12 jobs that pay well without a degree

Last updated: May 22, 2024
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Eleana Bowman
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12 jobs that pay well without a degree
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Want a high-paying job but don't have time to complete a four-year degree? If you choose the right path, you can still have a meaningful career with a competitive salary.

There are jobs available across all industries available without a degree, including entry-level positions in healthcare, construction, and administration.

With many positions, you can get the salary you want — without a college degree. In most cases, all you'll need is to complete on-the-job training, a certificate, or an apprenticeship.

So what jobs should you look for? In the following guide, we'll give you our list of the top 12 jobs that pay well without a degree. We'll even include salaries so you can compare these jobs side by side.

What type of jobs can you get without a degree?

Don't have a college degree? You can still get a job with competitive pay.

However, there are a few conditions. First, most employers will expect a high school diploma or equivalent. Some will also have a minimum age requirement, which could be 16, 18, or 21, depending on where you live and the job type.

If you don't have a degree, you'll need to learn the ropes of a new job in other ways. You may have to get on-the-job training, complete an apprenticeship, or obtain a certificate or license.

What types of jobs don't require a degree? Blue-collar jobs require specialized skills, but these skills are usually learned through work training and supervision.

Other examples of jobs that don't require a degree include office, food service, and sales positions.

12 high-paying jobs you can get without a degree

Don't know where to start? Here's a rundown of the top jobs that pay well without a degree.

1. Food service manager

Food service managers work in restaurants, cafes, food chain restaurants, and other places where meals are served.

They oversee the kitchen and make sure it stays clean and hygienic.

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Food service managers train new employees, set rosters, and manage the budget. If a customer has a complaint, these leaders may be called to diffuse the situation.

Food service managers need leadership and communication skills, and they also need to pay close attention to detail.

There are many different jobs in the food industry that open up with industry experience. For example, someone who starts as a dishwasher or cook can work their way up to a management position.

How much does a food service manager make?

The average salary for a food service manager in the US is $28.58 per hour or $59,440 per year. It's an in-demand trade, with an expected employment growth rate of 10% over the next ten years — much faster than average.

2. Plumber

Plumbers install pipes and fittings to new builds and renovations. They make repairs and troubleshoot leaks and water damage.

Plumbers can work on domestic or commercial projects and collaborate with other construction workers. They read blueprints, set budgets, and source the right materials.

To work as a plumber, you'll need manual dexterity, physical fitness, and attention to detail. The role can involve travel, working at heights, and in small spaces.

Most plumbers learn the trade through an apprenticeship program. Some technical schools also offer short courses in plumbing.

How much does a plumber make?

The average annual wage for a plumber is $59,880 or $28.79 per hour. There will always be demand for plumbing services, with job growth predicted to be 2% over the next 10 years.

Plumbers who start their own businesses or work overtime can earn much more than average.

3. Executive assistant

Executive assistants support executives and managers. They answer phones, schedule meetings, and take minutes.

These assistants also deal with sensitive information and need to work with confidentiality. They type letters, enter data, and make travel arrangements.

Executive assistants need excellent communication, organization, and computer skills.

Executive assistants usually work during typical office hours, which gives them a great work-life balance.

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Most executive assistants don't have formal education. Job training is usually provided, but any experience in an office environment is beneficial.

How much does an executive assistant make?

The average annual salary for an executive assistant is $39,680 per year or $19.08 per hour. While demand for executive assistants is decreasing, people in these positions do have opportunities for promotion. For example, an executive assistant can end up working as an office manager.

4. Massage therapist

Massage therapists work with clients to alleviate their aches and pains. They use their knowledge of anatomy to massage the muscles and soft tissues.

Massage therapists speak to clients about their physical concerns and can target specific areas. For example, someone may have pulled a muscle in their leg or have difficulty turning their neck, and the massage therapist can work on that area specifically.

Massage therapists need to be physically fit and have good manual dexterity. They need to be both patient and professional. Excellent communication skills are also essential.

If you want to start a career in massage therapy, you'll only need a certificate and license. Knowledge of the human body and first aid training is usually also required.

How much does a massage therapist make?

The average salary for a massage therapist is $46,910 per year or $22.55 per hour. Some massage therapists run their own businesses, while others are employed.

5. Police officer

Police officers protect and serve their communities. They follow the law and attend emergency situations.

Police officers patrol streets, arrest suspects, and collect evidence. Some police officers manage traffic and make sure the roads remain safe. They keep accurate records of any incidents they come across.

To work in the law enforcement sector, you'll need to be physically fit and pay close attention to detail. Police officers also need to be patient, compassionate, confident, and excellent communicators.

The pathway to becoming a police officer is usually through a police academy program. Training includes written and practical components, along with on-the-job training. While the educational requirements necessary to become a police officer vary by location, in some areas a high school diploma is all that is needed to begin training. In other areas an AA degree or even a four year degree may be required

How much does a police officer make?

The average annual salary for a police officer is $66,020, which equals $31.74 per hour. This can be a long-term career with advancement opportunities. For example, some police officers become detectives.

6. Bookkeeper

Bookkeepers use computer software, such as Excel, Xero, and MYOB, to manage financial data.

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Bookkeepers keep records of transactions, invoices, and expenses. They also separate transactions by accounts and create reports. They make sure all data is entered correctly and look for any errors.

In an office environment, bookkeepers can do other administrative tasks, such as payment processing and invoicing. Some bookkeepers are self-employed, and there are remote work options available.

Bookkeepers need basic math skills, computer skills, and self-motivation. Attention to detail is also important.

There are some certificate courses available in accounting and other business areas. However, most bookkeepers are trained in the workplace.

How much does a bookkeeper make?

The average salary for a bookkeeper in the US is $45,560 per year or $21.90 per hour.

7. Carpenter

Carpenters work on building projects. They install a range of wooden fixtures, cabinetry, and larger structural components. They also measure, cut, and fit walls, floors, and frames.

If it's a renovation they're working on, the carpenter may make repairs. They need to be able to read blueprints and stick to a budget.

Carpenters support building teams and make sure clients are happy. They do their best to meet deadlines and leave their worksites clean and tidy.

Math skills, attention to detail, manual dexterity, and physical fitness are all requirements for this job.

You don't need a college degree to work as a carpenter. The most common pathway to this profession is through an apprenticeship.

How much does a carpenter make?

The average annual wage for a carpenter in the US is $48,260 or $23.20 per hour.

8. Flight attendant

Flight attendants assist passengers and pilots on planes. They inspect emergency equipment before flights and explain emergency procedures to passengers.

Flight attendants also secure overhead luggage and check seat belts and seat numbers.

During the flight, these team members serve food and drinks and make sure passengers are comfortable. If a passenger is afraid of flying or feels ill, a flight attendant will be there to help support them.

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Flight attendants need excellent communication skills, decision-making skills, and the ability to stand for long hours. Speaking a second language can also be beneficial.

This can be a meaningful career choice for those who enjoy travel. To get the job, you can enroll in a flight attendant academy. Alternatively, many airlines offer on-the-job training. You'll also need a certification to work in this position.

How much does a flight attendant make?

The average salary for a flight attendant is $61,640 per year. Job growth is positive, with the industry set to grow by 21% over the next 10 years.

9. Power plant operator

Power plant operators work in different power grid settings. For example, there are nuclear power reactor operators and those working in the fuel, coal, and gas sectors.

Power plant operators communicate with power distributors and use different equipment to control the flow of power. They make sure everything is running safely and no faults occur.

Power plant operators keep an eye on voltage by reading charts and gauges.

Strong math skills, technical skills, and manual dexterity are required to work in this role. Some power plant operators have a college education, but it's not essential. Training is usually provided on the job. These specialized positions may require passing both a medical exam and a licensing exam.

How much does a power plant operator make?

The median salary is $94,790 per year or $45.57 per hour. Job growth for power plant operators is declining, with a drop of -15% predicted in the next 10 years.

If you're looking for an alternative position to a power plant operator, consider a job as a wind turbine technician. The average salary for this job type is $56,260 per year or $27.05 per hour. Job growth for wind turbine technicians is set to rise by 44% over the next 10 years.

10. Computer support specialist

Computer support specialists troubleshoot technical issues. They can help customers in person, online, or over the phone.

They analyze computer issues and try to find solutions. These support specialists explain how to make small fixes, such as installing an update. If a computer needs repair, a computer support specialist will organize any necessary replacement components.

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Computer support specialists work in a team and maintain records of customer communication.

There's no degree requirement for this position, but you'll need excellent computer skills, problem-solving skills, and communication skills. Because the issues they deal with can be specific to each company's unique user interface, on-the-job training is usually provided.

How much does a computer support specialist make?

The average salary for a computer support specialist in the US is $57,910 per year or $27.84 per hour.

11. Radiation therapist

Radiation therapists provide care to patients receiving radiation. They answer questions, provide information, and provide radiation treatment.

These healthcare team members make sure the work area remains safe and strive to minimize radiation exposure. They monitor patients for any negative reactions.

Radiation therapists keep written records and collaborate with other healthcare professionals. They order medical equipment repairs and maintain good hygiene.

Some radiation therapists have an associate degree, while others have a certificate and receive on-the-job training.

This is an ideal role for those looking for a long-term career path to another healthcare profession or looking to go to medical school.

Compassion, attention to detail, and communication are all essential skills for this position.

How much does a radiation therapist make?

The annual wage for a radiation therapist is around $82,790 per year or $39.80 per hour.

12. Construction equipment operator

Construction equipment operators use different machinery, such as bulldozers and excavators. They work on construction sites transporting sand, dirt, rocks, and other building supplies.

Construction equipment operators are also responsible for the cleaning, maintenance, and testing of equipment. They follow the directions of the construction manager.

If you want to work as a heavy equipment operator, you'll need to be mechanically minded. Manual dexterity, teamwork, and attention to detail are also important skills to have.

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Construction equipment operators usually get on-the-job training. However, in some settings, a commercial driver's license (CDL) may be required. Apprentice programs may also be available.

How much does a construction equipment operator make?

The average construction equipment operator salary in the US is $48,290 per year or $23.22 per hour.

Jobs that pay well without a degree

You don't need to complete a four-year college degree to be successful. There are many high-paying jobs that require only a high school diploma with some additional training.

For example, there are apprenticeships, certificates, and on-the-job training, which can significantly boost your income.

Our list of top jobs that pay well without a degree includes blue-collar jobs, such as plumbers, police officers, construction equipment operators, and carpenters, as well as other positions, such as food service managers, executive assistants, flight attendants, computer support specialists, and radiation therapists. These roles, and many others, are worth pursuing if college is not the path for you.

Ready for a new career? Head over to our job board. Want more hints and tips? Check out our resource center.



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