37 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree

Are you motivated to succeed in your future career, but don’t have the time, energy, or resources to attend a full-fledged university or obtain a four-year degree? Do you find the prospect of attending school for another four years wholly overwhelming?

Don’t worry; Trade School Careers gets it. That’s why we’ve worked hard to compile a list of the highest-paying career options that don’t require a four-year degree. You can be successful and achieve your dreams without breaking your bank or wasting your days in a classroom to do it.

The majority of careers on this list do have some requirements, however. A high school diploma or GED can get you far, but a professional certificate or associate’s degree will get you even farther. Most of the career options on this list require a minim level of education–at the very least, high school diplomas or GEDs. But, if you are determined to excel further in your position, a professional certificate or associate’s degree is the way to go.

You don’t need a fancy degree and an empty bank account to achieve your dreams and be the best version of yourself you can be; you just need a little determination and a lot of heart to take you far and make your dreams a reality.

1. Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers

Mean annual wage: $102,850
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%

If you have excellent leadership skills and consider yourself to be a responsible individual, then one of these three similar career path options might be perfect for you. A transportation manager partners with companies to oversee the distribution of products and services. Storage managers take charge of storage space facilities or rentals, ensuring that customers receive clean, secure storage spaces for their belongings. Distribution managers, also known as logistics managers, are responsible for the interactions of transporting goods across routes and distances to get them to their destination safely and with minimal complications. The average graduating salary for these individuals is around $100,000 annually, and the cost for tuition when earning a degree in this field is a low $8,600 per year. Ultimately, this is the type of career that can start you climbing up the management ladder of success and keep you and your family financially secure for the long term.

2. Commercial pilots

Mean annual wage: $96,530
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%

If you think that you would be comfortable cruising at 35,000 feet above the ground with your hands on the controls and a plane full of people at your back, then this career path is the one for you. Commercial airline pilots are responsible for navigating the control panels, monitoring systems, evaluating potentially dangerous situations, and making gratuitous decisions under immense pressure. For the most part, airline pilots have it easy, as long as they know what they’re doing. These individuals often fly charter flights, rescue operations, aerial photography jobs, crop dusting flights, firefighting services, and more. They also usually know how to operate a variety of different aircraft, including helicopters, Boeings, Airbuses, and private jets. The average starting salary is $82,000 annually, but top-paying positions earn upwards of $150,000 per year. Overall, the job is just really cool. Commercial airline pilots have the chance to travel all over the world and get paid for it. If you are adventurous and brave enough to do this, you can soar to elevated heights.

3. Nuclear reactor operators

Mean annual wage: $95,310
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): ‎-6%

Have you always been interested in the way a power plant operates? Are you fascinated by the concept of endless, renewable energy? If you are, then this career path is the perfect option for you. Nuclear reactor operators are primarily responsible for the running of power plant control panels and determining the amount of electricity a generator puts out. These individuals have to be able to read and interpret meters, gauges, voltage levels, and other types of equipment that determine the levels of energy a plant produces. They also monitor other types of generators, reactors, turbines, cooling systems, and data recording systems. Nuclear reactor operators are the men and women behind the wheels of our society, and without them, we wouldn’t have access to the mass amounts of power that fuel our cities, towns, and country. Salaries average at around $94,000 annually, but some of the top-paying positions earn $127,000 per year. Ultimately, those who choose this as their profession are critically important cogs in the machine that is our modern civilization.

4. Gaming managers

Mean annual wage: $85,260
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 5%

If you have always considered yourself a master gamer and feel that you have the natural leadership capabilities to manage and direct large groups of people, then this might be the career path for you. Gaming managers are the kings of the casino, responsible for overseeing the distribution of fair play and fun in equal amounts throughout their clubs. Gaming managers are in charge of their dealers, making sure that they follow the house rules. They are also liable to ensure that players and casino guests are fully satisfied with their gameplay for the length of their game time. For the most part, gaming managers are highly satisfied with their jobs, enjoying the high energy and late-night life of cities like Vegas, Atlantic City, and Biloxi. Salaries average around $85,200 per year, and the education required for these positions is minimal. All in all, if you love the idea of sleeping all day and partying all night while making money and having fun, then this is the job for you.

5. Detectives and criminal investigators

Mean annual wage: $85,020
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 8%

Detectives and criminal investigators are some of the most adept and perceptive individuals in the corporate sphere. If you think you could handle the emotional and physical strain of dealing with heavy and sometimes dismal situations, then this is the career for you. Criminal investigators and detectives fall into two categories: the public and private sectors. Public detectives operate within law enforcement organizations, receiving a salary from the government, and taxpayer dollars. Private detectives, otherwise known as private investigators (PIs), often get work from major corporations, wealthy individuals, or directly from their community. Salaries for both types of investigators average around $82,000 annually. The education required for this profession varies, but most detectives earn certificates, bachelor’s, or associate’s degrees in criminal justice. All in all, pursuing a career as a detective or criminal investigator is not an easy feat. To be successful at this job, it takes mental fortitude and extreme attention to detail. Overall, however, it is a highly satisfying profession that many find to be the best way to establish some measure of justice in an unfair world.

6. First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers

Mean annual wage: $84,600
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): -2%

Have you ever caught yourself wondering what it would be like to be at the head of a group of people with exceptional interpersonal skills and social finesse? Do you have the best organizational skills of any of your friends? If you answered yes, then a career as a first-line supervisor of non-retail sales workers is likely the path for you. This job takes a set of well-developed leadership skills, patience, practicality, and much more. Those who invest their time in this field of work are able to provide stability for their families and gain a lifetime’s worth of professional satisfaction doing a job that they love. Specifically, non-retail sales worker supervisors are responsible for the day to day operations of sales facilities, often performing budgeting tasks, accounting, and personnel management. Salaries average around $73,300 annually, but the highest-paying positions offer upwards of $140,000 per year. Most supervisors have minimal post-secondary education of a bachelor’s or associate’s degree, making this one of the more easily accessible job options. All in all, this is a job for those interested in developing their leadership and organizational skills to move further up the ladder of success.

7. Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers

Mean annual wage: $83,020
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): -6%

If you are a visually-oriented person that finds technical operations fascinating, then you might enjoy a career as a power plant operator, distributor, or dispatcher. This is the type of job that requires personal accountability and consistency. Power plant operators are in charge of controlling power-generating equipment, regulating the power flow with adjustment controls, interpreting meters, gauges, and monitors, managing the functions of generators, turbines, and all other necessary power plant equipment for the production and distribution of electrical energy. Those who choose to pursue a career in this field are required to obtain a minimum of a high school diploma, which means it is one of the most easily attainable positions on this list. Salaries average around $80,000 annually, but the top-paying jobs earn around $139,000 per year. The position comes with benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, paid vacations, and much more. Overall, those who pursue a career as a power plant operator are doing more than revamping their community; they are revamping their life.

8. First-Line Supervisors of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers

Mean annual wage: $80,310
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 4%-6%

Are you the type of person that would be willing to run into a fire to save your friends and family? Have you ever wondered how it would feel to lead a team of strategically-skilled, brave-hearted individuals into the fray? If you answered yes, then a career as a first-line supervisor of fire fighting and prevention workers might be the path for you. This isn’t a job for the faint of heart, and it requires the ability to make overriding, split-second decisions in high-pressure, life-or-death situations. Those who pursue a career in this field must be able to coordinate their team’s movements, supervise all goings-on within an emergency situation, and ensure that all federal and state-level safety procedures are being met. The minimum education required for a job in this field is an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, and the average annual salary sits at around $76,300, with the top 90th percentile earning upwards on $122,900 per year. Overall, the job is not an easy one, but it is well worth it to contribute to your community’s public safety and, in doing so, save lives.

9. Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay

Mean annual wage: $80,040
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 2%-3%

Have you always been intrigued by the mechanics involved in complex electrical systems? Have you ever thought there might be more you could learn about the way our civilization generates energy? If you answered yes, then a career as an electrical and electronics repairer, powerhouse, substation, and relay might be the job for you. Within this field, professional repairers are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of electrical equipment and the circuits that generate power. They also manage detailed record-keeping and monitor said equipment, troubleshooting when a circuit or other piece of equipment malfunctions. This job requires a minimum understanding of mathematics and engineering, so the majority of repairers have an associate’s degree. Annual salaries average around $80,200, but the highest-paying positions earn upwards of $105,000 per year. Overall, because this is the kind of job that constitutes essential personnel, you can maintain it throughout your life, continually moving up the ladder of success and providing safety and security to your fellow workers and your electrically-run community.

10. Farmers, ranchers, & other agricultural managers

Mean annual wage: $79,940
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): -1%

You might be the type of person that has never minded the quiet so much. You’ve always been a hard worker, and you love the outdoors, animals, and you prefer the smell of fresh rain on a dirt road to the hustle and bustle of a big city. If this describes you, then pursuing a career as a farmer, rancher, or other types of agricultural managers might be your ideal path. Farmers are at the roots of our civilization, and they aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty. Depending on your specific choice of products, you will have to become proficient in the language of the plant by memorizing its growth patterns, ideal watering ratios, fertilizer brands, and weather conditions. A farmer must be able to monitor a crop’s growth regimen and provide it with the environment it needs to flourish. Farmers make humble livings averaging at around $33,000 annually, but some of the highest-paid agricultural managers make upwards of $124,000 per year. This job requires a minimum education of a bachelor’s degree, often in animal sciences, agriculture, or agricultural economics. Ultimately, farmers farm because they love farming and contributing the life-giving substances that our species depend on.

11. Elevator installers and repairers

Mean annual wage: $79,370
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 10%

Have you ever stood in an elevator and wondered how it works? Are you interested in mechanics and the more technical side of physics? If you answered yes, then a career as an elevator installer or repairer might be the path for you. These individuals are responsible for the maintenance, diagnostics, and troubleshooting of elevator systems. As far as required education goes, elevator systems mechanics and repairers have to obtain a minimum of a high school diploma, while the majority earn a professional certificate or associate’s degree. Salaries for elevator mechanics average around $79,700 annually, while top-paying positions earn upwards of $155,800 per year. This is a lucrative field to enter into and, in the next six years, it is expected to experience a 12.2% growth rate. If you think that you have the technical and visual skills that it takes, then becoming an elevator installer and repairer might be the perfect path for you.

12. Real Estate Broker

Mean annual wage: $78,940
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 7%

Are you the type of person that would rather have everything in perfect balance and harmony? Do you enjoy managing complex situations and transactions? If so, then a career as a real estate broker might be the perfect path for you. Real estate brokers are responsible for the oversight of real estate transactions and the management of deals, which often involve large amounts of money. Although this profession requires a higher license level than your typical real estate agent, they make a higher paycheck as well. Annual salaries average around $85,600, while the highest-paying positions earn upwards of $102,000 per year. Taking a job as a real estate broker entails evaluating, pricing, and listing various types of properties, sharing listings, counseling the home sellers as to what steps they need to take to get the best price, and various other tasks. Real estate brokers are also responsible for overseeing the real estate agents that work under them. Ultimately, this is a job for those with an eye for design and a drive to sell.

13. Media and communication equipment workers

Mean annual wage: $77,080
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 3%

Are you interested in the inner-workings of broadcasting and the technological advancements of the radio, programming, or TV industries? Have you ever wondered what it takes to create and produce a piece of radio or television? If you answered yes, then a career as a media and communications equipment worker is likely the right path for you. These individuals are responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of audio and visual systems within businesses and homes. When it comes to education, media and communications equipment workers are required to earn a minimum of a high school diploma and complete on-the-job training. Annual salaries average around $77,500, but some of the highest-paying positions earn $117,300 per year. Overall, the job is a highly technical profession that requires great attention to detail and proficiency in electronic systems. If you think you would enjoy spending time with some of the world’s best content creators and media collaborators while doing what you love, then this is the profession for you.

14. Postmasters and mail superintendents

Mean annual wage: $75,660
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): -2%

Have you ever opened up the mailbox and been excited by the contents inside? Do you ever wonder how the post system somehow always manages to deliver things right to your door, rain or shine? If you answered yes, then you might want to consider a career as a postmaster or a mail superintendent. Individuals who pursue these professions must be able to direct and coordinate the mailroom, interview and hire postal service personnel, handle customer complaints and concerns, and much more. The minimum level of education required for this profession is a high school diploma or an associate’s degree. Median-level annual salaries average at nearly $76,000, but top-paying positions earn upwards of $93,500 per year. All in all, this is the kind of job that requires organizational skills, a positive attitude, and a love for an on-the-road career. It is a stable field that promises lifelong financial stability and professional success.

15. Web Developer

Mean annual wage: $75,580
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 13%

Do you enjoy creating technological creation and configuration of web pages? Are you especially interested in the more digital and semantic design aspects of the web? If you answered yes, then a career as a web developer might be the path for you. This is the type of career that takes high levels of expertise, and web developers must be proficient in coding, user interface, and project development. The minimum level of education required for this career is a bachelor’s degree, often in computer science or information technology. Median annual salaries average around $69,000, while top-paying positions earn upwards of $126,300 per year. This is a career for people who are invested in their success and the advancement of web technology. Ultimately, this is a highly lucrative field that promises a 15% growth rate within the next six years, meaning you can find a well-paying job that affords schedule flexibility and position variability easily and quickly.

16. Transportation inspectors

Mean annual wage: $75,330
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 6%

Do you find the fast-paced travel capabilities of our modern world fascinating? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to oversee some of the most crucial transportation aspects of our society? If you answered yes, then a career as a transportation inspector might be the perfect path for you. Transportation inspectors are primarily responsible for ensuring that all modes of mass transportation, such as subways, trains, bus systems, and airlines, are continuously up and running. They work to make sure that all such transportation equipment is up to federal regulatory standards, and they often work for travel industries and corporations. Annual salaries for this job average around $73,700, while top-paying positions earn upwards of $93,500 per year. The minimum level of education required to perform the job is a high school diploma. However, years of experience are preferred to obtain high-paying positions. Overall, transportation inspectors find high satisfaction from doing what they love and providing people with the ability to travel anywhere, anytime.

17. Makeup Artists, Theatrical and Performance

Mean annual wage: $72,030
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 10%

Do you enjoy playing around with makeup? Would you consider yourself creative enough to compete in the industry? If you answered yes, then a career as a makeup artist might be the perfect career for you. This job takes both consistency and artistry, as well as flexibility. Makeup artists work for theaters, performance groups, and the very best often make it to Hollywood, where they work on the sets of major films or TV shows. The minimum level of education required for a career in this field is a professional certificate or associate’s degree in fine arts or cosmetology. Annual salaries average around $64,200, while the top-paying positions earn upwards of $183,700 per year. Those who pursue a career in this field are almost guaranteed a position, and with a 12% predicted growth rate for the next six years, it is a highly lucrative field. Ultimately, becoming a cosmetic artist is for those who genuinely enjoy doing makeup, but the good salary and profitable job market are just added benefits.

18. Gas Plant Operators

Mean annual wage: $71,470
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): -2%

Would you consider yourself to be a responsible, technically-oriented individual? Are you interested in the operations of gas plants and the distribution of natural gas? If you answered yes, then a career as a gas plant operator might be the perfect path for you. Gas plant operators are responsible for the maintenance, repair, and observation of pressure, temperatures, gauges, compressors, and data recording measures. They are also often in charge of overseeing the safety measures of the entire gas plant. The minimum education required for this career is a high school diploma, GED, or associate’s degree. Annual salaries for this position average around $69,000, while the highest-paying positions earn upwards of $ per year. Those who pursue this career must have a basic knowledge of mathematics, chemistry, and communications. Ultimately, those who choose to pursue a career in this field are likely to move up the professional ladder and provide themselves and their families with financial security for the long term.

19. Petroleum Pump System Operators, Refinery Operators, and Gaugers

Mean annual wage: $70,630
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): -2%

Have you ever wondered what it takes to refine the oil and natural gases that we use on a daily basis? Are you the type of person that is hardworking and consistent? If you answered yes, then a career as a petroleum pump system operator, refinery operator, or gauge worker might be the path for you. These individuals are primarily responsible for maintaining, monitoring, and controlling of the technical systems and operating units of a petroleum or natural gas refinery. They open and close valves, replace and monitor pump batteries, and observe gauges, monitors, and pressure meters. The minimum level of education required for this position is a high school diploma. Annual salaries average around $71,000, while some of the top-paying positions earn upwards of $98,500 per year. All in all, those who pursue a career in this field find satisfaction in providing a steady income for themselves and their families, as well as in the knowledge that they are able to hold a lasting position doing important work.

20. First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers

Mean annual wage: $70,540
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028): 10%

Are you the type of person that can easily lead large groups of people? Would you consider yourself to be capable of taking responsibility for an entire construction site and all its happenings? If you answered yes, then a first-line supervisory position over construction trade and extraction workers might be the perfect path for you. These individuals are in charge of managing and overseeing the workers on construction crews, supervising, coordinating, and scheduling all of the jobs to be done on a construction site. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers must have a basic knowledge of building and technology or mechanical engineering, management, customer service, public safety measures, and manufacturing. Annual salaries average around $65,200, while some of the top-paying positions earn upwards of $105,700 per year. Ultimately, those who pursue a career in this field are typically adaptive, dependable, have good leadership skills, and are highly responsible.

Full List of Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree

JobsAverage Yearly Salary
Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers$102,850
Commercial pilots$96,530
Nuclear reactor operators$95,310
Gaming managers$85,260
Detectives and criminal investigators$85,020
First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers$84,600
Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers$83,020
First-Line Supervisors of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers$80,310
Electrical and Electronics Repairers, Powerhouse, Substation, and Relay$80,040
Farmers, ranchers, & other agricultural managers$79,940
Elevator installers and repairers$79,370
Real Estate Broker$78,940
Media and communication equipment workers$77,080
Postmasters and mail superintendents$75,660
Web Developer$75,580
Transportation inspectors$75,330
Makeup Artists, Theatrical and Performance$72,030
Gas Plant Operator$71,470
Petroleum Pump System Operators, Refinery Operators, and Gaugers$70,630
First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers$70,540
Electrical-power line installers and repairers$70,240
First-Line Supervisors of Correctional Officers$68,350
First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers$68,120
Computer Network Support Specialists$68,050
Purchasing Agent (but not Wholesale, Retail, or Farm Products)$67,420
Claims Adjusters, Appraisers, Examiners, and Investigators$65,670
Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians$65,230
Subway or Streetcar Operator$62,970
Court Reporter$62,390
Boilermakers$61,224
Wind Turbine Service Technicians$56,680
Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers$56,100
Tool & Die Maker$53,260
Firefighter$53,240
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers$50,160
Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks$42,110

FAQs

What kind of job can I get without a degree?

According to Tradeschoolcareers.com this is a short list of high paying jobs you can get without a degree:

  • Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
  • Commercial pilots
  • Nuclear reactor operators
  • Gaming managers
  • Detectives and criminal investigators
  • First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers
  • Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers

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