Graphic of 6 people in various uniforms indicating highest paying jobs without a degree

24 of the Highest Paying Jobs You Can Get Without a Degree

Let’s face it. College isn’t for everyone. It costs boatloads of money, often sending young people into years of student debt. It takes up years that could be spent making a living. And finally, an academic environment just isn’t the right fit for some folks. 

While a degree can be a great boost on the resume and some careers do require one, there are plenty of fulfilling high-paying jobs you can get without higher education. Check out this list of 24 of the highest paying jobs without a degree requirement, in ascending order of income.*

*Highest paying jobs without a degree requirement expected income and high end income statistics are based on available medians and averages from salary.com, Indeed, Comparably, and Glassdoor.

Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree Requirement


24. Aircraft Mechanic

Ever find yourself fascinated with the inner workings of machinery components? This could be the job for you! Aircraft mechanics perform all-important maintenance and repairs to planes. Just make sure you’re the responsible type before setting off on this career path, because the lives of real people will be in your hands!

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; additional technical training
  • Expected Income: $51,099
  • High End Income: $82,345

23. Insurance Agent

Whether working for a single company or acting as independent agents, these folks evaluate the needs of clients (businesses or individuals), and offer up appropriate insurance options for them. It’s important to have solid people skills and a good level of persistence for this role. A lot of the work is about developing and following through on sales leads, and if you’re skilled at this, commissions can work in your favor.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; insurance license exam
  • Expected Income: $53,074
  • High End Income: $66,058

22. Postmaster

Postmasters manage the operational and administrative aspects of either a single U.S. post office or a group of them. Someone considering this role should be organized, efficient, and able to manage people. Many postmasters start as mail carriers or clerks, and work their way up the ladder. The one thing to consider here is that because the world is going digital, there are likely to be less positions for postmasters in the future.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Expected Income: $54,434
  • High End Income: $100,000

21. Wind Turbine Technician 

If you’re looking for one of the highest paying jobs without a degree prerequisite plus major job security, look no further. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this role is expected to grow 68% this decade. Wind turbine technicians maintain, install, and repair those big pinwheel-looking things you see when you drive across a state with a lot of flat land. If you like spending time outdoors and aren’t too afraid of heights, this stable job could be one to consider.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; technical training program
  • Expected Income: $54,575
  • High End Income: $82,032
image of two wind turbine technicians discussing plans with backdrop of wind turbines

20. Police Officer

If you have a strong sense of justice and an instinct to protect and serve, you’d be a great addition to the police force. This can be a demanding but rewarding job, and there are opportunities for promotion with salary increases each step of the way. 

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; cadet training
  • Expected Income: $55,000
  • High End Income: $71,016

19. Power Plant Operator

A power plant operator helps control the flow of electricity from the plant to substations, and finally to our homes and businesses. They monitor equipment, read charts and gauges, and make adjustments to controls as needed. This work often requires focusing for long stretches of time, so before pursuing this role, make sure you’re not the restless or antsy type. 

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Expected Income: $55,763
  • High End Income: $110,588

18. Executive Assistant

Executive assistants help high-level executives with communications, scheduling, preparing reports, and all sorts of administrative tasks in between. If you’re a good communicator, great at providing support, and able to juggle multiple tasks, an executive assistant role could be a good fit for you. A caveat to be aware of is that there’s the potential to have to work outside of regular hours and deal with people with big egos.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Expected Income: $58,245
  • High End Income: $90,752

17. Electrician

There are many types of electricians, but all of them work to install and maintain power and electrical systems. When you become an electrician you might find yourself working in people’s homes, businesses, or factories. You should be fairly good at reading and understanding technical diagrams because each system that you service will be slightly different. This is also what keeps working as an electrician interesting! Every day brings a new and challenging problem to solve.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; apprenticeship
  • Expected Income: $58,361
  • High End Income: $94,620
Image of man working on electrical wires coming out wall

16. Building Inspector

Before a building can be inhabited or sold, a building inspector must examine the structure and confirm that all safety requirements have been met. This is a job for someone detail-oriented — the bottom line is all about safety, so being strict about following codes should come as second nature.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; license or certification
  • Expected Income: $58,361
  • High End Income: $94,620

15. Plumber

It can be a dirty job but someone’s gotta do it. And that someone has the potential to make a really nice income. But this job is not just about fixing broken toilets. Plumbers help install and repair all types of piping and water structures — some even help with architectural planning. If you take on this role, you’ll encounter a nice amount of variety in your day-to-day, and you can rest assured that your job will never become obsolete.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; an apprenticeship or training program; license
  • Expected Income: $58,361
  • High End Income: $112,772

14. Carpenter

Do you enjoy working with your hands and want one of the highest paying jobs with out a degree obligation? Carpentry could be your trade. You might find yourself fabricating all kinds of things—structure for buildings, cabinetry, instruments, furniture, and much more. There are plenty of areas to focus on, and this detailed, tactile work can be very fulfilling for the right type of personality. 

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; on-the-job training or apprenticeship
  • Expected Income: $59,866
  • High End Income: $75,485

13. Claims Adjuster

Always liked the idea of being a detective, but didn’t want to go the cop route? You might enjoy a career as a claims adjuster. These professionals spend their days investigating insurance situations — gathering information, collecting police reports, interviewing people — in some cases to determine if there’s fraud involved, in other cases to get a high payout for a claimant client. 

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Expected Income: $60,037
  • High End Income: $75,648

12. Licensed Practical Nurse

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily have to go through a years-long nursing school program to become a nurse. A Licensed Practical Nurse training program can take only 12 months and get you earning right away. As an LPN, you’ll assist registered nurses and doctors to monitor patients’ vital signs, complete paperwork, administer meds, and provide basic patient care and support. If you’re the compassionate type, becoming an LPN could be the path for you.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; training program
  • Expected Income: $60,799
  • High End Income: $71,927
Image of smiling nurse helping older man

11. Glazier 

Glaziers cut and install a variety of different glass products into the interiors and exteriors of buildings — things like windows, mirrors, and shower doors. While you’ll certainly need solid levels of calm, dexterity, strength, and meticulous attention to detail to fill this role, the earning potential speaks for itself. 

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; training program
  • Expected Income: $62,707
  • High End Income: $102,360

10. Electrical Power Line Installer/Repairer

You guessed it. People in this role install and repair electrical power lines. This is a physically demanding role and comes with some risks because of the heights and high-voltage electricity involved. But the world won’t be going without electricity any time soon, so the stability (as well as the money) can outweigh the potential risk for many people.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent, on-the-job training
  • Expected Income: $62,802
  • High End Income: $91,223

9. Flight Attendant

You probably already have some familiarity with the role of a flight attendant. They greet folks as they board the plane, provide help where needed, serve drinks and food, and ensure the safety of passengers. There are some real perks here if you don’t mind being away from home a fair amount. There’s the free travel, the great pay, and the flexible schedule that comes with seniority. Not a bad gig, if it’s the right fit for your lifestyle.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Expected Income: $63,754
  • High End Income: $130,000
Flight attendant handing passenger a drink on commercial flight

8. Structural Steel Worker

Ever see those people in hard hats hanging off the sides of skyscrapers? Very likely those were structural steel or iron workers. These folks create structural frameworks for buildings by joining girders, erecting columns, and connecting the rest of the pieces that keep large structures from falling to the ground. They also may do a fair bit of prefabrication before being elevated up to those high heights. You’ll want to have good balance, strength, and stamina to go into this trade. A comfortability with heights also wouldn’t hurt.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; apprenticeship
  • Expected Income: $66,287
  • High End Income: $89,031

7. Non-retail Sales Supervisor

As a Non-retail Sales Supervisor you’d be overseeing and coordinating the activity of sales workers, doing accounting and budgeting work, and making sure sales goals are being met. You may also help in improving processes and sales approaches to boost business. A good way to make your way into this role is to spend time as a sales associate or representative first. 

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; sales experience
  • Expected Income: $67,421
  • High End Income: $123,380

6. Construction Supervisor

A construction supervisor oversees the safety, management, and teams of a construction project. There’s a fair amount of planning, organizing, and people-leading involved. Most construction supervisors began as construction workers. You’ll want to have around 3-5 years of experience in the trenches before aspiring to supervisor status, and it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on your engineering and budgeting skills while you’re at it.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; 3-5 years of construction experience
  • Expected Income: $67,944
  • High End Income: $159,138
Man in hard hat and reflective vest holding ipad and talking with woman in construction uniform

5. Police Supervisor

Police supervisors help to ensure that their officers are properly trained and that the correct procedures are being followed. They provide guidance to their police force, handle administrative work within their department, organize police investigations, and handle interpersonal conflicts. This is a role that could be open to you after some years as a police officer. 

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; 3-5 years of police experience
  • Expected Income: $69,809
  • High End Income: $131,570

4. Sales Representative 

Got the gift of gab? You might be a perfect fit for a sales representative. These people work to sell a company’s product or service to a customer (which could be another business or just an individual). As a sales rep, you’d be pitching products and services to clients, always keeping the idea of maintaining good relationships in mind. Some folks thrive under an “always be closing” commission structure – if you’re good at it, there’s a lot of money to be made. And it doesn’t hurt that this job can be quite flexible, both in terms of hours and location.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Expected Income: $70,082
  • High End Income: $135,211

3. Police Detective 

Police detectives work to solve crimes — anything from homicide, to arson, to narcotics, to fraud. Often a detective will specialize in one of these areas, but you’ll often move to a new special unit every few years to widen your experience and prevent burnout. The thing to know is that being a detective is not as glamorous as the media makes it seem. A lot of the work involves keeping meticulous records, and some crimes can take years to solve. But if you’re patient, detail-oriented, have a strong read on people, and a great mind for puzzles, this is a job to consider.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; at least  2-3 years as a police officer or military experience
  • Expected Income: $76,649
  • High End Income: $94,983

2. Commercial Pilot

Commercial pilots don’t just fly for airlines — they can fly rescue operations, do crop dusting, and pilot charter flights. Also involved is ensuring the safety of the aircraft as well as communicating with the ground crew, dispatcher, flight crew, and passengers. This is a job for someone level-headed, that can make quick, smart decisions under pressure. Keep in mind the toll jet lag can take, and the time away from family. But for the right type, this is a well-compensated and exciting career that often involves getting 9-14 days off each month. 

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; 7-10 months training and receiving licenses (private pilot license and commercial pilot license); and 1500 hours of flight time
  • Expected Income: $85,218
  • High End Income: $208,000

1. Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent helps facilitate the selling and buying of homes, other types of buildings, and land. Showings, paperwork, and a ton of communication is involved. We saved this one for last because really, the sky’s the limit here. You may notice that instead of one expected income amount, we provided a range. This is because the average and median income of realtors varies so widely across different sources we checked that we couldn’t land on one number. And really, that tracks. Selling real estate is what you make of it. Of the highest paying jobs without a degree requirement, this one can be a real jackpot. The most successful realtors can make hundreds of thousands of dollars, but you really have to be the best of the best when it comes to negotiating, talking the talk, and networking.

  • Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; real estate license
  • Expected Income: $44,100 – $95,673
  • High End Income: $156,237
Realtor showing a couple a modern condo

Final Words

While a college degree can provide a step up when it comes to finding a job, it certainly isn’t a hard and fast requirement to make a decent living. And with U.S. student loan debt hitting a $1.7 trillion record (higher than all collective American credit card debt), who can blame someone for looking at other options?

One of the roles from this group of 24 of the highest paying jobs without a degree requirement can be just as — if not more — satisfying than a white-collar office job requiring an expensive MBA, and in some cases, just as lucrative. After all, which sounds better? Finding yourself in a new place every day, solving hands-on, interesting electrical puzzles? Or sitting in front of a computer crunching numbers till the cows come home?

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