You've probably been told all of your life that if you want to make it big in the world, you need a college degree. While that's true most of the time, it turns out that some of the most high-paying jobs don't actually require a degree, and this is especially true for jobs in the technology industry.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those in the technology field make $91,000 per year on average. Though it's not millionaire status, that kind of income makes for a pretty comfortable lifestyle. Perhaps that's why when you think of jobs in the tech industry, you likely think of Ivy League grads that seemed born to work hard and make it big.
However, that's not always the case, and the number of those who don't have a college degree and land a job, though rare, is rising all the time. What is important to remember about tech jobs is that you don't have to work in IT or related fields. Technology is a staple of how so many positions operate today that working a tech-related job can look a whole lot different than it did a decade ago.
Here are several high-tech, well-paying jobs that don't require a college degree.
1. Digital marketer
Digital marketers are known for making great money, even without a bachelor's degree. In digital marketing, a degree can provide an excellent boost in understanding the needs and wants of an audience. However, those skills can also be learned elsewhere, particularly for those looking to capitalize on SEO techniques.
By gaining a reputable clientele and showing consistent results through skills gained from life experiences, anyone with a knack for web development and marketing can make an average of $141,000 per year in a management role.
2. Computer software engineer
Anyone you talk to in a formal setting will most likely tell you that you need a bachelor's degree to make $100,000 per year as a computer programmer, but the truth is that many jobs require only an associate's degree or a certificate from a technical training school.
With a growth rate of 22%, these jobs are often unfilled, and employers will often waive your educational qualifications if you know what you're doing.
3. Computer system analyst
To put it simply, a computer system analyst studies data and computer systems to help them operate more efficiently. Though it can certainly help to have completed a four-year program, a degree in computer system analysis isn't always required. The average annual wage is about $93,000, and you can jump right in with little to no work experience.
Anyone with a thorough understanding of how computer systems operate has a chance of getting this high-profile position, like Edward Snowden, a former CIA and NSA analyst, did with just a GED.
4. Entertainment manager
Producers, directors and entertainment managers have an average salary of $76,000 per year, with a small percentage making nearly $200,000 per year. You can get a degree before entering this occupation of sound and visual production, but many of the most successful people do not have any formal education beyond high school.
For example, Michael Palance, actor and producer of the talent show My Hollywood, began his professional career as a teen actor in New York. Without any formal education, he has risen to become a very successful entertainment manager.
5. Web development
If you have a knack for coding and recognizing what kinds of websites audiences like, you could easily land a job in web development. According to career-building company EMSI, just about half of all web developers do not hold a degree. The web development market is so hungry for new, energetic workers that it can't fill all of the positions with web development graduates.
Instead, they often offer short certification courses and on-the-job training for those who show a high proficiency in computer programming and graphic design. Web developers today make an average of $77,000 per year.
6. Telecommunications installer/repairer
Though it's not the highest-paying job, you could still live a comfortable life as a telecommunications equipment installer and repairer, and it's one of the highest-paying jobs for anyone without a college degree. At a median salary of $61,000 a year, many could skip the college debt experience and jump straight to leading an established lifestyle.
7. Computer support specialist
With no need for formal education, those with a knack for computer software and equipment can find themselves making $55,000 per year. With a 9% growth rate, the demand for computer support specialists is rising all the time. It's a pretty comfortable job as well. Many specialists can work from home and choose their own hours.
8. Aerospace technician
If you are interested in the aerospace field, working as an aerospace technician may be just what you're looking for. Aerospace technicians are responsible for maintaining and operating the equipment used in spacecraft and aircraft production. As is the case in many industries, this is an increasingly computer-based role, rather than physical or mechanical.
Though the job does not require a bachelor's degree, many employees take on vocational training or earn an associate's degree to further their knowledge. Aerospace technicians can enjoy a comfortable average salary of approximately $67,000 per year.
The tech industry is an incredibly lucrative market, whatever your level of education. Though these examples show that you don't always need a college degree to make your way in the world, it's essential to recognize that these are the exceptions to the rule. In reality, a college education is the surest way to a comfortable life, even with the excess debt and the poor economy.
Larry Alton contributed to the writing and research in this article.