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32 Jobs That Pay $100K Without an Advanced Degree

By Publisher
| Last Updated May 5, 2022

Jobs that pay $100K a year typically require a bachelor's degree or higher. For example, according to the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, physicians, surgeons, chief executives, lawyers, pharmacists, and dentists in the U.S. all earn more than $100,000 per year, on average. So do some types of engineers and scientists, including astronomers and physicists.

But what if you want to make $100K a year without spending any longer than four years in college?

For some high-paying careers, you may only need two years or less of post-secondary training to put yourself on the path to earning over six figures. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2018, roughly 9.8 percent of Americans 15 and older earned $100,000 or more. That equals almost 26 million people. With short training, you can be one of them.

Check out these 32 career-driven ideas for how to make $100K a year without earning an advanced degree.

Salary information in this article is based on 2020 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program. Rather than including average salaries over 100K, we have focused on median wages and what the top 10 percent and lowest 10 percent earn. Median wages reflect the amount where half the people in that career make less than that amount and half earn more, so it is a more accurate representation than average wages.


Jobs That Pay $100K a Year Without a Degree (Based on Top Earners)

Popular artists, musicians, actors, dancers, choreographers, and other entertainers can develop careers that pay $100K a year or more with very little education. Quite a few other options exist, and they often provide better opportunities for reaching your income goals. In fact, number one on the list below is a skilled trade; no advanced degree is required.

Depending on your interests, you may only need a career diploma or certificate to get started in a field that offers high salary potential. And that generally takes only a year or less of training. Then, after enough experience, you might qualify for the six-figure positions you're aiming for.

Salaries in this category reflect national averages for the top 10 percent of earners in each occupation.

Jobs that Pay 100K With 1 Year of Training

1. Commercial Pilots

You don't need a degree to fly aircraft for purposes such as aerial firefighting, search and rescue, aerial photography, or charter flights. All you need is flight training to earn a commercial pilot's license, instrument rating, and certifications required by employers or the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) for particular types of work. Note that the high earning potential is significantly higher than $100,000.00 a year.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th Percentile): $93,300
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $200,920
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $47,570

2. Web Developers and Digital Interface Designers

For professionals who build or modify websites, the best promotion tools for finding high-paying clients or employers tend to be strong portfolios and good references based on past work. Although a degree isn't necessary to earn high wages in this field, web design and development training can help you achieve good pay more quickly.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th Percentile): $77,200
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $146,430
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $40,750

3. Computer Programmer

Although many programmers have college degrees, it's not uncommon for people to start succeeding in this field after taking shorter computer programming courses. That's because employers often care most about the skills you can demonstrate in specific programming languages. And many programmers work on a freelance basis and get to choose their clients, rates of pay, and projects.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th Percentile): $89,190
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $146,050
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $51,440

4. Animator or Multimedia Artist

Although many great degree programs exist for this creative field, some animators and digital artists have attained success after completing a short diploma or certificate animation program. Either way, a quality portfolio or demo reel tends to be the most important marketing tool for finding top-paying opportunities in the film, gaming, and visual effects industries.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $65,800
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $116,350
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $27,860

5. Detective or Criminal Investigator

Investigating crimes through observation, evidence collection, witness interviews, and other procedures doesn't typically require a degree. While criminal investigator training programs exist, in most cases, the training to become a criminal investigator happens at a police academy. But completing some college-level courses in criminal justice or law enforcement before applying to a police academy can help you stand out from other candidates.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $86,940
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $146,000
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $46,020

6. Writer or Editor

Even in today's digital age, written communication is a dominant way of conveying and exchanging information and stories with each other. But not everybody does it well. As a result, many organizations will pay top dollar for excellent writers and editors. And numerous avenues exist for building a writing career that pays well (regardless of whether your interest lies in creative, technical, informational, or marketing-oriented writing). Plus, successful writers and editors vary significantly in their educational backgrounds. Online writing programs can easily be taken anywhere.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $67,730
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $125,880
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $36,380

7. Sound Engineering Technician

Music recordings aren't the only projects made possible by the skills of sound engineering pros. You'll also find professionals in this field making significant contributions to film and television productions, video games, sporting events, theater productions, and live concerts. That's why some of them enjoy a $100K salary at the height of their careers. Sound engineering training is widely available.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $53,520
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $119,720
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $27,650

8. Sales Representative

Selling products or services is a unique art that can be learned in many different ways. But getting a business education is a good way to boost your chances for success if you want to good money through sales jobs that offer high commissions.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $58,770
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $128,820
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $29,110

9. Real Estate Agent

Helping people buy and sell residential or commercial properties can be very lucrative. Real estate agents earn most of their income from commissions on the sale of land, homes and office buildings that are often worth hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $49,040
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $112,410
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $25,100

10. Computer Network Support Specialist

Most organizations rely heavily on computers, Internet access, and internal digital information networks. Skilled network support professionals who troubleshoot problems with those systems and find timely solutions are often well-compensated, regardless of whether or not they have a computer networking degree.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $65,450
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $110,450
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $40,620

Jobs Paying Over $100K, With Only 2 to 4 Years of College

By earning a career-focused associate or bachelor's degree, you may be able to unlock even more $100K opportunities. And many of the occupations in this category are known to have median salaries in the six figures (i.e., not just at the top end of the pay scale).

The annual wages for the following eight jobs that pay over 100K are based on the nationwide median wages for each occupation.

Jobs that Pay 100K With 4 Years of School

11. Computer and Information Systems Manager

It's possible to get on the path to management-level roles overseeing an organization's computer systems and related activities with a bachelor's degree in computer science or information technology (IT).

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $151,150
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): Information not available
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $90,430

12. Marketing Manager

Having the skills to identify new markets, predict demand, and create effective pricing strategies for an organization's products or services can be incredibly valuable. After all, they can produce results such as larger profits, greater market share, and better customer or client satisfaction. That's why some marketing managers are compensated so well. Marketing degree programs are widely available online or on campus.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $142,170
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): Information not available
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $74,620

13. Sales Manager

With a bachelor's degree in business and real-world sales experience, you can pursue sales management positions that involve directing and setting goals for entire sales teams.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $132,290
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): Information not available
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $63,170

14. Human Resources Manager

Jobs That Pay $100KLarge and medium-sized organizations often have a human resources department with staff who coordinate recruitment and hiring. They also frequently handle employee benefits, disciplinary actions, and communications between executives and staff. So the managers who oversee all of those responsibilities tend to earn high salaries. They generally have a bachelor's degree (or higher) in human resources or business administration.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $121,220
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): Information not available
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $71,180

15. Purchasing Manager

Many companies have special teams of professionals who handle the buying of the products they sell to customers or use in their operations. That's because evaluating potential suppliers, reviewing the quality of their products, and negotiating contracts are all essential tasks that can impact a company's bottom line. With a business-related education and some experience as a buyer or purchasing agent, it's possible to attain a management-level role in this field that pays six figures.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $125,940
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $197,630
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $74,570

16. Air Traffic Controller

Keeping aircraft at safe distances from one another while in the sky is one of the most crucial jobs in our modern world. That's why the people who coordinate air traffic are paid very well for their efforts. Many aspiring air traffic controllers earn a specialized two- or four-year degree in aviation that helps them qualify for the Air Traffic Standardized Aptitude Test (AT-SAT). If they pass, they will have a chance at being accepted for training at the FAA Academy.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $130,420
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $184,780
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $72,760

17. Medical or Health Services Manager

From hospital departments to group medical practices, every kind of healthcare facility requires administrative professionals to coordinate and direct staff, schedules, budgets, record keeping, and other aspects related to providing effective and timely services to patients. A degree in health care management can help you progress to this position.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $104,280
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $195,630
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $59,580

18. Computer Network Architect

With a degree in computer networking technology and enough experience in network or database administration roles, you can pursue jobs that pay over 100K in this area of IT.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $116,780
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $175,570
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $67,190

Jobs Paying $100K With 2 to 4 Years of College (Based on Top Earners)

Jobs That Pay $100KLike the previous eight occupations, you can often pursue the career options below with a bachelor's degree. And for some of them, an associate degree may be all you need to put yourself on the path to jobs that pay over $100K.

In this category, the annual wages being cited are based on countrywide estimates of the highest 10 percent of earners in each vocation.

19. Art Director

This type of leading creative professional gets to oversee the development of designs, layouts, style guidelines, and other visual elements of publications, film productions, product packages, or other fun projects. It's a role where you can earn good money while working alongside talented artists, writers, designers, and photographers. And many art directors first began their careers in a field like graphic design that allowed them to gain experience and move up into higher-paying positions relatively quickly.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $97,270
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $199,250
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $54,530

20. Film or Video Editor

Have you ever thought about collaborating with other film enthusiasts to create movies, television shows, documentaries, or music videos? Taking a director's raw footage and organizing it into a sequence that fulfills their vision is a skill that is often rewarded with high pay.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $67,250
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $152,720
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $34,870

21. Administrative Services and Facilities Managers

Many large organizations employ staff members capable of overseeing the many support services that keep the organization running smoothly. Education in business management and administration can provide great qualifications for high-paying jobs.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $98,890
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $169,930
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $56,080

22. Construction Manager

Most construction projects require professionals skilled at preparing budgets, coordinating schedules, collaborating with tradespeople, engineers, and architects, and supervising all other aspects from beginning to end. Completing a post-secondary program in construction management can help you succeed in this career.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $97,180
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $169,070
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $56,880

23. Software Developer

Before computer programmers can begin writing code, they need instructions based on detailed plans for what the applications they build are supposed to do. As a software developer, you could make a high income by designing computer programs or mobile apps and overseeing their testing and development. Mobile app developers, in particular, are known to experience good career satisfaction. According to CNN Money, software developer ranked as one of the best jobs in America. Bachelor's degrees in software development are most common. However, associate degree programs are also available.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $105,310
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $167,460
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $59,060

24. Funeral Home Manager

Helping grieving families honor and mourn their recently deceased loved ones will always be an important and necessary job. Managing staff, budget, marketing, and various funeral home or mortuary activities can be a reliable way to earn a high income.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $74,200
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $156,940
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $42,990

25. Information Security Analyst

The importance of computer security is increasing as more and more hackers target organizations' and institutions' networks and information systems. As a result, specialists in this area of IT are in big demand. They can make great money by helping to protect such systems from cyber-attacks and other threats.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $103,590
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $163,300
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $60,060

26. Fashion Designer

New styles and fashion trends continue to be created by visionary designers who are able to anticipate what will appeal to buyers and manufacturers of clothing, footwear, and accessories.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $75,810
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $146,300
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $38,570

27. Network Administrator

Installing and looking after the daily needs of an organization's computer networks is an essential job, especially when problems arise. With the skills to make networks operate faster or more reliably, you may be able to earn a six-figure salary.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $84,810
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $134,970
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $52,830

28. Property Manager

Many property owners rent out their residential or commercial spaces to earn a good financial return from those assets. But they often don't have the time or ability to look after their property investments' daily needs, including aspects like finding tenants, collecting rent, and arranging for maintenance. Because property managers help preserve the resale value of their clients' or employers' assets, they are frequently in a position to earn excellent compensation.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $59,660
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $134,570
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $31,330

29. Accountant

Every organization needs to maintain accurate financial records. Plus, many individuals require help with tasks like preparing income tax returns. But accountants can contribute to the success of people, businesses, and institutions in many other ways, which is why they often make good incomes. You can earn advanced credentials, take on a broad range of positions, and much more after earning a degree in accounting.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $73,560
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $128,680
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $45,220

30. Market Research Analyst

Jobs That Pay 100kMany companies will pay high salaries to marketing professionals who are able to accurately forecast what particular demographics of consumers will buy and how much they'll pay for specific products or services.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $65,810
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $127,410
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $35,380

31. Public Relations Specialist

Whether or not an organization succeeds can depend on how the public perceives it. The same is true for many entertainers and independent entrepreneurs. As a result, communications specialists who help build awareness and positive public perception for their clients or employers can frequently command high salaries.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $62,810
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $118,210
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $35,350

32. Social or Community Services Manager

Every day, all kinds of community service organizations throughout America provide help to people like disadvantaged youth, abused women, the homeless, the elderly, veterans, and individuals with physical or mental disabilities or illnesses. And they all need managers and administrators with an understanding of the social sciences to lead their staff and volunteers and to coordinate and oversee their various operations.

Salary Info:

  • Median (50th percentile): $69,600
  • High earning potential (90th percentile): $115,800
  • Entry/Low Earning Potential (10th percentile): $42,230

Training for High-Paying Careers

Getting jobs that pay $100K or more usually requires post-secondary schooling. But you don't always need an advanced degree to earn that much money. The right undergraduate degree, diploma, or short training program can help you get the skills you need to succeed in the high-paying job you most want.