Jobs You Never Knew Paid More Than $100,000

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We all dream of having a better job one day. Whether that means better hours, more benefits or a higher salary, you may think the dream is unattainable, but you might be very wrong.

Would it surprise you to learn a lot of jobs out there pay upwards of $100,000 a year, without requiring years of schooling or decades of experience? You just have to know where to look. Whether you’re planning your next career move or simply daydreaming for the future, these high-paying jobs can provide some inspiration.

Technical Writer

As with any job, working as a technical writer requires certain qualifications. A bachelor’s degree in English, journalism or a related field is generally necessary, along with experience interpreting data and user interfacing. Compared to other high-paying jobs, these requirements are minimal, yet very specific.

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The most important factors are your attention to detail and your ability to comprehend very complicated information. After all, it’s the technical writer’s job to make things clear for people who are not experts. Technical writers create textbooks, how-to’s and manuals, among other things. If you’re someone who likes to write and you have a tech-oriented brain, it could be the perfect job.

Mean Annual Income: $67,280

Top 10%: $102,250

Elevator Repair and Installation

The qualification that really matters in this line of work is experience — experience working with a mentor, on the job and with the necessary tools. In terms of school, you really only need your high school diploma or GED, although a degree in engineering would certainly improve your prospects.

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This particular job is so lucrative because there are elevators and escalators almost everywhere these days and not that many experts to work on them. That means you won’t encounter a shortage of work, but be prepared to crawl into those elevator shafts! If you’re claustrophobic, you might want to cross this one off the list.

Mean Annual Income: $73,560

Top 10%: $105,750

Database Administrator

Database administrators work with institutions or large companies to essentially manage all their important information. This includes critical elements like employee payroll, financial records and data organization. Needless to say, you have to be pretty computer savvy to do this job.

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General qualifications for this role include a computer science or information technology degree, a couple of years of work experience and knowledge of web design and specialty platforms like QuickBooks. This job is for people who have a knack for technology and can learn new programs and systems in no time.

Mean Annual Income: $77,350

Top 10%: $108,500

Animator or Multimedia Artist

Whoever said that art doesn’t pay? A lot of good paying jobs exist for artists who are willing to focus their creative energy on graphic and multimedia art, such as animation and special effects. Many film and TV production companies need this type of talent, and people who are good with a pencil and sketch pad can often transfer these skills to computers.

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To get this job, you will need to have an impressive portfolio to show potential employers. Helpful additions include a degree in graphic design and work experience, but a great portfolio can open many doors without these details. For creative types, it’s a dream profession.

Mean Annual Income: $68,060

Top 10%: $109,370

Transportation Inspector

To become a transportation inspector, you have to acquire a lot of certifications. The exact ones vary by state and pertain mostly to safety regulations, legal regulations and details for conducting good inspections.

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Transportation inspection is no joke — the safety of the public depends on it. Your role may require you to supervise road construction, manage financials for a project and, of course, conduct safety checks. That means you can expect some physical labor to go along with all the various office duties.

Mean Annual Income: $65,770

Top 10%: $110,210

Home Economics Teacher

This is a job that will require a few years of preparation. As with any certified teaching position, you must have a bachelor’s degree, along with the appropriate licensing and certifications.

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The qualifications are more than reasonable when you consider that home economics teachers prepare students in a way that most classes do not. They provide practical, immediate skills that are needed after graduation. Topics include everything from filing tax returns and budgeting money to purchasing insurance and planning meals. They teach truly essential skills for success.

Mean Annual Income: $68,080

Top 10%: $110,650

Ranching, Farming, Agricultural Management

These jobs are for individuals who like to work with their hands. Farmers and ranchers spend most of their time outside in the sun, snow and rain, surrounded by dirt and animals. For a lot of people, this sounds like a nightmare, but for others, it’s a dream come true.

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Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s simple manual labor. It’s a lot of work, and you need extensive knowledge of crops, animals and soil to do it successfully. The good news? You don’t have to go to school for this one (although you could). You just need your diploma or GED and some solid experience or someone willing to teach you.

Mean Annual Income: $70,010

Top 10%: $112,150

Insurance Sales Agent

To become an insurance sales agent, you generally need a degree in communications or a related field, the right licensing for your state and experience that supports your ability to sell and interact with people. Why? Because sales agents are always working directly with clients.

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To be good at this job, you must be able to make clients feel comfortable and trust you. After all, why else would they trust you with important financial matters? It’s your job to handle their personal business with their best interests at heart. Do it well, and you can also make bonuses.

Mean Annual Income: $62,970

Top 10%: $115,300

Loan Officer

Loans can either make people very happy or very, very upset. That means you need to be able to handle customers at their worst to do this job. As a loan officer, it’s your job to decide who gets loans and at what rates, and you can’t always say yes. It’s good to have an analytical mind for this position.

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If you studied business, economics or finance, you’re already halfway there. With a few years of experience and the correct certification, you could be well on your way to making more than $100,000 a year. It looks like handling money pays off!

Mean Annual Income: $67,960

Top 10%: $115,450

Author or Writer

If you want to turn your writing into a career, it’s a good idea to study journalism, English, communications or a related field. Most of all, you need impressive writing samples and the ability to conduct great research to get started. Then, don’t forget about connecting with readers!

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The exact skills you need also depend on what niche you want to pursue: speechwriting, novel writing, copywriting, content development, playwriting and something else. The choices are (almost) endless. It’s certainly a competitive field, but it can be lucrative for those who put in the work. But isn’t that true for most professions?

Mean Annual Income: $68,060

Top 10%: $115,740

Gaming Manager

This probably seems like too much fun to be a real job, but being a gaming manager isn’t as easy as it sounds. You must be able to read the crowd and encourage fun while still enforcing the rules. With a lot of money on the table, plenty of people are always looking for ways to cheat. If you don’t stay sharp, they could slip some tricks past you.

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A degree isn’t required, although one in management or hospitality might help you get started. You do need something called a “gaming school certification” to work in this field.

Mean Annual Income: $74,480

Top 10%: $116,840

Research Veterinarian

As you may have guessed, this job actually requires some serious schooling. Not only will you need a bachelor’s degree, but you will also need a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. Top it off with a passing grade on some examinations, and you’re good to go!

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If you were hoping to cuddle with animals all day, stick to working as a traditional vet. As a research veterinarian, you are in the lab more than the vet’s office, testing new products and medicines. In the end, the years of studying will pay off if your life goal is to help all animals.

Mean Annual Income: $68,170

Top 10%: $117,150

Water Vessel Team

Ever dreamed of living on a boat — and getting paid for it? Turns out, you could make this happen! All you need are some transportation and merchant credentials, at least a year of training and experience navigating the seas.

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Whether your position is pilot, captain or mate, essential duties always include maintaining the safety of everyone on board and making sure the boat doesn’t sink. Sound simple? It takes a lot of hard work, but the job comes with a beautiful view. What could be better than waking up on the ocean every day?

Mean Annual Income: $71,760

Top 10%: $119,280

Criminal Investigator or Detective

If you love mystery and crime novels, it might be hard to believe all those fictional P.I.’s have jobs that are actually real. To work in this field, you need a degree in criminal justice, related work experience and proper licensing. Of course, a sharp eye for clues is also essential.

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Many investigators are employed by large businesses, the government or attorneys, but sometimes they work independently for hire. It may be an exciting life, but it’s also dangerous and unbelievably difficult. After all, they aren’t part of the police force and have to dig up information legally, just like any other citizen.

Mean Annual Income: $73,010

Top 10%: $119,320

Makeup Artist

Like any artist, the most important part of a makeup artist’s resume is the portfolio. Without impressive examples of past work, no one will hire you. These days, a portfolio is pretty much synonymous with an Instagram or YouTube account. If you’re serious about doing makeup, get the camera ready before you start.

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Other qualifications include a cosmetology license, knowledge of current trends and techniques and the physical ability to stand and bend around your client for hours on end. If you do the job well, the paycheck could be quite a hefty one.

Mean Annual Income: $63,710

Top 10%: $120,050

Music, Drama or Art Teacher

Unless you only give private lessons, you will need a bachelor’s degree in the corresponding subject for this profession, along with a teaching certificate. It’s probably a good idea to like working with kids, although you can also find jobs teaching adults. Either way, teaching requires patience and enthusiasm, which are not characteristics everyone has.

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An art, music or drama class is often where creative passions begin for children and can have a lasting impact on their lives. You also tend to have more freedom with your classes than other teachers do.

Mean Annual Income: $72,660

Top 10%: $124,880

Public Relations Manager

Working in PR requires a high level of public speaking ability and impeccable presentation skills. A bachelor’s degree is also a must, along with examples of past campaigns that have been successful. As a public relations manager, you spend a lot of time managing and supervising others, so excellent people skills are required.

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Get ready to be the person everyone goes to in a time of crisis. It can be a stressful position, but that’s why it pays so well. You can de-stress in style at the end of the day with that salary.

Mean Annual Income: $90,410

Top 10%: $128,101

Health, Environment or Safety Engineering Manager

With a mean income above $100,000, this job is getting up there in terms of good pay. You must have a bachelor’s degree, several years of management experience and extensive knowledge in the specific field. You can generally add a few certifications to that as well, depending on the exact field.

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Safety is your responsibility in this role, more than anything else. You will need to anticipate emergencies before they happen, ensure safety procedures are always up to date and investigate when anything goes wrong. These responsibilities are stressful but worth it when you deposit that paycheck each month.

Mean Annual Income: $109,946

Top 10%: $136,324

Video or Film Editor

A bachelor’s degree is a good place to start when it comes to a job in video editing, along with certifications in software like Adobe Premiere Pro, Illustrator and Photoshop. You must also be able to work well with others and take instruction from project directors, even if it goes against your vision.

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Will all the filming to do, plus compiling and editing the footage, this is a time-consuming job that often involves difficult deadlines. If you’re not prepared to stay up all night to meet a deadline from time to time, you should probably look elsewhere.

Mean Annual Income: $66,690

Top 10%: $126,250

Elementary or Secondary Education Administrator

Any type of job in education can be a tough one. Working with children is never easy, after all. In education administration, however, you get to put a bit of distance between you and the screaming, biting and misbehaving, while still having the power to impact children’s lives for the better.

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Qualifications include a master’s degree in a field related to education, five to 10 years of experience as a teacher and a completed special certificate. If you have a knack for event planning, that will come in handy as well. Administrators often plan fundraising and other school events.

Mean Annual Income: $90,200

Top 10%: $128,660

Mediator, Arbitrator or Conciliator

All three of these jobs deal with conflict and conflict resolution. No matter if your exact job title is mediator, arbitrator or conciliator, you must be able to look at a problem with a critical eye, have high emotional intelligence and not be afraid to deal with distraught individuals.

Photo Courtesy: Margo Wright/Tinker Air Force Base

Lots of big companies — especially in insurance, loans and law — keep someone in one of these positions full time. To get this job, you will need a degree in communication, business administration, psychology or a related field, depending on where you want to work.

Mean Annual Income: $75,550

Top 10%: $137,570

Library Services Director

If you think working in a library means you get to read books all day long, you might be in for some disappointment. As a library services director, you have the responsibility of overseeing staff and customers, managing day-to-day functions of the library and making sure your services are all up to date.

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It’s not easy to get this job. You need a bachelor’s degree — sometimes a master’s degree — and several years of library experience. That’s just to get started. Of course, if you love books, being constantly surrounded by them might make it worth it.

Mean Annual Income: $108,771

Top 10%: $139,523

Airline Captain or Pilot

Yes, this job pays well — for good reason. Airline pilots and captains are responsible for the safety of all the passengers on a flight, and a lot goes into ensuring a smooth flight. You must determine appropriate speeds and routes and be constantly aware of flight rules and regulations.

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This position is only available to individuals with an Airline Transport Pilot License and 5,000 hours of flight experience or 15 years of work experience. Only then can you be named pilot, and only then will you take home the significant pay raise.

Mean Annual Income: $128,063

Top 10%: $139,573

Funeral Services Manager

Jobs related to death and funerals have such a creepy reputation that people often don’t realize just how well they pay. As a funeral services manager, you are the one supporting families in their time of grief, filing the necessary paperwork and organizing the desired funeral for the deceased.

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At the least, you must complete the American Board of Funeral Service Education program and have some years of experience working in a funeral-related setting. An associate degree is also helpful. If care and compassion come easily to you, you might want to give it some consideration.

Mean Annual Income: $79,930

Top 10%: $140,740


If space and the stars have always fascinated you, consider pursuing a career as an astronomer. It might sound a little impractical — what does an astronomer actually do? — but if you earn a Ph.D., publish your own work and get some experience under your belt, it’s a position that allows you to explore the limits of your imagination (to infinity and beyond, perhaps?).

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Astronomers design theories about the world around them, conduct studies and write papers on these subjects. It’s a hard road to get this job, but it’s the stuff of science-fiction legend once you get there.

Mean Annual Income: $93,340

Top 10%: $155,480

Broadcast News Analyst

Rather than do the footwork to get the story, a broadcast news analyst simply presents the story to the public. It’s not as easy as it sounds, however. You’ve got to have incredibly honed public speaking skills, the ability to think on your feet should something go wrong during a live broadcast and a way with words that allows viewers to understand you.

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A bachelor’s degree, two years of experience, familiarity with multimedia and a willingness to travel are the key qualifications for this job. Be ready to get those teeth whitened too. Your face will be in the spotlight quite often.

Mean Annual Income: $76,370

Top 10%: $159,530

Art Director

If an artist is the one who creates inspiring artwork, then the art director is the one who makes that artwork available to the world. This means designing showings that are in line with the creator’s vision, getting publicity for an event and handling every detail within the limits of a project budget.

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For this, you will need a bachelor’s degree, at least five years of management experience and your own portfolio with examples of your showings. If you are a lover of art and can juggle lots of moving pieces, this just might be the profession for you.

Mean Annual Income: $95,500

Top 10%: $166,620

Human Resources Manager

If you want to be a human resources manager, you need to get a bachelor’s degree, get the appropriate human resource certifications and then get some experience. In this role, you do a little bit of everything, from interviewing job candidates and coordinating benefit plans to resolving conflicts and issues between employees. It’s a lot of responsibility, but it pays very well.

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If you’re someone who has a lot of energy and the ability to get things done, this is a great career field. You’ll go home every day knowing you truly earned your salary. As with most careers, a few years of practice will make your job seem like second nature.

Mean Annual Income: $108,600

Top 10%: $169,310

Software Architect

Wowza! Now that’s one impressive average salary. Software developers make a lot of money because they know how to do something that most people don’t understand. They create new software for clients according to specific goals and then test the software to make sure it works correctly. To do it well, you have to have some good programming chops, or your software will be full of issues.

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You need to study systems engineering, computer science or another similar subject to work in this field. This includes learning how to code, which is one of the coolest (and hardest) things to do.

Mean Annual Income: $129,148

Top 10%: $175,563


If you’re a science nerd who likes the idea of splitting your time between a lab and the great outdoors, consider a career as a geophysicist. This esteemed profession involves conducting experiments, testing and measuring land features, and mapping out the areas in question.

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Get ready to study, however, as a bachelor’s degree and often a master’s degree are generally required along with the correct licensing. It’s a job that can also call for travel, so be prepared for unexpected trips. Only choose this job if geology and physics truly interest you, of course.

Mean Annual Income: $91,763

Top 10%: $183,703