I was fortunate to go to University in England, even though I bum round in the Caribbean now and don’t really use the education to its fullest.
But even if you didn’t get the chance to go to college, all is not lost.
You can still get a well-paid job in America, if you don’t have the entrepreneurial mindset, and there are some serious careers that will get you a $100,000 salary.
Not every great job requires a college degree and these are careers you can turn to at any time.
These jobs are an option if:
- You hate your job and want to switch careers.
- You have been laid off.
- You’re unemployed and need a head start.
- You’re coming out of the military and don’t know what to do.
You might have to hit the books and pass an exam. You might even have to work your way through the ranks.
But if you’re determined enough then you’ll do it.
Work smart and you could be well on your way to big money by the time your friends emerge from college, drowning in debt and competing for unpaid internships.
1. Commercial Pilot
Median Salary: $67,940
Qualifications: Flight school
Let’s be honest, commercial airline pilot is a sexy as f*ck job.
The pilots get their pick of board stewardesses on long-haul stopovers, women dig your job and the pay is intense considering you will be away and paid for at least half of your life.
Now you won’t start of on $100,000 as a commercial airline pilot, and you’ll have to get through flight school first.
That’s the hard part, because it’s damned expensive.
Flight school itself will cost around $70,000, but then you’ll have to do another 1000 hours to make yourself employable.
Some of the schools are actually classed as a university and you will get a degree as part of the training program, which can take years.
The majority of courses fast track the main part, though, and you can emerge as a ‘sort of pilot’ in six months.
From there you have to make ends meet as an instructor, flying advertising or get on the bottom rung at a regional airline doing the Redeye flights.
Serve your time, though, and as a captain with a heavyweight airline you can expect to get somewhere between $130,000-$175,000.
So, it’s well worth financing flight school if you can.
If you can’t, consider the heroes way: military service.
Ex-US Airforce and Navy pilots go straight in to the head table at the commercial airlines and if you have flown military hardware and gone through that rigorous training process then you can basically choose your airline.
You’ll have to serve a decent amount of time in the navy, but if you can get on the pilot program then you’ve just saved $100,000 and got to fly an F15.
That’s an all-round win.
2. Nuclear Reactor Operator
Median Salary: $103,000
Qualification required: High School Diploma
Seriously, Homer Simpson would be on six figures these days. A manager in a nuclear power station can easily rake in $100,000 and the top earners are above and beyond $140,000.
You won’t start with a six-figure job straight from high school, but you can work your way up.
Along the way, you’ll earn your US Nuclear Regulatory Commission certificates and when you’re ready for a more senior role then you’ll get the big bucks.
Rest assured, though, the starting salary is going to be properly high.
You’ll get a gold-plated pension, union representation and it’s one of those jobs where a steady pair of hands is more important than wacky inspiration.
Your hours shouldn’t be too brutal, but the job does come with a certain level of responsibility.
Just don’t melt the city, keep your head down and this is going to be a seriously well paid and stable job, as long as we have nuclear power.
3. Real Estate Broker
Median salary: $45,000
Qualifications: Realtor’s License
You read that right, most realtors aren’t doing as well as they were a few years ago. That shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.
But if you’re in the right places, like New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley or other upscale parts of the US, you can still make a killing in real estate.
If you’re serious, consider moving to one of these cities and really going for it.
You might have to start with rental properties on the wrong side of the tracks, but if you excel then that won’t last long.
Real estate is a meritocracy. If you can sell, you get the big ticket deals. Inexperience will cost you, but your age won’t.
If you’re great at selling upscale apartments in Manhattan, you’ll do well. If you’re great at selling disused buildings for commercial development, you’ll probably do even better.
Great realtors are either natural born sellers, or dedicated souls who spent hours polishing their pitches, their confidence and reading the client.
You can learn the techniques if you are prepared to study NLP, sales and ideally get a mentor who can show you the ropes.
Selling real estate is a great way to polish your social skills and sales techniques and it will turn you into a performer that can sell ice to Eskimos.
If you’re good, you’ll get your shot at the juicy properties and the big commissions too.
Most jobs are commission-based, but a hungry realtor should love that fact. It means the sky is the limit when it comes to your earnings.
If you want to get a realtor’s license and sell property for a six-figure career, then find out more here:
4. Air Traffic Controller
Median salary: $100,000
Qualifications: High school diploma
Now it isn’t easy to get through the first round of interviews to become an air traffic controller.
The tests are tough, you’ll have to undergo all kinds of screening and once you’re in then you basically start from scratch.
You’ll receive thorough training, starting with five weeks of basic training.
There’s a fast track for college grads, but you really can apply straight from high school and study Air Traffic Control at college as part of the program. Or you can do the in-house training and technically start straight away.
Air traffic control is a stressful job because hundreds of lives at a time are in your hands.
That’s why a lot of the screening is aimed at how you handle pressure.
If you’re a calm person, with ex-military personnel proving ideal, you can take the exam and find out if you’re ready for a seriously lucrative career.
Median Salary: $49,000
Qualifications: Technical school or apprenticeship
The median salary might seem low, but it takes time to qualify as plumber.
The average apprenticeship takes four to five years and you will need to go to classes.
Once you do, you can put in the hours and easily clear six figures as a self-employed contractor.
Alternatively, there’s an easy life and a huge pension waiting at the City Sanitation Department in any major Metropolis.
If you want to go the apprentice route straight from high school, then start the year before.
Drop in, meet the big plumbers in your area. Call them if they’re too far away. Don’t write, pick up the phone and ask if they do apprenticeships.
Offer to work for free for a week to see if you’d be a good fit.
Do what you have to do to get in the door, because if you get paid to learn then you’ll never need to be in debt.
For more information on how to get a plumbing apprenticeship, visit WikiHow here.
6. Financial Risk Manager
Median salary: $86,000
Qualifications: FRM Exam
This is one of the few high-paid jobs that it’s relatively easy to get straight away.
Just do the FRM course online, qualify and you’re pretty much good to go.
Of course, then you’ll have to persuade a company to entrust a great deal of responsibility to a teenager.
That might be a step too far.
But you should be able to get a support job if you’ve shown willing and passed the exams, which should lead to a six-figure job remarkably quickly.
A qualified and proven Financial Risk Manager can command a salary as high as $150,000.
It’s relatively easy to find work, you should always be in demand and if you’re good then headhunters will be in touch and you can name your salary. Within reason, of course.
7. Recruitment Consultant
Median Salary: $45,389
You will have to be one of the better recruitment consultants if you’re going to earn six figures, but it’s a common thing in the industry.
If other people can do it, you can do it.
You’ll have to serve time in the trenches, placing secretaries and factory workers with no notice.
But recruitment is another one of those cut-throat businesses that is all about results.
If you’re ready, you could be placing tech rockstars or persuading CEOs to jump ship within five years.
That’s when the commissions get really insane and you can earn more than $500,000 at the very top.
8. IT Manager
Median Salary: $131,600
Qualifications: High school diploma
Now, we’re not going to lie, it’s easier to get into IT with a computer -based college degree.
Truthfully, though, you can learn most the things you need to know on the job, as an assistant.
Again, that means you won’t make huge money for a few years, but you can progress quickly in IT.
You can manage company networks, troubleshoot the computing problems of an office block or go on to work directly with the tech industry.
Local government and the utilities companies always needs competent IT project managers too.
If you can find a junior position and work your way through then you should earn close to $100,000 within five years.
Computers aren’t going anywhere either. So, if you stay abreast of the latest tech and keep up your education then you’ll always have work.
Get to be head of IT in a Fortune 500 company and you’ll wipe your ass with 100K, but that won’t be easy.
You can do it, though.
9. Executive Chef
Median salary: $63,139
This is not going to be an easy path to $100,000 and if you’re doing it purely for the money then you need to get therapy.
Being a chef is a life, more than a job.
You’ll start on next to no money if you’re lucky and you’ll have to work insane hours, at a high tempo.
The best chefs are innovative yet 100% consistent, and they are absolutely in love with the art of cooking.
Make sure you’re one of those chefs, or you could end up turning out standard slop in a bar and grill somewhere.
Culinary school would help. You can start from the bottom with no qualifications whatsoever, though, and many of the greats did just that.
Prepare to wash a lot of pots and prep vegetables, shrimp and more until you cannot stand the sight of them.
If you’re good, you’ll advance. Executive Chefs with a name can easily make $100,000 a year and you can travel the world with the job, too.
Get a following and you will be in serious demand, but that will take dedication and thousands of hours of hard work.
10. Construction Manager
Median salary: $87,400
You can start at the bottom in the construction industry and only your work ethic and your intelligence really count on the site.
Do a good job and you’ll slowly ascend through the ranks. When you get there, it will be worth the wait.
Construction managers can command salaries as high as $150,000 and you’ll get the certificates required as you climb the ladder.
You will have to put in the hard yards, do the outside work for your certification and get the job done, come rain or shine.
You can go out on your own as a freelance project manager, work for a company or within the public sector.
There will almost certainly be one aspect of construction you are best at. So, it makes sense to specialize where you can and charge more for a superior service.