Many people believe that having a university degree is the sole route to a high-paying job. While it’s true that a college education can lead to many opportunities, there are still several lucrative positions available to those without a degree. Whether due to personal choice or circumstances, if you don’t have a degree, you shouldn’t consider your chances for a well-paying career dead in the water.
To support this claim, let’s delve into the ten high-paying jobs you can snag in the U.S. without a degree. These careers span a range of industries, and while some require training or certification, none necessitate a conventional four-year degree.
10 high-paying jobs without a degree in the U.S
- Air Traffic Controller: Air traffic controllers have a vital role in ensuring the safety of both pilots and passengers by coordinating aircraft movement. Despite the high-stress nature and substantial responsibility of the job, the payoff is equally substantial, with a median annual salary well over $120,000. Though a degree is not necessary, the FAA does require individuals to complete a specific Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative course.
- Commercial Pilot: Commercial pilots who operate outside of airlines, like charter pilots or crop dusters, earn a median annual wage of around $82,000, and that figure can rise with experience and hours logged. The only catch is that you would need to earn a pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which involves flight hours and examinations.
- Elevator Installers and Repairers: Overseeing the installation, repair, and maintenance of elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and similar equipment can bring in a median annual wage of about $84,000. Although it doesn’t require a degree, this job necessitates a keen understanding of electronics, hydraulics, and mechanics, usually acquired through an apprenticeship.
- Nuclear Power Reactor Operator: Despite the significant responsibility, one doesn’t need a degree to earn the median annual salary of approximately $94,000 that comes with this role. However, operators must have extensive on-the-job training and a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
- Police and Detectives Supervisor: Overseeing and coordinating the activities and training of law enforcement staff, these professionals have a median annual wage of about $89,000. While some local and state departments may require a degree, many do not. However, it’s often required to have extensive work experience in a patrol officer role or similar position.
- Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers: Earning around $94,000 annually, these managers oversee the allocation, storage, and transportation of a range of goods. Though the position does not require a degree, related work experience is essential.
- Nuclear Medicine Technologists: This role, with a median annual wage of around $77,000, involves preparing and administering radioactive drugs for imaging or treatment. Although it requires a certificate or an associate degree, it doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.
- Radiation Therapists: Another high-paying healthcare job without a degree requirement is a radiation therapist. They treat cancer and other diseases in patients by administering radiation treatments. This job has a median annual salary of about $85,000 and typically requires an associate degree or certification.
- Web Developers: Specializing in designing and creating websites, web developers can make around $73,000 annually. Although some positions may require a degree, many others only necessitate an understanding of programming languages and design, which can be gained through coding boot camps, self-study, or certificate programs.
- Real Estate Brokers: Without needing a degree, real estate brokers can make a median income of approximately $80,000 annually. However, they need to pass a broker’s license exam after gaining a few years of experience as a real estate agent.
These positions underscore that although higher education can open doors, it’s not the only path to a successful, well-paying career. If a traditional four-year degree isn’t for you, don’t lose heart. There’s a wide world of jobs out there where skill, determination, and on-the-job learning can offer you a rewarding career path with a comfortable income. With the right mindset and initiative, these opportunities can lead you to a prosperous and fulfilling professional life.