Advice & Resources

Top Paying Jobs for People without a College Degree

What do Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Ralph Lauren, Michael Dell, and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? They're all billionaires who never graduated from college, which means they never earned that magical degree you hear so much about. Education is a wonderful thing, but if your path doesn't take you through to a college degree, here are ten jobs that can make you feel accomplished, as well as a nice paycheck all at the same time.


1. Real Estate Broker – You'll have to earn a license, and the field is competitive, but drive and dedication can earn you six figures in the real estate field. The average pay can be more than $100,000 if you’re working hard.


2. Construction Manager – A good field to work your way to the top since construction companies often promote from within their organization. Learn your craft and develop a strong knowledge of your companies policies and procedures, and you could make up to $130,000.


3. Plumber – A skilled plumber can earn $100,000 a year because they are always in high demand. Plumbers learn their trade through a technical school or starting with a plumbing company as an apprentice.


4. Executive Chef – A head chef at a hotel can make more than $100,000 a year if you are willing to work very long hours. This is another job that offers a great opportunity to those willing to start at the bottom and work their way up the ladder.


5. Business Owner – Many entrepreneurs fit the “I never earned a degree” category because they are burning to get out in the world and create a company. Think Steve Jobs, who dropped out of college and founded Apple. The possibilities are limitless.


6. Pilot – The average annual salary for a pilot is $110,000 with jobs open in commercial airlines, cargo airlines, and corporations. Salary depends on experience, ratings and type of license.


7. Court Reporter – Average pay is around $60,000 with some making up to $100,000 depending on skill and place of residence. If you can type quickly and pay attention to detail, this might be for you. Some training is required.


8. Air Traffic Controller – You will have to take classes and undergo multiple tests and background checks, but air traffic controllers can average more than $150,000. The controller must manage stress well, as they are responsible for thousands of people's lives every day.


9. Licensed Massage Therapist – Average pay is $68,000, with the high side approaching $150,000. There are many businesses to work in and types of massage to specialize in – many massage therapists start their own business and have flexible schedules.


10. Sales Manager – Can earn more than $100,000 by starting as a salesperson and working your way up. Long hours, including nights and weekends, may be involved. Sales experience is highly valued by executives hiring new managers for their businesses.


Most of these jobs have a wide salary range and rely heavily on personal perseverance. To make top dollar, you’ll likely have to work hard, but it can be done, and has been done by many.

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