Top 10 Jobs Paying $150K a Year That Don’t Require a Degree
College degrees are often seen as the golden ticket to a successful career. However, it can be refreshing to know that there are pathways other than college that you can take to land high-paying jobs. Whether you’re a recent high school graduate or a career changer, there are a variety of jobs that pay $150k a year without any degree requirements.
While a college degree may help boost your chances of employment, modern companies are only interested in new hires who can perform well. A TestGorilla study, for example, found that 70 percent of employers agree that skill-based hiring is more reliable than resumes. Let’s look at the top 10 jobs paying $150,000 a year that you can pursue without a college degree.
Jobs That Pay $150K Without a Degree Requirement: How Common Are They?
Jobs that pay $150k a year without requiring a college degree are not as common as jobs that do require a degree, but they do exist. Jobs with a $150k salary are more prevalent in the tech space, as seen below. This is because companies require skilled tech experts to help them remain competitive and expand their digital transformation efforts. As such, tech employers are known to forego degree requirements in place of experience and skills.
Top 10 Jobs With $150K Salary That Don’t Require a Degree
|Job Title||Average Salary||Minimum Requirements|
|Owner-Operator (Trucking)||$229,257||Commercial driver’s license and business license. Strong business acumen and understanding of the trucking industry are recommended.|
|Computer Architect||$174,999||College education is not always required. Experience in computer hardware and software is mandatory. Relevant certifications are recommended.|
|Data Scientist Manager||$160,723||College education is not always required. Experience in data science is mandatory. Relevant certifications are recommended.|
|Product Manager||$153,698||College education is not required. Specialized skills and certifications are encouraged. Experience in the field is valued.|
|Lead Game Designer||$146,176||College education is not required. Experience in software and game design is mandatory. Relevant certifications are recommended.|
|Software Engineer||$139,952||College education is not required. Experience in software and knowledge of popular programming languages is mandatory.|
|Application Security Engineer||$134,830||College education is not always required. Experience in software and cyber security is mandatory. Relevant certifications are recommended.|
|Senior Full Stack Developer||$124,218||College education is not required. Experience in software and knowledge of popular programming languages is mandatory.|
|Radiation Therapist||$112,966||College education is not always required. Completion of a relevant accredited program is recommended. Must fulfill the Radiation Therapy Didactic and Clinical Competency Requirements.|
|Senior Cyber Security Specialist||$112,797||College education is not always required. Experience in cyber security and risk management is mandatory. Relevant certifications are recommended.|
The Best Jobs With $150K Salary That Don’t Require a Degree: A Closer Look
- Average salary: $249,257
- 90th percentile salary: $423,349
- Top-paying companies: CloudTrucks, Landstar, Mercer Transportation, Amazon, TForce Freight
Owner-operator takes the number one spot of our jobs with a $150k salary, with an average earning of $249,257 a year. An owner-operator in the trucking industry owns their own truck and operates it independently. They can either act as a freelance driver or lease their services to trucking companies. Their main responsibilities include managing their truck, fueling, maintenance, and finding clients.
This job does not have any degree requirements and is ideal for those interested in entrepreneurial endeavors. However, the process of becoming a successful owner-operator can be tricky as it involves obtaining a commercial driver’s license, forming a business, and getting trucking authority through agencies like the US Department of Transportation.
- Average salary: $174,999
- 90th percentile salary: $187,000
- Top-paying companies: NVIDIA, Intel, Apple, Value Labs, X
A computer architect designs and plans the essential components and structure of a computer. They make sure that the computer functions efficiently, processes information quickly, and can handle various tasks effectively. Although a computer architect is typically a more senior position, it is still accessible to non-degree holders who are committed to continuous learning and long-term career development.
If you are interested in this career path, it is recommended that you start as a programmer or a developer and build your experience from scratch. You can also boost your credentials by signing up for computer architecture courses or relevant certifications that can further verify your capabilities and increase your chances of landing a job with a salary over $150k.
Data Scientist Manager
- Average salary: $160,723
- 90th percentile salary: $243,000
- Top-paying companies: NVIDIA, Meta, Capital One, Accenture, Uber
A data scientist manager is responsible for leading a team of data scientists. They manage data experts, making sure that they are solving problems and providing crucial insights for their organizations. As a leader, data scientist managers do more than just plan projects. They also ensure that the team has the resources they need to perform their duties efficiently.
This is a senior role, often requiring a degree in a relevant discipline, but that is not always the case. Most data scientist managers begin as data scientists, a tech role that you can pursue without a degree. After five years in the industry, you can expect to move up the career ladder and start applying for this managerial job that pays $150k a year.
- Average salary: $153,698
- 90th percentile salary: $197,000
- Top-paying companies: Google, Meta, Stripe, X, Wish
A product manager is like the driver of a product’s vision. They work hard to make sure the product meets the needs of customers and the goals of the company. They also weigh in on potential features that a product would offer. Additionally, they work closely with the development team and guide them from the idea stage to a successful launch.
Traditionally, the job requires a degree in a relevant field such as business or technology. However, there are many product managers today who have successfully launched their careers with a project management bootcamp instead. To boost your chances of securing this position, you can pursue a number of certifications that demonstrate your expertise in the field of product management.
Lead Game Designer
- Average salary: $146,176
- 90th percentile salary: $177,500
- Top-paying companies: Zynga, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Scopely, Microsoft
A lead game designer is responsible for creating and supervising the overall design of a video game. They contribute to the original concept, plot line, character design, and game mechanics, ensuring users have a great gaming experience. They generally oversee a whole team of game designers, artists, and developers to bring the game to life.
- Average salary: $139,952
- 90th percentile salary: $205,000
- Top-paying companies: Meta, Gigster, Mozilla, Tumblr, Engine Yard
Software engineers are builders who create digital solutions, applications, and software. They write the code that makes computer programs and apps work. It is also common for software engineers to continue to test and maintain the software in the post-development stage. They normally work in a bigger development team.
Software engineering is one of the most accessible jobs that pay a $150k salary, especially for those without a degree. To become a software engineer, all you need is a strong knowledge of programming languages like Java, C++, and Python and a robust portfolio that showcases your completed projects. Although a degree is the conventional way to land this job, software engineering skills can also be attained through self-study or on-the-job learning opportunities.
Application Security Engineer
- Average salary: $134,830
- 90th percentile salary: $183,500
- Top-paying companies: Amazon, PlayStation, WhiteHat Security, Aspect Security, Adobe
Application security engineers work to protect software from cyber security threats. They analyze everything from the code to the architecture to the configurations to identify potential vulnerabilities and weak points. They perform penetration testing, code reviews, and vulnerability scanning to ensure the application is safe from breaches.
This is generally a more senior position. To get started on this career path, a common entry point is becoming a security analyst or a security architect. After a few years, you can move on to mid-level roles such as security consultant or senior software developer. You can also sign up for relevant cyber security certifications to further enhance your prospects in this field.
Senior Full Stack Developer
- Average salary: $124,218
- 90th percentile salary: $165,000
- Top-paying companies: IBM, Infoshare Systems, FedEx, Booz Allen Hamilton, Best Buy
The salary for this role varies depending on location, company, responsibilities, and experience. Glassdoor reports that companies such as IBM, Discover, and ETQ offer close to $150k in salary for this exact position. To become a senior full stack developer, you need at least five years of experience in the industry, as well as a comprehensive work portfolio.
- Average salary: $112,966
- 90th percentile salary: $154,500
- Top-paying companies: Kaiser Permanente, USCMC, GenesisCare, US Department of Veterans Affairs, City of Hope
If you are looking for a job that pays a $150k salary outside of tech, radiation therapy is worth looking into. A radiation therapist is a healthcare professional who operates a machine that delivers high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to treat cancer. They are expected to have great communication and interpersonal skills because they constantly engage with patients.
They help patients by explaining the treatment, ensuring they’re in the right position, and providing support during the process. You don’t necessarily need a college degree to explore this career. However, you are required to meet the requirements set by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, which includes the completion of a relevant accredited program.
Senior Cyber Security Specialist
- Average salary: $112,797
- 90th percentile salary: $159,318
- Top-paying companies: Cisco Systems, Liberty Mutual Insurance, KPMG, Anjolen, Atlantic Comm Tech
A senior cyber security specialist is an expert on digital security. They ensure that the company’s systems, data, and networks are protected against threats like hackers, viruses, and data breaches. They are also responsible for planning and implementing security measures to safeguard the company’s digital assets.
You don’t need a degree for an entry-level cyber security job, provided you have the right skills and experience. These can be obtained through self-study, certification programs, or online training, which are more accessible and affordable than a four-year degree. To pursue a senior role in cyber security, most companies ask for a minimum of four years of industry experience.
How to Unlock High-Paying Careers Without a Degree: 3 Ways to Get Jobs That Make $150K a Year
There are several alternative paths to college that you can take to unlock jobs paying $150k a year. Those looking to break into tech should be prepared with a strong resume and cover letter, as well as a robust portfolio that showcases their technical expertise. Below are some of the best paths to take to land a job that pays $150k a year without a degree.
Explore Coding Bootcamps and Online Courses
The first step to landing a job paying $150k a year is skill acquisition. If a four-year degree is not something you’re interested in, you can opt for short-term training that allows you to learn technical skills in just a matter of months. Take coding bootcamps, for example. They are a great college alternative, offering job-focused training that is often accompanied by career services. Most coding bootcamps also offer flexible programs that suit your schedule and needs.
Sign Up for Apprenticeships and On-the-Job Training
A great way to hone your skills is by working on the job. Apprenticeship opportunities provide hands-on, practical training that allows you to learn the skills directly related to your dream career. This real-world experience is valuable to employers. Additionally, most apprenticeship programs include mentorship with an experienced professional. By working with mentors, you get to receive crucial guidance and tips that can help you develop your skills faster.
Take On Freelancing Opportunities and Build Connections
Most tech employers want to hire skilled professionals regardless of their educational background. The best way to demonstrate your skills is by working on projects that can be added to your portfolio. Offer your services as a freelancer and start expanding your portfolio with diverse projects. This is also a great chance to build a professional network, which can help you discover job opportunities and gain referrals.
Can You Land a Job That Pays Over $150K Without a Degree?
You can land a job paying $150k a year without a degree. Not only is it possible, but it is also increasingly viable in today’s job market. While a degree remains a valuable asset, it is no longer the only key to a successful career. With determination, hard work, and perseverance, you can gain the skills you need through continuous learning and various training programs.
There are also a variety of certifications available to help you validate your skills and secure a job that makes $150k a year. It is important to note that building a successful career through non-traditional means may require extra dedication and a long-term commitment to growth. With the right skills and experience, you can forge your own path toward a job with a $150k salary or higher.
Jobs That Pay Over $150K Without a Degree FAQ
You can make $150k a year from home by becoming a freelancer. Use your specialized skills in areas like web development or graphic design to offer quality services from the comfort of your own home. Build a strong online presence to attract high-paying clients. Otherwise, you can also look for remote job opportunities in lucrative fields like tech, marketing, or sales.
Jobs that pay $150k a year with no degree requirements typically involve roles with specialized skills, experience, or certifications. Some of the easiest and most accessible jobs in this category are in the tech industry. Software development, for example, demands a strong knowledge of programming languages. With the right aptitude, you can easily pick up these skills through self-study, coding bootcamps, or online courses.
You can find jobs paying $150k a year across various fields. Look up online job boards that feature comprehensive listings of job openings. They generally allow you to filter your searches based on your desired salary. Many companies also post job openings directly on their websites, so feel free to browse your desired employer’s careers page for a high-paying opportunity.
You don’t need a degree to break into tech so long as you possess the right skills and experience in your chosen area. Strong knowledge of programming languages and a robust portfolio are often the best assets. Keep building your skills through independent projects and make new connections as you go. Some companies also offer apprenticeship programs that allow you to gain real-world experience and learn skills that are relevant to your dream job.