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The Top Paying Jobs With Little Schooling

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

If you are looking for a high-paying job, you don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to finance an advanced degree from a major university. According to a report from CNN, you can find several occupations, from air traffic controller to real estate agent that can provide you with relatively high salaries.

Air traffic controller

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009 air traffic controllers earned an average of more than $106,000. The major employer is the federal government and, more specifically, the FAA. In 2009, for example, 22,020 of 26,200 air traffic controllers were employed by this agency. Those working in air traffic control enter the field through prior experience with the FAA or after completing a four-year degree or, according to the BLS, successfully completing an aviation training program through the FAA’s Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative. With less than 30,000 positions available, competition is fierce but the industry is projected to grow at a clip of 13 percent through 2018.


To become a police officer, according to the BLS, you’ll need to undergo specialized and rigorous training but higher education is not required to join a police force. Some police officers are recruited directly out of high school while some departments require some college. Leaders in the police force such as captains, chiefs and deputy chiefs, can earn $72,000 to $90,000 as starting salaries. Law enforcement, as an occupation, employed 883,600 in 2008 and is projected to grow at 10 percent.

Real Estate

According to the BLS, real estate agents can earn a wide range of salaries with little education required. In 2009, for example, the average salary of a real estate agent was $40,150 but those with the highest salaries, in the top 10 percentile, earned more than $101,000. The real estate industry was hit hard by the recession near the end of the decade, but still has a projected growth rate of 14 percent through 2018. While real estate agents need licensing and training, you can get hired directly out of high school.

Dental hygienist

Dental hygienists need a high school diploma and either certification or an associate’s degree from an accredited dental hygiene program but can earn an above-average wage. According to the BLS, in 2009, the average wage of a dental hygienist was $66,570. Dental hygiene is also a growing field with a 36 percent growth rate expected through 2018.