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Highest Paying Non-Degree Occupations

by Stephanie Dube Dwilson, studioD

Some people accumulate excessive debt getting a degree, only to have a tough time finding a job and paying off student loans. Although you may be told you need a college degree in order to compete in today's economy, that's not always true. In fact, some occupations will pay you a good salary, sometimes even up to six figures, without having a bachelor's degree.

Personal Trainers

Working as a personal trainer might not sound like a lucrative career, but it can be. Personal trainers need certification if they want to be competitive and get the bigger salaries, but they don't need college degrees. You can get certified from an organization such as the American Council on Exercise. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, personal trainers on average made a median salary of just $31,090 a year as of 2010. But the highest paid can make as much as $128,000, according to a 2012 CNN article. With obesity rates rising, job opportunities should rise too.

Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

You might be surprised to learn that operators of nuclear power reactor plants make among the highest salaries for non-degreed jobs. As of 2012, the BLS reported that these operators made an average yearly salary of $76,020, with the top 10 percent making $97,300. USA Today reported in August 2012 that some even made $141,000. Although you won't need a college degree, you'll need training and experience to get to the six-figure salaries. You'll need at least three years of general power plant experience and one year of nuclear operator training before you can take a certification exam.

Management Consultants

Management consultants get paid the big bucks to help troubled companies turn themselves around by fixing budget problems and teaching them how to compete in the market better and turn a profit. No specific degree requirement exists to be a consultant, but you'll need a long line of success stories to get companies to pay you a good salary to help them. Be ready to start at the bottom and work your way up, accruing references along the way. According to CNN, in 2012, management consultants had an average yearly pay of $110,000, topping out at $198,000.

Transportation, Storage and Distribution Managers

You don't need a college degree to be a well-paid transportation, storage and distribution manager. These jobs brought in an average of $88,920 a year in 2012, according to the BLS, with the top 10 percent making $136,640 a year. Transportation managers handle all the day-to-day operations of facilities including railroads and shipping yards. Their duties include budgeting, creating policies for facility operation and acquiring needed supplies. Although some people get this job with a bachelor's degree, others just have a high school degree and get on-the-job training along with years of experience at distribution facilities, starting with an entry-level job and working their way up.

About the Author

With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.

Photo Credits

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