Surprising Jobs To Earn A Six Figure Income

If you want to earn a six figure income in America, it is not as hard as you might think. Many people follow the prescribed path of going to college and then wind up with a ton of debt, a Bachelor of Arts, and no defined career path. While people debate the pros and cons of B.A.’s, one cannot dispute that it is not necessarily a concrete path to increased earning power. Here’s a look at some careers where keeping your eye on the prize can get you to that six figure salary, so long as you have the proper training, apprenticeship, or kind of degree.

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The median salary for bartenders is only $22,550 a year, but there is a wide range. If you factor in tips and location, bartenders in some upscale joints in New York or San Francisco can earn more than $100,000 a year. While there are bar tending schools, many recommend the best way to become a bartender is to work your way up from being a barback. So, the best path to this career is to pound the pavement trying to find entry-level jobs at the bottom.

Nuclear Power Plant Operator

While not the typical job someone thinks of as being highly lucrative (or even being a job people think of at all), nuclear operators can earn nearly $100,000 a year without a college degree. They do need special certifications and on the job training, however. One of the best ways to get your foot in the door is to join the Navy to get the necessary on the job training to help you get ahead of other applicants. Once you have some experience, you can start to log hours, and work towards your certifications.

Oil Rig Worker

Oil rig workers can easily earn more than $100,000 a year. To get a job, you can complete an apprenticeship or get a job working on a land rig, where it is easier to gain experience. This experience can be back-breaking, but if you are still young, you should be able to handle it. You can then work your way up from being a “roustabout” until you are, in less than a decade, making quite good money.


Welder is another blue-collar career where someone can earn a six figure salary, usually with a two year degree of some sort, or through an apprenticeship. In many states you can get a welding license or certification, and it is good to have excellent physical strength, arm steadiness, and attention to detail.

Elevator and Escalator Workers

Median salary for these workers was about $85k in 2019, which means that there are many that earn more, up to the six figure mark. Elevator and escalator workers repair, install, and maintain these critical elements of building infrastructure. They often work in cramped elevator shafts, crawl spaces, and rooms, and have to deal with heights. Most learn how to do the work through apprenticeships, and have to obtain a license in their state usually.

In Conclusion

There are lots of ways to earn a six figure salary without a college degree. Usually you need at least a high school degree or GED, so if you do not have one of those, it is best to complete your education if you want to increase your earning potential. Through a bit of savvy and enduring the years necessary to gain experience, someone can use the years they would have spent in college gaining the experience they need to obtain a high paying six figure job.