9 Best high-paying jobs without a degree in 2021 | Ranked and Reviewed

Best high-paying jobs without a degree

/ 10:51 AM June 09, 2021

Landing some high-paying jobs without a degree isn’t impossible. There are many lines of work that don’t require a college degree. While college is often advertised as everyone’s ticket to success, it can also be a source of headache. Not just because of the academic and studying party but also because of the thousands of dollars most people owe in student loans over four years or more.

The kinds of jobs that pay well also vary per industry. For example, you can be an executive assistant, a real estate agent, an elevator installer, a telecommunication line supervisor, a computer network technician, and many other jobs that don’t require a four-year course at the least. To score these positions, you need to find out first if you are qualified for them and get enough experience to qualify for them. Read on below for more.


College education and working

College education and working

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) state that the ten occupations that pay workers some of the largest salaries in the market don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Some college coursework and training may be required, but that also depends on the line of work you will be applying for. Even after high school, you’ll never really stop learning. Without a degree, most of these high-paying jobs demand extensive on-the-job training that allows you to keep learning while working.

Admittedly, most of the most accessible and popular work in the global market requires a college education. This is because many fields require a specific degree for someone to qualify for work. For example, mostly allied health professionals are hired for health-related work in hospitals and clinics, even with administrative work.

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Jobs that pay well without a degree

Jobs that pay well without a degree

Many high-paying jobs without a degree keep society running. They help keep everything together by providing electricity, security, transportation, maintenance, and many other essential services. Of course, not everyone is willing to take on such work, but you might not know that these are some of the highest-paying jobs on the market right now.

While salary and annual income are always major factors when choosing a job or career, there are other factors to consider. This includes whether or not the field you’ve chosen will still be in demand in the future. According to the BLS, only three out of the twenty of the highest paying jobs that don’t require a degree are projected to decline in employment by 2026. So check out ten of the well-paying lines of work right now.

Nuclear power plant operators

Nuclear power plant operators

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Annual median income: $94,350

Nuclear power plant operators handle some of the most complex and hazardous machines. However, they are not required to have any advanced physics or engineering degrees to operate the system and work on-site. Instead, a certification that you are fit to work and perform basic tasks are the only main requirements. However, this line of work may be particularly dangerous as some power plants may be a biohazard.

Transportation, storage, and distribution managers

  • Education: High school diploma and extensive experience in any related field
  • Annual median income: $94,730

Managers of companies that require transport, storage, and distribution oversee almost everything on the ground. They manage the allocation, shipping, and stocking of merchandise in the most cost and time-efficient way possible.


They do everything from planning to distributing to sometimes even delivering just to ensure that everything is up and running and on running, doing so smoothly and without a hitch. The job growth for this line of work has grown exponentially over the recent years as more companies have expanded in the country.

Commercial pilots

Commercial pilots

  • Education: High school diploma and commercial pilot license
  • Annual median income: $82,240

Commercial pilots handle unscheduled flight activities. These include, but aren’t limited to, charter flights, aerial tours, aerial application, and sometimes transporting company executives for private firms. They also do everything else to keep their aircraft in top shape, including maintenance, flight schedule, and loading passengers’ luggage. A commercial pilot’s license is required for this job, so your future employer knows that you know how to fly an aircraft. In addition, there are plenty of independent FAA-certified flight instructors that can teach you, or you can enroll in flight school.

Media and communication equipment workers

Media and communication equipment workers

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Annual median income: $79,580

Think of the hundreds of crew members that make up just one set of a movie or TV series. A good number of them are media and communication equipment workers that handle and maintain audio and visual tools for the filming industry. Boom mics, clappers, lapel mics, spotlights, and anything else you can think of, they can be done by media workers. An experience with electrical installation and repair, or in any related field, will give you an edge in this field.

Sales Representative

  • Education: High school diploma or equivalent
  • Annual median income: $59, 930

Sales representatives sell goods and services to groups and organizations rather than individual consumers. They differ from telemarketers and customer service representatives because sales reps market merchandise offered by manufacturers and wholesalers.

These can be anything from kitchen tools to chewy cookies. Sales representatives are expected to have outgoing and pleasing personalities because they, Of course, deal with potential clients and business partners. Expect a lot of traveling if you are applying for this job.

Court Reporter

Court Reporter

  • Education: Postsecondary non-degree award
  • Annual median income: $57,150

Court procedures employ people called court reporters to ensure that everything during the proceeding is documented properly. Court reporters type word-for-word transcripts of a trial or legal proceeding. They may also be asked to transcribe and read back auditory and visual evidence. This line of work requires training and education, such as stenography and transcription, to hone writing and multitasking skills, both of which are crucial for the job.


  • Education: Postsecondary non-degree award
  • Annual median income: $49,620

Generally of consideration as modern-day heroes, firefighters are high of skills as individuals to handle the most dangerous situations. Going inside burning buildings or crumbling houses can be life-threatening work, so it is only right that firefighters are paid with just compensation. While a four-year degree is not of requirement, extensive training and medical exams are to ensure you are fit to work in such a dangerous field of work.



  • Education: Some classes but no degree required
  • Annual median income: $40,240

Bookkeepers produce financial records, organize documents, and ensure financial accuracy for an individual or a company. You don’t need to have a degree in accountancy or be a bonafide math genius for this job. Basic math is all you need and computer skills because computers will be your best friend in these high-paying jobs without a degree. Though many industries are now preceding bookkeepers in exchange for computers, this career has been around for a long time and will likely stay relevant for many decades to come.

Pharmacy Technician

  • Education: High school diploma or vocational/technical school certification
  • Annual median income: $33,950

Pharmacy technicians assist licensed pharmacists with dispensing medications to patients and health professionals. They may also be in charge of taking stock and organizing everything on the shelves. They can work for pharmacies, drug stores, hospitals, or private clinics. In addition, there are vocational schools that offer pharmacy technology programs that last for a year or less. You can also proceed to medical courses with enough experience in this field.

Is it possible to make 50K without a degree?

Is it possible to make 50K without a degree?

With some of the highest paying jobs on this list, earning 50k and more without a degree is not only possible but doable as well. Much like with other lines of work, jobs that don’t require a college education also have risks and rewards. Many of them involve physical labor, which can be taxing to both the mind and the body.

These jobs also sometimes require employees to work long and irregular hours. This can mean being on call in case you are of need, whenever that may be. They can also be a hazard and even dangerous. Jobs like being a patrol officer or anything to do with law enforcement are understood as a dangerous field.

Does this mean that getting a degree is the better option instead of opting for these jobs? Not necessarily, as the decision still lies with you. If the job suits you, degree notwithstanding, it’s worth a try to stick with it and see where it takes you.

Can you still get a degree while working?

Many working-class Americans already have a degree, but there is a noticeable percentage still working on getting theirs, all the while working full-time or part-time jobs. This is possible as many colleges offer a customizable schedule for working students. Not to mention, corporations now also encourage their employees to get their bachelor’s or even their associate’s degree while working. Some companies make it a part of their tenure.

There is also the option to take online courses. This is probably the most convenient way to get a degree while working some of the high-paying jobs without a degree listed here. No physical classes might mean more time for you to manage and divide between courses and work. This all depends on the course load you take up and the number of hours you render to your employer.

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Final Thoughts

Education is important and should always be a right instead of a privilege. However, the sad reality is that a good percentage of citizens from the country and worldwide cannot afford a higher education past high school. Moreover, college is expensive because the demand for a workforce that has a bachelor’s degree continues to increase.

Everyone should have a chance to pursue a degree they want and access college and maybe even beyond. It is still a good thing to have high-paying jobs without a degree. This way, people who cannot afford to go to universities are given the same spending power as those who have gone to college. The jobs listed here are no less difficult or important than regular citizens do for eight to ten hours a day.

Disclaimer: This article is the author’s personal opinion, which may differ from the “official” statements or facts.

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