4 High Earning Jobs Without Going into Six-Figure College Debt

by Christopher Youngblood

Going to a four-year college institution to get a degree has become the de facto path for high school seniors to get a high-paying job and a better life. Unfortunately, that path is paved with pitfalls and beartraps along with unknowing participants dragging a ball and chain known as student loan debt. As of now, over 44 million Americans owe a combined 1.54 trillion in student loan debt

While studies show that having a college degree increases your chances of earning more than someone with a high school diploma, plenty of jobs pay high salaries that don’t require an expensive piece of paper. Here are seven career choices that pay at least six figures. 

Air Traffic Controller 

Median annual salary in 2020: $130,420

Job outlook, 2019-2029: 1% 

They are the ever-watchful eyes in the control tower. They are responsible for coordinating the movement of all aircraft to maintain a safe distance between them. Air traffic controllers use radars and computers to keep track of any plane and radios to communicate with the pilots. Requirements include attaining an associate degree from an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program and training at the FAA Academy. If you decide to forgo the education route, you’ll need at least three years of work experience in a position requiring intense concentration. 

If you’re responsible, able to work in high-pressure situations, and have a passion for the airline industry, consider being an air traffic controller.  

Real Estate Agent 

Median annual salary in 2020: $60,370

Job outlook, 2019-2029: 2%

Do you want to help people find their dream home? Do you have a warm and friendly personality who can talk to anyone? Then a career as a real estate agent is perfect for you. Even though the median salary is lower than $100k, those willing to put in the long hours and sell multiple houses can see their income into the high six figures. Anyone interested in this field must complete several real estate courses and earn their real estate license. You can make a higher income by becoming a broker and create a team. 

Radiation Therapist

Median annual salary 2020: $86,850 

Job outlook, 2019-2029: 7%

Cancer has cost over 600,000 deaths in 2018 and was diagnosed in 1.7 million Americans in 2019. Therefore, high demand in the radiology therapy field is on the rise. Radiation Therapists use radiation methods to treat cancers and other diseases. The median salary is $86,850, but those with more experience can earn up to six figures. You only need an associate degree and pass their certification exam. Those who wish to work in the medical field but don’t want to go through the medical school route might find this career path the perfect fit. 

Freelance Writer

Median annual salary 2020: $67,120

Job outlook, 2019-2029: -2%

Some look at writing as more of a hobby than an actual living. However, don’t tell that to Alex Fasulo, a freelance writer who made $378,000 a year on Fiverr. If you have strong writing skills and have a creative mindset, this is a fun yet challenging way to earn money. There are several opportunities to make six figures as a freelance writer, including: 

  • Create a blog. 
  • Start a writing service. 
  • Write and sell an e-book 
  • Accept gigs on freelancing sites such as Fiverr and Upwork.

You don’t need a college degree to become a writer. The world wide web has connected viewers with professionals who provide lessons and tips on what you can do to become proficient with the pen (i.e., blogs, YouTube, courses, etc.). Of course, some of the best writers in the world will tell you the number one rule to excellent writing: WRITE…WRITE…AND WRITE! 

Think outside of the box (or college campus)

These are just a few possible career choices that don’t require years of studying in college. You don’t need to be a famous entertainer, sports athlete, or come from a wealthy family to earn a high wage salary. Don’t fall for the belief that college is the only way or sign away your life to paying off debt. Take the time to figure out what YOU want to do and figure out the best approach to achieve that goal!

For more information regarding career choices, check out our article, 10 Ways to Start Over in a Career You’ll Love

Note: All information regarding median salary and job outlook came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.   


I am just a simple writer who wants to travel the world, eat at every restaurant in the world, and gain financial freedom before the age of 40 (45 at the latest). I specialize in content writing and social media marketing with the goal of working in the sports and entertainment industry. My interests include Film/TV, anime, sports, finances, and of course: food. 

To learn more about me, Follow me on LinkedInInstagram, and Twitter.   

More Stories
Here are our top tips for real estate investing.
Top tips for Investing in Real Estate
%d bloggers like this: