It’s hard to imagine earning $100,000, but earning it without a degree? It’s possible. And, while not every job on this list is easy to get, with or without a degree, they all pay well for people who get them.
This isn’t something that you just walk into. You usually need to have an advanced degree — but not always. An astronomy job has a median pay of $139,140 a year. This should be way more than you need to live on. Considering the median annual wage for astronomers was about $96,000 in 2012, it’s a good salary working for the government. Those lucky enough to get a federal job take home much more.
There is a downside to the job, however. You need to work at night since there’s less radiation from the sun to interfere with your observations. So, hope you are a night owl.
Air Traffic Controller
In 2012, the median pay was $122,530 a year.
The stress from this job is one major reason why few people have it. And, it’s why the pay is so high. Your job is to basically keep planes from crashing into one another. Air traffic controllers need to work nights, too, which can add stress to the job.
You don’t need a degree, but you do need to complete training at a Federal Aviation Administration Academy, according to the BLS. Because of the stress, controllers often retire earlier than other workers. Those who worked 20 years in the post can retire at 50, and they are required to retire at age 56.
Professional traders, like Timothy Sykes, make millions of dollars. But, that’s an outsized income. Most professional traders make $100,000+ per year with practice and proper training. The best part? It doesn’t take a degree or any fancy training to learn how to make this much. You do need to start with a decent-sized bankroll — $10,000 to $50,000. But, beyond that, the sky’s the limit.
The median pay for a petroleum engineer is $130,280 a year, according to the BLS. A bachelor’s degree is preferred to get an entry-level job in this industry. These engineers design ways to get oil out of the ground or from the ocean. They also try to wring more oil and gas from existing wells. Petroleum engineers are in high demand, and have been since fracking took hold a few years ago. When the price of oil plunged 50% in 2014, the industry was hit by many layoffs. But as oil prices recover, there will be a demand for jobs.
Hollywood Art Director
Directors in this niche oversee the design of images that are seen in movie and on T.V. This includes designing movies sets and the overall visual style of a film.
Sometimes, directors are charged with keeping their work within a budget while juggling designers, location sites, and construction. For big budget films, they need at least 5 or 6 months before shooting begins. There aren’t too many job openings in this industry, unfortunately, since most art directors end up in advertising, or public relations.
Jacob Mellor has worked as a careers education counselor for several years now, working with both high school and college students. His articles cover a broad range of career topics aimed at all ages and skill sets.