The very highest-paying salaries in the country – which go well over the $200,000 mark -- correlate with professions that require extensive education and training, and are paid out to obstetricians and gynecologists, surgeons and anesthesiologists, among others. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to spend your life with your head buried in textbooks and slaving along as a low-salary medical resident before you can see the light at the end of the tunnel – which illuminates the mountain of student loan debt you accrued on your way to your career.
Fortunately, there are also high-paying jobs that require minimal education or training. These are legal (and ethical) jobs that don’t involve pyramid schemes, or dancing on poles in gentleman’s clubs. Now, these jobs won’t put you at the $200,000 mark, however, the lowest-paying job on the list pays almost $15,000 more than the $45,790 earned by the average worker in America. The list also offers variety, so whether you like to work with your hands, crunch numbers, or you’re a computer geek, there’s something for you. And some of the jobs are even management positions.
While the value of a college degree is obvious, it’s not the only path to a successful, well-paying career. Employers understand that book knowledge is important, but they also look for workers with analytical and decision-making skills. Jobs of the 21st century require people who can solve problems, have the ability to lead teams, and know how to communicate effectively. Job seekers with these skills, who are results-driven, and can project themselves confidently, should not be limited by education or training. Here are a few of the options, arranged by average salary.
5 Claims Adjusters - $61,480
Claims adjusters inspect damaged vehicles and houses, and interview witnesses to establish how much an insurance company should pay for repairs and other types of claims. According to the Department of Labor, they may also perform additional research, such as consultations with doctors or lawyers, to obtain expert evaluations before reaching a decision. Claims adjusters work for insurance companies, the federal government, state and local governments, and for firms that manage companies and enterprises.
The educational requirement is a high school diploma, although some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree. Claims adjusters need good communication skills to interview and interact with claimants, witnesses, and other people essential to the claims process. In addition, claims adjusters should have good analytical skills to investigate and evaluate various types of information before determining how much the insurance company should pay.
4 Loan Officers - $70,370
Loan officers review loan applications for individuals and businesses, and either authorize or deny applications. They explain various types and stipulations of loans, in addition to gathering and verifying necessary financial data, such as credit scores and income levels. The Department of Labor reports that loan officers work in such financial institutions as commercial banks, credit unions, and mortgage companies.
Loan officers need a high-school diploma, and usually obtain on-the-job training during the first few months in the position. Some commercial loan officers need a bachelor’s degree in a finance-related subject and they should be able to read financial statements and understand the basics of business accounting. Decision-making skills are critical for this position, since loan officers must critically evaluate applications to determine if loans will be approved. In addition, loan officers need good interpersonal skills to work with customers.
3 Network and Computer Systems Administrators - $76,320
Network and computer systems administrators maintain an organization’s computer network, which includes installation, troubleshooting and support, according to the Department of Labor. This includes local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and intranet systems. They also train users how to use hardware and software, and ensure that the networks are secure from cyber attacks. Network and computer systems administrators may work for computer design companies, in educational services, manufacturing, finance and insurance, and telecommunications.
A bachelor’s degree is typical for network and computer systems administrators, but an associate’s degree or postsecondary certificate is often also acceptable. Obviously, strong computer skills are a basic requirement, since admins must install and maintain hardware and software. However, network and computer systems administrators also need analytical and problem-solving skills to evaluate the network’s performance, troubleshoot issues and handle computer system security. They must also be able to multi-task to handle several issues at once.
2 Administrative Services Managers - $88,660
Administrative services managers, sometimes known as business managers, plan, direct and coordinate an organization’s support services, which may include buying and distributing mail, maintaining records, and also distributing mail, reports the Department of Labor. They also supervise administrative staff, maintain office equipment and machinery, and maintain the safety and security of the facility. Many administrative services managers work for state and local governments, in health care and educational services, and for professional and technical companies.
The educational requirement for this position is a high school diploma or equivalent, although some employers prefer a bachelor’s degree. There is no on-the-job training for administrative service managers; however, they should be analytical problem solvers who can find ways to increase organizational efficiency. Administrative service managers also need to be detail-oriented multitaskers who can juggle many activities without dropping the ball. They also need good interpersonal skills to deal with various levels of employees within the organization.
1 Construction Managers $90,960
Construction managers supervise construction projects, which includes establishing and negotiating budgets and timetables, in addition to determining the best construction strategies and methods. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, they also hire and oversee subcontractors and laborers and they collaborate with other construction and building employees, such as architects and engineers. Almost two-thirds of construction managers are self-employed. They are usually hired in residential and non-residential building construction, by building equipment contractors, and in heavy and civil engineering construction.
Construction managers who have worked many years in this industry may be hired with only a high school diploma. However, some employers prefer either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. In any event, there is no on-the-job-training. Construction managers need good managerial skills to supervise workers and subcontractors. They also need analytical and decision making skills to handle delays and other issues that may arise. In addition, time-management skills are essential for completing each phase of construction on time.