Achieving financial independence quickly requires saving the largest percentage of your income possible. While you could cut your spending back to the bare bones minimum, it’s often easier and more productive to focus on earning more income. After all, it’s easier to save a large percentage of your income if your job pays you well.
Unfortunately, many of the highest paying jobs require advanced college degrees. Sadly, obtaining a four-year college degree means taking out tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt in many cases. For most people that student loan debt, combined with the time it takes to earn the degree, would push back your financial independence date by years if not a decade or more.
Whether you’re in high school and want to achieve financial independence as fast as possible or you’re stuck in a low paying job and don’t want to take on student loan debt to get a degree, there are jobs out there that could pay you over $100,000 per year without a college degree. Keep in mind, you likely won’t earn $100,000 in these jobs immediately. Instead, you must work up to these jobs within each career field either through on the job training or an apprenticeship.
Power Plant Operators (Median Salary – $77,180 | 90th Percentile Salary – $103,880)
Power plant operators are in charge of controlling, operating and maintaining the necessary equipment to generate electricity. They monitor control boards and instruments to distribute power and maintain proper energy levels for their system. While there are power plant operator jobs at traditional power plants, don’t forget to explore options like power plants at industrial facilities such as paper mills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says long-term on the job training is required for this position.
Power Distributors or Dispatchers (Median Salary – $82,510 | 90th Percentile Salary – $111,250)
Power distributors or dispatches are also commonly called systems operators. They control the flow of electricity after it leaves the power plant on its way to the substations and eventual end user customers. Their job requires them to monitor and operate a wide range of equipment to distribute electricity and avoid issues such as transformer or transmission line failures. The BLS says long-term on the job training is required for this position.
Elevator Installers and Repairers (Median Salary – $79,480 | 90th Percentile Salary – $115,880)
Elevator installers and repairers don’t just work on elevators. Typically, they work on elevators, escalators, chairlifts, moving walkways and other similar people moving equipment. Most workers will specialize in one of three areas: installation, repair or maintenance. Depending on the area where the job is located, a worker’s territory may be spread out or concentrated depending on the number of pieces of equipment in the area. For instance, a technician in New York City would have a much smaller service area than a technician in the rural south. The BLS says you’ll need to complete an apprenticeship to obtain this position.
Detectives and Criminal Investigators (Median Salary – $79,970 | 90th Percentile Salary – $135,530)
Detectives and criminal investigators can be uninformed or plainclothes depending on the position and ongoing investigation. These professionals work to gather the facts in criminal cases through interviewing suspects and witnesses as well as observing crime scenes and other information. While detectives and investigators could investigate a wide array of cases, typically a person will specialize in a certain area such as fraud or violent crimes. The BLS says moderate-term on the job training is required for this position.
First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives (Median Salary $87,910 | 90th Percentile Salary – $140,320)
First-line supervisors of police and detectives typically train their subordinates, make sure their work is up to the standards required and offer guidance to make sure investigations are conducted according to the law. They’re also responsible for dealing with conflicts between personnel and any staff misconduct that may occur. Typical job titles include Chief of Police, Lieutenant, Police Captain or Shift Supervisor. The BLS says moderate-term on the job training is required for this position.
Commercial Pilots (Median Salary – $78,740 | 90th Percentile Salary – $152,180)
Pilots are responsible for a lot more than flying the plane from destination to destination. Pilots must check the condition of the aircraft they fly before and after every flight to make sure the plane is safe to use. They must also make sure the plane’s weight is under the maximum limit and is distributed properly as well as verify they have enough fuel to reach their destination. Pilots must communicate with air traffic control and manage the plane’s operation while in the air. What seems like a simple job requires a lot more concentration and effort than most people would think. The BLS says moderate-term on the job training is required for this position.
Transportation, Storage and Distribution Managers (Median Salary – $92,460 | 90th Percentile Salary – $156,710)
Transportation, storage and distribution managers are responsible for moving, storing and distributing their respective products while making sure to follow any laws or company policies that may apply to their specific products. This job category also includes logistics managers. These jobs can get hectic in fast-paced environments and require a person to be very aware of safety concerns that may exist if heavy equipment is used to transport, store or distribute a product. The BLS says no on the job training is required for this position.
While some of the above jobs may offer a standard 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday work schedule, most require shift work or working odd hours to meet the demands of the job. That said, you won’t have to spend four or more years earning a bachelor’s degree for the opportunity to start a career that will eventually allow you to move up into one of these positions.
Related: Talent Stacking to Fast-Track FI
In the end, you have to balance your desire for an ideal job with the desire to achieve financial independence as early as possible to come up with a solution that will make you happiest both before and after achieving financial independence.
Do you want to find even more high paying jobs that don’t require a college degree or a high paying career path that interests you more than the above options? Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupation Finder.
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