There's something about the figure "$100,000" that just has a magical ring to it. Since the 1980s, a $100,000 income has been a benchmark of financial success. It used to buy a nice house in a posh neighborhood, two cars in the driveway, family vacations, college tuition for the kids, and a fair level of luxuries. Only about 20% of American households...

11 High Paying Six-Figure Jobs Without a College Degree


While many aspire to go to college after high school, not everyone can, or should, head straight to university. Family issues, a lack of funds, unforeseen responsibilities, or the choice of career path might dissuade someone from attending college. Only 27.5% of the U.S. adult population has a four-year college degree.
Many people who do not attend college earn six-figure incomes and become successful without four-year college degrees. In fact, studies revealing that high school graduates earn an average of $1.2 million over the course of their working life illustrate that opportunities exist for those without degrees to make $100,000 or more each year. Achieving financial success without a college degree requires a lot of determination, risk-taking, and networking, but the opportunities are definitely out there.

List of Six-Figure Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree

We’ve compiled the following list of jobs to illustrate some of the most popular careers that offer high income opportunities without a college degree. Keep in mind that just because someone can make $100,000 each year at these jobs does not mean it’s guaranteed. These careers offer the possibility of generating a high income, especially when the careers include a salary, bonuses, commissions, overtime pay, and most importantly, hard work.
We referenced PayScale for information about salaries for the jobs on this list. The salaries vary depending upon the city where you live, your experience in the industry, and a variety of other factors.
Let’s take a look at some six-figure income jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree:

1. Real Estate Broker

woman real estate broker realtor
Although being a real estate agent requires a license, interested applicants only need a high school diploma to apply. Brokers are always on call, often work nights, weekends, and holidays, and may experience long stretches of time without generating income.
Real estate brokers have an estimated annual salary range of $30,144 to $180,434. During the real estate and house flipping boom, many people became licensed real estate agents, making this a very competitive field. If you have dedication, and continually seek out new clients, however, you can make a good living selling real estate.

2. Air Traffic Controller

air traffic controller tower
Air traffic controllers have to take multiple tests, participate in pre-employment medical screenings, submit to background examinations, and take classes.
Air traffic controllers command large salaries, up to $158,966 on average. The job is stressful, however, as air traffic controllers are responsible for maintaining the safety of thousands of people every day.

3. Small Business Owner

woman who owns small business
You can set your own hours, create your own dress code, and write off some of your expenses (i.e. tax deductions for small business owners) when you own your own business.
However, it can take a long time for your new small business to pay off. If you have time, effort, and energy, and if you offer a viable product or service, your risks can pay off with a nice-sized salary for you and your family. We don’t have a salary range for small business owners, but profitable small businesses can expect a six-figure salary if

4. Fire Chief

firefighter uniforms fire suits
Most firefighters have at least a high school diploma, and if they stay with a division or battalion long enough, working through the ranks, they can step into a leadership role with the department.
Fire chiefs have rewarding careers that also include a lot of risk, and a lot of time away from home. Salaries for fire chiefs range from $42,096 to $119,250.

5. Construction Manager

construction managers workers
If you have worked in construction for several years, you may be ready to step up to the role of construction manager. Managers must be on call most of the time in case of any emergencies or delays.
Construction companies frequently promote from within, because managers must have a strong knowledge of the company’s core values and policies. Salaries for construction managers range from $41,562 to $130,845.

6. Plumber

professional plumber sink u-joint
Many plumbers make an excellent income without having a college degree. Plumbers learn the trade through technical schools or apprenticeships. Plumbers are always in high demand, and they are paid well because of that demand.
For example, my mother recently paid a plumber $120 for 5 minutes worth of work, to replace a valve in the kitchen sink. Plumbers’ salaries can soar as high as $103,731 and beyond, depending on specialties and training.

7. Network/IT Manager

it information technology manager
Someone has to keep computers and related equipment working flawlessly, and corporations pay well for experienced IT people. Interested applicants have to keep up with current technology, and have a desire to keep learning as technology changes.
Network managers and IT managers employed by companies have stable, 9 to 5 jobs with good salaries, benefits, and retirement accounts. Salaries for IT managers range between $53,477 and $125,101.

8. Hotel Executive Chef

executive chef cook
Sought-after executive chefs can easily make over $100,000 per year. Executive chefs work long hours, spend a lot of time away from home, and may have high stress levels. However, for someone who loves to cook, working in a hotel kitchen every day can be rewarding.

9. Radiation Therapist

radiation therapist mri machine
Radiation therapists must have a two-year associate’s degree, or a certificate in radiation therapy, but they don’t need a four-year college degree. These therapists use radiation to target cancer cells in patients, and are paid in accordance with the importance and detail-oriented nature of their work. Radiation therapists can earn as much as $116,000 a year.

10. Court Reporter

court reporter typing transcribing
It may not be glamorous or exciting, but if you can transcribe 250 words per minute, and have impeccable attention to detail, there may be a courtroom willing to pay you well for your services.
You may need to take classes in transcription, and pass a background check in order to qualify for a job as a court reporter. Depending upon the city of residence, court reporters can earn between $29,995 and $104,000.

11. Pilot

commercial airline pilot
If you do need glamour or excitement on the job, working as a pilot might be the right choice for you. Pilots have many options, including working for commercial airlines, cargo airlines, and corporations. The average annual salary for a pilot is $110,000, but many experienced pilots make twice that amount. Salaries vary based on ratings, experience, and type of license (e.g. sport pilot license vs commercial or airline transport)

Final Word

Believe it or not, many jobs that pay six figures do not require a four-year college degree. The examples listed here are just a few of the careers to consider in lieu of attending college. Pay varies depending upon experience, training, and physical location, but the average salaries for the jobs listed above are proof that making over $100,000 each year without a college degree is possible.

Why A 6-Figure Salary Won't Make You Rich


There's something about the figure "$100,000" that just has a magical ring to it.
Since the 1980s, a $100,000 income has been a benchmark of financial success.
It used to buy a nice house in a posh neighborhood, two cars in the driveway, family vacations, college tuition for the kids, and a fair level of luxuries.
Only about 20% of American households even break the six-figure mark, according to Census Bureau data.
But while many Americans still see that number as a prized income, it doesn't necessarily roll out the red carpet anymore. Due to the rising costs of food, energy, college tuition, health insurance, and the growing "necessities" of a middle-class life, a $100,000 salary in some parts of the country covers little more than the essentials.
A six-figure salary is still a great income, but the quality of life it provides is highly dependent on geography, family size, and lifestyle. Making a six-figure salary as a single person in Houston is drastically different from raising a family of four on $100,000 in Boston.
Here are five reasons why that prized income no longer buys the high-end lifestyle it once did.

Inflation

The latest annual inflation rate is 1.3%. It was 1.5% in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's well below average, but gas, food prices, college tuition, and the cost of health care have taken the biggest bites out of six-figure incomes. The latter two, plus the cost of housing, have risen faster than the rate of inflation over the past decade.
"Everyone spent money on these things 30 years ago, but they're spending a higher percentage of their income on it now, especially housing, health care, and tuition," says Mari Adam of Adam Financial Associates in Boca Raton, Florida.
While the cost of everything has gone up, Americans still equate the six-figure milestone to wealth and prosperity. But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator, for a person to have the same purchasing power in 2014 as a $100,000 income earner in 1980 did, he or she would need to earn nearly $287,000.
"If $100,000 income doesn't even buy half of what it once did, it makes you wonder about people living on the median income (of $51,939)," says Adam. "It underlines the fact that times are getting tougher for everyone."
Businessman with briefcaseEarnings aren't growing like they used to.Flickr / Simon Blackley

Stagnant wage growth

While inflation is a real factor in any economic environment, it has been a bigger problem in recent years because wages have not kept up. According to the BLS, real average hourly earnings increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.8% from November 2013 to November 2014. That's not even enough to keep up with the meager uptick in inflation. 
"We haven't had real wage growth, and with inflation, Americans are not making much more than they were 20 years ago. Some may even be making less," says Adam.
According to 2013 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 22% of households had an income of $100,000 or more. Adam Koos of Libertas Wealth Management Group near Columbus, Ohio, says members of most households would see a boost in their quality of life by hitting the six-figure benchmark, but they might be surprised to see it doesn't necessarily make them high rollers.
When the term started being thrown around in the '80s, a $100,000 earner might have lived in an elaborate home with a BMW in the driveway. Nowadays, he or she is more likely to live in a 1,500-square-foot house and drive a 7-year-old Toyota.
"Back in the '80s when we were kids, we all looked up to a six-figure income and thought it was huge. People still look up to that and think they're going to be 'rich,' but it's just not the case," says Koos.
DallasLiving somewhere like Dallas, Texas requires less money than living in New York City or Boston.Flickr / ThunderKiss Photography

Geography

Where a person lives has a tremendous impact on how far a $100,000 income will go. Living on that salary in Texas or Mississippi is dramatically different from living on it in New York or Boston. Roy Laux, president of Synergy Financial Services in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, says it's an unavoidable factor that the cost of one's mortgage or rent can make or break that six-figure income.
"Geography is huge. If you're in an area where housing has been historically high, it's just going to take a large portion of that income," says Laux.
The Cost of Living Index compares the cost of housing, utilities, grocery items, transportation, health care and miscellaneous goods. According to Bankrate's cost-of-living comparison calculator, you'd need to earn about $141,000 in Boston to have the equivalent of $100,000 in Houston. And if you were living on $100,000 per year in Memphis, Tennessee, you'd have to earn roughly a whopping $245,000 to maintain the same standard of living in parts of New York City. While salaries are often higher in cities with higher costs of living, they don't always match up to provide the same quality of life. 
"When you live in these high-cost metro areas, it just gets increasingly difficult to do with any income. When more of your money is going to housing, you've got less left over for savings and other expenses," says Adam.
Happy FamilyKids just keep getting more expensive.Flickr / Frédéric de Villamil

Family

Household size and the number of children in the home also have a large impact on the power of a $100,000 income. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost to raise a child from birth to age 18 for a middle-income, two-parent family is $245,340. That doesn't include the cost of college.
In recent years, college tuition costs, which have been growing faster than the rate of inflation for more than two decades, have slowed a bit. According to the College Board's annual Trends in College Pricing report from 2014, the average cost of in-state tuition and fees at a four-year public university increased by 2.9% between the 2013-2014 school year and the 2014-2015 school year to $9,139. The past two school years were the first since 1974-1975 in which increases were less than 3% (not adjusted for inflation). That doesn't mean college is cheap.
"The reality is that college tuition exceeds mortgage payments for a lot of people. If you've got two kids and have college costs, you're probably not going to feel rich on a $100,000 income," says Joe Pitzl, managing partner at Pitzl Financial in Arden Hills, Minnesota.
Families also face modest increases in the cost of health insurance. The Kaiser Family Foundation, which tracks the costs of health insurance, found in 2014 that average annual premiums for employer-sponsored health coverage increased 3% to $16,834. Workers on average paid $4,823 annually toward the cost of coverage. Premiums increased by 26% over the past five years, slower than the preceding five years, which saw costs grow 34%.
Expensive Cars in DrivewayDo you really need all those cars?Flickr / Damian Morys

Lifestyle

No matter how much someone makes, anyone who lives beyond his or her means is going to feel financially pinched. While conspicuous consumption and blatant overspending is a problem, even those who try to keep an eye on their budget spend a large portion of their income on what financial advisers call "lifestyle inflation."
Koos says these are things that may not be necessities but are considered such at a certain income level. Many middle-class citizens now see cable, smartphones, tablets, computers, multiple televisions, Blu-ray players, and gym memberships as "essential."
"There's almost a sense of entitlement that we need all of these things. Maybe we do, maybe we don't, but we're just at a point in time where we consider them necessities," says Koos.
All of these subscriptions, bills and products can easily add up to more than $5,000 for a family of four. Adam says that technology and those expectations lead to higher consumption and spending for households in all income levels.
"It's a big problem we see as planners. People expect more out of life than they did 20 years ago, and the cost of those things is rising, so it's a double whammy," says Adam.
This story was originally published by Bankrate.
Read the original article on Bankrate.com. Copyright 2015. Follow Bankrate.com on Twitter.