Society has taught us that landing high-paying jobs is directly proportional to how many degrees, certificates, and diplomas we possess. Graduating high school works—if you want to live in your parent's basement. But to actually make something of yourself, you need some sort of advanced education. Then again, bachelor degrees are common now. If you really want to stand out you should probably go to graduate school. But even then ... You get the point. But what if success wasn't that complicated? What if you could avoid all those late-night cram sessions, that $100,000 worth of student debt, or that dreaded freshman 15 (or 20 or 30), and still bring home the bacon? Well you can. These eight degree-optional jobs with massive earning potential prove that you can make bank without that four-year education—if you're the best of the best, that is.
When you think about it, being responsible for a human being is a tough task, but for $180,000, most people would be more than willing to practically raise your kids. A recent New York Times article revealed that one super nanny, the cream of the NY crop, makes this salary, plus a Christmas bonus and a $3,000-a-month apartment allowance. Not too bad for a glorified babysitter, huh?
Did you walk your family dog as one of your daily or weekly chores when you were younger? If the answer is yes, then you’re already well qualified for this job. Although it might not seem that lucrative, walking dozens of dogs on a regular basis can make you some serious cash; one man walks away with $100,000 every year. A job where you can play with cute puppies all day and still make a ton of money? Sold.
This job comes with lots of catcalls and pickup lines from drunk, dirty old men, but the potential to make this salary might make that worth ignoring. Not all bartenders are equal—working in a hotel bar will get you steady hourly pay, plus generous tips from your wealthy patrons. While not common, making $100,000 a year is possible, especially in large cities, and surely you’ll have some interesting stories to tell.
If you’ve ever watched anything on HGTV, you know that this job isn’t a piece of cake. Working with people to find their “dream home” is anything but a dream; they often complain about the stupidest stuff: the paint color, the light fixtures, the furniture (apparently they think that comes with). With this job, a little patience goes a long way, because it’s all about the commission. Help that dramatic couple find their multimillion-dollar mansion, and you will reap the benefits—usually a 5 or 6 percent commission. If you’re dealing with big spenders, you can easily make $95,220 a year as a real estate agent.
Working in the restaurant business isn’t overly complicated, but this position requires you to pull some strings for some very important people. If you manage to get that wealthy couple a special table, you can expect a nice little tip; make enough of the right people happy, and you’re well on your way to $80,000 a year as a concierge. If a little bit of manipulation, scheming, and sucking up isn’t beneath you, this often thankless, people-pleasing job will pay off in a big way.
For those who love themselves a good work out, coaching others through the process might seem like a pretty sweet deal—especially when you can make $100,000 a year doing it. Of course, you’re going to have to put up with some real charmers; most people who need trainers aren’t exactly in tip-top shape, and they won’t be too happy with you when you force them to keep running (think Biggest Loser–style temper tantrums).
If you’re bilingual, you’re in luck—with this job, your ability to speak English and Spanish will get you to $121,000 a year. All you have to do is make sure callers don’t get too pissed off, and calm them down when they do (because it will happen, often). Of course it’s not glorious work, but you could do much worse.
If you’re a Vegas or Atlantic City fanatic, this job is right up your alley—as long as you don’t have a gambling problem (if you do, this job will be a little rough). Bigwig casino managers ensure that everything is running smoothly—and get paid $116,000 in the process. While this might not sound so bad, they also have to deal with irate guests, and when those guests are losing money left and right, they’re going to be mad. Good luck with that.