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14 High Paying Jobs ($100k+) Without a College Degree

Do you want to skip the Student Debt Trap and still go on to a high paying six-figure job? Then take a look at our complete guide
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The cost of a 4-year college degree from a reputable intuition is now five times more than it was two decades ago. That’s a shocking statistic. Considering that most university students use student loans to facilitate the payment for their studies, it’s not surprising to learn that the national federal student debt for outstanding loans presently exceeds $1.6-trillion.

However, having a college degree behind your name does not necessarily mean you are guaranteed a job when you graduate from your studies. Many students are finding out that their B.Sc. in humanitarian studies and psychology have very little practical value in the working world.

As a result, more students than ever are graduating university with crushing debt loads that they cannot afford – nor have the capacity, to pay back. Since all student loans are essentially Federal loans made by the government, the taxpayer has to foot the bill when the student eventually defaults on the debt. Some analysts say that a mass student debt default could be the catalyst for the start of the next financial crisis.

Looking at the Statistics of Student Debt

Taking a look at the current student debt situation provides a groom outlook for the fiscal health of the Federal government.  At the moment, there are more than 45-million loans issued to students across the United States, with a near $30-billion increase in student loans in the last quarter alone. The average student loan accounts for over $37,000, with some being for amounts of more than $100,000.

More than 10-percent of all student loans are currently delinquent or in default, with the taxpayers having to pick up the costs. Over the last 30-days, there are more than $32-billion in new delinquencies on the government’s books.

Student loan debt statistics by loan program:

Direct Loans$1.1503 trillion34.2 million borrowers
FFEL Loans$281.8 billion13.5 million borrowers
Perkins Loans$7.1 billion2.3 million borrowers
Total (All Federal)$1.4392 trillion42.9 million borrowers

Figures from Studentloanhero

When Is it a Good Idea to Go to College

If you’re entering the STEM fields, (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.) Studying will serve you well for the foundation of knowledge you need to flourish in that specific STEM career path.

In this case, education is unavoidable and necessary to achieving success in the future. The aspiring student should show natural aptitude in their chosen field, and should not be committing to college just because their parents demand they do so.

When Is it a Good Idea to Skip College

In today’s economic environment, there has never been a bigger push by parents and institutions for kids to attend college. At the same time, there have never been fewer job opportunities for qualified graduates.

This conundrum means that some potential students should look at avoiding frat parties and classrooms, and head out into the workforce after high school instead. Students that have no clear direction of their career path should avoid college – it’s surprising how many graduates never end up working in the field of their studies.

Gaining work experience is the most critical step in teaching the next generation of kids about the value and importance of finding a skill they are good at in life. Instead of spending 4-years at college, only to end up in a job that’s unrelated to their field, and with $37,000 in debt, the person could be climbing their way up the employment ladder.

Employment experience is just as valuable in today’s economy as a degree, and many jobs offer excellent starting packages for new hires fresh out of high school, with the promise of advancement up the corporate ladder.

Here are 14 examples of high-paying jobs with salaries exceeding $100,000 – that don’t require a college degree.

1. Business Owner

Small business is the lifeblood of the American economy. Entrepreneurs that choose to make a living from executing on their ideas can look forward to building a company that contributes to the country as a whole. Business owners drive employment, pay taxes, and increase GDP, and they’re valued members of any community.

Business Owner

Some business owners experience wild success, while others may only barely make a living. However, for those business owner’s that survive the first five years of operations, they can look forward to a 95-percent success rate, with the chances of earning hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of dollars every month.

2. Real Estate Broker

If you enjoy property and sales, then consider a career as a real estate broker. Selling or renting other peoples assets can earn you a decent living, with agents making average salaries of anywhere between $30,000 to $180,000 per year.

Real Estate Broker

Dealing in real estate requires a license, but anyone with a high school diploma can apply for the real estate exam, and it cost nowhere near as much as a college degree. Successful real estate agents work hard, with many choosing to be on call during weeknights and the weekends as well.

3. Sales Consultant

After executives and qualified professionals, the highest paying jobs in the workforce – are sales jobs. While working at the Verizon kiosk in the mall isn’t going to net you $100k a year, selling exotic cars or private planes could make you very wealthy in a short period.

Sales Consultant

Great salespeople understand the value of training. There are hundreds of YouTube videos from successful sales trainers available for free online, and many sales mentors to help you improve your sales skills. The only investment you need to make in sales training is your time. The more you practice – the luckier you get.

4. Air Traffic Controller

It may surprise you to learn that air traffic controllers do not need a college degree. These individuals deal with the stress of coordinating airplanes – fundamentally, giant chunks of metal transporting fragile humans, through the sky.

While candidates for air-traffic control jobs don’t need a degree, they must undergo intensive screening and psychological tests to ensure they are suitable for the job. If you make it as an air traffic controller, you can expect a salary that averages $150,000 per annum.

5. Virtual Assistant

Being a virtual assistant to an online entrepreneur is an excellent way to earn a living. You get to enjoy the benefits of working from home – at any location in the world that has an internet connection. This level of freedom is like no other personal assistant job you’ve ever had. In some cases, you may never even lay eyes on your employer, chatting with them over virtual message channels and email only.

Virtual Assistant

For the most part, VA jobs don’t pay very well, but with the right training and experience, it’s possible to land a VA position that pays more than $100,00 per year.

6. Plumber

Leaving college for a trade is a great idea. America lacks new tradespeople, with many jobs like electricians, machinists, and plumbers becoming a lost art. The world will always need plumbers – who else are you going to call when the toilet blocks up, and water is all over the floor?


Qualified plumbers can easily make more than $100,000 a year after they finish with their apprenticeship.

7. Firefighter or Police Officer

If you feel like giving back to your community after high school, then why not sign up to be part of the local fire or police services? These community services offer free training to cadets, and a guaranteed spot on the team if you pass the tests.

Police Officer & Firefighter

While the starting salary for a rookie police officer or firefighter is not outstanding, should you choose to make it your career path and end up in an executive position, you can expect to make more than 6-figures a year.

8. Site Manager

Many high school graduates entering the workforce to make some cash for the summer choose to try construction. This vocation is plenty of hard work in the beginning. However, most contractors don’t require you to have a civil engineering degree to tear down walls.

Site Manager

While construction is hard work, it teaches you the skills you need to be a successful contractor. Most students that start in construction after high school finds that they own as contracting business by the time they’re in their late twenties.

Along the way, you can expect to get involved with site management as part of your journey. Site managers earn anywhere between $40,000 to $130,000 per year.

9. Information Technology Manager

Tech offers some of the highest paying jobs in the American economy. Tech giants like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google are always searching for new talent. Many coders don’t go to college to hone their craft, and some of the best coders in the world are under the age of 25-years old.

Information Technology Manager

IT departments need technicians to handle their network problems, and most IT technicians only receive training on the job. Should you end up running a corporate IT department, then you can expect an annual salary of anywhere between $50,000 to $125,000 per year.

10. Radiologist

Considering that radiologists work in the field of medicine, it’s surprising to learn that they only need an associate’s degree to start a career in radiology. Radiotherapists receive a pay grade that’s relevant to their knowledge and experience, and senior radiologists can expect to earn as much as $116,000 per year.


Considering that cancer was responsible for more than 600,000 American deaths in 2018, and doctors expect to make a further 1.7-million cancer diagnosis in 2019 – radiology therapy is set to become a growing industry.

11. Head Chef

Do you have a talent for cooking? Becoming a qualified souses chef or head chef at a trendy, up-market restaurant can earn you a salary of up to $150,000 per year. However, students of the culinary arts may have to attend hotel school where they learn the nuances of the service industry, including the regulations around handling food.

Head Chef

Once these students enter the workforce, they may find that it takes may long hours in the kitchen to receive a sizeable pay package. However, since aspiring chefs are passionate about their career choice, many don’t mind working long hours necessary to be successful in the industry.

12. Freelance Writer

If you did well with English classes in high-school, and you have a natural command of the English language, going for a career in writing after you graduate, is an excellent way to earn a living. While most writers may start with minimal salaries, they can increase their pay as they improve their skills.

Freelance Writer

Should the writer be persistent with their career path, they may come across an opportunity to start their own writing company, blog, or service that nets them an annual; salary of $100,000 or more.

13. Professional Athletes

Some talented individuals may choose to pursue a career in professional sports after high-school. Should you do well in the NFL combine, or show promise on the basketball court – you could end up with a college scholarship that allows you to get an education for free.

Professional Athlete

Many pro sports teams hire athletes straight out of high school, paying them outrageous sums of money to play for their side.

14. Digital Nomad

Some high school leavers may try to find their fortune on the internet. Setting up an e-commerce business, such as FBA – fulfillment by Amazon, allows you to create an online income selling other manufacturers products online.

Digital Nomad

By earning an online income, you are in the same position as a VA, where the world is your oyster, and you can work from any destination you choose that has an internet connection.

Wrapping Up – Avoid The Student Debt Trap

While this article may paint a scenario where the reader thinks there is no value in a college degree, we assure you this is not the intention. Education serves its purpose, but the fact is that many people end up studying courses that offer no value in their future career.

Perhaps it’s time to take a different approach to the situation. What if people had to work for ten years after high school, and then only had the option to study in their thirties? Maybe this approach would mean the student would have enough savings from their salary to afford college without a loan?

The potential student might also be in a better position to study a course that would benefit their chosen career?


Oliver Dale is Editor-in-Chief of MoneyCheck and founder of Kooc Media Ltd, A UK-Based Online Publishing company. A Technology Entrepreneur with over 15 years of professional experience in Investing and UK Business.His writing has been quoted by Nasdaq, Dow Jones, Investopedia, The New Yorker, Forbes, Techcrunch & More.He built Money Check to bring the highest level of education about personal finance to the general public with clear and unbiased

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