Highest-paying jobs without a degree
Several of the jobs listed do indeed have educational requirements, some of which even being degree programs albeit shorter programs than the traditional four-year program. On-the-job training, completion of a certificate program or an apprenticeship may be required, particularly if you hope to advance in your career. Here are 23 of the highest-paying jobs you can get without a degree:
Primary duties: A mason is a trades professional who builds with concrete, stone and brick. Masons work in both the residential and commercial sectors, building structures such as chimneys, building exteriors, walls and one-of-a-kind objects. Masons may also be responsible for diagnosing structural issues and renovating brick buildings.
2. Patrol officer
Primary duties: Patrol officers protect the property and lives of residents in a specific area, looking for illegal or unsafe activities. Patrol officers write tickets, direct traffic, investigate crimes, respond to accidents and testify in court.
3. Tool and die maker
Primary duties: Tool and die makers are skilled tradespeople that create custom tools and dies that cut, shape and bend metal or other materials. Tool and die makers also make measurement devices such as jigs and gauges. Many tool and die makers use CAD to design custom tools and parts.
4. HVAC technician
Primary duties: An HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) technician installs, maintains and repairs systems that control the temperature and humidity in buildings. HVAC technicians may also monitor and improve the energy efficiency of HVAC systems.
5. Licensed practical nurse
Primary duties: A licensed practical nurse works with registered nurses and doctors to provide patient care. Licensed practical nurses take vital signs, maintain medical records, change bandages, insert catheters and bathe patients. While this job requires a specific license and training, including challenging coursework in the sciences, it can be worthwhile for those who want to work in the medical field.
7. Wind turbine technician
Primary duties: A wind turbine technician maintains and repairs wind turbines. Wind turbine technicians must test and resolve errors within the mechanical, hydraulic and electrical systems associated with turbines. Additionally, wind turbine technicians often climb towers to perform their jobs.
Primary duties: Electricians are skilled tradespeople responsible for the installation and repair of electrical systems. Electricians that work in residential homes may install light fixtures, circuit boxes and outlets. In a factory, electricians keep industrial equipment running safely and smoothly.
9. Property manager
Primary duties: A property manager supervises and coordinates building maintenance and keeps the property tidy. Property managers that work in apartment buildings must also resolve tenant issues, collect rent payments and stage empty units for potential new tenants.
Primary duties: A carpenter constructs wooden structures using specialized tools and machines. Some carpenters frame houses and buildings, while others build furniture such as kitchen cabinets.
Primary duties: Drafters use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create technical plans and drawings. Drafters may produce building plans, wiring diagrams, topographical maps and equipment assembly drawings.
12. Executive assistant
Primary duties: An executive assistant is an administrative professional who provides support to high-level executives or administrators. Typical job duties include clerical work, managing schedules, booking meetings and making travel arrangements.
13. Elevator technician
Primary duties: Elevator technicians are responsible for assembling, installing and replacing elevators, moving walkways, chairlifts and escalators. Elevator technicians may also be required to perform equipment inspections and interpret blueprints.
14. Telecommunications technician
Primary duties: A telecommunications technician inspects and services equipment and wiring for telecommunications firms. Telecommunications technicians may work on telephone lines, internet routers, cable TV systems and security equipment.
15. Engineering technician
Primary duties: Engineering technicians work with engineers and scientists to solve technical problems. Job duties include setting up equipment, conducting experiments, collecting data and modeling new equipment.
16. Sales representative
Primary duties: Sales representatives sell products or services to organizations, businesses and governments on behalf of wholesalers or manufacturers. Job duties include delivering sales presentations, negotiating prices, maintaining customer relationships and finding new customers.
What are high-paying jobs without a degree requirement?
While many people decide to abstain from university, they can still earn high salaries, especially in industries that pay more attention to a candidate’s skills than their educational background. For example, careers in the trades typically require specialized skills in a particular area, like construction or plumbing, which you can learn independently or through training programs. When preparing to apply for a job without degree requirements, it can be helpful to evaluate your skills and showcase them to potential employers during the application process.
Primary duties: Welders use high-temperature welding equipment to fuse metals together. They conduct inspections on the structures planned for construction to ensure they are strong enough, monitor metal pieces during the welding process to avoid overheating and control the size of a flame during the welding process. Welders can also maintain equipment so that it functions properly and is safe to use.
2. Dump truck driver
Primary duties: A dump truck driver operates a truck to transport materials. Specific job duties depend on the projects they work on and the companies they work for. This includes driving a dump truck to various locations, moving large loads of material around a construction site and transporting materials like gravel, asphalt and dirt. Many dump truck drivers also help unload materials from their trucks and place them where they are needed at the worksite.
3. Sales executive
Primary duties: A sales executive facilitates communication between a company and potential customers. Their job can involve answering questions from customers about the products or services a company offers, introducing new products to the public and meeting with clients in person or over the phone. Sales executives can also maintain detailed records of their sales to review their performance and, if necessary, make improvements to their sales strategies.
4. Automotive technician
Primary duties: An automotive technician inspects vehicles for potential problems that may affect performance. Automotive technicians perform test drives to determine the performance of a car on the road, they use diagnostic tools to check the electronic components of a vehicle for inconsistencies and they interpret diagnostic codes to determine what action needs to be taken to repair the vehicle. An automotive technician can also perform repairs on cars and other vehicles to improve their function and ensure they are safe to drive.
Primary duties: A plumber is a trades professional who works with plumbing and piping systems. Plumbers can repair plumbing systems in residential and commercial buildings, make improvements to existing waste disposal plumbing systems and install plumbing fixtures, such as sinks, bathtubs and water heaters. A plumber can also repair a building’s drains by cleaning them, removing blockages and replacing damaged pipes.
6. Web developer
Primary duties: A web developer is a professional in technology who creates codes and systems for new websites. They can meet with clients to discuss specifications for websites, write code for their front end and back end and test the websites they design to make sure that they function correctly. A web developer can also evaluate existing websites to install updates and find areas that they might be able to improve with new code or design.
Primary duties: An electrician is a trades professional who specializes in working with electrical wiring. Their job can involve reviewing diagrams of electrical systems to identify where they might need to conduct repairs, installing new electrical systems for lighting and other fixtures and repairing electrical systems and their wiring. Electricians can also perform building inspections to verify they follow all electrical codes and legal regulations.
8. Land surveyor
Primary duties: A land surveyor measures the area of different locations and updates boundary lines when necessary. Their duties may include marking property lines at upcoming construction sites so that all activity follows regulations, taking measurements with specialized equipment and determining the boundaries between residential and commercial properties. A land surveyor can also gather and analyze data about the Earth and its surface that engineers and construction teams can use to plan for upcoming construction projects.
Primary duties: A driver is a transit professional who operates a vehicle, typically to transport goods or passengers to different destinations. Drivers can have different duties depending on the type of vehicles they drive, such as taking passengers to specific locations in a car, delivering shipments from warehouses with large trucks or driving public transportation vehicles like buses or trains. A driver who wants to operate especially large or specialty vehicles might need to earn a Class C licence or another specialized driving licence before they start working.
Top 50 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree
1. Executive Assistant
Executive assistants are usually a company leader’s right-hand person. They handle a range of administrative tasks, simplifying the life of the executive they support. This can include speaking with visitors, coordinating schedules, making travel arrangements, handling reports, crafting presentations, and a whole lot more.
Technically, you can work your way up to becoming an executive assistant instead of going the college route. Once you do, it’s one of the best jobs without a degree around and can snag you a salary of about $68,485 a year.
2. Sales Rep
In the role, you’ll spend time convincing prospective customers to become actual customers. As long as you have the right mindset, a high school diploma, and nail your sales interview questions, you can get started in this career. Once you get the hang of it, this easily qualifies as one of the best-paying jobs without a degree.
If you are looking for high-paying jobs without a degree or experience, starting on the road toward being an electrician can be a smart move. The journey can be a bit long, as it takes time to learn everything you need to secure a license. But, while you’re an apprentice, you get paid, and that helps.
4. Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
In this role, you’d spend your days making sure that shipping processes run smoothly. You’d coordinate the transportation and storage of a range of goods, ensuring everything is distributed properly.
5. Wind Turbine Technician
Another high-paying trade job, wind turbine technicians can make $52,910 a year in many cases. If you pursue this career, you’ll spend time installing, repairing, and maintaining wind turbines.
Like electricians, much of the instruction is handled on the job. However, for this one, you might want to spend a little time in vocational school to get your footing. That way, you can learn about alternative energy as well as hone your electrical and mechanical skills.
6. Commercial Pilot
Unlike airline pilots, commercial pilots don’t necessarily need a college degree. As long as they have a license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), that’s enough to get started.
Once you have your license, you can earn around $86,080 annually by hitting the skies. You could be transporting goods, giving aerial tours, or handling charters, depending on the route you take.
7. Nuclear Power Reactor Operator
If the idea of controlling nuclear reactors isn’t intimidating, this could be one of the best high-paying jobs without a degree for you. The on-the-job training is extensive, and you’ll need to get licensed along the way, so you won’t start out with a stellar salary immediately. But, as you learn how to monitor the systems, your pay will go up, potentially to the $76,360 to $133,170 per year range.
8. Elevator Mechanic
If the idea of making around $84,990 a year sounds good, a career as an elevator mechanic might be the perfect option. You’ll either need on-the-job training or vocational school to get started. But once you do, you’ll focus on repairing, installing, and maintaining elevators and similar people-focused transportation equipment, like escalators and moving sidewalks.
9. Computer Programmer
Thanks to the advent of coding bootcamps and the prevalence of hiring shortages, you can actually launch a lucrative tech career without a college degree. Since skill gaps are pervasive, companies are increasingly open-minded about where a tech pro gets their skills.
As long as you can demonstrate you know your stuff, you could land a position earning $86,500 a year without having to earn a Bachelor’s degree. Just make sure you have proof of what you bring to the table, such as past personal projects. That way, you can highlight your skills in a meaningful way.
JEFF’S TIP: If you want to be a computer programmer but don’t want to have to head to college to earn a degree, make wise choices when you look for an employer. Smaller companies may be more flexible about requirements, making it easier to get started. Similarly, even some major tech players have altered their policies, publicly welcoming non-traditional candidates. If you focus your efforts in those directions, your odds of success go up. Then, once your career is underway, landing your next role will be easier.
10. Radiologic Technician
If you want to enter the medical landscape, consider a career as a radiologic technician, one of the high-paying jobs without a degree that gets you into the healthcare field. Once you qualify and land a job, making $62,280 a year is completely possible.
In many cases, you can get started after completing a vocational program, which typically takes two years or less. While that does mean some schooling, it isn’t nearly as much time as a Bachelor’s, and it’s far less expensive, too.
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Co-founder and CTO of TheInterviewGuys.com. Jeff is a featured contributor delivering advice on job search, job interviews and career advancement, having published more than 50 pieces of unique content on the site, with his work being featured in top publications such as INC, ZDnet, MSN and more.