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What is the highest paying job without college?

In today’s job market, there are still many high-paying careers available for those without a college degree. With the right skills, experience and determination, workers can earn over $100,000 per year in fields like sales, construction management and air traffic control.

What are the highest paying jobs without a degree?

Here are some of the top careers in terms of salary potential that do not require a bachelor’s degree:

  • Sales Manager – Average salary of $121,430
  • Real Estate Broker – Average salary of $108,700
  • Construction Manager – Average salary of $105,000
  • Air Traffic Controller – Average salary of $102,030
  • Elevator Installer/Repairer – Average salary of $91,260
  • Power Plant Operator – Average salary of $88,920
  • Commercial Pilot – Average salary of $86,080
  • Dental Hygienist – Average salary of $80,200
  • Electrical Power-Line Installer – Average salary of $77,580
  • Nuclear Technician – Average salary of $75,660

What skills and qualifications are needed?

While a college degree is not required for these positions, certain skills, experiences and qualifications are important:

  • Sales – Sales managers typically have previous experience in sales roles along with skills in team leadership, communication, negotiation and analytics.
  • Real estate – Real estate brokers need strong interpersonal abilities, market knowledge and negotiation tactics. A license is required.
  • Construction – Construction managers must understand building practices and regulations. Leadership qualities and budget management aptitude are critical.
  • Air traffic control – Extensive on-the-job training is provided, but air traffic controllers should have strong analytical thinking and decision-making skills.
  • Installation/repair positions – Technical aptitude, physical capability, certification and on-the-job training are commonly required.
  • Power plant operators – Science, technology, engineering and math skills are necessary. Licensing is mandatory.
  • Pilots – Commercial pilots need flight training and certification. Problem-solving abilities and communication skills are vital.
  • Dental hygienists – Dental hygienists require certification or an associate’s degree in dental hygiene.
  • Electrical power-line installers – Mathematical and technical know-how is important. An apprenticeship is generally required.
  • Nuclear technicians – Background in engineering, technology or construction paired with strong critical thinking is expected.

What industries offer the best opportunities?

The industries and sectors with the greatest number of high-paying jobs accessible without a bachelor’s degree include:

  • Sales and Related Occupations
  • Transportation
  • Construction
  • Installation, Maintenance and Repair
  • Production and Manufacturing
  • Protective Services such as Firefighting and Law Enforcement
  • Office Administration and Support
  • Personal Care Services such as Cosmetology
  • Extraction Work including Mining and Oil/Gas

Within these industries, there are diverse well-paying roles like sales representatives, commercial pilots, construction managers, dental hygienists, power plant operators and more. Finding opportunities in growing fields can maximize earning potential without a college degree.

What are some examples of high-paying jobs without a degree?

Here are examples of specific occupations that demonstrate the earning potential of careers accessible without a bachelor’s degree:

Job Title Industry Average Salary
Real Estate Broker Real Estate $108,700
Power Plant Operator Utilities $88,920
Elevator Installer/Repairer Construction $91,260
Commercial Pilot Transportation $86,080
Dental Hygienist Healthcare $80,200

Real Estate Broker – $108,700 average salary

Real estate brokers arrange real estate transactions between buyers and sellers. Key responsibilities include attracting new business, assessing property values, marketing listings, and facilitating negotiations. Real estate licenses are required in all states to work as a broker.

Power Plant Operator – $88,920 average salary

Power plant operators control and monitor power generation equipment. They adjust controls to balance electricity supply with demand, troubleshoot issues, perform maintenance, and ensure safety standards are met. Certification and on-the-job training are typically needed.

Elevator Installer/Repairer – $91,260 average salary

Elevator installers and repairers assemble, install and maintain elevators, escalators and other equipment. Strong mechanical aptitude and physical stamina are essential. Completion of an apprenticeship program is generally required.

Commercial Pilot – $86,080 average salary

Commercial airline pilots fly and navigate aircraft to transport passengers and cargo. Extensive pre-flight planning, aviation expertise and a commercial pilot’s FAA license are required. Many pilots learn through military training or aviation schools.

Dental Hygienist – $80,200 average salary

Dental hygienists clean patients’ teeth, screen for oral diseases, and provide preventative dental care. An associate’s degree in dental hygiene is typically the minimum education required, followed by state licensure.

What are the fastest growing high-paying jobs without a degree?

While many lucrative roles are expanding, these occupations without degree requirements are projected to grow much faster than average in the coming years:

Job Title Projected Growth by 2031 Median Salary
Solar Photovoltaic Installer 63% $48,890
Wind Turbine Technician 57% $56,230
Home Health Aide 33% $27,680
Elevator Installer/Repairer 27% $91,260
Physical Therapist Aide 36% $29,120

Solar Photovoltaic Installer – 63% projected growth

With increasing solar panel adoption, these electricians install and maintain solar PV systems. Apprenticeships provide valuable hands-on training in this growing renewable energy field.

Wind Turbine Technician – 57% projected growth

Wind turbine techs install, inspect and repair wind turbines. Strong mechanical and technical skills are needed to service turbines, often at great heights. Vocational programs and certifications are highly useful.

Home Health Aide – 33% projected growth

Home health aides care for elderly, ill or disabled people in residential settings. This role offers flexible scheduling and meaningful work without postsecondary education. Certification and on-the-job training are commonly required.

Elevator Installer/Repairer – 27% projected growth

With increasing urbanization and building development comes growing demand for elevator installation and maintenance. Apprenticeships provide the comprehensive on-site and classroom training necessary.

Physical Therapist Aide – 36% projected growth

Under the direction of physical therapists, aides assist with patient therapeutic exercises, equipment use and administrative tasks. Short-term on-the-job training prepares aides to work in this expanding healthcare role.

What are the highest paying trade jobs without a degree?

Skilled trades offer some of the best opportunities for high wages without a bachelor’s degree. Apprenticeships and vocational training are highly valuable. Here are some of the most lucrative skilled trade careers:

Trade Job Average Salary
Elevator Installer/Repairer $91,260
Electrician $60,940
Plumber $58,150
Construction Manager $105,000
Commercial Driver $48,710

Skilled tradespeople like electricians, plumbers, constructors and mechanics are in high demand. With comprehensive on-the-job training like apprenticeships, workers can gain expertise in specialized fields without college.

What are some other lucrative careers without a degree?

Beyond skilled trades, here are several other high-paying roles accessible without a bachelor’s degree:

  • Web Developer – Build, design and maintain websites. Median Salary: $77,200
  • Massage Therapist – Provide therapeutic massages and body treatments. Median Salary: $47,350
  • Insurance Sales Agent – Sell insurance policies like auto, health and life to clients. Median Salary: $50,940
  • Lineman – Install and maintain electrical power systems and telecommunications lines. Median Salary: $76,810
  • Paralegal – Research, draft documents, and support lawyers. Median Salary: $56,610

With certain technical skills, licenses, industry experience and natural abilities, there are many potential six-figure careers accessible without a four-year degree.

What are the highest paying jobs in the medical field without a degree?

In healthcare, many allied health roles offer strong pay without needing a bachelor’s degree. Top options include:

Job Title Average Salary
Radiation Therapist $94,300
Nuclear Medicine Technologist $88,670
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer $80,370
Registered Nurse $77,600
Dental Hygienist $80,200

An associate’s degree or certificate program in fields like radiation therapy, dental hygiene and diagnostic imaging can provide access to well-compensated healthcare careers without needing a four-year degree.

Radiation Therapist – $94,300 average salary

Radiation therapists treat cancer by administering specialized radiation treatments. An associate’s degree in radiation therapy and a license are typically required.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist – $88,670 average salary

These technologists prepare and administer radioactive drugs to patients and conduct scans to image organ function and structure. Certification is generally required and an associate’s degree is common.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer – $80,370 average salary

Also known as ultrasound technicians, they operate imaging technology to help diagnose medical conditions. Associates degrees in sonography/ultrasound are widely available.


While a college degree remains a worthwhile investment for many, it is not the only path to gaining entry to a lucrative career. With the right mix of skills, experience, licensing and determination, workers can chart a course to high earnings, advancement and job satisfaction without a bachelor’s degree.

Dynamic fields like real estate, construction, renewable energy, healthcare services and skilled trades offer opportunities for those willing to work hard and gain specialized practical knowledge. By identifying well-paying roles aligned to individual strengths and interests, people can maximize their career potential, even without a degree.