Are you looking for a rewarding career that doesn't require a four-year college degree? Look no further! There are many high-paying jobs that only require a two-year associate's degree, vocational training, or even just a high school diploma.
In this article, we'll explore 21 of these lucrative careers and what they involve. From skilled trades to healthcare, there are many options available for those who want to earn a good living without going to college. So, if you're looking to enter the workforce quickly and start earning a good salary, these jobs might be right for you.
High Paying Jobs That Don't Require a Four-Year College Degree
Did you know there are many great careers you can pursue that don’t require a college degree at all? It’s true. And these are careers that pay extremely well.
The idea that you have to earn a college degree to make a good living for yourself and your family is simply not true, and it’s long past time that society stops telling our youth that college is the only way to success in life.
Skipping college and entering the workforce definitely has its advantages. For each year you spend in college, for example, that’s a year of your life that you aren’t working and earning. Time is money.
If it takes you four years to earn a bachelor’s degree, that’s four years of your life spent out of the workforce. If you still want to earn a college degree, there are many great schools that offer online degree programs you can complete in your spare time.
The following are high paying jobs that don't require a degree at all.
*Note: Some of these jobs may require a specific trade degree, certificate or licensing program.
1. Real Estate Broker
Real estate brokers match sellers of real estate to those who are interested in buying. They do all of the work involved in listing new homes for sale, showing homes to potential buyers, assisting in negotiations, and in closing sales.
Real estate brokers often work long hours – including evenings and weekends. They have to be available to show homes when their clients are available. They also typically work on commission, earning a percent of the sale price of each home sold. As such, they can sometimes go weeks without earning anything.
But that doesn’t mean real estate brokers don’t do well for themselves. The career, in fact, can be quite lucrative. According to Glassdoor, the average real estate broker earns $72k a year. And that figure can easily climb into the six figure range for those living in large metro areas.
To become a real estate broker you must become licensed in the state you live. Obtaining a license typically involves completing a training course and passing your state’s broker licensing exam.
Why do companies use freelancers? Using a freelancer for certain tasks allows companies to only pay for the work they need done when they need it. They don’t have to keep a graphic designer on staff, for example, if they only need occasional graphic design work done.
There are many different kinds of work that companies frequently hire freelancers to do. Just a few examples include website design and maintenance, copywriting (business writing), bookkeeping, editing, transcription, virtual assisting, social marketing management, and many others.
There are several websites that freelancers can use to find work. These websites act as brokers, bringing together companies that need work done and freelancers interested in doing the work. The websites earn a percent of each project completed.
How much money can you make as a freelancer? You might be surprised to learn that there are many freelancers earning comfortable six-figure incomes. It is not uncommon at all, for example, for copywriters to charge $100 – $150 an hour for their services – and sometimes more. Website designers often charge thousands for each new website they create. It just takes a few projects for the dollar signs to start adding up.
3. Online Business Owner
We live in an incredible age of technology with a near-limitless source of information just a mouse click away – the internet. In addition to connecting with friends and family on Facebook, watching cat videos on YouTube, and checking out pictures on Instagram, the internet is also where most people these days do their shopping – and you can very easily create your own online retail empire and research online business ideas.
There are several ways to sell items online, but probably the easiest is through Amazon’s FBA program. FBA stands for Fulfillment By Amazon.
A fulfillment center is a warehouse where online retailers store their merchandise. When a product is sold, the fulfillment center takes care of packing and shipping the product. Fulfillment centers have been around for years, but Amazon’s FBA program took the concept to an entirely new level.h paying jobs that don't require a degree
Through Amazon’s FBA program, anyone can now list their products for sale right on Amazon’s website. It’s essentially the equivalent of opening a store on the busiest street in the world. And it gets even better. Amazon takes care of all of the picking, packing, shipping, customer service issues, and even handles product returns. How about that?
There is a modest monthly fee to join the FBA program, and Amazon does charge a fee for each sale you make, but when you consider the cost of opening a traditional store and paying for a lease, utilities, employee salaries, and other expenses, FBA is clearly the better de
4. Air Traffic Controller
Let me tell you something about air traffic controllers you may not know: There are many air traffic controllers who are earning more – far more – than the pilots of the aircraft they are directing.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average air traffic controller earns just over $120k per year. And that’s just the average controller. Controllers at the big airports (Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, etc.) are earning closer to $200k a year.
Not too shabby for a career that doesn’t even require a degree, eh?
To become an air traffic controller in the United States you must be a U.S. citizen and be no older than 30 when you apply to the one and only training program in the country (located in Oklahoma City, OK).
There are three ways you can qualify for entry into the program:
- Have at least one year of experience as a military air traffic controller
- Have at least three years of any work experience
- Have a bachelor’s degree in any field of study
- Have a combination of work and college
- Complete the FAA’s Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative program
Having a college degree is just one of several paths to qualify for entry into the training program. It isn’t a requirement at all.
5. Nuclear Reactor Technician
Nuclear reactor technicians are the folks who watch over the operations of the reactors that power our lights, heat our homes, and make our toast. They typically work in control rooms and offices using computers and other equipment to monitor operations.
Nuclear reactor technicians earn great pay. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nuclear reactor technicians earn an average annual salary of $79k.
There are associate’s degree programs in this field, but you don’t need a degree to land a job as a reactor technician. In fact, many who end up working as reactor technicians obtain training in the U.S. Navy.
Many of the vessels in the U.S. fleet are now nuclear powered, and it takes a small army (navy?) of nuclear technicians to oversee the operations of the reactors that power them. The U.S. Navy even has its own nuclear technician training school in South Carolina with a staff of 500 and about 2,500 students at any given time.
You could potentially serve as a nuclear technician in the U.S. Navy for a few years and then transition to a land-based reactor after leaving the military – no degree necessary. And the best part of this deal is the fact that the Navy pays for all of your training.
6. Elevator Installer and Repairer
Most don’t give a second thought about the operations of the elevators that transport them from floor to floor, but they should – because elevator installation and repair is a highly lucrative career that doesn’t require a degree of any kind.
It takes someone with specialized knowledge to install an elevator. It’s not something that just anyone can or should do. And elevators also require regular inspections and maintenance to make sure they continue operating properly.
According to PayScale, those who install and repair elevators earn and average annual salary of $102k. A high school diploma or GED is all that’s required to get started in this career, and most learn their craft through apprenticeships.
Mention to friends and family that you are interested in starting a blog, and most will probably roll their eyes so far back they can see their brains and mutter something like “good luck with your little hobby.” But the joke’s totally on them.
Did you know that many bloggers earn six-figure incomes? Not only that, but there are some who earn over $1 million a year – just from writing about some pretty ordinary things. Some of the most popular blogs involve topics like personal finance, lifestyle issues, recipes, health issues, technology, and personal development.
I could cite many bloggers who are pulling six-figures, but what’s the fun in that? Let’s take a look at a big fish.
In 2011 Michelle Schroeder-Gardner started Making Sense of Cents, a personal finance blog. It was a hobby at first, just a way for her to write about some financial things she was trying to sort through. It’s kind of hard to call it a hobby these days. Today her blog earns well over $100,000 a month. Stop and think about that for a minute.
Over $100,000 a month.
It's easy to start a blog, and there are several ways that blogs make money. One is through advertising from Google Adsense. Google is mostly known for its search engine, but the company actually makes most of its money from advertising.
Google’s Adsense program lets bloggers place advertisements right on their blogs. Money is earned when someone clicks an ad. With pay-per-click ads, as they are called, the blogger earns the majority of the commission on the clicks while the rest is Google’s.
Another way blogs make money is through affiliate commissions. This is when a blogger writes about a topic and then recommends certain products. For example, when someone reads an article about saving money on insurance and then clicks a link in the article to a recommended insurance program and signs up, the blogger earns a commission.
There are affiliate programs for just about everything you can imagine. Some pay as little as a few dollars, while others pay well over $100 for each sale that is made through your blog.
Many bloggers also make money by creating and selling their own digital products including ebooks and online courses. The great thing about selling digital products is there is no physical product to ship. Everything is done online and is automated. Ebooks are usually distributed via email or downloaded directly from a website. And online courses can be accessed anywhere and anytime:
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The combination of pay-per-click advertising, affiliate sales, and selling your own digital products essentially makes your blog a 24/7 selling machine.
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, naysayers.
8. Funeral Director
Working as a funeral director may not be at the top of many people’s list of potential careers, but it might be something you should consider. The pay is good, there’s not much stress, and you can always count on a steady flow of business.
Funeral directors work to prepare the deceased for burial or cremation. This includes embalming, dressing the deceased, placing bodies in coffins, and applying makeup. Funeral directors also plan and arrange funeral services.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, funeral directors earn an average annual salary of $50k. It’s important to keep in mind that funeral directors often work of the evenings and weekends and must be flexible to oversee services when clients request them.
Although you can enter the profession by completing an associate’s degree in mortuary science, in many states it’s possible to become a funeral director through an apprenticeship and passing a state licensing exam.
9. Locomotive Engineer
Trains are a critical component of our modern transportation infrastructure. They transport just about everything you can imagine including natural resources, bulk foods, vehicles, and even people. It’s not a stretch to say that without trains our world be very different.
All of the trains that move items from point A to point B every single day require people in the driver seats to operate them. Turns out, locomotive engineers earn a pretty darned good income. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, locomotive engineers earn an average annual salary of $82k – no college degree required.
The typical path to becoming a locomotive engineer is through on-the-job training. Internship programs are available, and the completion of one of these programs may improve your chances of landing a paid position. After completing a period of on-the-job training, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires certification to operate as an engineer. Achieving certification includes passing a series of skills and knowledge tests.
10. Commercial Drone Pilot
In recent years drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) have become very popular. These remote-piloted vehicles are not the R/C airplanes your grandfather plays with in the local park. They aren’t toys. They are sophisticated tools, and the demand for skilled commercial drone pilots is enormous.
Drones are now being used in many different industries for a variety of different purposes – most commonly for aerial photography and videography. They are used in farming, security, oil and gas exploration, construction, movie production, and in many other fields.
But here’s the thing with operating drones – you have to be certified as a commercial drone pilot by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States in order to operate a drone and be paid for it. Because of this restriction, the demand for commercial drone pilots has exploded and many are earning six-figure incomes.
To become a commercial drone pilot you must be at least 16, be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration, pass a knowledge test, and obtain a Remote Pilot rating.
High Paying Jobs with No Experience Required
Depending on which field(s) you’re interested in, you can find several easy jobs that pay well and don't require experience or a formal college education.
11. Certified Nurse Midwife
A certified nurse midwife is a specific type of registered nurse who focuses specifically on women’s health. Most certified nurse midwives address the gynecological needs of their patients, including family planning as well as prenatal and postpartum care. While there is no experience required for most certified nurse midwife positions, hireable candidates will obtain certification and a bachelor’s degree.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for certified nurse midwives was $114,210 as of May 2021. The BLS also reports that the lowest 10% of certified nurse midwives earned less than $61,500 per year, while the highest 10% earned more than $166,170 per year.
12. ESL Teacher
Teaching English to non-native speakers can be a rewarding experience. The median pay for ESL teachers in 2021 was $59,720 per year and the typical education level was a bachelor’s degree. Candidates will need to complete the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Certificate to be eligible to work as an ESL Teacher.
If you’re working outside of Hong Kong, you may also earn an allowance for your work. Additional benefits include gratuities and bonuses after two years, in addition to other incentives. If you enjoy working with the English language and want to teach others, look into becoming an ESL teacher.
13. Flight Attendant
Being a flight attendant is an exciting and rewarding career that allows you to travel the world and work with people from all walks of life. And the best part is there’s no experience required to get started. While some airlines may prefer to hire candidates with customer service or hospitality experience, many are willing to train new hires from scratch.
As a flight attendant, you'll be responsible for ensuring the safety and comfort of passengers on board commercial aircraft. This includes providing assistance during emergencies, serving meals and drinks, and helping passengers with any questions or concerns they may have. You'll also be responsible for conducting pre-flight safety demonstrations and ensuring that all passengers are seated and buckled in before takeoff.
Most flight attendants earn about $60,000 per year. In some cases, experienced flight attendants can earn an annual salary of $80,000 or more. Benefits in this line of work include free flights for you and your friends and family, which can offer a lot of savings and sightseeing.
14. Freelance Writer
Most freelance writers work as independent contractors, but a select few land jobs in the industry without any significant experience. While you’ll need decent writing skills to be successful as a freelance writer, you can easily use online tools to support your craft. Most freelance writers enjoy a positive work-life balance as well since they can easily work from home.
The average freelance writer makes $78,060 per year and has less than five years of experience. Many get by with short-term on-the-job training. Though certifications will certainly set you apart, there’s no specific degree required to become a freelance writer. Some writers earn an education in journalism while others choose creative writing. It all depends on what type of freelance writing you’d like to do and what topics you prefer to write about.
15. Insurance Claims Adjuster
Enter the insurance industry without any experience by becoming an insurance claims adjuster. You can easily gain on-the-job training to advance your career. In the year 2021, the median pay for an insurance claims adjuster was $64,710 per year. With experience, that salary can easily increase to nearly $100,000 depending on the company you work for and what position you hold.
Working as an insurance claims adjuster can be a challenging yet rewarding career. You don’t need a college degree to qualify for this position, though some states do require you to hold an insurance claims adjuster license.
Working as a merchandiser can be a fulfilling and exciting career for individuals who are interested in the world of retail and fashion. Some common tasks for merchandisers include developing and implementing visual merchandising strategies, creating floor plans and displays, and analyzing sales data to identify trends and make recommendations for future product selection. They may also be responsible for managing inventory levels and placing orders for new products, as well as collaborating with buying teams to select products for the season.
The median pay for merchandisers in 2021 averaged $32,060. The top 10% of merchandisers earned upwards of $47,000 per year. Merchandisers also have the opportunity to build strong relationships with vendors and stay on top of the latest trends in the industry. The job can also offer a good balance of independence and teamwork, as merchandisers often work independently to develop and execute their strategies, but also collaborate with other members of the team to ensure that the business is meeting its goals.
17. Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a licensed professional who helps clients buy and sell properties. They work with clients to understand their needs and preferences, and then use their knowledge of the local real estate market to help clients find properties that meet their criteria. Real estate agents also help clients navigate the process of buying or selling a property, including handling paperwork, negotiating deals, and managing the closing process.
One of the benefits of working as a real estate agent is the potential to earn a high income. Real estate agents are typically paid through commissions. Additionally, real estate agents often have a high level of flexibility and autonomy in their work, as they are often able to set their own schedules and work at their own pace.
The median pay for a real estate agent in 2021 was $48,770 per year. While you will need a real estate license to sell houses, no matter what state you live in, this training doesn’t cost nearly as much as formal secondary education.
18. Sales Representative
On average, sales representatives make about $62,890 per year with moderate on-the-job training. Companies will typically invest in training for sales representatives to give them a better understanding of the products and services they’re selling. In addition, there are many industries you can choose from when it comes to becoming a sales representative. However, people skills and a goal-oriented approach are key.
Sales representatives are responsible for promoting and selling products or services to customers. They work to understand the needs and preferences of potential customers and use this knowledge to pitch the products or services that best meet those needs. Sales reps may work with a variety of products or services, including consumer goods, technical products, or business-to-business products. Additionally, sales reps often have a high level of flexibility and autonomy in their work, as they are often able to set their own schedules and work at their own pace.
19. Travel Agent
A travel agent is a professional who helps individuals and groups plan and book travel arrangements, including flights, hotels, tours, and other vacation activities. They use their knowledge of destinations, travel products, and the travel industry to help clients plan the perfect trip based on their preferences and budget. Travel agents may also work with a variety of clients.
Working as a travel agent can be a rewarding and exciting career for individuals who love to travel and help others plan their dream vacations. In addition, travel agents also enjoy the benefits of being able to work independently and set their own schedules. They may also be eligible for discounts on travel products and services, which can be a great perk for those who love to travel. Additionally, the demand for travel agents is expected to grow over the next decade, making it a stable and in-demand career choice.
Some travel agents have reported a six-figure income, but the median salary in 2021 was $43,810. The highest 10% of travel agents earned $74,220, though that number is expected to increase as more and more families travel after the constraints of the pandemic.
20. Union Electrician
Union electricians earned an average of $60,040 per year in 2021. Though most electrician jobs don’t require any experience or education, many electricians complete an apprenticeship before they go off on their own. A union electrician is a skilled tradesperson who installs and repairs electrical systems in homes, businesses, and other buildings. They use a variety of tools and equipment to complete their work. Union electricians typically work full-time and may be required to work evenings, weekends, and holidays depending on the needs of their employer.
Working as a union electrician can be a good job for individuals who enjoy hands-on work and have strong attention to detail. It is a stable and in-demand career, with the demand for electricians expected to grow over the next decade. Union electricians also enjoy good pay and benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.
21. Virtual Assistant
A virtual assistant may work with a variety of clients, including small business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives, and may be responsible for tasks such as scheduling appointments, managing social media accounts, and conducting research. Virtual assistants are typically self-employed and work from home, which allows them to have a high level of flexibility and control over their schedules.
Working as a virtual assistant can be a good job for individuals who are organized, detail-oriented, and able to work independently. It is a growing field, with more and more businesses and individuals turning to virtual assistants to help them manage their workload and increase productivity. Most virtual assistants make about $39,680 per year, but you can increase that number by specializing in an area or seeking out higher-paying jobs with greater responsibilities.
Do You Really Need a College Degree?
A college degree is no longer the golden ticket to the comfortable middle-class lifestyle that it was in years past. Things have changed.
As recently has a few short decades ago, a person could earn a college degree in just about anything and end up doing fairly well in life. That was then. These days a college degree alone isn’t enough. This is due to the fact that a much higher percentage of the population is now college educated.
Since far more people now have college degrees, many are having to earn graduate degrees or even professional certifications (CPA, CMA, PE, etc.) just to stand out from the competition when applying for jobs.
There is an alternative to this endless pursuit of credentials – you could just choose one of the many lucrative careers that don’t require a college degree. This way, you'll avoid spending years in college, paying expensive rent near campus and battling student loans.
A Degree Is No Longer Required for High Paying Jobs
For years high school guidance counselors and other well-intentioned people have been telling our youth that the only path in life they should consider is college. That was certainly what I experienced when I was in high school.
College! College! College!
“If you don’t go to college, you will struggle in life.”
It was also strongly implied that if you didn’t go to college that you were somehow a loser. It was never said, of course, but you could sense it in people’s tone.
The problem with this is the fact that many people now graduate from college and end up working in jobs that don’t even require degrees. I’ve seen it happen many times.
There’s the girl with a business degree working as an administrative assistant. Another person I know has a criminal justice degree and works as a legal assistant. And another acquaintance graduated with a degree in museum studies and now works in the gift wrapping department of a big box store.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with any of these jobs. It’s just that you don’t need a college degree to work in any of them.
These folks got bad advice – and they still have to repay all of the debt they took on to earn their degrees.
High-paying jobs that don’t require experience include freelance writers, flight attendants, sales representatives, merchandisers, and travel agents.
Yes, you can get a high-paying job without having any experience. Our list above includes many jobs that you can land without any experience necessary.
You can find high-paying jobs that don’t require experience by searching job boards, networking on social media platforms, and applying directly to companies who are hiring. You can also search “no experience required” to narrow down your results.
Many Lucrative Options – No College Degree Required
The idea that you can’t be successful in life unless you earn a college degree is totally false – so stop listening to those who say otherwise. The ten careers I just mentioned prove it can be done. And there are many others that don’t require a college degree, either. high
With a little careful planning, you can easily end up doing very well for yourself without ever stepping foot on a college campus. And not only that, but you’ll also avoid ending up deep in debt funding your degree as so many do these days.
Who’s the smart one now?