High-paid jobs anyone could do(Image: Anthony Devlin - PA)

If you've got ambitions to strike it rich, then chances are you won't have set your sights on a career as a cleaner or a bus driver. Unless you plan to wind up owning the company, that is.

With GPs, lawyers and accountants consistently topping the league tables of the best-paid jobs, the "professions" are where most high-achievers head. However, there are some surprisingly high earners who don't have any academic qualifications to their name, yet whose take-home pay is enough to make a chartered accountant wish they'd concentrated less on the numbers and more on what's going on in the real world.

The fact is that while some graduates sneer at having to take a job that they could have done straight from school, with no qualifications at all, those who did just that - left school and went straight to work - could very well already be earning more than you. Much more.

And they're not all urban myths. For every barman who tells you they've been offered big bucks to work the bar at a strip joint or some other suitably exotic location, while they resolutely stay put at their grotty little boozer, there really are people earning big bucks from surprisingly lucrative jobs.

These are typically - and rather unkindly - referred to as "unskilled" jobs. But that's presumably just so people who are better-qualified, but substantially less well-paid can sleep at night. Because let's be honest, everything requires some sort of skill. Even taking your clothes off - which brings me to the first of our top-paying unskilled jobs.

Dance rings around the opposition
It may not be the sort of job your careers adviser, or your parents for that matter, would be likely to suggest, but lap dancers can - and do - earn a small fortune.

Peter Stringfellow, who claims to have brought lap dancing to London, says dancers at his eponymous club can earn £1,000 a night. With top earners taking home up to £200,000 a year, cash-in-hand, there is clearly serious money to be made from taking your clothes off.

And most surprising of all is that this means that top-earning lap dancers are in the same salary bracket as RAF pilots. That's according to a new study which shows that lap lancers take home about the same as a pilot and farmers are now no better paid than staff who work on the checkout in their local supermarket. It's an interesting turnaround. But lap dancers aren't the only surprise high-earners.

A small fortune on tap
One group of people who are seen as typical under-achievers academically are currently having the last laugh. Plumbers may be the sort of boys who left school at 16 with their teachers shaking their heads in dismay, but they're earning a darned sight more than their teachers now. Word has it that £70,000 a year is the norm.

The Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering says you can forget stories of plumbers earning £70,000 to £120,000 a year, and most "only" earn between £30,000 and £40,000. But, there is a big "but" attached. The College of North-East London says that its graduates can earn as much as £90 an hour in central London.

And, with a distinct shortage of plumbers and the fact that most are self-employed (for that, read cash-in-hand earners) and you can see how a plumber's potential earnings can be much, much higher.

And with KPMG LLP and the Construction Skills Network forecasting that demand for construction will increase significantly over the next five years, the money is there for the taking, for anyone with the appropriate skills. And it's not just plumbers who are in the money.

According to figures from the Construction Skills Network, in addition to the ongoing repair and maintenance work and general construction projects already in existence, there are more than 7,500 new projects anticipated - worth a total value of nearly £190 billion from 2007 until the end of 2012. Nice work if you can get it.

Profit drive
Then there's your average cabbie. One driver I spoke to said it's not unrealistic for a black taxi driver to take home at least £60,000 a year, although admittedly getting to grips with exactly how much your average cabbie earns is notoriously difficult.

As "Frank" put it: "Are you asking what gets reported to the tax man or what we really earn? The two are somewhat different - as with all cash businesses." But you can bet your bottom dollar that it's a nice little earner.

Gamble on a fortune
Perhaps the most potentially lucrative job to fall into the dubiously-titled unskilled category is the professional poker player.

This may be the most risky and require the most skill to pull it off, but anyone who likes a flutter could go the whole hog, turn professional and make millions.

As I said though, it is also the riskiest way to strike it rich, because if it goes wrong it can go very wrong indeed. And you could end up losing everything, literally on the turn of a card.

So, there you have it. Four jobs that can earn you serious money.

If nothing else, it's food for thought. And it's always good to know that there are other things you could be doing as you edge slowly up the greasy pole to that oh-so-coveted £40,000-a-year managerial position.

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