150k salary per year: Six-figure jobs that don’t need a uni degree in Australia

The value of a university degree is slipping in Australia, with the cap and gown no longer proving to be such a significant financial headstart.

Recent data from the Mackenzie Research Institute found that a decade ago, bachelor’s degree holders enjoyed a 57 per cent income premium compared to their peers, but this figure had shrunk to 53.1 per cent in 2023.

The trend was even more pronounced among those with higher qualifications, with the income advantage for master’s and PhD holders dropping from 93 per cent to 71.5 per cent.

With those figures in mind, many Aussies may be looking for ways to build a lucrative career without a uni degree or the debt that comes with it.

Amanda Augustine, resident career expert at Talent Inc, says none of the following jobs require a uni degree, though some may ask for a trade certificate or diploma. Most of the roles instead rely on industry experience, meaning hopeful candidates may need to work their way up the pay scale.

She recommended Aussies search on jobs boards for their dream role or, more proactively, contact organisations directly with an up-to-date resume and cover letter.

“Provide an overview of your expertise and give a recruiter insight into why you would be best for the job,” Ms Augustine advised, per Yahoo Finance.

“What counts, whether you have a uni degree or not, is the first impression you make with your resume. Is it concise and easy to read? Is it tailored to bring your qualifications for the job to the fore? Does it make you memorable and likeable?

“Remove jargon. Proofread your resume, then check it again for grammar and spelling mistakes. Ask someone you trust or admire in business to review it. Then press send.”

Top 8 highest paying jobs without a degree

  1. Construction managers reported the highest incomes without a university degree in Australia, with an average annual salary of $150,000.
  2. Underground miners were next, earning on average $120,500 per year, while more experienced workers can make up to $170,000. Stats show one-third of mining workers don’t have any formal post-school qualifications, while about half have trade or TAFE qualifications.
  3. Auto electricians with a Certificate III in Automotive Electrical Technology from TAFE can earn an average salary of between $115,000 and $135,000.
  4. Business development managers, who help to identify new business opportunities and improve profits, take home an average of $95,000 to $115,000 per year.
  5. Security managers earn up to $110,000 per year. Successful candidates typically have a relevant Vocational Education and Training (VET) qualification and a Certificate II in Security Operations and/or Certificate IV in Security Management.
  6. Recruitment managers often have a Certificate IV in Human Resource Management or a Diploma of Human Resource Management, but neither is essential to earn an average salary of $115,000.
  7. Ethical hackers, also called penetration testers, legally break into computer systems to find vulnerabilities and thus help organisations to enhance security. They can earn $102,00 year, with a Diploma of Informational Technology (cyber security) a bonus.
  8. Digital marketing managers earn, on average, $101,000 per year. While they often have uni degrees behind them, many digital marketers, especially those in the start-up space, rely on experience in search engine optimisation, marketing database, email, social media and advertising campaigns to secure a six-figure salary.

Earlier this year, the Australian Taxation Office analysed tax data to reveal other roles that pay well but don’t require a uni degree.

The highest paying jobs were for professional sports stars, with male cricketers taking the top spot, earning $208,369 a year on average, followed by footballers on $143,711.

But for Aussies with less-than-pro sporting abilities, there were still a few options.

Air traffic controllers were some of the highest-paid Australians without a degree, earning, on average, $149,580 per year.

Train controllers earned an average salary of $138,633.

Insurance investigators, loss adjusters or risk surveyors earned, on average, $136,914 per year.

Driller, miner or shot firer in the coalmining industry brought home an average salary of $128,486. Those who do blasting work in mines brought in $121,314 per year.

Police detectives made an average salary of $122,591 per year, while police inspectors made $120,874.

Electrical lines workers brought in an average salary of $125,443 per year.

Helicopter pilot earnedanaverage salary of $121,706, while senior officers in the air force brought in $120,384 per year.

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