No Degree, No Problem! Here Are 30 High-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree

April 24, 2023
6 mins read
No Degree, No Problem! Here Are 30 High-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a Degree

For a long while, there was an ongoing belief that in order to land yourself a high-paying job, you were required to have a college degree. Today, many folks are going against the grain and disrupting this once widely accepted notion. More and more individuals are deciding against going to college and instead seeking other avenues for employment that don’t require additional, traditional schooling.

Dentists, lawyers and nurses…all high-paying jobs that require a college degree. However, if you don’t currently have the means of attending college or have simply decided to go another direction, there are still plenty of high-paying jobs without a degree out there. 

Are you interested in providing beauty services, whether it be makeup art, hair styling or skincare? Or perhaps you always wanted to be in a leadership role, but can’t stomach the thought of many more years of schooling. What about laborious jobs, or leadership roles within retail or hospitality management? There’s something for you! If you’re not sure what options are available to you, we’ve listed 30 of the highest-paying jobs without a degree below. 

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30 High-Paying Jobs Without a Degree

1. Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controllers manage aircraft traffic. It’s a big job, but with a median reported salary of over $130,000, it’s one of the highest-paying jobs without a degree that you can land yourself. Training is continuous and hours are atypical, similar to pilots. 

2. Real Estate Agent

Real estate can be a pesky business that ebbs and flows seemingly slowly. It’s all based on commission, so salary depends on how many houses are sold. Aspiring real estate agents don’t need a degree, but they will have to pass a state exam to receive their license.

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3. Insurance Appraiser 

Insurance appraisers are the middle-person between an insurance company and a policyholder. You will need to complete a state licensure exam, but the average salary falls between $56,739 and $71,057, depending on where you live.

4. Restaurant Manager

Maybe you’ve been serving or bartending at a restaurant for a while. If you’re ready to take the next step, stepping into a restaurant manager role is a seamless transition that does not require a college degree. Patience, however, is required!

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5. Executive Assistant

Whether you’re working for your favorite celebrity or a big boss, executive assistants take care of many of the grunt tasks that their boss cannot. Think: calendar management, taking calls, sending emails and the like. It’s a competitive field, but executive assistants can earn a pretty penny. 

6. Flight Attendant

If being an air traffic control operator sounds too risky, becoming a flight attendant may be the next best thing. Flight attendants deal with tough customers and turbulence, but in turn, receive a healthy salary and benefits. 

7. Hearing Aid Specialist

The minimum amount of schooling required to become a hearing aid specialist is a GED or high school diploma. As with many of the jobs on the list, a state license exam is required and it’s highly suggested to invest time in learning American Sign Language. Hearing aid specialists work closely with audiologists to provide care for patients.

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8. Police Officer

To become a police officer, you need your high school degree or GED—plus, you’ll complete long hours in the Police Academy before getting out into the field. Nonetheless, if you have a passion for justice, police officers can earn anywhere from $50,000 to $80,000 per year.

9. Court Reporter

Court reporters are required to earn a specialized certificate and training. However, this can be a great route for anyone without a college degree as there is always a need for court reporters—both within law firms and on a freelance basis. The earning potential is endless for court reporters!

10. Elevator and Escalator Installer and Repairer

Believe it or not, elevator and escalator installers and repairers can earn nearly $100,000 yearly. There’s not much room for job growth, but strong pay remains consistent. Training is typically done on an apprenticeship basis.

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11. Plumber

It can be a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it! Plumbers are responsible for the installation, maintenance and repair of pipes and fixtures that transport water, gas and other liquids. Plumbers may also service septic tanks, heating systems and boilers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median hourly wage for plumbers was $30.46 in 2021, which is higher than that of many jobs that require a degree.

12. Commercial Pilot

Though you aren’t required to have a college degree to become a commercial pilot, there is still extensive training that can be a steep investment. Nevertheless, commercial pilots can earn nearly six figures without a degree. 

13. Subway and Streetcar Operator

Live in a big city, like Manhattan or Brooklyn? You can earn up to $80,000 per year working as a subway or streetcar operator. Warning: you may have to heckle passengers for their fares or take care of potential hijackers. 

14. Makeup Artist

There are lots of places for makeup artists to work: fashion shows, the entertainment industry, weddings, beauty salons and the list goes on. The makeup artist job market has been expected to grow by 12.5 percent between 2016 and 2026.

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15. Private Investigator

If becoming a police officer feels too risky, look into private investigation. Private investigators are hired by private citizens, businesses and attorneys to further look into cases and individuals. They must have a license and some states require applicants to pass an exam as well as take continuing education courses.

16. Sheet Metal Worker

Within the construction niche are sheet metal workers. Their overarching duty is to create and install products from metal sheets. It’s a physically demanding job, but sheet metal workers can earn over $50,000. 

17. Chef

The earning potential amongst chefs can range from average to quite high, as there are a number of venues for chefs to work. For example, chefs can work in restaurants or for catering companies. Or, they can venture on their own to offer food delivery or private chef services. 

18. Power Plant Operator

If you’re looking for a higher salary, power plant operator jobs offer just that. Coming in at just under $100,000 per year, power plant operators monitor and maintain the onsite equipment within a hazardous environment. 

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19. Hairstylist 

Bachelor’s degrees are not required to become a hairstylist, but cosmetology school is a must, which can take one to two years. If you’re interested in cutting and styling hair, this is a short amount of time compared to the lifelong enjoyment you may find within this career path. 

20. Hotel and Lodging Manager

Another stable job within the hospitality industry that does not require a degree is a hotel and lodging manager. Whether it’s a 5-star resort, small-town motel or cabin in the mountains, managers are needed in overseeing the day-to-day operations and make sure everything runs smoothly.

21. Fire Inspector

Fire inspectors can earn up to $70,000 per year, but what does their job entail? Ultimately, they look for fire hazards and ensure everything is following fire regulations. They also recommend ways to make environments safer from fires. 

22. Dental Assistant 

Dental assistants primarily get their training in a hands-on way. Perhaps, you may have wanted to become a dentist, but do not want to complete the long years of schooling required. Dental assistants earn between $50,000 and $70,000 per year, depending on where they live. 

23. Electrician

Aspiring electricians are required to either attend technical school for formal training or work through an apprenticeship via on-the-job training. Schedules can be flexible and electricians can make nearly $50,000. Specialized electricians have higher earning potential. 

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24. Construction Manager

Construction managers fall under the project management umbrella. They assist in coordinating the progress and planning of construction for residential, commercial, public and industrial buildings. Their average salary is on the higher end, around $80,000.

25. Massage Therapist

Massage therapists are typically required to take at least 500-1,000 hours of training and pass an exam before they can practice. One of the perks of being a massage therapist is the ability to work for a company or independently, which is appealing to many.

26. Firefighter 

Similarly to police officers, firefighters are not required to have a college degree, but they will need to successfully complete the Fire Academy training and earn certification. Another great option under the same umbrella would be becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT). 

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27. Project Manager

Call them professional organizers. Project managers are responsible for keeping a team on track by managing their time and resources. If you don’t have a college degree, but you do have keen organizational skills, work well with many people and can pass the necessary certifications, then this may be the job for you.

28. Esthetician

Estheticians are trained to help clients maintain their skin and hair by providing beauty services like facials, eyebrow waxing, microdermabrasion and more. Many individuals in this field are self-employed or work in beauty salons and spas. 

29. Crane Operator

If the thought of operating heavy machinery doesn’t make you run in the other direction, you may be well-suited to work as a crane operator. Crane operators are responsible for lifting and moving materials around a construction site in a safe manner. Their average salary falls around $60,000.

30. Postmaster

A postmaster is in charge of a post office or several post offices. They are ultimately the manager and oversee employees, mail processes and more. Typically, folks work their way up to the promotion of becoming a postmaster. With this being a government job, the benefits are strong.

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