The Highest-Paying Jobs Without a Degree To Start Earning Without Student Debt was written by JayDee Vykokal and originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks. JayDee is a mom, writer, and Doctor of Physical Therapy. She’s passionate about helping women live their best lives through community and education. Outside of her work as a health and mom blogger, she loves traveling the world and exploring the great outdoors with her family. It has been republished with permission. Please note that contributing opinions are that of the author. They are not always in strict alignment with my own opinions. –Joe.
You're very mistaken if you think you need a college degree from an ivy league university to make the big bucks. Plenty of jobs pay well and require no degree whatsoever.
Many jobs require on-the-job training or certification rather than years of education (and student loan debt). They can provide financial stability and career advancement opportunities with dedication and hard work, just like any other career. This article will explore some of the highest-paying jobs without a college degree.
What Is Considered a “High-paying” Job?
If you've Googled “high-paying jobs without a degree,” you've likely seen lists with six-figure incomes and other lofty figures. But it's important to note that these salaries are often the outliers, not the norm.
That said, plenty of jobs are available that pay well above average wages for their industry. When I looked at this topic myself, I was surprised that most of the jobs cited as “high-paying” started as low as $30,000 per year for an annual salary. Additionally, most had an average salary of around $50,00 and a cap close to $75,000 annually.
The Highest-paying Jobs Without a Degree
This extensive list of jobs you can get without a bachelor's degree is based on data from sources like the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It's not exhaustive but should still give you a good idea of jobs that don't require a university education.
Of course, factors like experience level and the state you live in also play a significant role in income potential. If one of these career paths below strikes your interest, research the job and look into how to get involved in each career path.
Here is a list of some of the highest-paying jobs without a degree:
- Patrol Officer: Patrol officers are responsible for maintaining law and order by patrolling designated areas and responding to calls for assistance.
- Executive Assistant: Executive assistants provide administrative support to high-level executives.
- Real Estate Agent: Real estate agents help people buy, sell, and rent properties.
- Electrician: Electricians install and repair electrical systems in homes, businesses, and other buildings.
- Flight Attendant: Flight attendants ensure the comfort and safety of airline passengers.
- Construction Manager: Construction managers oversee the planning and implementation of construction projects.
- Web Developer: Web developers design and develop websites to meet client needs or company objectives.
- HVAC Technician: HVAC technicians install, repair, and maintain heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
- Plumber: Plumbers install pipes to transport water or gas in residential or commercial buildings.
- Diesel Mechanic: Diesel mechanics inspect and diagnose problems with diesel engines and repair or replace faulty parts.
- Medical Billing Specialist: Medical billing specialists process insurance claims for services provided by professionals or facilities in the medical field.
- Solar Installer: Installers assemble, install, and maintain solar panel systems.
- Heavy Equipment Operator: Heavy equipment operators operate large machines such as bulldozers, tractors, and cranes.
- Truck Driver: Truck drivers transport goods by operating commercial vehicles such as semis or delivery vans.
- Sales Representative: Sales representatives sell products or services to customers and businesses.
- Carpenter: Carpenters build, install, and repair structures from wood and other materials.
- Security Guard: Security guards protect property from vandalism, theft, or criminal activity.
- Sound Engineering Technician: Sound engineering technicians work with sound equipment for recording studios, film projects, and live events.
- Hearing Aid Specialist: Hearing aid specialists help fit and adjust hearing aids to meet the needs of their clients.
- Cosmetologist: Cosmetologists provide aesthetic services such as haircuts, styling, and makeup application.
- Brickmason and Blockmason: Masons construct walls, walkways, and other structures with bricks, stone blocks, cinder blocks, and other materials.
- Structural Iron and Steelworker: Structural iron and steelworkers erect beams and columns to form the framework of buildings.
- Commercial Pilots: An airline pilot needs a commercial pilot's license to operate aircraft to transport passengers or cargo.
- Software Developer: A computer programmer designs, creates, and maintains computer software.
- Business Manager: Business managers handle a company's or organization's daily operations. Many companies care more about the experience than education for becoming a manager.
- First-Line Supervisor: First-line supervisors lead and coordinate employees across various industries.
- Specialized Repair: Learning how to repair specific equipment and machinery, such as elevators, wind turbines, and escalators.
- Postmasters and Mail Superintendents (USPS, UPS, FedEx, etc.): Postmasters and mail superintendents are responsible for distributing mail, packages, and other materials within a given area.
- Transportation Inspectors: Individuals inspect vehicles to ensure they meet safety and operational standards.
- Petroleum Pump System or Refinery Operators: Pump system operators and gas plant operators control pumps, valves, and other production equipment to extract oil or gas from wells.
- Power Plant Operators: Power plant operators control the machines that generate electricity in power plants.
- Signal and Track Switch Repairers (train): Signal and track switch repairers maintain and repair the signaling systems and tracks of railroad networks.
- Lighting Technicians and Media and Communication Equipment Workers: Lighting technicians and media and communication equipment workers set up, maintain, and operate audio, video, projection, and lighting systems in various settings, such as concert halls and theaters.
- Air Traffic Controller: Air traffic controllers monitor aircraft movement on runways and in the air to ensure the safe arrival of passengers at their destinations.
- Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers: Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers oversee raising crops and livestock on farms.
- Subway and Streetcar Operators: Subway and streetcar operators drive vehicles that transport passengers in subway systems or city streets.
- Auto Insurance Appraisers: Auto insurance appraisers examine damaged vehicles to evaluate the cost of repairs.
- Athletes and Sports Competitors: These competitors participate in professional or amateur sporting events.
- Court Reporters and Simultaneous Captioners: Court reporters and captioners capture spoken conversations in court proceedings, lectures, or other settings.
- Fire Inspectors and Investigators: Fire inspectors and investigators identify the causes of fires and make recommendations to prevent future incidents.
- Computer Support Specialist: Computer support specialists provide technical assistance to individuals or organizations experiencing computer-related problems.
- Detectives: Detectives and investigators collect evidence, interview witnesses, and solve crimes.
- Supervisor: Supervisors help teams achieve their goals by providing guidance, training, and support in various niches, such as a prison, car mechanic shop, or construction site. They are responsible for setting team objectives, assigning tasks, monitoring progress, and helping team members to overcome obstacles.
- Aircraft Mechanics: Aircraft mechanics inspect, maintain, and repair aircraft components to ensure their safe operation.
- Stationary Engineers and Boiler Operators: Stationary engineers and boiler operators maintain, operate, and repair stationary engines, boilers, and related equipment.
- Farm Labor Contractors: Farm labor contractors provide farm workers with temporary employment, transportation, and housing.
- Construction and Building Inspectors: Construction and building inspectors inspect construction sites to ensure safety standards are met.
- Property Managers: Property managers oversee the operations of residential and commercial properties, including tenant leasing and rent collection.
Most of These Jobs Boil Down to 3 Main Categories
As you read through these options, you may notice a few primary categories that most of these jobs fall under:
- Hard labor (sometimes referred to as blue-collar work)
- Basic tech
- Managerial/supervisory positions
Regardless of which sounds interesting, you can expect hourly pay to start around $20 per hour and rise to $40 per hour with experience (after you complete any required training).
What Is The Highest Paid Job That Doesn't Require a College Degree?
What are the best-paying jobs is a difficult question, as it depends on the job type and skills you bring to the table. However, with experience and hard work, it is possible to make a good living without a college degree.
Are There Paying Jobs $100,000+ That Don't Need a Bachelor's Degree?
It is possible to make over $100K without a college degree or even a high school diploma, but it usually requires years of experience and hard work. Choosing a high-paying job that allows you to grow from entry-level, gain valuable experience, and scale is a great way to reach six figures and beyond.
To Each Their Own: But What About Self-employment?
There are very few self-employment jobs made the list based on the numbers. This is odd as self-made businesses have huge income potential.
Average self-employment income is majorly skewed due to median salary variables. Take being a realtor, for example. Some realtors are crushing it and making a comfortable 6-figure salary, while others make just enough to pay the bills or treat it more like a hobby for a few extra bucks.
Ultimately, self-employment has some of the highest income potentials without a degree – but it also comes with the biggest risk of getting no paycheck. There is some inherent risk in doing this, but the payout could be lucrative if you're willing to put in a little extra work and take a leap of faith.
Highest Paying Self-employed or Freelance Jobs Without a Degree
- Freelance Writer: Freelance writing is an excellent occupation to make a living without needing a college degree. You can start with small gigs, such as content for websites and blogs, or even write books. With experience and hard work, you can build a portfolio of clients who will pay you for your services.
- Social Media Manager: Social media managers create content and strategies to keep brands engaged with their audience on various platforms. They also help companies measure engagement, analyze data, and report results.
- Graphic Designer: Graphic designers use digital tools to create logos, website designs, packaging materials, marketing materials, and more. You can work for an agency or as a freelancer.
- Virtual Assistant: Virtual assistants provide administrative support to individuals and businesses from remote locations. Tasks may include scheduling appointments, researching topics, and coordinating events.
- Real Estate Broker: Real estate agents help clients buy and sell properties. They advise on mortgage loans, property inspections, appraisals, and market trends.
- Blogger: Bloggers write and publish content to their website or blog. They can make money through sponsored posts, ads, affiliate links, selling merchandise, and more.
- Photographer: Photographers take pictures for various purposes, such as commercial, editorial, and stock photography, on platforms like Shutterstock. They often specialize in a particular type of photography, like weddings or portrait photography.
- Handyman Services Provider: These providers offer plumbing, carpentry, electrical work, painting, and more. They may also help with minor home repairs or installation projects.
- Influencer: Influencers are people with a significant presence on social media who use their platforms to promote products and services. They can also make money through sponsorships, affiliate marketing, and product collaborations.
- E-commerce (selling products): E-commerce involves buying and selling products online. You can create your website or use an existing platform like Amazon, eBay, or Etsy to sell your products.
- Pregnancy and Birth Support (breastfeeding counselor, doula, etc.): Pregnancy and birth support professionals offer services such as prenatal care, postpartum care, lactation counseling, doula services, and more.
- Sleep Consultant: Sleep consultants help families develop healthy sleep habits and routines for their children. They advise on various topics, such as bedtime routines, nap schedules, and night waking.
- Business Consultant: Business consultants provide advice and guidance to small businesses on financial management, marketing, operations, and more.
- Coach: Coaches get paid to help individuals achieve their goals in various niches, such as career progression, navigating motherhood, improving mental health, nutrition, and personal development. They also help with setting and achieving goals.
How To Choose a Career Path Without a Degree
Choosing the right career path without a degree is easier than ever. We live in a time where you can learn almost anything at the click of a button and gain valuable experience working in a specific industry.
So, where do you start? Here are some tips to help you find the right career for you:
1. Research the job market: Take some time to research and understand different industries, job roles, and options available. Do a job search to see if the career you want is in high demand and offers an opportunity for projected job growth over the next ten years and beyond.
2. Identify your skills and interests: Rather than just going for the highest-paying job, figure out which skills you have, what you enjoy doing, and how they apply to various career paths.
3. Network: Reach out to people in the industry you are interested in and ask about their experience and advice on what paths you can take. If interested, they could mentor you as well.
4. Try different roles: Apply for internships or volunteer opportunities to get a feel for the job and see if it is something you want to pursue.
5. Consider professional certifications: Look into courses or programs that certify you in a particular area. This can be a great way to gain the skills and experience needed to pursue a certain career path.
6. Don't be afraid to take risks: Be open to exploring different opportunities and taking chances. You never know what could lead you to the career of your dreams.
Find a Job That Fits Your Skill Set
So many unique jobs pay well these days with very few education requirements. There's no reason to settle for a job that doesn't fit your skill set. We all have different life goals and skills that make us unique, so having a job that aligns with your aspirations makes sense. And if you try one avenue and find you don't like it, don't be afraid to pivot and try again.
Happy Job Hunting!