Are you someone who didn’t go to college, but you still want to make six figures in a career?
The conventional wisdom of the late ’70s and early ’80s has changed with the emergence of the internet and entirely new industries.
While college is still an option – you don’t have to have a college degree to make $100,000 in America.
If you are someone who was afraid to take out student loan debt, didn't have the grades or funds to go to college or maybe you never even wanted to go – You can still make $100,000.
Here is a list of 10 professions or career tracks that require no college degree, yet you can still make six figures (infographic included).
10 Jobs to Make $100,000 Without a College Degree
Not every six-figure career requires a standard 4-year Bachelors's degree. In fact, some high paying careers in sales and trades can pay quite nicely, here is a list of 10 careers to consider!
1. Insurance Sales
In layman's terms, an insurance agent is someone who helps clients find insurance policies that fit their needs. Ranging from auto insurance and homeowners insurance all the way to umbrella and business insurance, insurance agents can make some serious money, especially when they own their own “book”.
The average insurance agent makes $50,000 a year, but without a degree, a top-performing agent in the 90th percentile can make $128,000 plus.
2. Real Estate Agent or Broker
No degree, no problem. A real estate agent is a great career path for someone who loves working with people and likes having flexibility in their lives. Like anything, there is a learning curve to becoming a great agent who makes over $100,000, but it won’t happen overnight.
In fact, most people in the world will never make over $100,000 annually, so patience is key with any industry, especially real estate.
Real estate is a grind. You need to know your game and be open to learning and growing in order to hit the 6 figure club. Matt, a contributor who wrote a Leap of Faith into Real Estate talks about his jump from accounting full time to working for himself as an agent.
You can start your real estate side hustle on the side and grow it as you learn before making the big jump, or you can do what Matt did and go all in.
Superintendents for construction companies oversee a wide variety of tasks.
From planning the daily operations to implementing and organizing work, a project manager is no simple job, but the pay isn’t too shabby. Overseeing the work on a construction site or large project requires experience, but starting out in the field and growing with a company can happen relatively quickly.
Emphasize learning new skills and find another superintendent to mentor you. How much do construction superintendents make? According to Payscale, it ranges from $50,000-$110,000, with the average being $75,000. But there are opportunities within most companies to reach six figures with bonuses.
4. Trade Industry
Electricians, HVAC techs, plumbers, master welders, lineman and a plethora of other trade professionals can eclipse the six-figure mark annually.
With the trade profession being in such high demand, some trades pay over $35 an hour. Throw in overtime because of project timelines, and at $50+ per hour, trade workers can quickly start approaching the six-figure mark annually.
If you like working with your hands or don’t think college is the best route for you, consider an in high demand trade. Typically you learn as you work, thus making money and go to school 1-2 nights per week.
5. Start a Blog
Ok, brace yourself for this… but there are bloggers who make more than $100,000 in a single month. Michelle at Making Sense of Cents brought in $145,319 in October of 2018 with her blog.
Now, that being said, that doesn’t go for every blogger. However, there are plenty of examples of mom’s who blog full time and raise their kids and bring in a six-figure salary. Just eclipsing the 30,000 views per month mark can land advertisement deals that bring in an extra $1,000 per month.
So while blogging is not a “Career” in the sense of traditional thinking, there is the potential to bring in six figures as a blogger. Really a blog is code for owning an online business using content, social media and blogging to market goods and services.
For example, most media companies of the digital age started as a blog (Huffington Post, Nerd Wallet, etc).
6. Service Writer
Similar to #8, working in the auto industry can be lucrative.
Service writers at dealerships that sell services ranging from oil changes to major engine repair make a nice commission on the work they sell.
The hours are actually better then car sales itself and high volume dealerships are an easy way for some service writers to make over the $100,000 mark. However to make $100,000+ each year, plan to work 50 hours a week according to most six-figure earners.
7. Sales Jobs
One of the quickest ways to best jobs without a degree is to land a sales job.
Whether you are selling exterior home products or software, most sales jobs require a general understanding of products and people.
There are plenty of sales jobs as companies always want to grow their profits. If you think you might be someone who is or isn't good at sales it doesn't matter. The process of learning how to make sales work for you typically consists of:
- Personal development & reading
- Product Knowledge
- Sales system and process
- Follow up process
- Care for the person or customer
Note: In my $1,000 per month side hustle I talked about how I made $500 in two hours on a Monday morning working in sales. A good way to test the waters is to find a sales side hustle.
8. Master Mechanic & Collision Repair
The average adult will spend more money on cars in their lifetime than anything else aside from housing costs and possible medical costs. And while having a car payment is a liability, working in the car industry is actually lucrative for some.
Certified techs (Mechanics) and collision repair experts have the ability to bring in six figures as they progress in their field. Typically these industries pay high dollar for certified mechanics and car experts.
Most of the work is performance-based and the certification programs vary but don’t require formal education. Diesel mechanics, in particular, can do very well.
9. Start a Company.
My brothers have each started landscaping businesses. My dad owns a small plumbing remodeling company. I have a friend who is an exterior home specialist remodeler. The list goes on.
Starting a company has never been easier then it is now (Don’t misinterpret that statement as starting a business means you do nothing and make money, I am referring to the actual process of setting everything up). You can literally hop on Legal Zoom and start a business within minutes.
With a laptop, there are a plethora of businesses you can start. Or you can be like my family members and go into the service industries. If you’re someone who is a master in a subject area you can do consulting work.
A common question most will have is, what is it like starting a business? Brian from MeiggsMedia puts it this way,
If there is one thing that many people are afraid of, it’s starting a business and not having the funds for it.
Brian goes on to say, “After all, not only are there the startup costs of a company, there are the costs of running a business.” Additionally, Brian stated that the pro of starting a business is that there is the opportunity cost of the money that you make as a business owner compared to what you would make as an employee at a pre-established company.
He just recommends to new small business owners not to commit to their new business all at once,
“It can be worked on alongside another job in the beginning so that one can still supplement their needs such as rent and groceries. About 35% of millennials that have started a business started them on the side to increase their primary source of income.”
Either way, starting an LLC is simple, just do research ahead of time to help you and don’t confuse simplicity with being a business owner is easy. Be sure to have a long term plan and vision.
Check out the 15 things every newbie entrepreneur or business owner needs to know here from entrepreneur.com.
10. Air Traffic Controller
Air traffic controllers on average make $124,000 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are some requirements when it comes to becoming an air traffic controller such as passing the AT-SAT, or air traffic standardized aptitude test. If candidates pass the AT-SAT, they then most complete 2-5 months of training in a certified FAA academy.
By no means is the path to becoming an air traffic controller simple. Requirements include three years of experience in the aviation field, which many candidates are getting by completing a 4 year Bachelor's degree. But ATC is one of the best jobs without a degree for sure!
If you’re interested, read up on how to become an air traffic controller here.
My Takeaway for Making Six Figures Without A Degree
Growing up I always heard:
Go to school and get good grades...
Use those good grades to get into college. ..
Once you are at college make sure you study what your passionate about and continue to get good grades.
After that get a job in your passion area and consider getting another higher education degree to continue to separate yourself from the rest of the pack.
If this short dialogue above sounds familiar, chances are you have probably heard it a million times. In fact, you may have even told others that their best path is the same.
Like myself, you might have asked someone in your life why they weren’t in a good financial position and their common answer was something along the lines of them not going to college.
True statement: Statistically someone with a college degree still makes more on average than someone without. However, these numbers can be overrated because they don’t factor the costs of college.
Just like 2+2 is 4 and so is 3+1, I share this perspective just to state that there are many ways to get to six figures in your lifetime. There isn’t just one proven path, there is many.
So depending on what you want, there are many ways to make six figures in your career and like most of life, there is never a one size fits all!
Bonus Material: Pick a Passion at 18.
I want to share a short story about choosing the right path for YOU and not because someone else told you to. This has a lot to do with finding the best job without a degree and very little to do with “Passion.”
At age 18 I was asked to pick a major (something you are passionate about) and I personally went with physical education. I always find it funny that we ask 18-year-olds to chose something that they are “passionate” about. At 18 I was passionate about video games, friends and sports.
On the other hand, one of my younger brothers (At 17) landed a small landscape job from a neighbor to do over the summer. Alongside a buddy, they used an old skid-steer and cleared out the backyard of our neighbor and laid some sod.
While they worked, three other neighbors asked if he could do the same for them. They ended up doing about 10 houses in a row that summer, charging somewhere around $1,000 per job.
It was at that point my brother decided to go into landscaping. School was never his thing and even though he was a superstar athlete, pursuing sports in college really wasn’t up his alley either.
So for the rest of his senior year, he did jobs here and there and then went all in at 18 after graduating. Now as a business owner, he makes more some months then I make all year… with a Master’s degree.
This led me to think if the goal is to get to become financially secure, does it matter how you get there?
Question: What are the best jobs without a degree that we missed?
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! I got serious with money when I used Personal Capital to track my finances.