10 high-paying jobs that don’t require a degree
Are you interested in a well-paying job without investing the time and money to go through a four-year degree program? Then you might be interested in a “new-collar” job with employers that emphasize proven technical and soft skills over extensive work experience and education.
When considering different career options, many think of blue-collar or white-collar jobs. However, as the job market and the way we do business has evolved, a third type of professional, referred to as the “new-collar” worker, has entered the job market, resulting in high-paying jobs without a degree being strictly necessary.
New-collar employees might receive training and education through technical schools, certification programs, vocational training, IT and software boot camps, high school programs, internships, apprenticeships, and community colleges. These types of roles are commonly found in the manufacturing, technology, and healthcare sectors.
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High-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree
Organizations that hire new-collar workers focus on identifying candidates with the right skill set over candidates with the best college degree or work experience. You can find these types of jobs in a myriad of businesses, from healthcare facilities, governments, and IT organizations to schools, financial institutions, and engineering firms. Below are examples of 10 high-paying jobs that don’t necessarily require a college degree.
An information security analyst helps protect a business’s computer systems and networks. Also referred to as a computer security analyst, an information security analyst is sometimes required to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science, information systems, or a related field. However, many organizations require proven skills in IT security, computer science, and computer programming over a college degree.
Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
This highest paying job without a degree involves all activities relating to the planning and coordination of distribution, transportation, or storage. Transportation, storage, and distribution managers are responsible for directing these activities in accordance with government regulations and organizational policies. Tasks include planning and implementing warehouse safety, supervising shipping, receiving, storing, and testing of products, and integrating logistics with business operations. With just a high school diploma and five years of experience getting things where they need to go, you can level up to this higher position and higher salary.
First-line supervisors in this occupation directly oversee detectives and police officers, and they offer expertise in coordinating the investigation of criminal cases. Responsibilities include the training and management of personnel to conduct police operations according to the law. With just a high school diploma required, you’ll be well-rewarded for rising up through the police force with a close to six-figure salary.
High Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a Four-Year Degree
Air Traffic Controller
Air traffic controllers ensure aircraft keep a safe distance from other aircraft and potential hazards. These individuals work in airport control towers, particularly near large airports. Others may work from secure offices across the country to assist pilots en route to a location. Most work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a federal agency.
Because air traffic requires the expertise of its controllers around the clock, these individuals may work day, evening, or night shifts and work weekends and holidays. Three years of work experience, a bachelor’s degree, or a combination of work and education qualify you for this position. The Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative offers two- or four-year degree paths with a curriculum focused on aviation topics. Trainees must enter the FAA Academy no later than their 31st birthday.
Commercial pilots operate aircraft, transporting people or goods from place to place. They prepare and file flight plans and check aircraft mechanical and fuel systems before taking off. While in flight, they monitor systems and communicate with air traffic control. They must respond to emergencies and changing weather and navigate the plane to its destination.
Commercial pilots earn their wings through training and experience, with many attending certified flight schools. The FAA governs pilot training and certification. Pilots begin with private pilot licenses and continue to log flight time, documenting various maneuvers and procedures as they progress through pilot certifications. Pilots must meet age requirements and pass a physical exam.
Construction manager oversee construction projects from cost estimates and work schedules through final inspections. They work closely with architects and engineers to ensure the project meets building requirements. They may also supervise subcontractors working on building, masonry, electrical systems, or plumbing. The manager ensures the company secures necessary permits and completes any required building inspections.
Construction managers often bring several years of experience in construction to their position. Some individuals earn an associate degree or bachelor’s degree in construction management that supplements their work experience. Some companies offer on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced manager.
Elevator Installer and Repairer
Elevators require proper installation and regular maintenance to transport individuals safely. Because these systems require specialized knowledge and skills, elevator installers and repairers focus their training on these mechanical and computerized systems.
Training takes place through an apprentice program, but repairers and installers must participate in ongoing training to stay up-to-date on changing technology. Most states require a license to work on an elevator system, and you can earn professional certifications.
Most elevator installers and repairers work as building equipment contractors. It’s a physically demanding job. You will work in cramped areas in hot and cold environments and at high altitudes. While many tasks occur during scheduled hours, elevator repairers may respond to emergencies.
These computer professionals help organizations build and maintain information systems and computer networks. They install hardware and software and serve as a resource to identify problems and find solutions. IT managers often oversee a staff of technicians that perform repairs or maintenance.
While many IT managers may earn a degree in computer science, an associate degree or industry certifications and relevant work experience can qualify individuals for these positions. Most managers work full-time in an office setting.
Morticians and funeral directors work directly with families to plan the details of the funeral. They also embalm bodies and perform cosmetic work to prepare remains for viewing by family and friends. The funeral director often coordinates details of the funeral service, including arranging for clergy and pallbearers, scheduling the opening and closing of graves for burial, and writing an obituary.
Prospective morticians can study mortuary science or funeral service as part of an associate degree program. Students may gain experience by working part time for a funeral home. Training may also include an apprenticeship. In addition to training and educational programs, morticians must pass a state licensing exam.
Nuclear Power Plant Operator
Nuclear power plant operators adjust control rods to regulate how much power a nuclear reactor produces. They monitor the reactors, generators, turbines, and cooling systems, collecting data and reporting and responding to abnormalities. About 5,300 nuclear power reactor operators were employed in 2020, most working for utility companies.
Frequently Asked Questions About Jobs That Don’t Require a 4-Year Degree
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare offers most of the highest-paying careers. But these fields, such as physicians, surgeons, and psychiatrists, require years of education and training and often require working in high-stress situations.
The 2019 CareerCast Jobs Rated report found several high-paying jobs without a degree requirement that ranked among the least stressful careers. Diagnostic medical sonographers earned the top spot. BLS projects a 14% growth in employment for these medical imaging specialists from 2020-30, with a median salary of $70,380. Training requires an associate degree or postsecondary certificate.
Every job comes with challenges, but finding a job you enjoy can make even challenging work fun. Many people find careers that align with their hobbies or interests. If you enjoy working out and helping people meet their goals, a career as a personal trainer may interest you. Massage therapists can help improve their client’s physical and mental well-being without spending years in school.
Many fields offer rewarding and exciting careers and jobs that pay well that don’t require a degree, especially the technology field. You can find training for these careers through online providers like Google or by enrolling in a coding bootcamp.
While you can find high-paying jobs without a degree, most careers require some training after high school. In 2018, 70% of jobs required some postsecondary training, increasing from 59% in 2010. Postsecondary training can include certificate programs, short-term courses, or apprenticeships. Many trade schools offer training in high-demand fields.
Electrical and electronics installers and repairers top the list of jobs that pay well that don’t require a degree, with a median salary of $62,020. Workers in the powerhouse, substation, and relay industry earn more, $85,340.
Truck drivers can earn their commercial driver’s license in a few months. They earn a median salary of $47,130. The American Trucking Association estimated the industry needed about 80,000 drivers in 2021 to meet industry demands. Truck drivers must meet specific training, certification, and physical requirements and need a clean driving record.
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Top 25 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree
Top 25 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree
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Although college is a great way to invest in yourself, it’s not always for everyone. A college degree may be a stepping stone to overall success, but 43.2 million Americans have also left college with an average of $39,351 in student debt. Take inspiration from the likes of college dropouts, like Steve Jobs and Racheal Ray, and build your wealth without a university degree. Check out the 25 highest paying jobs without a degree to find your alternative path to professional and financial success.
When Is it a Good Idea to Skip College
In today’s economic environment, there has never been a bigger push by parents and institutions for kids to attend college. At the same time, there have never been fewer job opportunities for qualified graduates.
This conundrum means that some potential students should look at avoiding frat parties and classrooms, and head out into the workforce after high school instead. Students that have no clear direction of their career path should avoid college – it’s surprising how many graduates never end up working in the field of their studies.
Gaining work experience is the most critical step in teaching the next generation of kids about the value and importance of finding a skill they are good at in life. Instead of spending 4-years at college, only to end up in a job that’s unrelated to their field, and with $37,000 in debt, the person could be climbing their way up the employment ladder.
Employment experience is just as valuable in today’s economy as a degree, and many jobs offer excellent starting packages for new hires fresh out of high school, with the promise of advancement up the corporate ladder.
Commodities trader – Average pay: £53,003
There are still plenty of traders working in London who joined the financial services straight out of high school, so it’s definitely a viable option when thinking about what you’d like to do instead of university.
Like most jobs in finance, being a commodities trader is well-paid and could be worth doing for a few years until you decide what you really want to do in life. In terms of qualifications, you’ll want to make sure you’re good at maths and personality-wise it’s probably an advantage to have the gift of the gab.
However, you will also need to check specific industry qualifications for the role you’re interested in. Traders have to be approved by the Financial Conduct Authority, and the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment offers courses for people interested in becoming bond traders.