommon. Cost estimators can't estimate too high on a project or they'll risk losing it to a competitive bidder. They can't go too low or their company won't make money on the deal. Radiation therapists and ultrasound technologists have to worry about the danger of malpractice suits. Court reporters mustn't miss a word in the courtroom. Air traffic controllers know that hundreds of lives ride on their actions.
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Almost all these positions produce revenue that can give them a clearly defined monetary value. An executive chef at a hotel can pull in guests or send them fleeing. An ultrasound technologist or radiation therapist paid $100,000 a year can bring the hospital several times that. A sales manager's value can often be pinpointed in dollars and cents at the end of the year. Also, a few of these jobs -- air traffic controller, police supervisor, court reporter -- have unions to thank for their good pay.
Lee says now is as good a time as any to start on the path to one of these jobs. The market may be in bad shape, but companies will still need competent workers. When better to find out if you're truly good at something than when it's most difficult?
He says of people who make more than $100,000, "At the end of the day, the largest percentage of them are degree-holders." But you definitely can get there this way -- not that it's easy. "You learn on the job. You pay attention. You move your way up."
Could it be time to design your five- or 10-year path to six figures?
In Pictures: Jobs That Can Earn More Than $100,000 Without College
1. Real Estate Broker
90th Percentile Income: $187,000
75th Percentile Income: $151,000
Only two jobs on this list have a six-figure median wage. This is one of them. Although you have to get a license, you need only be a high school graduate and at least 18 years old to apply for one, and you have to pass a written test. Expect to work evenings and weekends. Competing for clients with more experienced and established brokers won't be easy either. The economy isn't the best for brokers now, but as it bounces back, there may be great opportunities.
Source: Payscale.com. Incomes are calculated for individuals with eight-plus years in each field.
2. Air Traffic Controller
90th Percentile Income: $186,000
75th Percentile Income: $156,000
This and real estate broker are the only two jobs on this list with a six-figure median wage. Stress abounds. Just getting in the door requires drug screening, background checks, medical exams, attending a Federal Aviation Administration-approved education program and a pre-employment test. Once you've got the job, the benefits and pay are both healthy. Most openings here will come from replacement needs, as a generation of air traffic controllers retires over the next decade.
3. Small Business Owner/Operator
90th Percentile Income: $167,000
75th Percentile Income: $119,000
Casual dress, flexible hours and unlimited use of the company car make this a potentially very sweet deal. Find a need, throw some money at it and start getting money back. If only it were that easy. Still, the top 25% of this ragtag bunch easily swings six figures. Expect to use every skill you have and develop a few along the way. Customer service, graphic design, sales, finance and leadership are just the entry-level survival skills of the commercial jungle.
4. Fashion Designer
90th Percentile Income: $141,000
75th Percentile Income: $104,000
If this is your cut, you should probably move to New York or California. These jobs are geographically concentrated and nearly one-fourth are self-employed. It's a very competitive field. The popularity and glamour of design attracts many, and a two-year degree definitely helps. Employers also want designers with knowledge in textile fabrics, ornamentation and fashion trends. Low turnover and job market growth make it a particularly difficult area to break into.
5. Plumber, Pipe Fitter or Steamfitter
90th Percentile Income: $130,000
75th Percentile Income: $94,500
One of the largest and most well-paid pursuits in construction. The training you need can come from an apprenticeship, tech school or community college, and not all states require licensing. If you want to make that six-figure wage, expect to work late, as the job often falls short of $100,000 before overtime. Get a good reputation, and maybe a little skill in welding, and the jobs should start pouring in. Future job growth and opportunities in the field are good. Some employers have been reporting a shortage of qualified plumbers.
Click here to see the full list of Jobs That Can Earn More Than $100,000 Without College.
source: yahoo finance