We all know doctors and lawyers make a lot of money, but those aren’t the only types of jobs that can earn you a healthy paycheck. There are actually a lot of working-class jobs that pay six-figure salaries, many of which don’t require a higher degree to get. If you want to boost your salary, consider one of these high-paying jobs you didn’t know existed.
Last updated July 26, 2019.
Air Traffic Controller
- Median annual salary: $124,540
- Annual salary for top earners: $175,800
Air traffic controller is a six-figure job that doesn’t require a four-year degree. People with this position are responsible for making sure that aircraft are operating at a safe distance from each other. You can qualify for the job by taking the Federal Aviation Administration’s two-year Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative course at an approved school. You can also qualify for the job through three years of progressively responsible work experience.
- Median annual salary: $78,740
- Annual salary for top earners: $152,180
Commercial pilot is one of the highest-paying jobs you can get without a college degree; however, you do need to get a commercial pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration. If you’re in the top 10 percent of earners, you can make upward of $152,180 a year as a commercial pilot.
- Median annual salary: $91,370
- Annual salary for top earners: $159,560
The median salary for construction managers is just shy of six figures, but the top 10 percent of earners with this job earn $159,560 or more. This fast-growing career requires you to plan, coordinate, budget and supervise construction projects.
Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation and Relay
- Median annual salary: $78,410
- Annual salary for top earners: $102,550
These high-paid electrical workers inspect, test, repair and maintain electrical equipment in generating stations, substations and in-service relays. Electrical and electronics installers and repairers usually have at least a high school education, plus specialized training, apprenticeships or extra education to learn how to do the job.
Elevator Installer and Repairer
- Median annual salary: $78,890
- Annual salary for top earners: $114,980
If you’re not claustrophobic and don’t have a fear of heights, you can make a good living as an elevator installer or repairer — it’s an odd job that pays insanely well. Getting the gig typically requires an apprenticeship rather than a higher degree, and top earners in the field make more than $114,980 a year.
Farmer or Rancher
- Median annual salary: $69,620
- Annual salary for top earners: $135,900
Farmers and ranchers produce the crops, livestock and dairy products that feed people around the U.S. The job is typically learned through hands-on experience rather than a college degree, and pays top earners in the field upward of $135,900. However, the annual salary depends on the current price of farm products, which can change with weather conditions and other factors.
Industrial Production Manager
- Median annual salary: $100,580
- Annual salary for top earners: $168,780
Industrial production manager is one of the many boring jobs that pay $100,000. People in this role are responsible for ensuring that manufacturing plants are operating properly. These managers — who typically have a bachelor’s degree — coordinate, plan and direct a plant’s activities. Industrial production managers can work in plants that produce cars, computer equipment, paper products and other goods.
- Median annual salary: $160,000
- Annual salary for top earners: N/A
In-N-Out is known for treating its employees well — and the manager salary offered by the burger chain is a testament to that. You might be surprised to learn that it’s a job that pays more than $150,000. Employees start with a salary of at least $13 an hour, and are able to rise to the rank of manager without a college degree, The California Sun reported. In-N-Out employees also get a range of benefits, including 401(k) plans, paid vacation and health, dental and vision plans.
- Median annual salary: $57,650
- Annual salary for top earners: $100,800
There are many pieces of equipment you can specialize in operating as a construction worker, and the pile driver might be the most lucrative choice. These construction equipment operators drive pilings for retaining walls, bulkheads and foundations of structures, such as buildings, bridges and piers. It’s also a growing field — employment of construction equipment operators is expected to grow rapidly through 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ projections.
- Median annual salary: $62,960
- Annual salary for top earners: $105,230
It can pay well to protect the lives and property of the people in your community — being a police officer is one of the higher-paying government jobs. The top-paid police officers earn more than $105,230 a year, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Power Plant Operator
- Median annual salary: $80,440
- Annual salary for top earners: $108,240
Power plant operators control the systems that generate and distribute electric power. The job typically requires a high school diploma and on-the-job training. The highest 10 percent of power plant operators earn more than $108,240.
- Median annual salary: $72,140
- Annual salary for top earners: $120,340
These inspectors are responsible for ensuring that cargo and people are being transported safely on trains and other vehicles. They may inspect equipment or goods as part of their job. The majority of transportation inspectors work for the local or federal government.
- Median annual salary: $65,616
- Annual salary for top earners: $142,151
Driving a truck can entail long hours and time spent away from family and friends, but it’s a job that can earn you a healthy salary. According to Indeed, although the average salary is about $73,000, truck drivers who work for The Dart Network make an average of $142,151 per year. Truck driver is a high-paying job without degree or experience requirements specifically, but you will need to get a commercial driver’s license, and attend and graduate truck driving school for some jobs.
Water Transportation Worker
- Median annual salary: $55,590
- Annual salary for top earners: $118,630
Water transportation workers are responsible for operating and maintaining ships and other vessels that transport people and goods over bodies of water. The education and training requirements vary with the type of job, but there are no educational requirements for entry-level sailors and marine oilers. The highest 10 percent of earners in the field make more than $118,630.
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Last updated July 26, 2019.
About the Author
Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert.