Most people think that to earn a six-figure salary, you need a college degree. However, four-year degree programs are expensive and end up leaving many graduates in debt. In fact, as of 2022, the national average for federal student debt in the US is $37,787. Instead of enrolling in a costly four-year program, consider going for jobs that pay $150K a year without a degree.
This guide will help you find six-figure jobs without a college degree. We will examine how to land jobs that pay $150K, how common high-paying careers are, and take a closer look at the top jobs that don’t require a degree. To find a job that pays over $150k a year and avoid taking on college debt, consider the opportunities in this article.
How Common Are 6-Figure Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree?
Six-figure jobs without a degree are fairly common in the tech industry, and are also sometimes available in other fields. Systems managers, for example, earn a median wage of $159,010 per year. Healthcare and construction are other industries where you can land six-figure salary jobs without a college degree.
Best Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree and Pay $150K a Year: At a Glance
|Job||Average Salary||Top 10%||Minimum Job Requirements|
|Data Scientist Manager||$146,333||$169,000+||Completion of a data science bootcamp, data science certifications|
|Air Traffic Controller||$129,750||$185,990+||Associate’s degree or three years of work experience, Air Traffic Control Tower Operator Certificate|
|Senior Product Manager||$131,820||$174,500+||Experience in product development, technical knowledge, business strategy skills|
|Software Development Manager||$130,520||$167,000+||Extensive knowledge in software development, understanding of project management methodologies, people management skills|
|Senior Engagement Manager||$121,000||$180,000+||Two-year college degree, relevant work experience|
|Senior Front End Web Developer||$115,891||$165,500+||Coding bootcamp certificate, extensive knowledge in programming|
|Software Test Manager||$113,217||$156,000+||Work experience in quality assurance processes, advanced understanding of test planning, leadership skills|
|Applications Development Lead||$115,482||$172,000+||High school diploma or GED, experience in project management, Agile software development, people management|
|Real Estate Broker||$101,117||$180,000+||Real Estate Broker license, certification|
|Chief Executive||$90,807||$177,000+||Leadership skills, strategic planning skills, business strategy skills|
Best Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree and Pay $150K a Year: A Closer Look
At first glance, most of the six-figure jobs without a college degree from the previous table are IT jobs. The top earners range from $156,000 to $185,000 in annual salaries. In the next section, we will describe the top jobs that pay $150k a year without a degree in more detail and explain how to obtain them.
Data Scientist Manager
- Average Salary: $146,333
- 90th Percentile Salary: $169,000
- Projected Job Growth: 21%
A data scientist manager, also known as a lead data scientist, is responsible for project planning, managing the data science team, and building analytical models. The end goal for data scientist managers is to make business decisions and improve products with the help of data.
Once you advance to this senior-level job, you can make over 150k a year without a degree. To get this job, you should complete one of the best data science bootcamps and then get a job at the entry level. You can then work on obtaining work experience and certifications to qualify you for advancement.
Air Traffic Controller
- Average Salary: $129,750
- 90th Percentile Salary: $185,990
- Projected Job Growth: 1%
Air traffic controllers control the traffic flow of airplanes in airports. This is done by monitoring land and air traffic with radar and computer tools. Air traffic controllers direct planes to keep them from crashing into each other. Though you don’t need a degree, you will need to get an Air Traffic Control Tower Operator Certificate to get a job as an air traffic controller.
Senior Product Manager
- Average Salary: $131,820
- 90th Percentile Salary: $174,500
- Projected Job Growth: 8%
A senior product manager is in charge of the development of products, from concept to production. They have many supervisory responsibilities, such as marketing coordination, product strategy development, and sales. Seeking a PM career without experience or a degree is difficult but not impossible.
Companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google don’t require product managers to have a computer science degree. However, you must have sufficient technical knowledge, business strategy skills, and product development skills to get a product management job that pays 150k.
Software Development Manager
- Average Salary: $130,520
- 90th Percentile Salary: $167,000
- Projected Job Growth: 25%
A software development manager is an individual who manages software developers. Today, software developers don’t need four-year degrees when seeking employment. However, to transition to a software development manager role you need extensive knowledge in software development, an understanding of Agile project management, and people management skills.
Senior Engagement Manager
- Average Salary: $121,000
- 90th Percentile Salary: $180,000
- Projected Job Growth: 5%
A senior engagement manager builds and nurtures positive client relationships on behalf of the company. They are responsible for increasing the company’s business growth, retaining high-quality clients, and meeting business goals.
To become an engagement manager you don’t need a four-year degree, but you do need at least a two-year college degree, such as an associate degree, alongside relevant work experience.
Senior Front End Web Developer
- Average Salary: $115,891
- 90th Percentile Salary: $165,500
- Projected Job Growth: 23%
Software Test Manager
- Average Salary: $113,217
- 90th Percentile Salary: $156,000
- Projected Job Growth: 25%
A software test manager is in charge of a team of software testers. They work with other engineers to ensure that the test resources are properly planned and executed. Software test managers are considered senior-level DevOps positions.
You do not need a degree if you have work experience in quality assurance processes and an advanced understanding of test planning. You also need to have good leadership skills to effectively coordinate with your team and manage all the work they do.
Applications Development Lead
- Average Salary: $115,482
- 90th Percentile Salary: $172,000
- Projected Job Growth: 25%
An applications development lead or applications development manager supervises a team of application developers. Other duties include communicating with peers at the managerial level, dealing with clients, and working with directors. The job blends tech skills and managerial skills.
You need a high school diploma or a GED to become an applications development lead. An additional level of education, such as an associate’s degree may also be required. Experience in project management, Agile software development, and people management is essential.
Real Estate Broker
- Average Salary: $101,117
- 90th Percentile Salary: $180,000
- Projected Job Growth: 5%
A real estate broker is a licensed professional who helps clients sell or buy property. They earn a percentage in commission when they sell a property. A real estate agent is licensed to sell property whereas a real estate broker can also own their own real estate firm.
Real estate brokers are required to get certified and obtain a real estate license through licensing exams. It takes four to six months to get a license in person. Alternatively, an online licensing course takes up to eight weeks.
Chief Executive Officer
- Average Salary: $90,807
- 90th Percentile Salary: $177,000
- Projected Job Growth: 6%
A chief executive officer, or CEO, is in charge of an organization or company. They are responsible for making big decisions. Therefore, the CEO may often dictate the success or failure of the organization they run.
You don’t need a degree to become a CEO, but you must gradually work your way up in a company and hone your leadership, strategic planning, and business strategy skills. Tech giants like Google, Tesla, and Apple no longer require a degree for this position, making it one of the best jobs that pay 150k a year without a degree.
How to Earn $150K Without a Degree: 3 Alternative Paths to Your Dream Job
There are several ways to land jobs that pay six figures with a college degree. If you want to work in the tech industry, a strong portfolio is essential. For most jobs, you will need a professional resume. No matter what field you want to work in, you will need in-demand skills and knowledge. Below are three of the best paths to take to get jobs that pay $150K a year without a degree.
Enroll In a Coding Bootcamp
Coding bootcamps boost your skills and get you to a higher level of expertise in a short space of time. Bootcamps are an excellent choice for those looking to break into tech as well as tech professionals who are looking for more senior and lucrative roles. Bootcamp students can often study remotely. In addition, many bootcamps offer career coaching that will help you get jobs that pay well without a college education.
Networking is essential if you want a promotion or are looking to break into the highest-paying careers without a degree. Strong networking skills mean more opportunities. Therefore, without a college degree, you can fall back on networking for lucrative job opportunities and promotions that will help you earn $150K without a degree.
Attend Online Courses
Distance learning classes are an ideal way to learn new skills. You can find online courses on a wide range of subjects. Furthermore, most online courses are far cheaper than traditional undergraduate courses. Lower costs, less time, and more concise learning will help you develop the skills required for jobs that pay $150K a year without a degree.
How to Earn $150K Without a Degree
The best way to earn $150K without a degree is by enrolling in a coding bootcamp, taking online courses, and networking. To change your career path and earn a high salary, you must acquire and master the necessary skills. If you develop coding skills, you can qualify for a variety of high-paying careers without a degree.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
Furthermore, soft skills and a professional resume will be important when you are competing with advanced degree holders. You can start building the skills you need to land these jobs that pay $150k a year without a degree today by taking advantage of non-traditional education paths.
Jobs That Pay $150K a Year Without a Degree FAQ
You can easily work in IT without a degree. Coding bootcamps, online courses, and online tutorials are excellent resources for learning coding and basic IT terminology. These skills will help you get an entry-level IT job without a degree. However, you must be willing to work hard and enjoy solving problems.
The easiest way to get a creative job without a degree is by doing freelance work. Ample work experience will allow you to get a creative job without the need for a four-year degree program. Graphic designers, voiceover artists, or video editors can earn a high annual salary working as freelancers.
There are many high-paying jobs that are in demand within the tech industry. For example, software developer, web developer, UX designer, database administrator, and cyber security specialist are all high-paying jobs that are in demand. In addition, you can get these 6-figure jobs without a college degree by enrolling in a coding bootcamp.
You can find high-paying jobs at a wide range of tech companies. You can look for jobs that pay $150k a year on individual company websites, or by checking job sites such as Indeed and Glassdoor. In addition, relying on your network is a great way to find a high-paying job, especially if you do not have a college degree.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.