Employment Trends

The 35 Highest Paying Jobs You Can Get Without a Bachelor’s Degree

The-35-highest-paying-jobs-you-can-get-without-a-bachelors-degree
Written by Miranda Pennington

We’ve all heard that high paying jobs require a college degree, but what if you don’t have the time or money to spend 4 years in college? The good news is that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people with associate’s degrees or high school diplomas have the potential to find careers that offer a high paying salary.

There are many jobs out there that do not have a bachelor degree education requirement, but still offer competitive salaries. Here are 35 high paying jobs without degrees you can attain without a bachelor’s degree.

35. Boilermakers

If your aptitude runs to mechanical and plumbing repairs, you might enjoy assembly, installation, and repair of boilers and other containers. No college degree necessary, you’ll learn on the job as an apprentice. The median salary is $64,290, and this high paying job without a degree has a projected 13,200 job openings by 2031.

34. First-line supervisors of correctional officers

Have you always had an interest in law enforcement but for whatever reason not pursued the police academy? A supervisory position in a correctional institution may suit you—you’ll work with other officers and jail employers. The median salary is $62,220, training is moderate and on-the-job.

33. Electrical and electronics engineering technicians

electronic-engineering-technician

This is a great field for those who like to tinker and rebuild. as an engineering technician, you’d be designing, building, repairing, and maintaining electrical components, circuitry, and machinery for your staff colleagues. The median salary is $60,460, you’ll need an associate’s degree, and the right vocational program will help you hit the ground running with a job placement.

32. Real estate agent

real-estate-broker

If you like people (and looking at sale and rental properties in your area!) and have a detail-oriented, organized approach, brokering real-estate transactions (like buying, selling, rentals, and loan arrangements) might be for you. Real estate agents help people buy and sell properties. They work with clients to determine their needs and wants, then match them with suitable properties.

The median wage is $62,010, and there are 592,200 projected job openings in this field by 2031.

31. Purchasing agents (except wholesale, retail, and farm products)

purchasing-agent

Being responsible for the ordering and acquisition of machinery, equipment, tools, parts, supplies, or services for a business or an organization is a crucial role – the median salary is $75,410, your training on the job would be long-term, and there are 503,100 anticipated positions in the works.

30. Computer network support specialists

computer-network-specialist

Everybody loves a competent IT person—if coding is your first or second language and you enjoy problem solving and maintenance, this could be a great match. The median salary is $62,760, and there are 932,100 projected job openings by 2031.

29.Construction Manager

construction-supervisor

If you have experience with construction sites, supervising them and coordinating employees could net you a median salary of $75,060. There are 665,870 anticipated openings by 2031.

28. Claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators

Put your strong reading comprehension and interest in investigative processes to work as a reviewer of settled claims against company practices and procedures. The median salary is $64,710, and there are an expected 308,500 jobs in this field by 2031.

27. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers

Another excellent option for those who like to tinker and work with people—as a supervisor in this field, you’ll oversee and coordinate a team of mechanics, installers, or repairers. Anticipate earning $73,590 in one of the 526,240 projected openings by 2031.

26. Gas plant operators

If you enjoy maintaining mechanical systems at work, this field would place you with utility companies to control compressors that monitor and support main pipelines. The median salary of a gas plant operator is $77,850.

25. Aerospace engineering and operations technicians

These engineers and mechanically-minded employees operate and maintain equipment for developing, testing, and producing new aircraft. The median salary for a candidate with an associate’s degree is $73,580. More than 11,900 jobs are projected by 2031.

24. Petroleum-pump-system operators, refinery operators, and gaugers

These positions, which only require a high school diploma or the equivalent, require you to operate or control petroleum refining or processing units. The median salary for these positions are $79,540.

23. Web developers

Spend your life online and think you can design a top-notch site that looks and runs efficiently? If you’re willing to get an associate’s degree, consider this career, where the median salary is $78,300 and there are a whopping 242,500 projected job openings through 2031.

22. Subway and streetcar operators

You’re the one who the little kids will look at and wave to all day! Oh, you’ll technically be in charge of operating subways or elevated trains to transport passengers for a median salary of $81,180. You’ll need a high school diploma.

21. Postmasters and mail superintendents

You’ll be the planner behind the grand machine of the post office. In this position, you coordinate operations and admin for a post office, or help organize scheduling and duties of post office workers. With a median salary of $80,250, becoming a postmaster is a high paying job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.

20. Electrical-power line installers and repairers

This job, which comes with long-term on-the-job training, has a median salary of $74,530. It’s in demand, too, because there are a projected 244,000 jobs opening by 2031.

19. Transportation inspectors

You’re one of the final safety checks of anything from equipment to goods to make sure all is safe for long travel. This job comes with a median salary of $79,770, and you’ll need a high school diploma.

18. Casino gaming managers

Do you look at the chaos of a casino and wonder who makes it run? A gaming manager, that’s who. In this job, you’ll direct and coordinate the workings of a casino. The median salary is $89,190, and you’ll need a high school diploma.

17. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists

Here’s a great way to be a part of the healthcare industry, help people, and learn the inner workings of a complex system. MRI techs need an associate’s degree and receive a median annual wage of $61,980. There are 281,000 jobs expected to open by 2031.

16. Registered nurses (RN)

Wait for it—there are a projected 3,326,000 (wow!) job openings for RNs expected by 2031! You’ll need an associate’s degree to become a nurse, which can involve anything from patient care to public education about health issues. A registered nurse’s median salary is $77,600.

15. Diagnostic medical sonographers

Here’s another great way to enter the healthcare industry in a tech-forward way. In this job, you use equipment to direct sound waves to assess and diagnose patients. You’ll need an associate’s degree for this position, which comes with a median salary of $75,380. There are 155,200 jobs projected by 2031.

14. Power plant operators

Here’s a position that comes with long-term on-the-job training. You’ll learn how to control, operate, and maintain the machines that generate electric power. Only a high school diploma is required, and this job comes with a median salary of $94,790.

13. Funeral service directors

The opportunity to run your own business (if you have the stomach for funeral services) and provide a valuable service to a grieving community could enable you to earn as much as $58,900; you’ll need an associate’s degree (and some business classes wouldn’t hurt). 

12. Nuclear technicians

You’ll need an associate’s degree for this important job, in which you’ll assist physicists and engineers in nuclear research and production. A nuclear technician’s median salary is $99,340.

11. Farmers, ranchers, & other agricultural managers

The one is a job with great prospects—150,200 are expected to open through 2032! These positions will require you to take a role in the operation of farms, ranches, greenhouses, aquacultural operations, nurseries, timber tracts, or other agricultural establishments. An agriculture manager’s median salary is $73,060.

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

This is a complicated-sounding way of saying middle management of a corporate sales force; your workload would likely include supervision of daily and weekly workforce activity, sales goals and company revenue. 

The median salary for this position is $79,680. You’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent degree, with no necessary training prerequisites.

9. Nuclear medicine technologists

This job comes with a median salary of $78,760 and requires an associate’s degree. In this position, technologists scan patient’s bodies to create images and administer radioactive drugs to patients undergoing scans.

8. Dental hygienists

Aspiring dental hygienists are required to provide dental cleanings, examine patients for oral ailments, and provide preventative care; they can earn a median salary of $77,810 with an associate’s degree (which should include any certifications required). There are more than 233,100 anticipated job openings by 2032.

7. Power distributors and dispatchers

These positions involve, as you might expect, coordinating, regulating and distributing electricity or steam, which may involve working in a technical facility or plant. The median salary stands at $94,790, you’ll be able to get long-term on-the-job training with your high school diploma or equivalent, and there are more than 37,300 prospective openings.

6. Commercial pilots

Air travel may not be as glamorous as it once was, but being a commercial pilot—flying and navigating aircrafts on non-scheduled (aka fancy private planes) air-carrier routes, or helicopter trips—is a lucrative and exciting career. You’ll need a commercial pilot certificate in addition to a high-school diploma or equivalent, but you could earn as much as $134,630 in any of the 143,000 positions available by 2031.

5. Detectives and criminal investigators

detective

Another job not to go for just because it looks cool on tv—detectives and criminal investigators assist law enforcement and private citizens in tracking down suspected violations of laws, to prevent or solve crimes, or find and recover private property. The median salary is $83,640, and you can expect on-the-job training.

4. Nuclear power reactor operator

nuclear-reactor

If you enjoy technical and mechanical work around nuclear reactors, monitoring and operating equipment and its controls, and recording meticulous data, this could be a great fit. You should also be comfortable facing and implementing emergency procedures. Median salary is nearly $94,790 and you will receive long-term on-the-job training.

3. Elevator mechanic

elevator-installer

If you happen to like elevators—or any electric or hydraulic systems maintenance, you could find yourself happy in this job—the $97,860 you could earn with your high school diploma might help too! Typically new repair techs start with an apprenticeship. there are more than 23,900 jobs by 2031.

2. Radiation therapists

radiation-therapy

If you’re interested in a career in healthcare without the nearly decade-long investment of time, money, and your sanity, consider a radiation therapy career. You’ll be responsible for checking equipment, observing patients after their treatments, and documentation of sessions. 

The median salary is $82,790, you’ll need an associate’s degree, and you may find more than 17,500 jobs by 2031.

1. Air-traffic controllers

air-traffic-control

An air traffic controller is responsible for ensuring that aircrafts safely enter and exit airspace. Being an air traffic controller is a highly paid position because it’s so intense and stressful—you have to be alert and on-task constantly. 

By monitoring and directing aircraft, you can be earning up to $129,750—the highest of any occupation in which employees don’t have to have a bachelor’s degree. The on-the-job training is long-term and rigorous (but you’ll appreciate it when you can actually save money and retire like an old-school human being).

Find a high paying job without a degree

When it comes to finding high-paying jobs without requiring a college degree, there are many options and opportunities. By choosing the right field and attaining certifications or training courses, you can open yourself up to new opportunities that offer competitive salaries without spending 4 years at university.

If you are looking for an exciting career without a bachelor’s degree, visit TheJobNetwork’s online job board to start your job search. Don’t forget to visit our resume library and career advice to help you take the next step in your career. 

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.