Higher education and higher income often go hand in hand, but a college diploma certainly isn't the only ticket to the gravy train. Just ask Microsoft co-founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen. These two college dropouts are now among the wealthiest people in the United States, with an estimated combined net worth of $72 billion.
They have plenty of company. Five of the six richest self-made billionaires on Forbes magazine's list of the nation's wealthiest people didn't finish college.
Exceptional performers or entrepreneurs in nearly any industry can command enormous salaries. The following jobs, however, consistently boast high pay, with nationwide average salaries far above the norm -- and none require a degree.
Average Salary: $105,820
The job: Organizing and controlling the flow of airplanes into and out of an airport.
How to get it: You may not need a college degree, but getting hired as an air traffic controller isn't easy. Candidates need four years of college and/or three years of work experience before undergoing pre-employment testing. Once they make the cut, they must complete the FAA Academy and an additional training program before starting work.
Average Salary: $76,930
The job: Helping clients sell their residential property.
How to get it: To obtain a broker's license, candidates need 60 to 90 hours of formal classroom training, and one to three years of real estate sales experience.
Average Salary: $75,130
The job: Working out the logistics for transportation firms, including mapping out the best routes and estimating demand.
How to get it: Experience driving a truck or working in transportation sales is the most common route to this occupation. Just over half of transportation managers have some college experience, but less than one-quarter completed a bachelor's degree.
Average Salary: $73,670
The job: Hiring, training, supervising and scheduling the work of sales workers, including cashiers and customer service representatives.
How to get it: Many supervisors start out on the sales floor and work their way up the organization. Good conversational skills, problem-solving ability and computer literacy are crucial.
Average Salary: $66,900
The job: Running the machinery at nuclear reactors.
How to get it: Operating a nuclear power reactor requires extensive training by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which includes a mix of classroom work and on-the-job instruction. To obtain a license, candidates must pass an annual practical exam and may be subjected to drug screenings.
Average Salary: $65,920
The job: Creating game policies and managing the day-to-day responsibilities at a casino.
How to get it: Work experience is the primary requirement. Many gaming managers start out as dealers or other casino floor workers.
Average Salary: $59,510
The job: Controlling the flow of electricity through lines to industrial plants or substations.
How to get it: A high school diploma is usually required, and candidates undergo extensive on-the-job training and classroom instruction.
The job: Gathering facts and evidence to help solve crimes.
How to get it: Detectives usually begin as police officers and get promoted to detective after a probationary period that ranges from six months to three years.
The job: Installing, repairing and maintaining elevators and escalators.
How to get it: Most new repairers apply through the local chapter of the International Union of Elevator Constructors. To qualify for an apprenticeship, candidates must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, pass an aptitude test and be in good physical shape.
10. Ship Engineer
The job: Operating and maintaining machinery on a ship, including propulsion engines, generators and pumps.
How to get it: Most water transportation occupations require a license from the U.S. Coast Guard. Applicants must accumulate a certain number of hours at sea and pass a written exam, physical exam, drug screening and National Driver Register Check to be considered.