Check out these high-paying careers with no degree required.

A career path that includes a four-year college degree isn't for everyone. For some, cost is a factor, or they prefer not to go into debt at the average yearly cost of $36,436. Others have no interest in attending school for another four years beyond high school or have career interests that don't necessarily require a degree. Fortunately, there are many jobs that don't require a degree, including those outlined in this post. 

Jobs that don't require a degree

Though there are several high-paying jobs that don't require a degree or experience, you'll still likely need some level of training or education. Education comes in various forms outside of a four-year college degree, including certifications, on-the-job training, two-year associate's degrees, and training courses. 

Still, in terms of cost, these types of education and training have a much lower price tag than a four-year degree. Some jobs will also consider on-the-job experience over required training or certifications. 

If you're an entry-level candidate just beginning your research on jobs that don't require a degree or you're looking to change careers without having to acquire an entirely new degree, the following list of options can inspire you and guide your research. The data regarding salary, job growth, and education, training, and experience are from the 2023 Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook or the U.S. Department of Labor's CareerOneStop Occupational Profiles. 

1. Agricultural Manager

Agricultural Managers, including Farmers and Ranchers, are essential in managing the daily operations of farming establishments, like greenhouses, farms, and ranches.  They oversee and tend to agriculture needs related to raising livestock and the production of crops and dairy. 

Depending on the complexity of the operations, you might come across some positions where a degree is necessary. However, in many cases, only a high school diploma is required to be an Agricultural Manager. 

Though the job growth is looking to decline through 2032, there are still currently over 920,000 Agricultural Manager jobs in the U.S.

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Years of experience: 5 or more years
  • On-the-Job training: None
  • Median income: $75,760 
  • Projected job growth: -5%

2. Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanic

As the name implies, Aircraft and Avionics Mechanics work on and maintain aircraft in repair stations, hangers, or airfields. Experience is acquired through on-the-job training, and most Aircraft and Avionics Mechanics receive certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. 

  • Education: Postsecondary nondegree award
  • Years of experience: None
  • On-The-Job training: Short-term on-the-job training
  • Median incame: $70.740
  • Projected job growth: 4%

3. Automotive Mechanic

Among the jobs that don't require a degree, Automotive Mechanics diagnose, repair, and maintain vehicles, including trucks, cars, motorcycles, and ATVs that run on gas, ethanol, or electric. Diesel mechanics focus on vehicles that run on diesel. Mechanics perform a wide range of duties, making the job interesting for those who choose this vocation. 

  • Education: Postsecondary nondegree award

  • Years of experience: None

  • On-the-Job training: Short-term on-the-job training

  • Median income: $46,970

  • Projected job growth: 2%

4. Carpenter

Carpenters require creativity and technical skills to design and build a variety of structures with their hands. Carpenters are responsible for reading blueprints, knowing how to use the required tools for specific jobs, assembling building materials, and selecting the right materials necessary for each job. 

The path to this profession is assisting a carpenter and securing an apprenticeship. It's possible to secure an associate's degree in carpentry, and some employers might require it, though it's generally not necessary to secure a work in the field.

  • Required education: High school diploma, apprenticeship

  • Years of experience: None

  • On-the-Job training: Apprenticeship

  • Median income: $51,390

  • Projected job growth: 1%

5. Chef or Head Cook

Chefs can hold jobs at a variety of establishments, including restaurants, breweries, hotel restaurants and bars, and catering companies. This vital role includes overseeing food preparation for the businesses they serve. 

As culinary experts, they develop recipes and taste dishes prior to them being served, as well as ensure that the required produce is appropriately stocked. They also serve as a manager who directs other kitchen staff, including cooks and food prep employees. 

Many head chefs work their way up through on-the-job training. However, some employers might require postsecondary education or certification. 

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent

  • Years of experience: 5 years or more

  • On-the-Job training: None

  • Median income: $56,520

  • Projected job growth: 5%

6. Commercial Pilot

Do you have a desire to fly, but don't want to secure the bachelor's degree required to work for an airline? Then, a commercial pilot job might be the perfect option. Commercial pilots operate airplanes and helicopters, similar to airline pilots, but they aren't affiliated with an airline. They are often hired to fly for tours and charter flights.

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent, 3 months of flight training

  • Years of experience: None

  • On-the-Job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

  • Median income: $103,910

  • Projected job growth: 4%

7. Construction or Building Inspector

Building Inspectors are crucial to ensuring various types of real estate, including homes and commercial buildings, are built to the required safety standards. To successfully do their jobs, inspectors must know the local zoning regulations, building codes, and ordinances. Another important aspect of their job is making sure all contractual requirements are followed. 

A high school diploma is required for this role. Most states also require Building and Construction Inspectors to secure a certification or license to work. Training occurs on the job.  

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent, additional license or certification

  • Years of experience: Five or more years

  • On-the-Job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

  • Median income: $64,480

  • Projected job growth: -2%

8. Court reporters

Court reporters play an important role in safeguarding the legal process as guardians of the record. During a deposition or court proceeding, court reporters capture verbatim what's spoken by everyone throughout the entire proceeding. They then create transcripts of the proceedings that serve as an official record that can be read, archived, and searched. 

To become a court reporter, you must complete a certification program, often from a technical school or community college. From there, many states require you to pass a typing exam to assess your speed and secure a license to work. 

  • Education: Postsecondary nondegree award

  • Years of experience: None

  • On-the-Job training: Short-term on-the-job training

  • Median income: $63,560

  • Projected job openings: 3%

9. Electricians

Electricians hold jobs for maintenance services companies, electrical companies, and contractors. They can also work independently. Often working with other maintenance team members, they help to install and repair electrical systems in commercial and residential structures. 

Duties also include troubleshooting electrical problems and installing electrical equipment, like outlets, breaker boxes, and circuit boards. Some Electricians are also tasked with ordering supplies or tools necessary for restocking and future jobs. 

Many receive technical school training and then secure an apprenticeship to become an Electrician. From there, many states require a certification and licensure to legally secure work. 

  • Education: Postsecondary nondegree award, apprenticeship

  • Years of experience: None

  • On-the-Job training: Apprenticeship

  • Median income: $60,240

  • Projected job openings: 6%

10. Food Service or Restaurant Manager

You might be interested in a Food Service Manager position if you enjoy working around food and interacting with people from all walks of life. Food Service Managers can work for fast food restaurants, dine-in restaurants, hotels, bars, breweries, and other establishments that serve food. Restaurant and Food Service Managers help to ensure everything runs smoothly with the day-to-day operations of the establishment. 

Some establishments will have a Front of House and Back of House Manager. The FOH Manager focuses on customer interaction and FOH staff, like hostesses, bussers, food runners, and servers. The BOH Manager focuses on food preparation and BOH staff, like chefs, line cooks, and dishwashers. 

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent

  • Years of experience: Less than five years

  • On-the-Job training: Short-term on-the-job training

  • Median income: $61,310

  • Projected job growth: 0%

11. Insurance Appraiser

​​An Insurance Appraiser works for an insurance firm to assess claims. Appraisers who work for companies that insure property, like homes and vehicles, review information regarding a claim, evaluate the damage or loss of property, and determine if a claim should be paid out and by how much if so. 

Those who work in life or health insurance might also review claims to determine whether medical procedures are necessary and should be covered. 

Entry-level positions typically only require a high school diploma, though some positions might require a postsecondary certificate. Some states also require a license to work as an Insurance Appraiser. 

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent

  • Years of experience: None

  • On-the-Job training: Can last for several months depending on the focus area

  • Median income: $65,080

  • Projected job growth: -3%

12. Lighting Technician

Lighting Technicians can secure jobs in live, film, television, photography, and video productions. They set up and dismantle various lighting-related equipment and tools, including electrical and rigging equipment, light fixtures, lighting control devices, sandbags, and color filters. Sometimes, a Lighting Technician might also be responsible for operating light fixtures.

  • Education: Postsecondary nondegree/certificate

  • Years of experience: None

  • On-the-Job training: Less than one month on-the-job training

  • Median income: $45,250

  • Projected job growth: -3%

13. Mechanic Supervisor

First-Line Supervisors of Mechanics supervise the work of repairers, mechanics, and installers. As managers, they're responsible for several tasks, including delegating work, scheduling, performance appraisals, and ensuring safety standards are adhered to. At times, they also interact with customers regarding their service and repairs. 

To become a Mechanic Supervisor, you typically need some level of experience and a high school diploma or equivalent.

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Years of experience: Less than five years
  • On-the-Job training: None
  • Median income: $70,270
  • Projected job growth: 2%

14. Police Officer

Some are surprised to learn that Police Officer positions are among the jobs that don't require a degree. If you're interested in a job in law enforcement and are at least 21 years old, you could secure this type of job. You also need to be a U.S. citizen and hold a valid driver's license for these roles. 

In most areas, Police Officers need to graduate from the Police Academy, which requires rigorous physical activity and working well under stress, as well as training in the required local, state, and federal laws that impact the profession. On-the-job training typically follows successful graduation from the Academy.

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent, Police Academy training
  • Years of experience: None
  • On-the-Job training: Modern-term on-the-job training
  • Median income: $69,160
  • Projected job growth: 3%

15. Postmaster

A Postmaster, also referred to as a Mail Superintendent, oversees a local U.S. Post Office or an area of Post Offices. In this managerial position, they supervise employees and direct the administrative, operational, and support services of the post office they oversee to ensure smooth incoming and outgoing mail procedures. Though Postmaster roles are among the jobs that don't require a degree, they do require you to work your way up to secure the position.

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent

  • Years of experience: Less than five years

  • On-the-Job training: N/A

  • Median income: $89,770

  • Projected job openings: N/A

16. Railroad Workers

Most Railroad Workers hold jobs in the rail transportation industry and are compensated well for their work to keep our freight and passenger trains operating safely. There are several roles you could hold as a Railroad Worker, including Locomotive Engineer, Train Conductor, Yardmaster, and Yard Worker. 

These roles include activities like controlling switches and signals in the rail yard, coordinating train activities, and driving trains. Railroad Workers need a high school diploma or equivalent and receive on-the-job training to work.

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Years of required experience: None
  • On-the-Job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training
  • Median income: $68,960
  • Projected job growth: 1%

17. Real Estate Agent

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit with a knack for sales and marketing and also enjoy helping and interacting with clients, a career as a Real Estate Agent might be a good fit. Real Estate Agents work with individuals to help them sell, buy, and rent homes. 

They walk them through the home buying, selling, or renting process, educating them about pertinent details they need to know and steps they need to take. Real Estate Agents can also support the buying and selling of commercial properties. 

Real Estate agents can work for themselves or be associated with a Real Estate brokerage firm, with the latter being the most common when getting started. Most Real Estate Agents work on commission and have to do most of their own marketing to increase revenue. 

Licensing requirements vary by state to become a Real Estate Agent, though you typically have to pass a required exam. Those pursuing licensure typically must secure a training program that's an average of 60 hours long, as well. 

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent

  • Years of experience: None

  • On-the-Job training: Varies based on company

  • Median income: $52,030

  • Projected job openings: 3%

18. Solar Photovoltaic Installers

With the increase in the desire to use alternative energy methods today, we're hearing more and more about solar power. As the demand for solar power increases, so does the demand for individuals who can install solar power panels - job growth is projected to be 22% through 2032. 

A Solar Photovoltaic Installer installs solar panels for jobs according to state and local codes. They have to be able to use schematics while adhering to top workmanship that requires a fair level of physical strength and endurance.

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent

  • Years of experience: None

  • On-the-Job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

  • Median income: $45,230

  • Projected job openings: 22%

19. Sound Engineering Technician

Interested in a job that's high-paced in the media or entertainment arena? Sound Engineering Technician jobs are most commonly found in the fields of theater, television, special events, sporting events, radio, sound studio operation, and filmmaking. 

They often work as part of a creative team to ensure the sound for these types of mediums is captured and transmitted as needed. They do this by operating and assembling audio equipment to record, edit, mix, synchronize, and reproduce various types of sound, from sound effects and music to voices and animal noises. 

  • Education: Postsecondary nondegree award/certificate

  • Years of experience: None

  • On-the-Job training: Less than one month on-the-job training

  • Median income: $60,670

  • Projected job openings: -1%

20. Theatrical Performance Makeup Artist

If you're looking for a creative job in the arts that pays well, being a Theatrical Performance Makeup Artist fits the bill. This type of Makeup Artist works in film, television, or theater to ensure actors fit the setting and period for their roles. Many Makeup Artists also do an actor's hair as part of their job. 

  • Education: Postsecondary nondegree award/certificate

  • Years of experience: None

  • On-the-Job training: None

  • Median income: $96,370

  • Projected job openings: 9%

Tips to secure jobs that don't require a degree

Now that you know it's possible to secure high-paying jobs that don't require a degree or experience, let's explore some tips to help you do so.

  1. Choose a vocation. Of course, the first step to securing one of the jobs that requires no degree is to choose one. It's helpful to consider what your goals are. Do you want to build a long-term career and are willing to increase your income over time, or is making the most money possible from the start more of a priority? Or are both equally important? Are you looking for quick entry into a profession, or are you ok with some required certifications and training? 
  2. Refer to job descriptions. Once you've made a choice as to the type of job you feel is most suited to you, research companies that hire for those positions. Refer to job descriptions about the requirements for employment and make note of the skills and experience you have and any gaps you need to fill.
  3. Acquire necessary training or licensure required. Secure the type of training or certification required if more than a high school diploma or on-the-job training is necessary. Also seek out training to help fill in any skill gaps you might have. There are several resources online that offer quality training at a low cost or for free.
  4. Develop your resume. A well-crafted resume will help you grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers to land interviews, and then, the job. For more insights on how to write a resume that fits U.S. formatting standards, refer to “Seven Key Resume Sections and How to Organize Them” and “How to Use a Reverse-Chronological Resume Format.” You can also opt to hire a resume writer to support you. Once you have a strong resume in hand, be sure to tailor it to each job you apply for.
  5. Update your LinkedIn profile. Over 67 million companies are on LinkedIn, and more than 78% of recruiters use it to find candidates. Plus, many employers won't consider you as a candidate if they can't locate your LinkedIn profile. Therefore, having a LinkedIn profile is typically necessary if you want to be seen as a viable candidate. That said, if you don't have one, consider creating one. If you do have a profile, ensure it's complete and up-to-date. This article can help with either scenario: “12 Ways to Make Your LinkedIn Profile Stand Out.”
  6. Network. Networking is a great way to find out about potential job opportunities, learn more about a profession you're interested in, and ask for references. There are several options when it comes to networking, including:
    • Using LinkedIn to research and network with individuals at companies you're interested in
    • Locating virtual and in-person events related to your area of interest and attend
    • Seeking out events with your local Chamber of Commerce to meet prospective employers

What is the best job option for you?

You don't need a college degree to be successful or make money, and the above jobs prove it. They are just some of the examples of jobs that don't require a degree, yet still provide viable career options. Allow the list to inspire you to begin your own research on a job or career path that meets your goals.

Are you confident your resume will help you land the job you desire? Why not submit it for a free resume review to receive input and make necessary adjustments before submitting applications?  

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