Story by Matthew Kirdahy, Forbes.com. Originally published Nov. 5, 2007.
You don't always need that piece of Latin-laden paper to pull in six figures. You don't need to invent something to get rich. And you don't need to look far for a lucrative opportunity.
There are plenty of honest livings to be made in the U.S workforce that can earn you six-figure salaries sans a college degree. That's not to say you won't be required to undergo extensive training or work long hours, but at least you won't be lugging around that student debt. It's important to note that they're not all "blue-collar" jobs, a term that has become outdated when describing skilled-trade work.
These positions run the gamut--from air traffic controller to information technology specialist to videogame player. While it may be difficult to digest that last one as a potential career move, it's a legitimate one and could help you rake in more than $100,000 if you play it right, no pun intended.
With further technological advancements in the world, there's been a greater demand for these IT specialists for big companies in major U.S. cities. Among the most popular jobs are Web and software developers, said Katherine Spencer Lee, executive director of Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals.
"It would be extremely unlikely for a high school graduate to obtain a position as a developer making six figures," Lee said. "But after some years of experience, and in the right marketplace like the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Boston, Seattle or Washington, D.C., where technical skills are in high demand, a talented person could make $100,000 lacking a college education."
The same applies for a technical writer, who just needs to understand the parlance of the industry and be willing to transcribe the information so it's readable to the masses. Executive job recruiters can make big money too in their commission-based profession.
"It's all about networking," said Paul DiNardo of 6figurejobs.com, adding that these recruiters can make up to 25% on an executive salary. He put these "national recruiting managers" in a salary range of $120,000 to $175,000.
All considered, though, no matter how you slice it, the numbers are still in favor of the college grad.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said workers with a bachelor's degree or higher average almost twice what workers with just a high school diploma earn weekly. Workers with a bachelor's degree or higher average $1,393 per week and have an unemployment rate of 2%, while workers with a high school diploma average $704 and have a 4.3% unemployment rate.
"Our country is transitioning to a knowledge-based economy, and workers with higher skills and more education are being paid a premium," Chao said.
"Higher education is not necessarily a college degree. Some of the strongest demand is for workers in the skilled trades and those with associate degrees in technical occupations from community and technical colleges," she said.
Job prospects are expected to be excellent as job openings continue to outnumber job seekers. Demand for real-time and broadcast captioning and translating will spur employment growth. The amount of training required to become a court reporter varies with the type of reporting chosen. Job opportunities should be best for those with certification. Special skills are always in demand. If you can type 200 or so words a minute, a six-figure job transcribing court testimony or captioning Web casts can be had in some areas. (Source: BLS)