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10 Jobs That Pay $100K Without an Advanced Degree

People might think that to find a high-paying career in today’s competitive job market, you need an advanced degree. If you want to be a doctor or lawyer, this is true. You’ll need to attend medical school, dental school, or law school for one of those career paths. However, there are tons of positions available in Silicon Valley and beyond that pay extremely well. 

In 2019, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), those with a master’s degree or higher earned $14,300 more per year than those with a bachelor’s degree. Attending school takes time and money, and it’s possible to find a high-paying job by earning in-demand skills at the best coding bootcamps and in online courses. 

This article will highlight ten jobs that pay $100,000 without an advanced degree. It will also cover some alternatives that can help you learn skills to earn a six-figure salary.

Top 10 Jobs That Pay 6 Figures Without an Advanced Degree

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There are a lot of jobs that have an average salary or earning potential of around $100,000, but here we focus on six-figure jobs in Silicon Valley that emphasize technology. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology occupations are expected to see an 11 percent growth in employment between 2019 and 2029.

We’ve included information on 10 of the highest-paying careers that you can get without an advanced degree. For each career path, we’ve also included information on the salary you can expect to make if you end up in the 90th percentile of all earners. In most cases, anything above the 75th percentile is good enough for a six-figure salary. 

  1. Technical program manager
  2. Data warehouse architect
  3. Software engineer
  4. Product manager
  5. Information systems manager 
  6. Senior IT manager
  7. Risk manager
  8. Front end web developer
  9. Computer network architect
  10. Commercial pilot

1. Technical Program Manager

  • Median Salary: $128,330
  • Top 10% Earn: $162,500

Technical program managers are professionals who oversee different kinds of technical projects for organizations. The job duties of technical program managers vary by industry. In most cases, the experts take part in product development, design team management, program management, and resolving technical issues. 

The main requirements for this role include skills in problem-solving, time management, and organization. Employers do not always require candidates to have a university education.

2. Data Warehouse Architect

  • Median Salary: $126,941
  • Top 10% Earn: $149,000

Data warehouse architects are responsible for developing and implementing design warehouse solutions. The role includes analyzing the needs of the company and developing a database management solution. They also deploy data management software that helps them store and retrieve data from the cloud. 

While most experts in this field hold an advanced degree in mathematics or a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, those without higher degrees also thrive in the field. The role often starts as an entry-level job. As you gain more experience, you can take on the role without needing an advanced degree. 

3. Software Engineer

  • Median Salary: $99,729
  • Top 10% Earn: $138,500

Software engineers are skilled in software development, programming languages, and computer operating systems. They apply this knowledge in software creation. Software engineers are important during every stage of the development process. Their primary duty is to create custom systems for clients.

To become a software engineer, you do not need a doctoral degree, a master’s degree, or even a bachelor’s degree. Most employers focus on the skills and experience before hiring a software engineer. Their average wage is also very impressive and there is often room for professional advancement within the role.

4. Product Manager

  • Median Salary: $94,704
  • Top 10% Earn: $135,000

Product managers are experts who oversee product development for companies or organizations. Product managers develop and implement business strategies that promote the product development process. They work as senior managers to a team of design or software engineering professionals to build products that meet the demands of clients. 

They also work with marketing managers, financial managers, and sales managers to ensure the smooth running of the business. For this role, higher education is not always a requirement. With a few years of experience in product development, you can land a role in this field and increase your annual salary.

5. Information Systems Manager 

  • Median Salary: $90,937
  • Top 10% Earn: $124,500

Information systems managers are responsible for handling and implementing information technology (IT) for a company. They work with other IT professionals like security analysts to build and incorporate IT systems. Their primary duty is to update existing systems. These experts are also in charge of maintenance, upgrades, and other necessary installations. 

Even though some information systems managers have bachelor’s degrees, some companies do not require them. Extensive experience is often enough to cover for it. The median earnings of these experts are pretty decent.

6. Senior IT Manager

  • Median Salary: $87,289
  • Top 10% Earn: $138,000

Senior IT managers oversee, plan, and implement strategies and activities related to a company’s computer information systems. These senior managers are also responsible for determining the computer-related needs of a company. They present these needs to the executive members and manage other IT professionals in the organization. 

The role thrives on experience, so not all employers require a master’s degree. The high pay, the low education threshold, and the stimulating work environment are all reasons that IT management is considered one of the best jobs in tech

7. Risk Manager

  • Median Salary: $85,308
  • Top 10% Earn: $127,500

Risk managers are responsible for the planning, development, and implementation of risk strategies in business settings. These experts identify and control any potential risk that can impact the company negatively. Essentially, risk managers handle all risk-related issues.

To get a job in this field, a risk manager needs to have problem-solving skills and communication skills. The typical entry-level education required is a bachelor’s degree, but an advanced degree is not necessary if you have relevant experience. However, the requirements vary across different companies.

8. Front End Web Developer

  • Median Salary: $79,725
  • Top 10% Earn: $115,000

Front end developers handle the visual components of websites that users see and interact with. These experts code in languages like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS to design web page layouts. The primary function of front end development is to create appealing web pages for mobile and desktop use. It also involves building site mockups and conducting maintenance.

Front end developers earn close to six figures and this pay increases with experience. Employers do not require a master’s or doctoral degree. In most cases, experience and skill matter most. 

9. Computer Network Architect

  • Median Salary: $77,468
  • Top 10% Earn: $140,000

Computer network architects design and develop data communication networks for companies and organizations. These experts work with executive staff members to determine where networks are required. They also choose the equipment, present network plans, and research new network technology for the organization leaders. 

In some cases, companies may ask for a bachelor’s degree as the minimum qualification for the role. However, some firms still hire qualified professionals with a high school diploma. 

10. Commercial Pilot

  • Median Salary: $63,321
  • Top 10% Earn: $119,500

Commercial pilots can work as tour pilots, cargo pilots, and even backcountry pilots. These experts are authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fly passengers for a fee. If you’re interested in becoming a commercial airline pilot, you will be required to receive additional certifications or licenses. 

However, you do not need a master’s degree or a doctoral degree to work as a commercial pilot. Some airlines only require a high school diploma. The educational requirement is 1,500 hours of experience, which you can get in two years. Pilots receive a different kind of training specific to their work and their annual salary increases with experience.

4 Alternatives to Graduate School in 2021 That Still Lead to 6-Figure Jobs

Man attending an online class with his laptop jobs that pay 100k without a degree
Online learning is a great way to get additional education and start a career as a human resources manager, financial adviser, financial analyst, or real estate agent.

As mentioned above, a lot of jobs offer an annual wage of six figures without requiring you to have attended an advanced degree program. However, you’ll still need to gain the skills that employers in a variety of industries are looking for. Coding bootcamps, online courses, and digital learning resources are all great alternatives to higher education. 

Coding Bootcamps

A coding bootcamp is a short-term and intensive technical training program. This job training program teaches technologies and programming skills that are in high demand today. These bootcamps allow students without much experience to master coding skills within a few weeks. Students engage in project-based learning to solve real-world problems. 

The main goal of bootcamp attendees is to enter the tech industry quickly, becoming web developers, software engineers, UX designers, or data scientists. Students can learn to build apps professionally, gaining a foundation of skills to pursue a career in Silicon Valley. Students also get career advice from tech experts to propel them into the workforce. 

The duration of programs at these professional schools is usually less than 24 weeks. Some can be longer depending on the curriculum and other factors like whether an internship or apprenticeship is included. This condensed time frame is perfect for high-impact and high-speed learning. 

When it comes to costs, coding bootcamps have an advantage over college degree programs. The average cost of a coding bootcamp is between $13,000 to $15,000. Compared to the average salary of the graduates, it is quite affordable. Also, most bootcamps offer payment options to make it easier for students to pay the tuition. 

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

MOOCs offer affordable and accessible remote learning opportunities. People across the US and all over the world can easily enroll in these courses. MOOCs have partnered with top universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University to offer these short courses online.

The courses often cover the basics and most are self-paced. The videos are pre-recorded and can be replayed at any time. There are often tests in each module to ensure that students are grasping the training. Some of the courses are standalone while others are part of a larger program.

Many MOOCs have courses where you can learn skills like coding for free. However, others may charge a fee for a verified certificate that shows you’ve completed a course. These courses enroll thousands of learners every year, accommodating a much larger student population than traditional forms of education.

Due to the large student population, the tests are graded by your peers in most cases. They offer training courses that can help you expand your tech career options. Some popular ones include edX, Udemy, and Coursera. They can increase your earning potential even though they don’t typically come with job search services that offer career advice.

Digital Learning Resources

Another alternative to graduate school is digital learning resources like Khan Academy and Lynda.com. Unlike the curated courses you get with MOOCs, these online resources teach programming and management skills through tutorials directly on the page. Students can create their own curricula on these DIY education sites. 

Khan Academy offers free training programs that cover programming and business skills. Lynda.com offers a subscription-based membership. Students can download files and save them for later as well. These resources are great for students who want self-paced training. Some of these resources contain career advice for people new to the industry. 

Apprenticeships or Internships

Apprenticeships and internships are an excellent alternative to graduate school because you learn on the job. Apprenticeships are not only for vocational training but also for technological fields. Silicon Valley companies like IBM and Google offer software development apprenticeships and internships for people who want to transition to tech. 

These programs may take up to a year to complete. Apprentices get to enjoy lots of perks and benefits of working for tech companies. In some cases, you don’t need to be a student in a four-year degree program to qualify. These programs can also increase your earning potential.

Jobs That Pay $100K Without an Advanced Degree FAQ

What non-tech jobs make $100,000 a year without a college degree?

Without a four-year degree, you can make $100,000 as a construction manager, a commercial pilot, a criminal investigator, an operations manager, or a risk manager. There are also training and development managers, benefits managers, promotions managers, security analysts, and real estate brokers. 

Finally, several people who work in healthcare facilities can make upwards of six figures, such as nurse anesthetists and other kinds of nurse practitioners, as well as some public health professionals.

What is a coding bootcamp?

A coding bootcamp is a short, intensive job training program that teaches people what they need to transition to a career in tech. The programs last for a few weeks and are often project-based. Students learn in-demand programming languages like JavaScript, CSS, and Python. Students build their portfolios and get career support for their ensuing job search. 

Is a bootcamp better than a degree?

It depends on what you are looking for, but both colleges and coding bootcamps have their pros and cons. The latter is cheaper and requires less time. You don’t need to deal with student loan debt. Also, bootcamp grads earn almost as much as people with degrees, and in some cases, they earn more. Bootcamp curricula are tailored to in-demand technologies.

What are some alternatives to a college degree?

Some alternatives to a college degree include coding bootcamps, massive open online courses (MOOCs), apprenticeships, and digital learning resources. With coding bootcamps, you can learn in-demand skills in a structured setting. MOOCs and digital learning resources allow you to learn at your pace, and apprenticeships let you learn on the job.

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