One of the many lessons young adults are taught is that a college degree is the key to success and financial security. College graduates earn approximately $900,000 more than someone with just a high school diploma over their working life. But, for many, the idea of pursuing a degree is out of the question. The price of a college education has nearly tripled over the past 30 years. And money mistakes made while chasing a degree can lead to lifelong debt. If you can’t attend college or don’t have a bachelor’s degree and you’re hoping to land a high-paying job, there are plenty of opportunities in various industries out there for you. This role, in particular, is the highest paying of the bunch.
Being an air traffic controller pays six figures and doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree. If you’ve ever taken a flight from one destination to another, the air traffic controller was one of the key individuals who guaranteed you took off and landed safely. Air traffic controllers work every minute of every day to guide pilots before, during and after their flights. They also help to maintain a safe distance between the aircraft both on and above ground. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, air traffic controllers earned a median annual wage of $124,540 in 2018, with the average worker earning approximately $59.87 an hour.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there are only 14,000 air traffic control specialists in the nation. The work is serious, and may be stressful as it requires constant concentration — there is no margin of error with lives at stake. A bachelor’s degree is not necessary to land this job, but applicants must be age 30 or over, pass a medical exam, a security investigation, an FAA air traffic pre-employment test and have at least three years of experience in the field. The FAA also provides associate’s degrees to those who complete the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative program. The program — a partnership the FAA has with educational institutions — provides students with a two-year aviation degree in fields like air traffic control.
There are plenty of people who work diligently to ensure the 2.7 million individuals who take to the sky each day are safe, and air traffic controllers are some of the most important and some of the highest-paid. This is one of many high paying job that doesn't require a bachelor's degree.