April 11, 2013

Another Somewhat Misleading and Fairly Useless List of Jobs that pay $100,000 Without College

It seems that once or twice a year we see an article that lists jobs that pay $100,000 for someone without a college degree.   Or some similar variation on that topic.

The latest such article I found the other day titled 5 $100k Jobs That Don't Require a Bachelors Degree

Here are the jobs they list :
1. Executive Pastry Chef
2. Master Plumber
3. Licensed Massage Therapist
4. Air Traffic Controller
5. Court Reporter

Sounds like a good list.   All of those jobs can be had without bachelors degree and at least the top 10% in the field make $100,000 or more.

Here's my objections to each job and why I think such a list is fairly misleading and almost useless.

1. Executive Pastry Chef.   - first of all, what is an "Executive" pastry chef?   I know what a pastry chef is but I'm not sure what makes you an Executive Pastry Chef.   The problem with this job is the competition.   You may think if you go to culinary school you can go become an Executive Pastry Chef and end up making 6 figures sooner or later.   Unfortunately you have to rise up to the ranks of chefs.   There are over 2,000,000 cooks in the country and those are all in the same field and you need to be better than them to be a chef.    There are only 100,000 or so chefs and head cooks in the nation and the top 10% of them only make about $74,000.    So to hit the Executive level it seems you would need to climb up to the top tier of the top tier of the profession.   You have to be better than probably 99% of the field of over 2 million people.

2. Master Plumber - This one is not bad really.   Yes a highly skilled plumber can make $100,000.   However the problem is : whats a master plumber? Usually the title master is used in a construction trade to apply to someone who is a level above the journeyman level.   Not all states have these designations and the titles vary from state to state.    In New York the license requires 7 years experience under a master plumber.   Plus you usually have to take a test to pass the license.   This ones actually pretty feasible but you do have to work several years in the trade, pass a test and then also make more than 90% of your peers who do so.  Again this puts you in the top 1% probably.   Furthermore usually plumbers making high salaries are either in expensive cities with strong unions or actually running their own business.

3. Licensed Massage Therapist - Honestly, I just doubt this is a profession where top 10% makes 6 figures.    From the BLS site the top 10% of massage therapists make just $70,000 level.    The BLS site says that most states require you to have a license.   I don't see how the top 10% makes 100k here. 

4. Air Traffic Controller - Yes they can make 6 figures.   Its very hard to get that job.    You have to be under 33 years old, pass medical and psych exams, pass an aptitude test, pass interviewing and then get selected and THEN you have to take training that a lot of people don't get through.   Then you start to make normal wages paying $30,000 to $50,000 range and maybe someday you can work your way up to making 6 figures.   If you can do all that then its probably a good career as long as you can handle the stress of knowing that if you screw up 100's of people will die.

5. Court Reporter - Yes they can maybe make 6 figures.   Very very very few people can transcribe fast enough to do this and make that kind of money.   Can you transcribe 225 words a minute?   Probably not.

While these are all probably good career paths, I don't think that making $100,000 a  year at them is typical or normal at all and in some cases its ridiculously hard to get to that level.



  1. I agree with you! The news stations always make it sound like everything is super easy.

  2. What the heck is a "message" therapist?

  3. Oops! LOL. That was just my awful spelling... sorry, I've fixed it.



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