Top 10 Jobs to Earn a Six-Figure Salary in 2021

To earn a six-figure salary, you need to find a career that pays over $8,333 per month. Careers in engineering, tech, real estate, and many others are among the top jobs that pay over six-figures a year.

To many people, a six-figure salary is the mark of success. In many parts of the country, earning six figures is common. In Washington, D.C., for instance, having high earners of over $100,000 a year is not unheard of. While it may mean more in some regions than others, it’s still an impressive achievement.

As you might expect, a professional degree is often necessary to earn a six-figure income in some positions. But this is no longer universally true: you can earn a six-figure income without taking out a student loan.

Coding bootcamps, trade schools, and other alternative education programs train people for these high-earning positions. A bonus: they often cost less than a college degree.

Plenty of surprising jobs pay 6 figures a year. In this article, we’ll feature the top 10 jobs that offer six-figure paychecks, whether you’re a four-year college degree holder or not. Read on and see if any of these over-$100,000-a-year positions sounds interesting to you.

The Six-Figure Paycheck: A Common Salary in the Tech Industry

Tech jobs are some of the most lucrative in the country, and six-figure salaries are common.

Unsurprisingly, a six-figure salary is fairly common in the tech industry. It’s so common that we could write a list of 10 jobs that write six-figure paychecks in the tech industry alone. However, we can save that for another time. Not everybody wants to work in tech, and that’s fine—but this booming industry boasts several of the highest-paying jobs in the country.

In San Francisco alone, the influence of tech drove the average salary to approximately $155,000 annually! That’s a 7 percent jump from 2019 to 2020. There are plenty of tech careers that will let you pad your personal finances, even when you’re just starting.

Data scientists, for example, who choose a coding bootcamp education go on to make an average of $122,618 annually. The tech industry’s reputation for high salaries is deserved, making it one of the highest-paid fields in the country.

10 Jobs that Frequently Pay Six Figures

Six-figure salaries can be found across many industries.

Below is a list of the top six-figure jobs that you may not have expected to give big paychecks.

  • Petroleum Engineer
  • Full-Stack Web Developer
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Construction Manager
  • Data Scientist
  • Commercial Pilot
  • Senior Business Consultant
  • Software Engineer
  • Car Dealership General Manager
  • Owner-Operator Truck Driver

Petroleum Engineer

Median salary, 2019: $137,720

Oil fieldwork, particularly petroleum engineering, is a popular high-paying job for many people. Keep in mind, however, that oil fieldwork requires long hours and tends to be dangerous.

How to Become a Petroleum Engineer

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that petroleum engineers must have at least a bachelor’s degree. Although the common choice of major is petroleum engineering, degrees in mechanical, civil, or chemical engineering are also accepted.

Full-Stack Web Developer

Median salary, 2020: $109,668

A full-stack web developer is a six-figure salaried job that combines the skills of front and back end programmers. They handle the entire development and operation of a website—all the way from the server to the desktop.

According to Indeed, entry-level developers earn an average of $90,000 per year. This naturally increases as you go up the ladder. Full stack web developers with three to five years of experience could earn up to $132,731 per year.

How to Become a Full Stack Web Developer

Full stack developers often don’t need a college degree if they attend a coding bootcamp. If you choose the former, you’ll need to pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. If you choose the latter, bootcamps that offer immersive programs in software engineering or web development are your best bet.

Air Traffic Controller

Median salary, 2019: $122,990

Air traffic controllers have an enormously important job—and their salary reflects it. These professionals monitor flight paths, ensuring that airplanes don’t collide and can land and take off safely. This makes the role one of the most stressful jobs in the world. If you can keep cool under pressure then this career might be a good pick for you. 

How to Become an Air Traffic Controller

Because this job is highly competitive, becoming an air traffic controller can be a challenge. You’ll need to earn either a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree from an Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program.

Before signing up, make sure that the program you chose is Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved. After completing the program, you’ll then be required to take the Air Traffic Selection and Training Exam. All air traffic controllers must also secure an Air Traffic Control Tower Operator Certificate.

Construction Manager

Median salary, 2020: $113,410

Construction managers, as the name implies, watch over the construction site and make sure everything goes according to plan. Their job requires long hours and often dealing with hundreds of people to make sure a project goes smoothly.

How to Become a Construction Manager

You can go one of three ways to become a construction manager. First, you can pursue a bachelor’s degree in construction science, construction management, architecture, or engineering.

Alternatively, you can take a much-shorter route by pursuing a two-year associate degree in construction management or construction technology. Lastly, if you only have a high school diploma, you may qualify for the role if you have years of greater responsibility at work.

Data Scientist

Median salary, 2020: $122,618

Data science is another coding bootcamp career that doesn’t require a college degree. Programmers in this position manage databases and analyze data. This is a great long-term position. Because the data science field is rapidly advancing, you won’t lose your job anytime soon.

How to Become a Data Scientist

You can become a data scientist by either pursuing a degree in data science or a related field or attending a data science bootcamp. The former usually takes four years to complete while the latter will take you less than a year.

Commercial Pilot

Median salary, 2019: $121,430

Commercial pilots earn impressive paychecks, with many going as high as $161,110 with experience. You get to fly massive commercial airliners and travel frequently. This can be an advantage or a disadvantage depending on how much time you are willing to be away from home. If you want a chance to see the world and perform important work, consider becoming an airline pilot.

How to Become a Commercial Pilot

Contrary to what most people may think, you don’t need an aviation degree to become a commercial pilot. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a high school diploma can get you started. The catch: you’ll need to complete flight training with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified instructors. All commercial pilots are required to hold a commercial pilot license before flying, with or without a degree.

Senior Business Consultant

Median salary, 2020: $125,403

If you have extensive business experience or connections, consider becoming a business or management consultant and working your way to a senior level. Business consulting is a difficult industry to break into.

Beginners are expected to work long hours before they find a secure position in the field. However, those who succeed routinely rake in tons of money worth over $100,000 annually.

How to Become a Senior Business Consultant

To become a senior business consultant, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in commerce, business administration, or economics, at the very least. Also, consider doing an MBA to boost your chances of becoming a senior business consultant.

Software Engineer

Median salary, 2020: $107,904

Software engineers are in charge of the design and development of software solutions. They spend their days diagnosing hardware and software systems for bugs and errors and resolve these accordingly.

Software engineers remain in high demand because of companies’ increasing need for new, innovative, and custom-built software. The software engineering field branches out to other more-specialized disciplines, such as gaming, security, blockchain, and mobile engineering.

How to Become a Software Engineer

You can take the traditional college route and earn a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or a related field. Or you could opt for the much-faster and more-affordable—yet just-as-effective—route of coding bootcamps.

Bootcamps, such as Galvanize, Flatiron, and General Assembly, offer immersive programs in software engineering that last less than a year. A bonus: they also come with a menu of financing options to help you save money.

Car Dealership General Manager

Median salary, 2020: $126,765

Car dealerships work with some pretty expensive items, and general managers bring home big paychecks. Business at a dealership can be inconsistent. This is mainly due to more and more people turning to other sources to purchase new or used vehicles.

It may take a bit of time to work up to the position of manager, but it is worth sticking around for that promotion. The average pay for dealership general managers can go up to six figures.

How to Become a Car Dealership General Manager

You generally won’t need a bachelor’s degree to become a car dealer. You can start working at a car dealership with a high school diploma or equivalent accreditation. However, most managers hold a bachelor’s degree in management, marketing, communications, or a related field.

Owner-Operator Truck Driver

Median salary, 2020: $221,039

Experienced truckers may want to consider becoming an owner-operator. This position requires investing in your own truck as well as other expenses like health insurance. Once you do, you can pocket the enormous profit that you’ll generate after paying for fuel and other expenses.

How to Become an Owner-Operator Truck Driver

Basic education, such as a high school diploma or a GED, and a commercial driver’s license can get you into truck driving. You can also attend an accredited community college or a truck driving school.

How to Train For a Six-Figure Salary Career in Tech

A coding bootcamp could be all you need to break into a high-paying job.

If you’re interested in a tech career, pursuing an undergraduate degree, or attending a coding bootcamp is your way in. While much has been said about the former, coding bootcamp education is quickly rising as a viable path to a lucrative career.

Attending a coding bootcamp is a proven way to break into tech, especially if you have no prior experience in the industry. Before you jump in, it’s essential to prepare for enrollment.

Coding bootcamps are one of the fastest tracks to achieving a tech career, and one that pays six figures. If you’re looking for a challenge and a way to pocket that big paycheck, start learning now.


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