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These jobs can pay $200,000 a year — no office or advanced degree required

These jobs can pay 0,000 a year — no office or advanced degree required
You don’t have to work in an office to make six figures or more.

You don’t have to work in an office to make six figures or more. – Marketwatch photo illustration/iStockphoto

Looking to earn six figures or more? You might not need an expensive college degree.

There are a wide variety of jobs that can pay more than $200,000 a year, according to a recent Reddit thread, and many of them are very different from the doctors, lawyers and other white-collar workers that might immediately come to mind.

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“For those that make over $200K a year, what do you do?” the original poster asked on the thread, posted earlier this month in the AskReddit subreddit. Responses included traveling nurse, podcast host, software engineer, dentist and marine surveyor. One person said they worked as a voice director for children’s cartoons.

The interest in the $200,000 number specifically might be an indication that a lower salary doesn’t cut it anymore. As MarketWatch has previously reported, an income of $100,000 is no longer enough to support a middle-class lifestyle in many parts of the U.S.

“Inflation is really taking [its] toll,” one Reddit user wrote on the thread. “I remember when this question would be posted at $100,000.”

From the archives (January 2024): The surprising jobs paying $100K — some with no degree or commute required

Here’s a closer look at a few of the high-paying jobs respondents listed that don’t require an advanced degree.


The median annual wage for airline pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers was $219,140 as of May 2023, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Handbook.

“I love the job. I can’t believe I get paid to do it,” wrote one Reddit user who said they’d been flying professionally for more than two decades. “It’s the best damn way to make a living that I can imagine.”

A pilot’s salary can vary based on whether or not they work for an airline and on the industry — such as commercial, government or ambulatory-care services — for which they fly. Airline pilots for courier and express-delivery services have the highest median salary, at $239,200, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Airline pilots typically need a bachelor’s degree, while commercial pilots who don’t work for an airline are only required to have flight training, although specific employers might still prefer a degree. Both kinds of pilots must have specific certifications and ratings from the Federal Aviation Administration.

“You do typically need many years of experience before you get to major airline captain salaries unless you get really really lucky with timing,” wrote another user on the Reddit thread, who said it took them 20 years of flying to pass the $200,000 mark.

Crane operator

Another user who responded to the thread said they make between $180,000 and $220,000 a year as a crane operator. Crane operators control the machines that move materials around construction sites or onto container ships.

“I went to a few union halls of trades that interested me. Wrote their aptitude test and waited for a call,” the user wrote. “The operators union called first 4 months later saying they needed new apprentices.”

A six-figure salary is on the higher end of what most crane operators make, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Crane and tower operators have a median annual salary of $64,690 and aren’t required to have a college degree.

Skilled trades have caught the attention of a younger generation of workers: The number of students enrolled in vocational-focused community colleges rose 16% last year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, an education-data company.

Private chef

Another Reddit user said they work 25 to 40 hours a week as a private chef for a wealthy family, earning about $240,000 a year plus an annual bonus. The poster said they had worked at Michelin-starred restaurants before pivoting to cook for billionaires and corporate bigwigs in the Bay Area.

That’s an unusually high salary for the culinary business — Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that chefs and head cooks earn a median salary of about $64,000 — but the average private chef does make close to six figures annually, according to job-listing site Indeed.

Private chefs who take salaried positions can be paid well, said Meredith Hayden, a private chef and social-media content creator. But those jobs often come with long hours and high expectations from clients.

“You’re expected to be available to [a company or client], whatever the parameters are in your contract,” Hayden explained in one video on her TikTok page. She said she had interviewed for one role that paid $160,000 a year but would have required her to move abroad with a client’s family for part of the year.

Chefs may have gone to culinary school or through a similar vocational program, but it’s not required. Private or personal chefs often work less grueling schedules than those required for similar roles in restaurants — but a culinary career often still means working late nights, weekends and holidays.

Construction project manager

A couple of respondents to the Reddit thread said they worked as construction project managers. Each said they would bring home close to $200,000 this year, depending on their bonus. One said they work specifically on commercial retail projects.

Construction managers plan, coordinate, budget and supervise construction projects from start to finish. They typically work in a field office on-site at a project.

Construction managers typically need a bachelor’s degree — a degree in a field like business or engineering is helpful — but learn most of the necessary skills on the job, according to the Occupational Handbook. The median salary for construction-management jobs is $104,900.

“I honestly think I got extremely lucky when it comes to my career. I fell into this field when I dropped out of college to move back home and take care of my sick father,” one of the respondents wrote. “But I did work my a— off in the early years.”

Do you make a good living in a job that doesn’t require a college degree? Or have you seen your pay increase over the last couple of years? MarketWatch wants to hear from you. Send us a message at [email protected]. A reporter may be in touch.

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