You don’t need a college degree to make a great income. In fact, there are many high paying jobs that you can do without a college degree and still earn $50-$100k a year!
Of course, the value of college goes beyond just getting a degree. You learn about the history of the world, diversify your knowledge, and it can be an enriching social experience.
However, college is not for everyone.
And with student loan debt at an all-time high and the average undergrad in 2018 burdened with $29,200 of student loan debt, more young people than ever are looking for alternatives to college.
Even grads with high paying careers, like doctors, are struggling to get ahead. In 2016, the average doctor in the US graduated with $190,000 of student loan debt. Even with an average starting salary of well over $200,000 per year, some doctors struggle to get ahead of their Bachelor’s degree or non-college-degree-holding counterparts because of the student loan debt and years of foregone income due to the length of their schooling.
So the college path can work, but it’s not for everyone, and it’s certainly not the only pathway to a successful career!
You may want to get started on a career path sooner, and without all the debt.
Maybe you already have a degree, but you’re ready for a career change.
Or maybe you have a teenager who has no interest in going to college, who needs some positive alternative ideas.
Whoever you are, you want to know what kinds of high paying jobs you can start without a college degree!
I crowdsourced this list of 60+ high paying jobs you can do without a degree from Instagram!
All of the careers listed below are with no college degree unless otherwise listed (i.e. have a degree but it wasn’t required or considered for the job position). I feel confident that these are the highest paying jobs without a degree out there, so I hope you are inspired by this list.
SKIP TO A SECTION – HIGH PAYING JOBS WITHOUT A DEGREE:
60+ HIGH PAYING JOBS YOU CAN DO WITHOUT A COLLEGE DEGREE:
Skilled Labor Jobs
“Heavy Equipment Operator. $33/hr or about $70,000/yr. No college is needed but the job has required a lot of practice and the ability to work in rugged conditions effectively. The starting pay was around $21/hr.”
Anonymous, Houston, Texas
“Power Plant Operator. $190,000/yr. Only requirement was to finish high school and starting pay was $100k/yr. The power plant I work at delivers energy to consumers in the Bay Area. Our biggest customer is PG&E.”
Anonymous, Bay Area, California
“Utility Technician at a Steel Mill. $60,000+/yr. Starting pay was around $20/hr.”
Brett, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
“Lineman for a Power Co-op. $44/hr or about $91,000/yr. My pay will increase to $47/hr when I finish my apprenticeship. I started at around $39/hr. The job also has great benefits and a lot of opportunities for voluntary overtime. No college degree needed but I do a lot of on the job training and classes.”
“Lineman for a Power Co-op. $110,000-$130,000 depending on overtime. Starting salary was $80,000 but with overtime was closer to $100,000. I started 5 years ago with no degree or experience and they put me through a completely paid 4-year apprenticeship program. More people need to know about these trades!”
“Union Ironworker. $42/hr or $87,000-$130,000/yr. My husband works for the union and he is able to bring in his base pay plus vacation pay, sub pay, and overtime pay so last year he ended up making around $130,000! Pay can vary from state to state.”
Shannon M., Northern California
“Front End Mechanic for a NASCAR team. $100,000/yr. No degree.”
Anonymous, Charlotte, North Carolina
“Finishing Department of a Mill. $80,000/yr. Started at $50,000 3 years ago, with 10 years of work experience prior.”
Kenneth W., Georgia
“Foreman Plumber. $85,000/yr. First year apprentices make $19/hr (including all major benefits). Each year for 5 years your pay bumps up $2-3/hr. After passing the journeyman exam, you make $35/hr. Currently, I am a step above journeyman as a Foreman Plumber, making $38/hr or about $85,000/yr, a week paid vacation, paid holidays, and a company truck. It took about 7 years to get where I am now.”
Cody L., Houston, Texas
“Independent Contractor Installing Cable/Fiber. $96,000/yr. Starting pay was around $60,000/yr.”
Jack K., Unknown
“Heavy Duty Mechanic. $140,000-$180,000/yr. Pay varies depending on how much overtime I work. I did a paid apprenticeship about 10 years ago. I was required to take a couple of classes for the book theory portion, but no degree, and the company paid for most of it.”
Mike H., British Columbia, Canada
“Lease Operator in Oilfield. $100,000/yr. There are a lot of demanding hours, missed holidays etc. The work is physically and mentally hard as well, and I’m always out in the harsh elements. It is a little hard on the family but the pay is great. The oilfield is also a boom and bust industry with lots of uncertainty, but I have no degree. Starting pay was around $65,000/yr. ”
“HVAC Technician. $75,000/yr. Starting pay is typically around $20/hr + commissions. My husband has been at his job now for 5 years. These types of companies usually train you themselves and help you get your certifications.”
Amber E., Waxhaw, North Carolina
“HVAC Technician. $150,000/yr. Been at the company for almost 12 years and started at around $35,000.”
Anonymous, Riverside, California
“HVAC Mechanic. $27/hr or about $55,000/yr. I started at $15.50 three years ago and was able to get all my training and certifications along the way paid for by my employer.”
Anonymous, Cincinnati, Ohio
“Oil Field Worker. $180,000/yr plus amazing benefits. I started out making about $40,000/yr 28 years ago. Now working in management.”
“PipeFitter/Stainless Welder. $93,000/yr. Starting out I only made $13/hr as a helper, but I learned the trade and now I’m 8 years in. I make $45/hr plus a lot of overtime”
“Assistant Distribution Center Manager. $64,000/year. I started 12 years ago at about $20,000/year and worked my way up through the small company I work for.”
Ellie M., Tennessee
“Field Technician and Onboarding Manager for Petroleum Logistics. $74,000/yr. I have been with this company for 8 years, I started out in their production department making $55,000/yr.”
Anonymous, South Carolina
“Lamination Supervisor for a Yacht Company. $65,000/yr. My position in generic terms is manufacturing foreman, similar to an assembly line manager. I’m only 25 years old. I started as a parts runner with no experience for $13/hr and progressed my career in about 4 years, the time it would have taken to go to school. I aspire to be a Manufacturing Building Manager at my company which will pay about $100k.”
Robbie R., Orlando, Florida
“Maintenance Supervisor. $75,000-$85,000/yr. I only have my GED.”
Nelson P., Alabama
“Restaurant General Manager. $113,000/yr. I got a degree but fell in love with the restaurant business. I worked my way up from being a server in college. Hard work and dedication did the trick! Starting pay was around $70k.”
Robert H., San Diego, California
“Warehouse Manager. $70,000/yr. I started in 2007 at $11.50 an hour and worked my way up. If I ever got laid off from a job, I would apply to the next job a position higher than my previous.”
Hector., San Antonio
“Manager of a Gym. $57,000/yr. Been at the job 6 years and started at the front desk at $8/hr.”
“Maintenance Manager. $87,000/yr. No College degree but I do have military background experience. My starting pay 4 years ago was $60,000.”
Anonymous, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin
“Retail Buyer. $50,000/yr + up to $10k in bonuses based on sales. Been in this field for 4 years, started at a different company at $45k + up to $10k in bonuses and made a lateral company switch recently.”
“Manager at a Retail Store. $70,000/yr. I was hired 4 years ago as an assistant manager at $20/hr or about $40,000 a year and just a few months ago got promoted to store manager. I do have a degree but it wasn’t required for the job and wasn’t considered when I got promoted either.”
Anonymous, Southern California
“Retail Manager at Hobby Lobby. $70,000/yr plus bonuses. No degree but I’ve invested lots of time into the industry.”
“Outside Sales. $60,000/yr guaranteed salary + uncapped commission and bonus. Been in this position less than 2 years. Base salary is based on the market you work in, not your skills, education, or tenure with the company.”
Katie S., Columbus, Ohio
“Car Sales Manager. $100,000/yr. I started as a car salesman at a dealership making $50,000/yr but I’m now a manager and making double. It’s all commission based so pay varies a lot, but top salesman make about $100,000/yr.”
“Contractor in a Family Business. $28/hr or $50,000/yr plus $5,000-$10,000 bonus at the end of the year. It is a family business so I started when I was 16, and am now 26. Most guys start around $15-20/hr depending on experience. Includes company vehicle with gas paid for.”
Anonymous, Cincinnati, Ohio
“Construction Administration. $60,000/yr.”
Cindy T., Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
“Project Manager for a Construction Company. $90,000/yr. My starting pay 3 years ago was $50,000. I have no degree, only a GED, and only a couple of years experience before I landed this job.”
Anonymous, San Diego, California
“Construction Worker in Drywall and Metal Framing. $22/hr or about $54,000/yr. I work about 48 hours a week and made $16/hr when I started 5 years ago.”
Leo J., Orlando, Florida
“Construction Worker in Shower Floor Installation. $50,000/yr. I’m making $50k/year with no degree and I’m only 22 years old. I mainly install marble shower floors. I started 2 years ago at about $12.00/hr during training and now I work alone and charge per job, making around $30/hr and working 30-35 hours per week.”
Sam B., Utah
“Drywall Finisher. $80,000/yr plus a great pension through union upon retirement.”
Sheila P., Ontario, Canada
Real Estate Positions
“Realtor. $350,000/yr. I’ve been a realtor for 4 years. It only took me 2 months to take classes and pass the exam. The downside is no one gives you leads or business. It’s all up to you. The upside, it’s all up to you. There is no cap on how much you can make!”
Josh M., Dallas, Texas
“Property Manager for Commercial Real Estate. $58,000/yr. My starting pay in 2014 was $40k, then $47k in 2016! Great career to work your way up in! Plenty of room to grow and advance. There are also different types of real estate you can manage like commercial, office, residential, etc. Different departments to explore like lease analyst, accounting, service/repair coordination, leasing, etc. The more you manage, the more you can make.”
Jenna S., Charlotte, North Carolina
“Real Estate Appraiser. $200,000/yr. This job does require a certificate and some training. Entry-level staff appraisers make around $80,000, now after 2 years on my own I’m making much more. It’s a lot of work but pays well.”
Anonymous, Stockton, California
Public Safety Positions You Can Do With On-the-Job Training
“Correctional Officer. $47,000-$61,000/yr. 25 years of service and can retire soon. Great medical benefits and overtime available. I did have to complete 10 weeks in the academy to be qualified.”
“Police Officer. $58,000/yr. No degree, but obviously had to go to the police academy.”
Phillip A., Memphis, Tennessee
“Police Officer. $105,000/yr. I worked as an officer for 28 years before I retired last year. The last year of my career I made $105k. My retirement pension is $73,000/yr.”
Anonymous, Baltimore, Maryland
“Forest Fire Fighter for the USDA. $109,000/yr. I’m 34 years old and Captain for a Hotshot crew in California. No college degree, but I did go into this field straight out of high school. Starting pay isn’t great, around minimum wage, but after working my way up the pay is much better.”
“Firefighter and EMT. $70,000/yr with raises built into my salary every year. No need for a college degree. There is excellent pay and benefits. Some departments will even reimburse you to go to college and obtain a degree while working. No experience necessary. Very rewarding career. The only thing you need is yourself and the department will provide you with the rest!”
Stuart H., Virginia
“Dispatcher for Police Department. $75,000/yr plus great benefits. Extremely stressful, overnight and weekend shifts, but great money and even better benefits and retirement. I started out at $54,000 3 years ago and have worked my way up.”
Anonymous, Southern California
“Supervisor for 911 Emergency Center. $29.50/hr or about $61,000/yr. I started my senior year in high school as an intern answering the non-emergency line for $13/hr. After high school, I continued to work there as a regular 911 call taker making about $16/hr. I have received promotions throughout the years. Now at only 25 years old I am a supervisor and making $29.50/hr. I also have good benefits and overtime opportunities.”
Anonymous, Houston, Texas
Technology jobs you can do without a degree
“Cyber Security Engineer. $83,000/yr. I don’t have a degree, I worked my way up from the IT helpdesk.”
Anonymous, Salt Lake City, Utah
“Software Tester. $100,000yr. I have a college degree but you do not need one in this field! Experience, skill, and certifications (that companies usually pay for) are more important. Often, larger companies will pay for you to get a degree while you work if you like to pursue college. I started at $60k 5 years ago with no experience in this area. I now make $100k base salary with about $15k in bonuses added to that. I’m projecting to make $150k in 5 years or less, and I don’t even live in a tech-rich area! I have put a lot of effort into being good at what I do.”
Anonymous, Portland, Maine
“Account Manager for Software Company in the Car Industry. $60,000 + monthly bonuses. This is my husband’s job, and he makes more than me even though I have an undergraduate and a Master’s degree. He’s always worked in the car industry, starting out in sales at a Mercedes dealership. Tough industry, though.”
Evan T., Texas
“Senior Software Developer. $180,000/yr. I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering but I taught myself computer programming and developing after college and then pivoted careers and started working in developing full-time. Entry-level programmers do not need a degree but they do need to know how to program and pay starts around $50-60k/yr. In 5-10 years you can be making over $100k.”
Anonymous, Houston, Texas
Miscellaneous high paying jobs you can do without a degree
“Certified Court Interpreter for Spanish. $50/hr or $104,000/yr. I have 2 degrees but they aren’t required. It does require courses and exams to certify. This is considered a freelance job for most interpreters.”
Lee W., Unknown
“Bookkeeper. $37,000/yr. I am starting my own business soon and I could easily make $100k.”
Suzy B., West Palm Beach, Florida
“Dispatcher for a Recycling Company. $70,000/yr. My husband just started in February with no college background and is expected to exceed $100,000 annually in 5 years.”
Andrea J., California
“Director of Operations for a Healthcare Company. $75,000/yr. I was actually hired for this position before I even earned my GED. I was hired back in 2012 starting at $55k.”
Heather S., Washington
“Ophthalmic Technician. $26/hr or $50,000/yr or more. I have been at my current job for 2.5 years, but before this, I was an optician for 14 years starting at about $16-$25/hr + commission, or about $30/hr.”
Anonymous, Minneapolis, Minnesota
“Insurance Agent. $60,000/yr plus incentives and bonus. Starting pay is around $30,000, and I’ve been at my company for about 18 years.”
“Home Daycare Provider. $50,000/yr. Very little startup costs. I started out making about $3000 a month, but that wasn’t full time. Now I am full time and making much more”
Dayna P., Ontario, Canada
“Medical Coder and Auditor. $113,000/yr. I started out in 2010 with a salary of $32,000. I work from home so I’ve lived and worked all over the country! My salary is pretty high for this industry, but the pay varies by region and employer. A Degree is not necessary but training and certification are required. After 3-5 years on the job, the earning potential is fantastic!”
Anonymous, All over the USA
“Office Administrator at a Law Firm. $67,500/yr. I started 7 years ago at about $54,000. I have been working with law firms since 1998 starting out as a minimum wage runner.”
Kim B., Alabama
“Air Traffic Controller for FAA. $90,000/yr. You don’t need a degree, but my husband did study air traffic management. The minimum requirements are to be a US Citizen, age 30 or under, you must pass a medical exam, pass a security investigation, pass the FAA air traffic pre-employment test, speak English clearly, 3 years of progressive work experience/or a Bachelor’s degree/or a combination of college and work experience totaling 3 years, and be willing to relocate to an FAA facility. This is a government job so the hiring process can be long, and the academy pass rate is about 50%. Starting salary was about $45,000, and then you get regular raises as you go along. We are expecting 2 more raises soon. Awesome benefits.”
Mimi H., Kansas City, Missouri
“Photographer. $78,000/yr. I started off as a hobby photographer about 6 years ago charging about $50 per session. I have since progressed and turned my hobby into a full-time career.”
Andrea J., California
“Truck Driver. $78,000-$80,000/yr. My route is very labor-intensive because I have to unload my trailer tractor every day. I work 4 days a week on my current route, but I get to be home every day. I work for a food distribution group called McLane. We deliver 1300-1400 items a night to about 8-10 restaurants. Very hard work, but I didn’t even graduate High School.”
Anonymous, Salisbury, North Carolina
“Underwriter for Crop Insurance. $52,000/yr. I work in crop insurance (like car insurance but for crops) and do underwriting. I started at $36,000 but after my company was bought by a larger company our pay increased to be more competitive.”
Jenn R., Fresno, California
“Recruiter for a Healthcare Company. $75,000/yr. Starting pay as an assistant was about $18/hr and then it jumped up to $60k/year when I earned a recruiter role. No degree needed, just communication skills and finding pleasure in meeting goals.”
Anonymous, Orange County, California
“Receptionist/Assistant Office Administrator. $27/hr or about $55,000yr. Starting pay was around $14.50/hr and I have been given 3-4 pay increases and a bonus since starting this job 2 years ago!”
Nicole B., California
Okay, not going to lie, I am absolutely stunned by the pay and the diversity of these high paying jobs you can do without a college degree!
I went to college at a great university, graduated top of my class, and my starting pay was…$25,000! Gotta laugh so I don’t cry. Now granted, I didn’t have a complicated degree and the market was pretty saturated, but still.
My main takeaway from all of these high paying jobs without a degree and their pay is that you don’t need a college degree to make a great living and there are a huge variety of options out there! If you are looking for a new career without a degree, it’s time to think outside the box and get creative. Jobs are everywhere, you just have to know where to look! The sky is the limit.
I also picked up on how important experience is. Sure, everyone starts with no experience. But over time, almost all of these individuals went from low paying to high paying by putting time and effort into their field.
TIPS TO LAND ONE OF THESE HIGH PAYING JOBS WITHOUT A DEGREE
1. Do a Google search for these jobs in your area
Did any of the jobs on this list spark your interest? Jot them down and then do a Google search for each position or companies that hire out that position in your area. Then, give them a call and see if anyone can walk you through the application and qualification process.
2. Ask around and network in your community
Your friends and family probably have more connections than you think, so start asking them if there are any opportunities they know of that you could apply for. Often, the person who lands the best job isn’t the most qualified, but the most eager and invested in getting the job. Show you are serious and you are much more likely to land the job of your dreams without spending time or money on college!
An example of this, I was once looking for a work-from-home job that I could do, but it was a really saturated market at the time so I didn’t think I’d be able to find anything. I decided to put myself out there and I posted on Facebook that I was an eager worker looking for a job I could do from home, and if anyone could pass leads on to me that would be great. Not long after, I got a call from a friend and she landed me an amazing work-from-home job that I did for 3 years! This job was for a small business and it wasn’t listed on any hiring sites- all hiring was done through word-of-mouth, so I wouldn’t have landed this job without talking about it in my community.
You don’t have to post on social media to get a job, but start talking and see what opportunities come up!
At any rate, these are some of the highest paying jobs without a degree that you can get, and there are surprisingly a lot of options! I’m totally inspired (why did I go to college again?… kidding).
I hope this list of high paying jobs you can do without a degree has informed and inspired you, too!