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26 High-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require A Degree

woman with cash after making money from a job where she didn't need a degree

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Hey there! Are you looking for high-paying jobs that don't require a degree? Student loan debt is a real problem in America, and many people are looking for jobs that they can do that pay well but that doesn't require a college degree.

I was very lucky that my parents paid my way through college, however, I can tell you right now that if I had known that I could make money without a degree, then I would have saved my parents the money and started my job search when I was 18 and gained work experience.

College was great, don't get me wrong. I met my wife in college!

If you're looking for jobs that you can do with just a high school diploma and possibly with a certificate, on the job training, or education from a technical school, you've found the right post.

Let's jump right in!

1. Entrepreneur

An entrepreneur can be a very lucrative job that requires no formal education. As an entrepreneur, you're tasked with coming up with a product or service that you can sell. This is generally completely up to you, and you will be in charge of developing the product or service as well as marketing and selling it.

Most entrepreneurs start off alone or with a very small group of people. It can be stressful as oftentimes you don't breakeven for your first year of business, meaning you're not netting any income for 12 months or more.

On top of that, according to Investopedia, 20% of all new businesses fail during the first two years, 45% fail during the first five years, and 65% fail during the first ten years.

Even with the odds against most business owners, being an entrepreneur can earn you a 6-digit if not 7-digit salary. That said, across all entrepreneurs in the US, the average earnings is $60,992 with a profit-sharing of $6,500 per year, according to Indeed.

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2. YouTube Creator

YouTube Creators take videos of whatever niche they choose to. Some will teach viewers how to make something or how to do something. Others will video themselves traveling, or discussing politics, or showing off fashion. Other YouTubers will create content on how to make money on YouTube.

Being a YouTube Creator is difficult because you need more than just good camera skills. You need to be engaging online as much as possible, and you need to have videos that keep your viewers' attention and coming back for more.

YouTube Creators earn money via ad revenue, from sponsorships from brands, and through affiliate marketing when recommending products to their viewers.

YouTube Creator earnings vary greatly; though with ad revenue alone, they earn between $0.01 and $0.03 per view. Very successful YouTube Creators can earn over $100 per day, and some can earn ten times that.

3. Blogger

A blogger is someone who creates content to provide information for others. In this blog's case, you are reading information about personal finance. There are many niches that bloggers can write about, including personal finance, parenting, food, travel, fashion, lifestyle, fitness, health, faith, and more.

You don't need any education whatsoever to be a blogger, however, to be a successful blogger, you'll need to write engaging content for your readers that also employs good SEO (search engine optimization, or how Google helps people find you).

You'll also need a way to monetize your blog, which can include a combination of ad revenue, affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling products and services.

The reality behind being a blogger is that only 9% of all bloggers earn over $1000 per month consistently, and only 4% of all bloggers earn over $10,000 per month. Some of this is possibly due to many bloggers burning out early or not being patient. Those who blog for the long term have a higher success chance of making money. Some bloggers earn less than $10,000 per year, where some earn over $10,000 per month.

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4. Truck Driver

Truck drivers can make a lot of money without needing a college degree. Truck drivers earn money by driving transporting goods from one place to another, often driving long distances in doing so. Many truck drivers are away from home for a few weeks at a time, especially when they drive cross country delivering goods.

A lot goes into driving a truck, including knowing how to use the brakes properly on hills or how to prevent cargo from shifting when going around curves.

Some truck drivers work up to 70 hours per week, however, they earn money commensurate with this workload. Glassdoor.com stated in April of 2020 that the average truck driver earns $59,444 annually. Many companies will pay you between 27 cents and 40 cents per mile when you drive on your own.

5. Computer Programmer

Computer programmers can be one of the higher paying jobs that you can do that doesn't require a bachelor's degree. Years ago, you would generally need a Computer Science or Computer Engineering degree to become a computer programmer, but nowadays, you can often get a position at a company by proving that you know how to code.

So how do you do this? A programmer looking to get a job without a degree should, at the very least, learn Python, Ruby, Java, and C++, or a combination of those programming languages. Then, one should develop several small programs or one larger software package that shows a proficiency with software architecture and at least one programming language. A program that shows proficiency could be an app that solves a problem.

Using an app, in this example, you could put on a demo or provide the source code to a potential company that would then take you on as a programmer.

A relatively new programmer can expect to earn a little over $50,000 per year, according to CareerKarma.com. Later on in your career, your salary could rise to $85,000 or more. Some late-career computer programmers can earn 6 digit salaries and bonuses as well.

6. Realtor

Realtors are required to gain a license to sell real estate to do their jobs but do not need a college degree. As a realtor, your job is to work with either a buyer or a seller to help them complete a real estate transaction.

For buyers, your job is to help them find a home, and for sellers, your job is to help them through the necessary steps to sell their home. Simple, right? There's a lot that goes into being a realtor, including finding clients and doing research for them.

For example, when you work with buyers, you'll need to find houses in their location of choice for their price range of choice. You'll take them to houses to let them look around and help them through the process of finding a mortgage lender and placing an offer once they're interested in buying a home.

When you work with sellers, you may have to stage their home so that it looks presentable to potential buyers. You'll help the seller negotiate the offer with potential buyers and help with details around the closing.

Most realtors work on a commission basis, meaning they earn a percentage of the sale price, usually 2.5-3% (split from 5-6% between the seller's realtor and the buyer's realtor). So if you sell a house for $500,000, the commission might be $30,000, and both the buyer's and seller's realtor would take $15,000 each.

7. Elevator Mechanic

Elevator mechanics are in charge of repairing, maintaining and installing elevators. As an elevator mechanic, you may be on call 24/7, and you'll work in some cramped spaces.

To become an elevator mechanic, you'll need an apprenticeship, and many states require that you also be licensed. To get an apprenticeship, you'll have to pass tests in reading, math, and mechanical aptitude, according to TheBalanceCareers.com.

As this job is physical in nature, being physically strong is a requirement for this job. You'll also need to be detail-oriented and have the ability to troubleshoot problems thoroughly.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the average pay for elevator mechanics in May 2019 was $84,990 per year. Also mentioned is that job growth is expected to be 7% between 2019 and 2029.

8. Plumber

Plumbers need a high school diploma and an apprenticeship that lasts between four and five years. Most states require that you are licensed to work as a plumber.

As a plumber, you may work for local businesses or take calls from residents having plumbing issues. Plumbers install and repair sinks, toilets, dishwashers, and fix clogged pipes and drains, to name a few things.

Experienced plumbers will tell you that you will get dirty frequently as a plumber, especially when working with sewage and toilets. That said, good plumbers often charge over $60 per hour for their work, and in some states, you can expect to earn just over $80 per hour when you work independently as a contractor.

9. Auto Mechanic

Auto mechanics work on vehicles and generally also deal with customers, explaining issues found and providing recommendations on how to proceed. Many auto mechanics become them because they already know a lot about cars, though you can still learn a lot on the job.

I personally have a specific auto mechanic that I bring my cars to because they have worked on my cars for years, and I've never had an issue; plus, they've never charged me an arm and a leg.

A tough part about being an auto mechanic is that the work may take its toll on your back and knees, as it is a very physical job. With that in mind, the average pay for an auto mechanic across all 50 states varies, however overall, the average pay according to ZipRecruiter.com is $41,112 per year.

10. Massage Therapist

A massage therapist treats their clients by working on their muscles and other soft tissue. As a massage therapist, you relieve pain and heal injuries, help with stress, and aid with your clients' relaxation. As someone with back pain, I've found that going to a massage therapist has helped relieve flare-ups.

Massage therapists may work at spas, gyms, clubs, or their own practices. They employ different techniques depending on what their clients' needs are.

To become a massage therapist, you'll need to complete a massage therapy program and pass a licensing exam. Afterward, you'll need to apply for a state license and get a certificate.

The median salary for a massage therapist, according to Salary.com, is $52,379.

11. Licensed Practical Nurse

Licensed Practical Nurses, or LPNs, assist doctors and Registered Nurses (RNs) in taking care of patients. Some of the things they do include taking vital signs, collecting samples, giving medication to patients, and providing status reports to doctors and RNs.

To become an LPN, you'll need to complete a program that generally takes a year. A friend of mine is finishing up his LPN education now. He has told me that there's a lot to learn and that, as one might imagine, working in medicine is a place where being meticulously accurate is critical.

According to Herzing University, the average LPN makes $48,500, or around $23.32 per hour.

12. Carpenter

A carpenter works primarily with wood and works on projects including making furniture, creating cabinets, and doing parts of additions to houses. You might work on your own or as part of a company. An example of where a carpenter might work is a college campus as part of the buildings and grounds team.

Becoming a carpenter entails learning on the job and through a four to five-year apprenticeship. You can go to a technical school to learn the carpentry trade. According to TheBestColleges.org, “a carpentry training program will cover the following subjects: algebra; geometry; physics; hand tool selection, care, and use; architectural drawing; blueprint reading; machine woodworking; identification and measurement of materials; project management and estimating; principles and procedures in residential construction; building code requirements; framing and finishing; building technology; roofing systems; interior and exterior finishing; door and window layout and construction; and mechanical systems.”

If you enjoy hands-on projects with wood, then being a carpenter could be something worth pursuing. Independent Carpenters charges anywhere as low as $45 per hour to as high as $80 per hour, depending on their experience and location.

13. Electrician

Electricians work with wires and fixtures, electrical equipment, and lighting. My father is an electrician and is always working on a project around his house.

An interesting requirement about being an electrician is that you need to have color vision (that is, you can't be colorblind). The reason is, all wiring is colored based on different attributes.

According to Lincoln Tech, electricians do the following in their day-to-day activities:

  • Read technical and wiring diagrams, including blueprints.
  • Install systems for control and lighting systems.
  • Inspect electrical systems.
  • Troubleshoot & repair electrical malfunctions.
  • Learn and adhere to state & local regulations based on the national electrical code.
  • Train and manage other electrical workers in all aspects of the industry.

Becoming an electrician requires you to complete an apprenticeship, and job growth is expected to be 10% through 2026. The average journeyman electrician earns around $25 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter.

14. Nuclear Reactor Operator

Nuclear Reactor Operators work in nuclear power plants and work with the systems that control them. This type of work doesn't require a college degree but can be quite high paying.

To become a nuclear reactor operator, you'll need a license as well as extensive on-the-job training and classroom training. You may need to pass an alcohol and drug screening as well, given the nature of this work.

While being a Nuclear Reactor Operator can pay quite nicely, $85,590 being the average annual salary in 2019 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are on the decline by 16% through 2029 due to new technology.

15. Graphic Designer

Graphic Designers create stunning visual content to draw in their audiences. Graphic designers design some of the best pins on Pinterest, logos on websites, and infographics.

You can go to school to become a graphic designer, or you can learn on your own. Tools that graphic designers use include Canva, Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and more. That said, you certainly don't need to spend a lot of money to get started as a Graphic Designer, as you can start up using the free version of Canva and an open-source program like GIMP (similar to Photoshop).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, Graphic Designers earned a median pay of $52,110.

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16. Social Media Influencer

A Social Media Influencer is someone who has gained a large audience or following on social media, usually in a specific niche. 10,000 followers is generally considered influencer status, and 1,000 followers are generally considered micro-influencer status.

When you're a social media influencer, you can work with brands to promote their content via affiliate marketing. Some social media influencers have blogs where they continue to grow their audience and sell products and services in their niche.

The influencer world is competitive and quite saturated, so standing out is the key to being successful. What can you do that's different than everyone else?

The earnings of a social media influencer vary greatly by their niche and the engagement of their followers. Some will earn $30,000 or less per year, while others will earn up to $100,000 or more. According to a 2018 Vox report, social media influencers with one million or more followers may earn up to $250,000 per year.

17. Professional Dog Walker

Being a professional dog walker doesn't require a college degree and can pay well, especially when you walk several dogs at once. While you don't need a degree to be a dog walker, it helps to have training in animal care and first aid, and insurance.

If you live in a neighborhood where there are a lot of dogs, starting a professional dog walking business may be right for you. Most dog walkers charge between $15 and $20 per 20-minute walk, according to AngiesList.com.

For those who can find dogs to walk daily, it's no surprise that you can earn over $100 per day as a professional dog walker.

18. Bartender

A bartender serves both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks, as well as food, at a bar. Bartenders also make conversation with customers, keep the bar stocked, and make recommendations to customers about various drinks for them to have. A great bartender gets to know their regular customers and keeps people coming back to the establishment.

To become a bartender, you'll need to get a bartending license, which generally takes two to three weeks to do. You may need to find a bartender mentor and start working fewer shifts while becoming accustomed to your position.

Bartenders generally earn $22,000 per year before tips, however, a good bartender will earn most of their money through tips. This means your earnings could be over twice your base pay if you keep your tips high by taking good care of your customers.

19. eBay/Amazon Reseller

An eBay and Amazon reseller is someone who looks for good deals, generally at consignment shops, discount stores, yard sales, and similar, and then buys items and resells them for profit online. A reseller's job is to make as much money as they can, flipping items by reselling them on eBay or Amazon.

Being a reseller can be quite lucrative, but it's also time-consuming, and you take on the risk of buying things and them not selling fast enough to make your time worth it. However, finding the right items can earn you a fortune.

About 50% of Amazon resellers make between $1,000 and $25,000 per month, a HUGE range, according to JungleScout.com. Some Amazon resellers can make six digits worth of sales in a month, though this is more difficult and rarer.

20. Commercial Pilot

Commercial pilots fly planes to transport people and cargo around the world. A commercial pilot who works for an airliner will also communicate with passengers and the flight crew.

There are several steps involved in becoming a commercial pilot, including

  • Getting a private pilot license
  • Obtaining an instrument rating
  • Receiving a commercial pilot license
  • Gaining a flight instructor certificate
  • Adding a multi-engine rating
  • Getting job experience
  • Obtaining employment

According to CollegeGrad.com, the average commercial airline pilot earned $161,110 per year.

21. Aircraft Mechanic

Aircraft Mechanics work on aircraft, maintaining and repairing them as per FAA guidelines. To become an aircraft mechanic, you'll need to attend a program, usually two years in duration, and they can be costly – between $20,000 and $50,000 depending on where you go.

Aircraft mechanics have to deal with occupational diseases such as inhaling carbon monoxide, hearing loss from the noise, and issues related to chemical exposure.

That said, aircraft mechanics base pay, according to Indeed, ranges from an average of $28 per hour up to and over $35 per hour, depending on where you work and who you work for.

22. Mail Carrier

Mail Carriers for the USPS deliver mail and packages by foot or via a mail truck. You may also sort mail at a post office and collect signatures when delivering certified mail.

A college degree is not delivered to be a mail carrier though you'll need to pass a test involving mail delivery procedures. You'll also need to pass a criminal background check.

In May of 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, mail carriers' median pay was $52,060, where those who have been a mail carrier for a longer period of time earn the most.

23. Food Service Manager

Being a food service manager doesn't require a college degree and pays well. Food Service Managers work in restaurants and other places that serve food and drink. They are in charge of hiring and directing staff, as well as other tasks, including:

  • Ordering food and drink, equipment, and supplies
  • Oversee food prep and presentation
  • Address complaints around the quality of food and service
  • Manage the budget and employee payroll

While a college degree isn't required, some additional education beyond high school has become more common, according to Truity.com. In May of 2019, the average pay for a food service manager was $55,320, however, some earned as much as $93,040 or more. If you're interested in food and management, being a food service manager may be a high paying job for you that doesn't require a college degree.

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24. Railroad Conductor

Railroad Conductors work on both passenger and freight trains. On passenger trains, a railroad conductor's job is to collect tickets from passengers, make schedule announcements, and assist passengers with any needs that they may have. On freight trains, railroad conductors oversee the loading and unloading of cargo, as well as some train movement work, such as operating a switch track.

You only need a high school diploma to become a railroad conductor. From there, you can either go to a community college for classes on conducting, or you can get on-the-job training.

According to Glassdoor.com, the average train conductor earns $67,065 per year, making it a fantastic high paying job that doesn't require a college degree.

25. Painter

A painter paints houses, walls, furnishings, and more. They are in charge of finding matching paint and preparing the area that they will be painting. Whenever you're thinking of repainting a room or part or all of your house, hiring painters may be your best bet.

Painters can get all of their training during an apprenticeship that generally lasts a few months. You may be required to get a certification as well, depending on what state you're in.

Painters earn a wide range of pay, depending on location, project, and experience. For a full day of painting, a painter could earn between $200 and $600 per day, according to USNews.com

26. Author

An author writes books that can range from non-fiction to fiction and be written about almost anything. Some authors will write a fiction series, whereas others will write books on how to master a trade. There's no limit to what an author can write about, and many specialize in specific niches.

My favorite author, who passed away years ago, was Douglas Adams. He wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, an amazing and hilarious series.

Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, being an author can be difficult as you have to promote yourself to your target market or a publisher. Even a best-selling author might only make 10% royalties, and therefore earn $20,000 for a book (20,000 sales at $10 each).

Some authors have gone into self-publishing, removing the publisher altogether, and therefore earned a much higher percentage of their sales.

Wrapping It Up

College can be quite expensive, and finding a high paying career doesn't always require you to go. In fact, with many of these jobs above, you can earn a decent living without ever stepping foot on a college campus.

Do you have a good paying job that didn't require a college degree? What is it, and how do you like it?

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5 thoughts on “26 High-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require A Degree”

  1. Alyssa Hixenbaugh

    This is a great list! I appreciate your ideas and recommendations for non college grads.

  2. Since the onset of the pandemic, it would be even more challenging to find a job regardless of whether you have a college degree or not. Thanks for sharing this list, it is very useful!

  3. What a wide-ranging list! I was just thinking about how trade schools are becoming increasingly valued (for many, over college).

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