With the cost of education getting more expensive each year, student loan debt is also rising. Thus, many people are beginning to look for careers that do not require a four-year degree. The good news is that you can get a variety of different high-paying jobs without a degree. In fact, there are high-paying jobs that don’t require a degree in several different industries.
Instead of focusing on a university degree, many employers seek candidates with specialized skills, experience, and knowledge. This article will cover the best-paying jobs without a degree, the top skills you need, and the non-traditional education paths you can pursue. Continue reading to learn how to get jobs that pay well without a degree.
Why College Is Not for Everyone
Earning a college degree demands time and a lot of money, so not everyone can afford it. Moreover, if you do not have a scholarship or financial support from an employer, you may have to drop out before completing your degree program.
Some options like taking out a loan may seem like a great idea, but you need a payment plan in place to give back the money you borrowed within a specific timeframe. For instance, Direct Loans usually must be repaid within six to 12 months of graduation, which can be an enormous financial burden for a new graduate.
Thankfully, you can now get plenty of good jobs without a college education. From the tech sector to real estate to entertainment, many professionals are enjoying high-paying jobs without degrees.
Best High-Paying Jobs Without a College Degree
|Commercial Airline Pilot
|Makeup Artists – Theatrical and Performance
|Nuclear Power Reactor Operators
|Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
|Information Security Analyst
|Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers
|Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers
|Real Estate Agent
Best High-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree: A Closer Look
Commercial Airline Pilot
Commercial pilots fly planes and helicopters and may have unpredictable schedules. To become a commercial airline pilot, you need a commercial pilot license. However, some businesses do prefer that pilots have a bachelor’s degree too.
To become a commercial airline pilot, you usually just need to finish flight training with independent FAA-certified flight instructors or attend an institution that offers flight training. As such, it is one of the best high-paying jobs that doesn’t require a degree.
Makeup Artists – Theatrical and Performance
If you are creative and looking for jobs for artists without a degree, consider becoming a makeup artist. A makeup artist does makeup to enhance, beautify, or alter a person’s look. Makeup artists of theatrical performances help performers reflect the period, setting, and situation.
Some makeup artists only have a high school diploma, although many enroll in vocational training programs to prepare for the profession. Though you do not need a degree for this job, you may need to practice for several years until you have the skills and techniques to work on your own.
DevOps engineers create and implement development tools for process automation. To get a job in DevOps, you should be knowledgeable in automation with excellent programming skills, have an eye for detail, and have experience working with operating systems such as Linux. They should also have strong problem-solving skills. DevOps job growth continues to rise as more companies hire DevOps engineers.
Though some recruiters require a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering or similar fields, a certificate of training from a coding bootcamp can also help you get a DevOps job. Even without any prior experience, you can still master DevOps principles by enrolling in a bootcamp.
Nuclear Power Reactor Operator
Operators of nuclear power reactors are responsible for the daily function of nuclear reactors. Controlling nuclear reactors, moving control rods, starting and stopping machinery, monitoring and adjusting controls, and recording data in logs are all part of this job. When necessary, nuclear power reactor operators carry out emergency operations and may respond to abnormalities.
To qualify for this position, you need a high school diploma or an equivalent credential. You must also attend technical training and acquire a certification that shows you can manage the responsibilities that come with this job. This profession is becoming less common due to the falling consumption of nuclear power, but it is one of the best-paying jobs without a degree.
Software developers design and develop software programs such as mobile apps and games. They create software solutions to meet the needs of the clients. The software development industry is growing in popularity, and many companies are looking for software developers. To qualify for this position, you must have strong knowledge of software engineering and hands-on experience with programming languages such as C and Python.
While developers traditionally gained this knowledge by getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology or Computer Science, many programmers now decide to skip college and instead choose to learn the trade on their own or attend a coding bootcamp. With a software development bootcamp program, you can become a software developer in a matter of months.
Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
These managers oversee transportation, storage, and distribution activities, ensuring that they are carried out according to organizational rules as well as the appropriate government laws and regulations. This job does not require a college education. To work in this management position, you only need a high school diploma or equivalent and five years of work experience in a related occupation.
Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts work to protect an organization from cyber security threats. Their daily duties may include monitoring networks for breaches, testing for vulnerabilities, and implementing firewalls. In addition, it is their job to develop security protocols, and they may need to educate other employees on best practices for cyber security.
Though many employers have previously required information security analysts to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology, that is no longer the case. Today, you can become an information security analyst by enrolling in a bootcamp. Cyber security bootcamps will teach you all of the essential information security processes to succeed in this career.
Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers
Elevator installers are in high demand due to the rising need for elevator installation and maintenance. This increased demand is part of what makes this role one of the highest-paying jobs without a degree. However, elevator technicians must undergo frequent training to keep up with new technologies and trends.
To have access to this job, you need a high school diploma or equivalent. Most elevator technicians also do an apprenticeship to acquire the skills the job demands. In some states, these professionals must apply for a special license before they can start working.
Power Plant Operator
Power plant operators control and maintain machinery that generates electric power. To secure this position, you need a high school diploma or equivalent certification and must do on-the-job training. The job outlook of this occupation is low due to the fact that some of the tasks traditionally associated with these professionals are being automated. Still, it is one of the top high-paying jobs that don’t require a degree.
Companies employing these professionals require background checks and drug and alcohol screens. Power plant operators must also have a license. Overall, this job is perfect for people looking for a good-paying job without a degree requirement that lets them do hands-on work and handle machinery.
Real Estate Agent
Real estate brokers guide clients during the process of buying, selling, or renting property. Their job is to help the client understand key aspects of how the property market works, including pricing and contracts. They also present clients with a list of available properties and inform them about their price margins.
To be successful in this role, you must have strong marketing skills, excellent communication skills, and active listening skills, as well as integrity and a strong work ethic. A bachelor’s degree is not required to be a real estate agent, but you must obtain your license. Real estate agents are usually paid in commissions. So, if you work hard, it is one of the highest-paying jobs you can get without a degree.
Other Top Jobs that Don’t Require a Degree
In addition to the highest-paying jobs listed above, there are still many other jobs that pay great without a degree. Even if you decide not to attend college, there are still plenty of lucrative career opportunities available to you. In the section below, we will cover 10 more jobs that pay a lot without a degree.
Detectives are members of a police force that work to gather evidence and solve crimes. Though they do not wear typical police uniforms, they still have the ability to make arrests and can do everything a police officer can. In fact, professionals in this position usually start their careers as police officers and work towards a promotion to detective.
You can get this high-paying job without a degree, as you only need a high school diploma or equivalent. However, you will need to undergo training at a police academy and additional training once you begin working as a detective.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
Gaming managers coordinate and control the operations of casinos and ensure that all the gaming activities are running smoothly. Some of their duties include explaining house rules to players, contacting security staff when necessary, and ensuring the correct payouts are made.
The amount that you can earn in this role will depend on the casino you work for. However, without a formal education requirement, it is one of the top high-paying jobs without a degree. Individuals with strong management skills who have not gone to college can still excel in this position.
First-Line Supervisors of Firefighting and Prevention Workers
Being in a supervisory position, these supervisors have to direct the concerted efforts of first-line fire prevention workers and increase the overall safety of communities nationwide. You must have a high school diploma or equivalent and training in emergency medical services to qualify for the role.
This profession best suits those with good physical and mental health who wish to join the firefighting industry. However, if you are comfortable with a very physical job, it is one of the good-paying careers to pursue without a college education.
The demand for web developers is increasing as more businesses use websites for advertising and product promotion. A bachelor’s degree is not always required for this position, but practical experience is highly desirable. You can learn the programming languages used in web development by enrolling in web development bootcamps.
A transportation inspector examines equipment or goods, ensuring their safe transport, including the safety of the people involved. Specific examples of this occupation include a rail transportation inspector or freight inspector.
Transportation inspectors need a high school diploma or equivalent and are not required to have work experience. It is a good-paying career without a college degree requirement and no licensing requirement. The training is not intense either, and it’s not a stressful profession.
Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers
Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers work primarily outside but may also spend time in an office, and their work is frequently physically challenging. They oversee the operation of farms that produce crops, livestock, and dairy products. The requirements for this role are a high school diploma and work experience in a related occupation.
Subway and Streetcar Operators
Subway and streetcar operators help transport passengers through subway or elevated suburban trains without using a separate locomotive or electric-powered streetcar. In the event of an emergency, they are well-versed in the relevant protocols. This is one of the many great paying jobs without degree requirements as the position only requires a high school diploma or GED, and on-the-job training.
For those who are passionate about writing, there are numerous opportunities available. Companies hire writers to create content that promotes their products and services. Some of the duties and responsibilities of writers include researching and gathering appropriate information for content, as well as writing, editing, and proofreading articles, and creating user guides.
Writing job postings typically require at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication or Journalism, but employers will consider applicants with strong writing skills even if they do not have a degree. A strong portfolio and a blog site that showcases some of your best work will be extremely beneficial in your job application.
Claims adjusters evaluate insurance claims and assess damages to a property to determine how much the insurer should pay the insured. In addition, these professionals make sure all payments are made according to the company’s practices.
You need a high school diploma or equivalent to pursue this career, but some companies may require a post-secondary degree. However, this requirement is becoming less common, making this one of the highest-paying careers without a degree. You also need excellent investigative skills, which is why many companies hire former police officers and detectives.
Digital marketing uses the Internet to promote products or services. This can include social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing. More companies are taking advantage of technology to advertise their products. To become a successful digital marketer, you must have strong marketing and research skills, as well as creativity and tech-savviness.
Although a bachelor’s or graduate degree in marketing or a related field may be advantageous for this position, you may still be qualified if you have digital marketing skills. To make your job application stand out, you must use your portfolio to showcase your skills and best experiences. You help your application by graduating from a digital marketing bootcamp program.
What Skills Do You Need to Land the Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree?
To land one of the highest-paying jobs without a degree, you will need to make sure you have all of the necessary skills. Though each individual position may require different hard skills, there are also core soft skills that are essential for any high-paying role. Below, we have detailed a list of skills that can help you get the best-paying jobs without a degree.
Teamwork and Collaboration
Most employers will assess your ability to work in a team before hiring you. Collaboration is key to any organization’s success. Whether working as a UX/UI designer or as a sales rep, you need to collaborate with your colleagues to overcome challenges and meet company goals.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Critical thinking entails making sound judgments and devising solutions for any problem at hand. In most workplaces, you are likely to encounter unexpected situations that require advanced analytical skills. It is critical that you are aware of your surroundings, ask pertinent questions, and can come up with creative solutions.
Having time management skills helps you accomplish your goals on time and deliver a great customer experience. When a product or service is delivered in a timely fashion, clients are happy and satisfied. As a result, you’ll have more returning customers and get more referrals, which contributes to company goals. If you want to get high-paying jobs without a degree, you need solid time management skills.
Effective communication skills will help you convey the right message to your clients or executive committee, whether you are working as a customer service rep or an analyst. Communication is essential when it comes to selling a product, working as part of a team, and even making decisions.
In fact, verbal and written communication, as well as listening abilities, are key assets for any modern employee. These skills help you express your thoughts clearly and concisely, avoiding confusion and misunderstanding with your colleagues. Recruiters look for these skills in most job candidates.
Organization and Multitasking
Being able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and complete them on time is another skill that will put you above other candidates. Candidates that are adept at setting priorities, meeting deadlines, and achieving project goals have a much higher chance of getting a job.
Organizational skills encompass a wide range of abilities that are crucial for accomplishing company goals, including planning and prioritizing tasks. Employees with good organizational skills can maximize their output with limited resources, thus saving the company money and time.
Business knowledge comes in handy regardless of the career path you choose, but it is essential to get the highest-paying jobs without a degree. Understanding the needs of the customers and how you can use your skills to meet them is crucial.
To design and implement the best products and services, you must also be familiar with common business practices in your industry. Likewise, you must be aware of the internal and external factors that may impact the company and be ready to adapt to them.
Even if you are not in the tech industry, understanding software, hardware, and the Internet is necessary for most jobs. Companies rely on a wide range of technology solutions to operate, and this means that their employees must be comfortable using computers and other hardware to communicate with colleagues and complete other tasks.
So, if you are going for a high-paying job without a degree, try to get a little technical education. It can be anything, such as programming, sales, writing, or even troubleshooting the software your company uses. If you already have a few skills up your sleeve, getting a job without a degree should be considerably easier.
Networking is an excellent approach to learning about job openings relevant to you. It ensures that better-suited positions are constantly available to you, including the highest-paying jobs without a degree. Even if you already have a job, make sure to develop a solid network of people to whom you can call out at any time.
If you’re on the hunt for jobs without degree requirements, be prepared to learn new skills and adapt to different environments. Good jobs that don’t require a degree need candidates who learn quickly and think on their feet. Show that you can handle anything thrown at you and that you’ve got the right skills or have the ability to whatever skills are needed.
Finding a good job is not easy in a competitive job market, and it is especially difficult to land high-paying jobs without a degree. Work hard on yourself and develop your skills, expertise, and experience. Apply to jobs that you qualify for so there is a good chance your resume will stand out due to your diligence in training yourself.
Think about it, why should an employer hire you and not other applicants? Know your skills, strengths, and value, even if you do not have a degree. Be self-assured that you can bring something valuable to the table and that you’re highly qualified for the job you are applying for.
What Education Do You Need to Get a High-Paying Job?
You can get high-paying jobs without a degree in professions like sales or mobile app development. However, some fields demand on-the-job training or some sort of vocational training, such as attending trade school. If you want access to high-paying careers without a college degree, check out these alternative education paths.
- High school diploma or GED. There are many high-paying jobs available to employees who only have a high school diploma or GED. However, completing high school, or passing an equivalency exam, is an important step for entering the professional workforce. If you want to get high-paying jobs without a degree, make sure you have a high school diploma.
- Coding bootcamps. A coding bootcamp will help you secure an entry-level high-paying job in certain fields, particularly tech and IT. A coding bootcamp can be completed in a short amount of time, which means that you can quickly join the workforce and start earning money. These programs focus on the practical skills demanded by companies, so you’ll be ready for work in your chosen field after graduation.
- Certificates. You can complete certificate programs in a variety of subjects from universities, junior colleges, and online course providers. Certificate programs typically last between one and six months and provide graduates with a credential for their chosen field. You can find certificate programs in any profession, from human resource management to accounting to software development.
- Apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are programs that combine on-the-job training with educational classes. These positions are usually paid and may last anywhere from one to four years. Traditionally, apprenticeship programs were used in trade professions such as plumbing and carpentry. However, today you can find apprenticeships for a variety of tech positions as well. It is one of the best ways to get high-paying careers without a college degree.
- Internships. You can find both paid and unpaid internship opportunities in nearly any industry. Though these programs are often geared towards students, you can often still apply even if you are not in college. An internship program will help you connect to mentors in your field and learn what the daily work life is like. In addition, you are able to build professional skills under the supervision of a director or manager.
How to Get a High-Paying Job with a GED or High School Diploma
The best-paying jobs you can get with a GED offer you career growth potential, high salaries, and great benefits. However, getting a high-paying job with a GED or high school diploma takes some hard work. You will need to make sure your application stands out amongst those of college graduates. To learn more about how to get a high-paying job without a degree, read through the tips below.
Set Achievable Career Goals
Keep your main goal in mind. If it is getting a good-paying job with a GED, remember that. Then, create your roadmap to get to your dream destination. Set short-term goals and make a plan on how you will achieve them. You can also utilize SMART goals so that you have a way to monitor your progress.
Find Career Opportunities That Don’t Require a College Degree
You have already planned how you can reach your goals, so now it is time to find jobs that don’t require a college degree. Choose to pursue professions that fit your interests and passions and you will excel in your career field. If you don’t know where to start, you can start exploring the careers listed in this article in more detail.
Study to Enhance Your Skills
If you decide you want to pursue high-paying jobs without a degree, you must train yourself. You can turn to different resources to accomplish this, such as online tutorials. Some of the skills you can gain through online learning include instructional design and web development.
The skills you bring to the table will determine whether or not you get the job. Your skills should prove to the recruiters that you are the best fit for the position you are applying for. Enrolling in short courses, bootcamps, or certificate programs can help you learn and acquire the necessary skills. Look for training centers that offer programs in the field you want to work in.
Building solid relationships with established professionals in your desired field will help you kickstart your career. You can use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with professionals in your field who can help you solve specific problems and even offer career advice. They may also agree to act as references when you apply for entry-level tech jobs.
As you advance in your career, it is important to connect with different professionals from various companies to grow your network. Classmates, teachers, instructors, and former colleagues can all be part of your professional network.
Join Organizations Related to Your Career Interests
Organizations such as NGOs and professional associations will provide you with experience and connections. These organizations will expose you to different environments that will help you enhance your skills. If you volunteer within these organizations, the actual work experience you will gain will also help you advance your career.
Get Work Experience
Employers are looking for candidates with demonstrated hands-on experience, particularly for job postings that do not require a specific degree. Internships and apprenticeships can provide you with hands-on experience. Alternatively, you can also apply for entry-level positions to gain work experience.
Pursue Vocational Training
If you are a hands-on type of person who prefers practical experience, a trade or vocational school is the ideal place for you. Trade skills improve your resume and help you stand out from the other candidates. In addition, you get to show the hiring manager you have the right skills to perform the specified duties.
Enroll in an Apprenticeship Program
Apprenticeship programs give you hands-on training, improving your chances of getting a high-paying job without a degree. There are apprenticeships for a wide range of professions, including electronics technician, gas plant operator, HVAC technician, pipefitter, and construction laborer.
Do Training on the Job
Continuous professional development is necessary to build a career, especially if you do not have a degree. Nevertheless, it can be challenging to achieve this without sufficient funds. However, on-the-job training allows you to learn at no extra cost, and you get to enhance your skills while working.
Join volunteering opportunities that may enhance your skills. For example, if you’re interested in a career in patient care, you may volunteer in community healthcare and get the experience you need. With all of the non-profit organizations out there, you can find volunteer opportunities in nearly any field.
Companies That Offer Entry-Level High-Paying Jobs
- Apple: Apple is a tech giant that offers incredible perks and benefits to its employees. If you work for this renowned firm, you will enjoy high pay, wide insurance coverage, and perks like nap pods, free lunch, and gym facilities.
- Google: Google is another company that will provide you with a great working environment. As a software developer, you will learn many new skills and advance your career. You will also get to enjoy benefits such as comprehensive health insurance coverage and plenty of paid time off.
- Platinum Supplemental Insurance: This is a great company to kickstart a successful career in the insurance industry. Platinum Supplemental Insurance offers job openings for insurance sales agents, insurance appraisers, and customer service representatives, among many others.
- Power Home Remodeling: This home improvement contractor is considered one of the best workplaces in the US. It invests heavily in its employees, offering unlimited learning opportunities and regular salary raises.
- Microsoft: Microsoft has great employees and management teams, making it easy for you to build a successful career in the tech sector. This company allows you to learn new skills and impact the tech industry with innovative ideas. Whether you are looking for an internship or entry-level role, Microsoft is a great place to kickstart a tech career.
- Amazon. This company offers a wide range of entry-level jobs such as information technology, software development, operations management, content writing, finance, and marketing. As with other large tech companies, Amazon offers a variety of exciting perks to its employees.
- IBM. IBM has many career opportunities for beginners, such as developers, data scientists, designers, marketing professionals, and product managers. IBM has a variety of locations around the US and also offers remote working positions.
- RingCentral. You can apply for an entry-level position at RingCentral in different fields, such as marketing, business development, and software engineering. RingCentral employees enjoy insurance coverage, paid time off, and in-office perks like free drinks.
- Spectrum. This company offers entry-level jobs in customer service, sales management, and technician positions. The company has a $20 minimum wage for all employees and offers all of the common employee benefits.
- Epsilon. If you want to work remotely, you’ll find many job opportunities at Epsilon. This company hires software engineers, developers, and analysts. Employees can also access retirement plans, paid time off, and insurance plans.
Where to Find Top Paying Jobs Without a Degree
If you are looking for top-paying jobs with a degree, there are a variety of job sites that can help you. Aside from looking directly on a company’s page or asking your network, you can also use sites like Indeed to find top-paying jobs without a degree or college education. Below, we have compiled a list of the resources that can help you find high-paying job opportunities.
This well-known site provides detailed information on the different career opportunities available, whether you are looking for entry or senior-level jobs. It also has a great job search filter system that lets you search for jobs with keywords and locations.
You can compare the salaries offered by different companies and apply for job openings around the world. Moreover, it gives you the option to sign up for job alerts and get notifications about exciting job opportunities.
With thousands of job openings across a wide range of industries, Indeed is another popular site that facilitates the process of searching for jobs. The site shows salary comparisons and gives you details on the benefits and perks offered by each company. Moreover, job applicants receive detailed instructions on how to complete the application process.
ZipRecruiter is a search engine designed to make your job hunt efficient. With this site, you can view different career opportunities across the globe, both remote and in-person. ZipRecruiter allows you to compare companies based on the salaries, benefits, and perks they offer.
NoDegree is an online career resource solution for job seekers looking for high-paying jobs without degrees. It also offers career choice tips and financial advice so you can navigate the hurdles and issues you face throughout life. Thousands of jobs without degree requirements are listed on this site.
Like Glassdoor, Monster is a well-known career website and has thousands of job listings in various industries. It also has career tips and a lot of different job categories. Through its categorized system, you’ll be able to find a good-paying job that suits you in no time.
Employers also take advantage of social media to find the best candidates. Facebook has also grown in popularity as a platform for posting job openings. Many Facebook groups post job openings and assist job seekers in connecting with potential clients. You can join these groups to expand your network and find high-paying employment opportunities.
Freelancing and remote work have become more common due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Freelancing provides a variety of high-paying jobs that are ideal for professional development. Some of the high-paying remote jobs you can get without a degree include software engineer, writer, and web developer.
Consider a High-Paying Degree Later in Your Career
Even if you don’t go to college, many career opportunities are available to you. All you need to do is work hard to develop the skills required for the type of job that you are interested in. Many employers nowadays place a higher value on skills and experience than academic qualifications. So you can get a variety of high-paying jobs without a degree.
You can always consider enrolling in a college degree program later in your career. Earning a college degree later in your career will give you access to higher positions and a bigger salary. Fortunately, nowadays there are many online degrees that adapt to your schedule, no matter how busy it is. So, if you decide to pursue college later, you might want to consider studying online to enjoy the flexibility it offers.
High-Paying Jobs Without a Degree FAQ
The highest-paying job without a degree is a commercial airline pilot. Some of the other highest-paying jobs without formal qualifications include entrepreneurs, sales managers, air traffic controllers, supervisors of police, distribution managers, correctional officers, freight inspectors, admissions officers, software developers, and logistics managers.
You can get many entry-level tech jobs without a degree, such as a web designer, social media manager, web developer, and data analyst. If you want to get an entry-level tech position and have no degree, you can gain skills by enrolling in a coding bootcamp.
Some unskilled jobs you can apply for are sales representative, construction worker, flight attendant, and administrative assistant. Other high-paying skilled jobs include writer, software developer, and information security analyst. Thankfully, you can easily learn all of the skills required for these positions online.
The list of careers you can start in one year include software developer, real estate agent, dental assistant, web developer, and massage therapist. All of these professions offer one-year career programs. Many tech professions have one year career training programs that are offered in the form of coding bootcamps. Some of these career courses only last a couple of months.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.