The cost of a traditional Bachelor's degree is at an all-time high. In the U.S., the average student graduates with $37,651 in student loan debt(opens new window). At the same time, companies are struggling to fill technical roles because the supply of candidates with the right training outpaces demand. For example, reports show one Software Developer for every five open jobs(opens new window).
Due to the rising college costs and tech talent shortage, many companies offer 6-figure jobs—no degree required. We've compiled a list of jobs that make more than $100K a year without a college degree. We'll also provide tips for navigating the job market and finding the right role for you.
How to get six-figure jobs—no degree required
College is expensive and takes four years to complete. At the end of it, you could be thousands of dollars in debt with no guarantee of a job. Understandably, many young people are exploring alternative paths to a six-figure career.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to landing a six-figure job. However, skill-based education, on-the-job training, and online certifications go a long way. They come at a much lower cost than college tuition.
Let’s take a quick look at alternative paths to get the education and skills you need to land six-figure jobs without a college degree.
Even better, freelance jobs rarely ask about educational requirements. However, they will ask you to show your experience and skills. You can do this by sharing a portfolio of your work or completing a small test project.
Apprenticeships and on-the-job training
Apprentices get hands-on training, work experience, and a paycheck simultaneously. During an apprenticeship, you are paid to learn specific skills while working with experienced professionals in the field.
Today, there are more apprenticeship opportunities than ever. Multiverse provides various tech apprenticeship programs to learn software engineering, data science, digital marketing, and more. Our apprenticeship programs help young people gain the skills and experience necessary to launch a successful career without incurring college tuition costs. All programs are free, with no deferred tuition either. You can learn more and apply to become an apprentice here(opens new window).
Additional courses and certifications
Job descriptions for high-paying jobs often list the tools and skills companies want candidates to know. You can increase your chances of landing a $100K job without a college degree by reviewing those job descriptions and listing the skills on them.
Then, take a few courses that teach the skills and tools that top-paying jobs use. Doing so will make you a more appealing job candidate and give employers the confidence that you can do the job. Plus, it may help boost your salary even further, as companies reward highly-skilled candidates with higher pay.
14 six-figure jobs without a college degree requirement
There are many ways to earn a six-figure salary. Although these jobs don’t require a Bachelor’s degree, you’ll still need to show that you have the skills and experience for each role.
1. Data Scientist
Data Scientists analyze raw data and draw meaningful insights that can improve business performance. Job responsibilities include cleaning data, creating models to explain the data, and developing algorithms to identify patterns in large datasets. Data Scientists should know some SQL and math, including linear algebra, probability, and statistics.
You don’t need a Bachelor’s degree to pursue data science. Because of its high demand, it’s one of the most popular subjects for online courses and training programs. In programs like Multiverse’s Data Fellowship, you can learn data science in 15 to 18 months rather than the traditional four years of college.
- Average salary - $144,545
- Top-paying salary - $238,592
2. Data Engineer
Data Engineers are responsible for designing, implementing, and maintaining databases. They also help ensure companies collect secure and reliable data.
At a minimum, Data Engineers need to know how to code and use SQL. Since the role combines engineering with data, it requires a knowledge of various programming languages, including C#, Java, Python, and Ruby.
- Average salary - $135,207
- Top-paying salary - $218,115
3. Business Analyst
Business analysts understand the big picture of how an organization works, its goals, and how to use technology to achieve them. They analyze data, identify trends, and make recommendations based on their findings. Business Analysts develop strategies for improving efficiency, research new technologies, and identify opportunities for improvement.
However, Business Analysts need more than technical skills. They also need strong communication, problem-solving, and presentation skills to explain complex information easily.
You can become a Business Analyst without going to college. However, if you have previous experience working in the industry you are pursuing a role in; it could give you an advantage over other candidates.
- Average salary - $85,232
- Top-paying salary - $126,755
4. Software Engineer
Some Software Engineers start out taking computer science in college, but it is not the only path. According to Stack Overflow's developer survey(opens new window), 25% of professional Software Engineers don’t have a Bachelor’s degree.
Software Engineer is also the second most in-demand job on LinkedIn(opens new window). Tech companies need to fill software engineering roles with talented professionals who have practical coding skills. They care less about education and more about skills.
- Average salary - $121,602
- Top-paying salary - $195,676
5. Engineering Manager
Engineering Managers are responsible for overseeing the development of products, from concept to launch. They may plan, organize, and coordinate engineering teams, manage budgets and resources and develop strategies to improve processes.
Most Engineering Managers start as Software Engineers or Full Stack Developers first. They have deep technical knowledge and experience but do less hands-on coding in this role. In a people management role, Engineering Managers need strong, soft skills like communication, leadership, and project management.
- Average salary - $117,868
- Top-paying salary - $168,182
6. Test Engineer
Software test engineers are responsible for testing software applications to ensure they work properly before being deployed in production environments. Test engineers should understand the application's structure and the technology used to build it.
They must have experience in software development and testing methodology, be proficient in programming languages such as Java or Python, and understand software quality assurance principles (QA).
Relevant software development experience and QA processes knowledge will give you an edge over other candidates.
- Average salary - $89,268
- Top-paying salary - $136,865
7. Cybersecurity Engineer
Cybersecurity Engineers help organizations protect their systems and data from malicious attacks. They are responsible for designing, implementing, and managing security solutions to protect an organization's networks, systems, and data from cyber threats.
Cybersecurity Engineers stay up-to-date with the latest security technologies and trends, recognize potential vulnerabilities in a system's architecture and develop strategies to mitigate them. You don’t need a Bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity, but many companies ask for certification like the Systems Security Certified Practitioner (SSCP)(opens new window).
- Average salary - $107,367
- Top-paying salary - $167,186
8. Technical Program Manager
Technical Program Managers help lead, coordinate, and manage the entire development process. Not only that, but they also handle the complexities of product development and ensure a smooth experience for customers.
Technical Program Managers (TPMs) oversee software application design, development, and testing. They manage budgets, resources, and timelines to ensure the timely completion of projects and the quality of their work.
Although you don’t need a degree, you’ll need a few years of work experience. It also helps if you have software development experience, excellent communication, problem-solving skills, and project management experience.
- Average salary - $125,655
- Top-paying salary - $187,683
9. Product Manager
Many companies invest heavily in the product team to ensure their products are well-designed and serve the customer's needs. Product Managers (PMs) play a critical role in this process by managing the entire product development cycle from ideation to launch.
Product Managers need to know about product design, market research, and customer feedback analysis. They should also understand user needs and translate them into actionable tasks. Experience in software development or certificate courses is a bonus, but it's not mandatory.
- Average salary - $102,530
- Top-paying salary - $150,106
10. UI/UX Architect
Some UI/UX Architects start as designers. They act as more of a Design Lead, collaborating with other departments and leading strategy.
- Average salary - $111,004
- Top-paying salary - $140,063
11. UX Designer
UX Designers research user needs, create wireframes and prototypes, test products, and make design decisions based on data and best practices. Understanding design principles and having experience with prototyping tools such as Figma and Adobe XD are critical to being a UX Designer.
A college degree is not necessary for the job. Still, you’ll need a portfolio showcasing your design process and skills.
- Average salary - $99,707
- Top-paying salary - $146,350
12. Web Developer
Web Developers are responsible for building, maintaining, and updating websites to ensure they run smoothly and serve customer needs.
To land a high-paying Web Developer position, hone your programming skills and compile a portfolio of the websites you build. You may also want to specialize in building websites on specific content management systems (CMS) like WordPress or Webflow. Learning other programming languages like C#, Java, Python, and more can increase your salary potential.
- Average salary - $81,234
- Top-paying salary - $130,800
13. Mobile Developer
There is an increasing demand for mobile developers as more businesses create mobile applications to serve their customers better. Mobile Developers are responsible for developing, testing, and maintaining native or hybrid mobile applications.
To become a Mobile Developer, you need to have experience in coding languages such as Java, Swift, Objective-C, and Kotlin. Experience with cross-platform mobile development frameworks such as Ionic, and React Native is a plus.
Again, companies hiring Mobile App Developers care most about your programming skills and experience. To get hired, you’ll likely need to complete a technical skills assessment and share examples of past mobile coding projects.
- Average salary - $122,096
- Top-paying salary - $189,826
14. DevOps Engineer
According to LinkedIn(opens new window), DevOps Engineer is the top seven most in-demand job title. The role combines development and operations. They work with developers to plan, build, deploy and manage code changes. Also, they collaborate with IT and operations teams to make sure that products and systems run smoothly.
Job requirements for DevOps Engineers can vary greatly depending on the organization. However, you’ll need experience with full-stack development and programming languages like Java, C++, SQL, and Python. You’ll also need soft skills such as communication, project management, and leadership to collaborate across teams.
- Average salary - $119,912
- Top-paying salary - $174,526
Other six-figure jobs (outside of tech)
Many tech companies hire for six-figure jobs and have no degree requirements. However, tech companies aren’t the only ones removing degrees from their job requirements. Here are three six-figure jobs that don’t require a degree.
- Real Estate Agent - To become a real estate agent, you’ll have to pass an exam to get a license from the state you practice in.
- Air Traffic Controller - According to BLS(opens new window), the average salary for an air traffic controller is $129,750 per year, with top salaries reaching up to $185,990. No degree requirements exist, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires applicants to hold a NATCA Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative Certificate. Additionally, you must pass the FAA's Air Traffic-Controller Selection Test.
- Medical and Health Services Manager - The average salary for Medical and Health Services Managers is $110,120 per year(opens new window) and can reach up to $180,150. To be a medical and health services manager, you need work experience in healthcare and strong leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills.
Start your six-figure career
It’s possible to land a six-figure job without a college degree. Fields like data science and software engineering have many high-paying open roles. Although more companies are ditching traditional college requirements to fill talent gaps, they still require candidates to demonstrate their skills and experience.
With programs like Multiverse, learning while gaining on-the-job training is becoming easier. Instead of paying for four years of college, you can learn in 12 to 18 months without paying a cent. Multiverse programs are free, and apprentices earn a wage while learning at top companies. To get started, you can submit an apprenticeship application(opens new window) here.