“Over 44 million Americans collectively hold more than $1.4 trillion in student loan debt and only 54.8% of students graduate in six years.” — That’s an exact quote from a recent CNBC article… Sooo…In other words, tons of high school graduates are going to college, they rack up debt because they don’t have the money and it’s easy to get loans, and then they don’t graduate because they really had no interest in being there in the first place. College isn’t for everyone, which is why I decided to dive into the top high paying jobs without a degree.
Top 35 High Paying Jobs Without a Degree
Do you know someone that’s not all that interested in formal education, but excels when they’re outside of the classroom? Don’t push that person into college classes! They’ll just suffer, learn nothing, and go deeply into debt…and they might even resent you for it.
Instead, study this list of ‘high paying jobs without a degree’ and offer up the top career fields that might interest them!
- They’ll make money sooner,
- they’ll like what they do,
- and they might even make more throughout their lives by NOT going to college!
Below salaries are provided by Salary.com.
1) Web Developer – $84,924
Have you already built a few websites and loved the experience? Do you know a little bit about coding? Then you’re probably ready to start this lucrative and fast-growing career that makes my number one on the list of 35 top high paying jobs without a degree.
How to Get Started: My Journey to Become a Web Developer From Scratch
2) Air-Traffic Controller – $84,831
This job seems to make the list of every “high paying jobs without a degree” list – mainly because of the pay. But, it’s a high-stress job with very little downtime, and it comes with big responsibilities as you’ll be in charge of not only the planes in the sky, but the aircraft and personnel on the ground too.
How to Get Started: How to Become an Air Traffic Controller
3) Radiation Therapy Technologist – $82,746
A radiation therapy technologist administers radiation therapy to specific areas of a patient’s body with the specified dosages prescribed. They also maintain records and charting for each patient.
How to Get Started: How to Become a Radiation Therapy Technologist
4) Paralegal and Legal Assistant – $76,861
Do you like the legal system and digging into the details via research? Then this job might just be your dream come true, and (BONUS) it’s one of the highest of the “high paying jobs without a degree”!
How to Get Started: How to Become a Paralegal
5) MRI Technologist – $75,861
MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (my sister the nurse would be so proud of my knowledge right now! ;)). For this job, you’d basically be running the machine and working the control board and peripheral hardware. The pay is great and the medical field is still booming, so if you’re interested, I’d say this is a great career to dig into!
How to Get Started: How to Become an MRI Tech
6) Ultrasound Technologist – $75,147
Have you ever seen an ultrasound tech at work (if you’ve ever been pregnant, this is the person that’s performing the ultrasound) and think, “I would really love to do what they do?” Well, now that you know how much they make – and that you don’t even need a degree to do it – you might be ready to take the next step! Check out the “how to get started” details below.
How to Get Started: How and Why to Become a Certified Ultrasound Technician
Want to get paid to fly airplanes around the world? Even though it’s way more mainstream than it used to be, it’s still a pretty cool gig.
How to Get Started: Become a Licensed Commercial Pilot: Step-by-Step Career Guide
8) Elevator Installers and Repairers – $72,128
My friend was actually talking about this just the other day, “You know who makes bank? Elevator installers and repairmen.”
Turns out…he was absolutely right. Want to earn $70k+, talk to very few people, and install and fix elevators? Sounds like a pretty decent gig actually.
How to Get Started: Become an Elevator Technician: Career and Training Requirements
9) Construction Coordinator – $71,937
If you already know a fair amount about construction and have some experience under your belt, by taking some formal courses and improving your communication skills, you could be in the running for a construction coordinator job. You’d plan, coordinate, and oversee the construction project at hand. Yes, it’s a lot of responsibility, but that’s how you earn the higher pay!
How to Get Started: Becoming a Construction Coordinator
10) Dental Hygienist – $71,714
You couldn’t pay me enough to look at peoples’ jankety teeth and watch their saliva build up in their mouths while cleaning them…but apparently some people find this work appealing… If you’re one of these odd individuals, you could actually make some pretty good coin for your work!
How to Get Started: How to Become a Dental Hygienist
11) Medical Sales Representative – $69,905
Are you interested in medical devices? Do you like to talk to people and network? Are you self-driven? If so, then you might just thrive as a medical sales rep. Become a top salesman, and you could earn even more than the median salary noted above!
How to Get Started: How to Become a Medical Device Sales Representative
Are your friends always calling you to figure out their computer issues? Do you have a knack for problem solving? Then you could be earning $60k+ even though you don’t have a college degree!
How to Get Started: How to Become a Computer Support Specialist
13) Respiratory Therapist – $62,450
Looking for high paying jobs without a degree in the medical field? This might be the option for you. Respiratory therapists help diagnose, treat, and manage patients with pulmonary disorders. They’ll also collect and analyze blood, saliva, and other breath specimens to help understand what treatment should be given.
How to Get Started: Become an RT
14) HVAC Technician – $61,486
If you’re talented mechanically but don’t have a degree, then becoming certified in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning could be the high-paying job for you. Learn to fix and install new units and you could earn $60k+ with this job.
How to Get Started: How to Become an HVAC Technician in 5 Steps
15) Electrician – $58,891
Some people have an engineering mind and gravitate toward electrical rather than building a physical structure. If you enjoy the idea of working on your own, installing and fixing wiring, and getting paid approximately $60k a year to do it, then becoming an electrician might be for you!
How to Get Started: Electrician Careers: How to Become an Electrician
16) Boilermaker – $58,407
…What the heck is a boilermaker…? Yeah, I was asking myself the same question while doing the research for this post.
It turns out that a boilermaker is simply someone that installs boilers (heating units)…and of course they also fix, do inspections, and check a variety of other things related to boilers. While they seemingly aren’t as popular these days, there is still a growth in the boilermaker career path – roughly 9% a year.
How to Get Started: Job Duties and Requirements for Becoming a Boilermaker
17) Occupational Therapy Assistant – $57,920
As you’ll notice after reading this full list of high paying jobs without a college degree, many relate to the medical field. This one is no exception. If you are a teacher at heart and have a desire to help people get back to work after a tragic accident (as is the case for many patients), then becoming an occupational therapist assistant might be right for you. Oh, and by the way…the pay is pretty good too!
Oh, and by the way, while a 4-year degree isn’t required, many employers will be looking for a 2-year associates degree, so some schooling may be required.
How to Get Started: How to Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant
18) Administrative Assistant – $57,597
If you enjoy helping people win and are excellent at communicating and keeping a schedule, then becoming an administrative assistant might be one of the ‘best high paying jobs without a degree’ for you. If you excel at your work, you could even earn upwards of $90k+, and a college degree is absolutely NOT required!
How to Get Started: How to Become an Administrative Assistant
19) Hearing Aid Specialist – $57,030
Mainly, hearing aid specialists are tasked with outfitting patients with hearing aids that are right for them (size, price, technology). So, if you enjoy shouting, smiling, and helping people, take a look at this fairly-lucrative career field. 😉
How to Get Started: Hearing Aid Specialist: Education, Training, and Certification
20) Welder – $56,323
Welders commonly earn less than $56k, but if you’re experienced and skilled, you can earn a fairly decent living – all without the burden of a 4-year degree.
How to Get Started: How to Become a Certified Welder
21) Railroad Conductor – $56,230
Back in the day, I aspired to become an engineer. My friend would always joke, “How hard could it be to drive a train?!” Well, it turns out, there is actually some difficulty there, which is why a railroad conductor earns an average salary of just over $56k. Want to keep that whistle blowing and travel the countryside?
How to Get Started: How to Become a Train Conductor
22) Plumber – $55,986
Plumbers don’t only work on toilets and fix septic tanks… In fact, plumbers work on piping in many capacities, including new home builds, large construction projects, and sometimes smaller in-home projects like fixing a leaky faucet.
To become a plumber, you’ll have to know a variety of skill sets (caulking, soldering, welding, brazing, and using plastic solvent) and be good at problem solving on the fly.
How to Get Started: How to Become a Plumber
If you’ve always had satisfaction after building something, perhaps you’d enjoy carpentry! It’s one of the best high paying jobs without a degree and many carpenters enjoy a long, fulfilling career.
How to Get Started: How to Become an Apprentice Carpenter
24) Physical Therapist Assistant – $54,042
Are you interested in pushing people to their limits physically to help them achieve a better life in the future? Then you might want to look into becoming a PTA. While this occupation may require an associates degree, it’s still a pretty quick way to start earning $50k+ and do something you love!
How to Get Started: Physical Therapy Assistant: Education Overview
25) Wind Turbine Technician – $53,880
If I would have said the word “wind turbine” to many of you ten years ago, most of you would have had no clue what I was talking about. Today, we all understand what they look like and how they are an alternative power source (which means this career is growing at an alarming rate!).
If you’re mechanically gifted, this career might be worth digging into!
How to Get Started: Become a Wind Turbine Technician
26) Real Estate Broker – $53,982
Are you a teacher at heart? Are you good with people and numbers? Then you could make bank as a real estate agent. While this career rises and falls with the housing market, it is possible to earn over $100k in this field if you put in the time and effort to build up your business.
How to Get Started: How to Become a Real Estate Agent in Just 5 Steps
27) Chemical Plant Operator – $53,638
You’re not just going to walk into a chemical plant and become an operator, but with a little background and work experience within chemical plants, you could become a chemical plant operator without earning any type of degree.
What would you do?
- Oversee equipment
- Improve quality
- Promote safety
- Always look for ways to improve the process (ie. efficiency)
How to Get Started: Chemical Plant Operator: Job Description, Duties, and Requirements
28) Automotive Glass Installer/Repairer – $52,458
Do you like to improve cars that are in need of repair? Then perhaps an automotive glass installer is one of the best ‘high paying jobs without a degree’ for you. The starting wages are low, but with experience you could earn the $52k average touted above.
How to Get Started: Auto Glass Installer: Career Info and Requirements
29) Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technician – $51,991
This occupation typically performs medical lab tests on blood samples and urine. It’s not glamorous, but it can be interesting and has a wide variety of schedules offered since the work needs to be offered 24/7.
How to Get Started: How to Become a Medical Laboratory Technician
You won’t make $50k+ out of the gate, but with a few years of experience, it is actually quite common. If you like to drive, load and unload shipments, and then do it all over again the next day, then truck driving might be for you.
How to Get Started: How to Become a Truck Driver
31) Mail Carrier – $51,390
Want to become that guy that walks through your neighborhood delivering letters and packages? Turns out you could be earning $50k+ to do it too! The downside…it’s not so easy to get into. The waiting list is long for many areas and you might not be selected immediately.
How to Get Started: Become a Mail Carrier: Education and Career Roadmap
32) Industrial Machinery Mechanic – $51,360
Good with your hands? Love to fix machinery? Do it on big equipment and you could be earning way more than the average bear.
How to Get Started: Be an Industrial Machine Mechanic: What You Really Need
33) Insurance Sales Agent – $49,999
We all have an insurance agent and know what their common duties are:
- Seek out new clients
- Help customers sign up for new policies
- Track records, etc.
If this work interests you, a $50k a year salary could be in your future.
How to Get Started: How to Become an Insurance Agent
34) Drywall Installer – $47,341
If you’re strong and are good with measurements, becoming a drywall installer might be the right career choice for you.
How to Get Started: Drywall Installer: Employment Info and Requirements
35) Surgical Technologist Assistant – $45,318
If you don’t want to put in the 8-12 years to become a surgical doctor, but you’re interested in becoming a member of the operating team, then becoming a surgical technologist assistant could be the right role for you. Main duties include getting all the tools ready for the surgery and assisting the doctors by handing them the right medical devices at the right time.
How to Get Started: How to Become a Certified Surgical Technologist
Bonus Info – High Paying Jobs Without a Degree
If you REALLY want to earn more money, then you need to cut out the middleman…your boss. It’s not easy, but if you feel like you can perform common work very well (like mowing lawns, cleaning houses, detailing cars, etc.) AND you have the ability to promote yourself and keep good records, then you’d probably do quite well as a business owner. And, the best part is, the sky is the limit!
The list below should help you get started:
- 14 Cheap Business Ideas You Can Start Today
- Start Your Own Blog Through iPage (affiliate link)
- How to Earn an Unlimited Income With Your Blog
- 101 Ways to Make More Money (get the PDF by subscribing to the email feed here)
High Paying Jobs Without a Degree – In Review
Not everyone is right for college, and it’s certainly not the end-all-be-all when it comes to success. If you’re not interested in college and are looking for high paying jobs without a degree, then I hope you were able to find just that with the list above.
Did I miss any high paying jobs that don’t require a degree? Be sure to add them below!!
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.