Top Paying Jobs for Those Without a Degree

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Today’s teens hear the same thing over, and over, and over again. Success, especially financial success, is directly related to where they go and how they do in college. So, what does that mean for millennials without a degree? One thing is for certain: a college degree does not necessarily equate success.

There are loads of high paying jobs that do not require employees to have a college diploma. From writers to web designers, there are careers to suit all interests and aspirations–that don’t require a degree.

Job Hunt

1. Freelance Writer

Freelance writing is a great option for aspiring writers who want to buy themselves time while working on a book, or writers who are eager to explore a wide range of writing topics with different clientele, and get paid while they do it!

In 2015, the median pay of freelance writers was $60,250 annually. Clients are not looking for a specific degree: they hire based on writing quality. Additionally, freelance writing is an excellent job for those looking to work from home or on their own schedule. This is perfect for travelers or those with young children!

2. Web Developer

Web developers do exactly what one would expect: they design and create websites. They are responsible primarily for a website’s appearance. They are also responsible for the site’s technical aspects, such as its performance and capacity. Web developers sometimes create content for their sites in addition to designing them. On average, a web developer makes $64,970 each year.

3. Online Advertising Manager

Advertising covers wide range of job options, some of which involve a degree and some that do not. In particular, online advertising generally does not require one to have a college degree. It can, however, offer a very fulfilling career for those interested in design, business, and advertising. Advertisers earn between $85,000 and $125,000 annually.

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4. Electrical Technician

Electrical technicians work alongside electrical engineers in designing, testing, and repairing equipment. For those who are interested in engineering but lack a degree, becoming an electrical technician can be an excellent option. They make about $61,130 each year.

5. Dental Hygienist

For those interested in dentistry, but not interested in or unable to complete dentistry school, becoming a dental hygienist may be a perfect, high-paying option. The duty of a dental hygienist is similar to that of a dentist, with a little more office work.

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Dentists generally perform more serious treatment procedures, such as root canals, filling cavities and pulling teeth. Dental hygienists are responsible for the cleaning procedures. Dental hygienists make about $72,330 annually, which is nearly $20,000 more than the average American income.

6. Correctional Officer

Correctional officers are responsible primarily for the security of prisons and the safety of inmates. This includes handling disturbances in the prison population, such as fighting, ensuring that no weapons or illegal substances are present in the dormitories, and other tasks that ensure the safety of inmates and prison staff. The mean annual wage of a first-line supervisor of correctional officers is approximately $62,770.

7. Real Estate Agent

Real Estate Agents are responsible for helping their clients, buy, rent, and sell property. The average salary of a real estate agent is $45,610, but they oftentimes make much more over time.

8. Subway or Streetcar Operator

Subway and streetcar operators do not require a degree, and to become certified requires minimal training. On average, subway operators make $60,580 annually. Anyone interested in trains should consider this if they are looking for a job that doesn’t require a degree.


9. Gaming Manager

Game managers are hired by casinos and game-operating companies to interact with the guests and ensure that they enjoy their visit. On average, they earn $77,770 annually.

10. Agricultural Manager

This covers a wide range of careers, including farmers and ranchers. These positions can suit a wide range of interests, from animal behavior to sustainability. Their average annual salary is $64,170.

11. Supervisor of Non-Retail Sales Workers

Supervisors of non-retail sales workers (pharmaceutical sales, etc.) are responsible for supervising the work of their employees as well as budgeting, accounting, and other work needed by the company. Their annual salary is $84,910 on average.

12. Commercial Pilot

Pilotry is a dream of many. It also happens to be a career that takes one all over the world, without a college degree, although extensive training is necessary. The mean annual income of a commercial pilot is $84,510, but some pilots can make north of $140,000.

13. Detective or Criminal Investigator

This is my personal favorite, as it always interested me when I was younger. Although detectives and private investigators must be tactful in order to do their job effectively, they do not need a college degree. They make approximately $79,620 annually.

14. Elevator Installer and Repairer

For those interested in mechanics and engineering, elevator work can be an extremely fulfilling and high-paying choice, and a college degree is not necessary to become one. Elevator installers and repairers are responsible for the installation, maintenance and repair of elevators, escalators, and moving walkways, and they are in high demand with approximately 20,700 jobs available. Their average income is $80,870.

15. Air Traffic Controller

Of all of the jobs on this list, this is among the most challenging and most important: air traffic controllers direct the movement of air traffic to ensure that airplanes stay safely far apart, preventing millions of potential accidents each day. Like pilots, air traffic controllers must go through extensive training, but they do not need to have a college degree in order to be employed. Their average annual salary is $122,950.


Of course, there are always other options for those without degrees, from getting involved with art and filmmaking to creating a business, but these 15 jobs are on average, the highest paying for those without a degree.

A college degree is not obtainable for everyone, but there are plenty of well-paying careers suiting a wide range of interests that do not require one. The ones listed above just scratch the surface; if you’re looking for other options, consider making a LinkedIn so you can find jobs, and employers can find you!

Image Credits: Under30CEO, Fast Company, New York Post, Geospatial World

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