You’re intelligent, motivated, and hard-working, so don’t be fooled into thinking that you can’t earn an impressive paycheck without a college degree!
College is a popular and honorable path to gainful employment, but it’s not the only way to achieve professional success. The following jobs all pay $80K or more without any need for higher education (at least the traditional kind).
Air Traffic Controller
As an air traffic controller, you are responsible for the safe takeoff, landing, and transit of commercial flights. This isn’t a job to accept on a whim or consider if you’re not committed to the extreme level of responsibility required. You’ll earn every dollar of your salary under the stress of keeping thousands of passengers safe, day after day.
Though a college degree isn’t required to become an air traffic controller, you will need to complete a great deal of on-the-job training. This could be the right job for you if these skills come naturally:
- Proactive thinking
- Expert communicating
- Effective multitasking
- Detailed record-keeping
- Excel under stress
Keep in mind that you get paid the big bucks for this job because it’s not a traditional 9-to-5 position. It may require night and weekend shifts as well. And there’s not much down time during shifts: This job requires you to be highly alert and constantly focused.
Real Estate Broker
Have you always been fascinated by real estate, residences and property? Then consider entering the biz, and overseeing transactions for others. Real estate brokers are licensed to write contracts and oversee the buying and selling of land and residential and commercial properties.
Just keep in mind that this job isn’t instant; you will need to obtain a higher-level license than a that of a standard real estate agent. (In some states, you might have to practice as a real estate agent first for a few years, and all brokers are licensed by the state they live in. For example, these are the rules in New York.) Studying and training for your broker’s license will ensure you know how to properly avoid mistakes that lead to legal and financial penalties.
A few of the responsibilities of a real estate broker include:
- Work with sellers to negotiate offers and execute purchase contracts with buyers
- Deliver and explain contracts, disclosures, and other legal documents
- Help buyers locate properties all properties meeting their criteria
- Help buyers create offers and purchase agreements
- Coordinate inspections, reports, and repair negotiations
- Verify licensing of all real estate agents that you supervise
- Manage agent behavior, performance, and legal compliance
If you enjoy working with others and navigating the often complex realm of property sales, this could be the perfect high-paying job for you.
A commercial pilot isn’t necessarily an airline pilot flying from Philadelphia to London. Commercial pilots can be cargo pilots, flight instructors, or even ferry pilots. Though you don’t need a college education to obtain a private pilot certificate, you do need to log at least 250 hours of training.
Commercial pilots also need to receive an aviation medical certificate, pass the FAA written exam, and meet specific training requirements like 50 hours of cross-country flying and 10 hours of instrument training. You can use this experience to advance to become an airline pilot.
If you’ve watched enough episodes of Law and Order, you know all about the demands of police detective work. This highly respected community career isn’t out of reach for people lacking a college degree, although it may take a few years to work your way up the ranks.
Police detective duties require experience with law enforcement and a willingness to put yourself in harm’s way during the call of duty. This position pays so well because it isn’t a job you can leave at the office; you’ll work nights and weekends, remain on call even when off duty, and log in overtime to solve cases.
Overall, your college degree (or lack thereof!) doesn’t have to define your future career path. These are just a few of the many jobs available to talented and responsible people willing to work hard for a great salary.
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