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6 Jobs That Make You Rich Fast Without a Degree

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serts / Getty Images

In the United States, there’s typically a direct correlation between education and salary. The more degrees you attain, the more money you’ll make — on average. Although most of the big six-figure jobs are reserved for college grads, there are still some occupations that can punch your ticket to the upper-middle class with only a high school diploma. 

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Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 Occupational Outlook Handbook, GOBankingRates identified 10 jobs that don’t require a college degree and can earn you six figures, or at least close to it. While you don’t need a college degree, many of these jobs do require significant on-the-job training which might feel equivalent to college.

Are you a non-college grad who aspires to earn a living that’s better than just good? Consider the following options. 

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Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

  • Median annual salary: $104,260

Nuclear power reactor operators, in essence, control nuclear reactors. This includes such tasks as manipulating control rods, to change how much electricity a reactor generates. They are also involved in key monitoring activities of reactors and their important parts, such as turbines, generators, and cooling systems. Operators also record the data the reactor produces and respond to any problems and take action. You only need a high school diploma, but there is extensive on-the-job-training. Over time, the highest 10% of earners can make more than $125,340.

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First Line Supervisors of Police & Detectives, State Government

  • Median annual salary: $104,390

These law enforcement professionals are tasked with supervising and coordinating investigations into criminal cases, according to MyNextMove.org. This includes collaborating and communicating with investigators and making sure that investigations follow laws and regulations. They may also train staff in police procedures. You would need a high school diploma and some college courses, as well as the relevant training academy program. The top earners in this field can earn up to $159,850.

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First Line Supervisors of Police & Detectives, Federal Branch

  • Average annual salary: $138,630

These law enforcement professionals work for the Federal Government, instead of State, but share the same sort of tasks, such as supervising and coordinating investigations into criminal cases. This includes collaborating and communicating with investigators and making sure that investigations follow laws and regulations. They may also train staff in police procedures. You would also need a high school diploma and, in some of the roles, you might need a college course or two, but not likely a full degree. The top earners in this field can also earn up to $159,850.

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Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers

  • Median annual salary: $100,120

It’s no mystery what elevator and escalator installers and repairers do-sometimes they are also called elevator and escalator “constructors” or “mechanics.” Installers are responsible for every stage of putting in an elevator or escalator, from assembly to installation, to maintenance. This includes elevators, escalators, chairlifts, moving walkways, and other kinds of similar equipment.

Installers tend to focus mainly on installation related tasks, and some maintenance, while repairers are the ones to call when something breaks down. Repairers require more knowledge of electronics, hydraulics, and electricity than installers do. Since many elevators and other equipment are now partially computerized, it also requires a level of knowledge of computerized controls. The highest 10 percent of these fields can earn more than $130,940.

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Transportation, Storage and Distribution Manager, Federal Government

  • Median annual salary: $110,650

Employees in these fields work for the Federal Government and are directly involved in planning, directing, and coordinating activities related to transportation, storage, and distribution, according to O*Net Online. Tasks may include such things as inventory management, supervising workers and implementing worker safety plans, inspecting warehouses and equipment, and problem solving. Those in the top 10% of the field earn more than $162,770.

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Transportation, Storage and Distribution Manager, Local Government

  • Median annual salary: $107,650

Employees in these fields work for the State Government, and are also involved in planning, directing, and coordinating activities related to transportation, storage, and distribution. They, too, may oversee inventory management, supervise workers, implement worker safety plans, inspect warehouses and equipment, and problem solve. Those in the top 10% of the field also earn more than $162,770.

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Andrew Lisa contributed to the reporting for this article.