Money may not buy happiness, but it will buy your food, pay your mortgage, and finance your vacation – things that can help you find your own happiness. It’s been proven time and again that when your personal finances are in good shape, your overall stress levels decrease.
In most of the United States, an income around $100,000 is more than enough to give you (and your family) financial peace of mind.
Although many high-paying jobs require significant investment in education and many years of experience, you don’t always need to spend a decade working your way up to reach that six-figure milestone. Here’s a look at seven jobs you could be doing in just a few years that can provide you with a six-figure income.
1. Computer programmer
This is a huge category of career options that covers a variety of skills and roles, such as software developer, database manager, or web developer. The type of programming you do – or, more specifically, the programming languages you master – will impact how much money you can make. That said, it’s common to find skilled programmers earning six figures or more.
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Some employers might prefer programmers with bachelor’s degrees in computer science, but skilled developers can often bypass that requirement. Resources for learning various types of programming are plentiful. Online courses and programming “boot camps” can give you marketable skills in mere months.
2. Air traffic controller
Air traffic controllers are responsible for helping pilots (and their planes) safely take off and land at airports, so this role is vital to the operation of any airport. Luckily, the pay is commensurate with that importance: According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the median salary for an air traffic control specialist is over $125,000.
You’ll need to be 30 or younger to get a job as an air traffic controller with the FAA. You’ll also need to have one of the following:
- Three years of progressive work experience
- A bachelor’s degree
- A combination of post-secondary education and work experience equaling three years
The FAA gives preferential consideration to applicants with aviation degrees from a Collegiate Training Initiative school.
3. Commercial truck driver
Truck drivers are the blood cells of commerce, funneling needed supplies all over the country (and the world). A good salary for a commercial truck driver is around $65,000, but some industries and areas may pay more. If you want to hit the six-figure range, you’ll likely need to purchase your own truck and become an owner-operator.
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Becoming a commercial truck driver requires a high school degree (or GED), and a commercial driver’s license (CDL). If you’re going to specialize, you may need additional training or certification. While you’ll definitely want some training before trying to get your CDL – driving a 26,000-pound vehicle on city streets isn’t a simple skill – training can be completed in as little as a few months.
4. Digital marketer
If you live and breathe the internet, then digital marketing could be a no-brainer. The top-end digital marketers easily bring in more than $100,000 a year, and you can do the job either working for a large company or by starting your own.
The type of training you need depends on the type of digital marketing you want to do, but moderate to expert level skills in social media and search engine optimization can go a long way. You can take numerous online courses to get certifications for several useful skills. Plus, many of these classes are free or inexpensive, and they can often be completed in weeks or a few months.
5. Construction manager
As the bosses of construction sites, construction managers are responsible for keeping projects on track and on budget. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for a construction manager is $107,260, but salaries tend to range from around $97,000 to $130,000 or more, depending on the type of construction (commercial vs. residential, for example) and your experience.
You’ll definitely need some education for these jobs, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be a four-year degree. Many community colleges and vocational schools offer two-year programs in construction management that you can pair with some on-site experience.
6. Transportation inspector
If it flies, drives, or floats, chances are good someone has to inspect it before it can head out. And, in many industries, those vehicles will be inspected regularly while in use. The median salary for a transportation inspector is around $81,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and you might make it into the six figures with a little time and experience.
The amount and type of training you need varies based on the specific role and industry, but you’ll typically need a two-year degree or advanced certification to work as a transportation inspector. Alternatively, you could start out in a lower-level job, such as mechanic, and work your way up.
7. Sales manager
Like it or not, the wheels of capitalism are turned by sales. And a quality sales manager is worth their weight in rhodium (which currently sells for roughly 10 times as much as gold). Most folks in sales roles earn the bulk of their income through commissions, so it may not always be the steadiest or most reliable job – but the potential for six figures is huge in many areas.
Most industries need sales managers, so you could work in almost any field that piques your interest. The majority of your sales training will likely come from on-the-job experience, though you might pick up some of the basics through an online course or training seminar.
Train your way to financial security
There are many paths to success. Sometimes, those paths include a decade of education and a PhD. But you can also find six-figure financial security with other types of training that won’t take nearly that long. Use this list as a jumping-off point to explore ways to take your income potential to new heights.
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.
The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.
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