Employment Trends

11 High Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree

Written by Peter Jones

we don’t all have the luxury of going straight to college or university after high school. but if you can’t (or shouldn’t, for personal reasons) go to college right away, you don’t have to settle for low-paying work.

here are 11 high-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.

real estate broker

you will need to acquire a license, but you can apply for your first position with just a high school diploma. you may have to log a lot of evening, weekend, and holiday hours to start, and you might not generate income for a while. but when you get your stride, you can make over $180k per year. it’s a competitive field, and the low range of the salary field is just over $30k per year. but if you have the talent, luck, and dedication, you could thrive.

air traffic controller

because the job is incredibly stressful and the stakes (and responsibilities) are high, this is a very high paying position. an average of just under $159k annually. there’s a lot of pre-employment screening to get through, but it pays handsomely.

small business owner

if you have the capacity to start your own business, and the wherewithal to get through the difficult early stages (and, importantly, you have a valuable product or service to offer the market), this could be a good option for you. set your own hours, write off many expenses on your taxes, and make as much as you possibly can. the sky’s the limit.

fire chief

you’ll have to work your way through the ranks of this challenging and physically demanding career, but if you’re comfortable with high risk and lots of time away from home, then you could succeed in scaling the ladder to be chief. the salary range is approximately $42k to $119k per year.

construction manager

if you like working construction, you don’t have to worry about switching careers to something better. construction companies often promote from within. if you truly like the work, you could consider sticking it out and working your way up the ranks to management. expect to make anywhere from $41k to $131k per year.


learn this trade through apprenticeships or technical school. it’s super high demand, and salaries can soar to over six figures very quickly.

network/it manager

as long as you’re up on the latest technology and talented with gadgets, networks, and computers, you can excel in this field. it’s stable work with good benefits and salaries ranging from $53k to $125k per year.

hotel executive chef

obviously, you’ll have to start at the bottom and work your way up. you’ll have to deal with impossibly long and grueling hours. but if you have the passion and the talent and can get to the executive level, you can easily make six figures.

radiation therapist

you’ll need a two-year associate’s degree or a certificate in radiation therapy, but not a traditional four-year degree. you can make as much as $116 per year.

court reporter

if you can transcribe 250 words per minute, and spell, and have absolute and precise attention to detail, then you can make anywhere between $29k and $104k. you’ll have to take some training classes in transcription, as well as pass some stringent background checks, but it could well be worth it.


if all of these jobs sound good, but just not glamorous enough for you (and you have perfect eyesight), then you might consider becoming a pilot. the average salary is $110k per year, but many pilots, depending on their training, experience, and license, can make over twice that.

if you’re willing to work hard and dedicate yourself to excellence in your chosen career, then you can easily make six figures without a traditional degree.

About the author

Peter Jones