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50 Great Paying Jobs That Don’t Require A Bachelor’s Degree

50 Great Paying Jobs That Don’t Require A Bachelor’s Degree
Adrienne Romer-Jordan Nov 24, 2019
Want to Earn Some Extra Money?

You will often hear that a four-year college degree is required in order to land a good job. And in many circumstances this is true.

More companies are requiring a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. Thankfully, there are still plenty of jobs available that don’t.

These jobs actually pay pretty well. Because they don’t require a degree, you can get established with them right out of high school. 

You may be able to find the job of your dreams with the help of some vocational training, a certificate program, an apprenticeship, or at the most a two-year degree program.

Below I’ve listed 50 great paying jobs that don’t require a Bachelor’s degree.

1. Commercial Helicopter Pilot

Education Level: Flight School, Certification

Average Salary: $80K

Flying a helicopter pays pretty well. Commercial helicopter pilots can transport people to their destination, assist with news coverage, give tours, or provide medical support.

If you have 20/20 vision and excellent hearing, then this may be a career worth checking out. 

2. Programmer

Education Level: Certification or Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $53K

In the past you may have needed a college degree in order to snag a job as a programmer. Now, most colleges are offering chances to earn your certification as a programmer.

You can breeze through a year of training and get a job as soon as you are certified. Good programmers are always in high demand so the job market is a steady one. 

3. Computer Technician

Education Level: Certification or Specialized Training

Average Salary: $58K

Similar to a programmer, a computer technician is another job that stays in high demand. This is especially true at old companies where the employers may not be very computer savvy. 

Computer technicians are the ones who ensure that everything is working properly. The minute anything goes wrong, a computer technician will be called. 

And since things can always go wrong with computers, you can expect to stay busy. And employed. 

4. Gas Station Operators

Education Level: HS Diploma

Average Salary: $65K

There’s a difference between a gas station attendant and a gas station operator. Operators will operate steam, gas, electric motor or internal combustion engine driven compressors. 

These workers may transmit, compress or recover gases. You can get this job right out of school and gain experience directly on the job.

5. Ethical Hacker

Education Level: Certification or Specialized Training

Average Salary: $70K

Yes, you can get paid to work as a hacker. Companies rely on ethical hackers to ensure that their security is up to snuff.

Some companies will require a Bachelor’s degree, but you can get into this position without one. Though to get the degree would mean getting paid closer to $100K annually. 

6. Database Manager

Education Level: Certification or Specialized Training

Average Salary: $80K

Seriously, jobs involving computers are great and in high demand. A database manager will create databases for companies to fulfill management needs.

They can also merge new and old databases, which is key when a company is going through a transition. 

You sometimes need a Bachelor’s degree but can get specialized training to start working right away. 

7. EMT

Education Level: HS Diploma and certification/licensing

Average Salary: $33K

An EMT is usually the first on the scene in the event of an emergency. It is their job to provide first aid, check vitals and transport patients to a nearby hospital if necessary. 

This position is perfect for anyone looking to break into the medical field without relying on a heavy duty college degree. 

In most cases, a high school diploma followed by specialized training is all you need to do to get started in this field. 

8. Optician

Education Level: HS Diploma

Average Salary: $35K

As an optician you’ll get hands-on training in order to become successful in your career. 

Opticians won’t be required to give exams. Instead they will be in charge of administering prescriptions for glasses and contact lenses. 

One good thing about this job is that you have the option to work in several chain stores. Sometimes  positions are available in the mall, or you can work for a doctor’s office. 

9. Postal Service Clerk

Education Level: HS Diploma

Average Salary: $50K

As a postal service clerk you are in charge of sorting mail and packages. 

You also work directly with people who come in requiring services like buying stamps or requesting a passport. 

It’s the kind of job you can land right out of high school, it comes with full benefits and you get every major and not so major holiday off. 

10. Flight Attendant

Education Level: HS Diploma and Certification

Average Salary: $56K

If you’ve got the travel bug, working as a flight attendant can be your chance to see the world. You can travel domestically or internationally. And get paid for it.

Working and traveling so frequently may get tiring.  But if you really want to get some exploration under your belt, this is a great career to start in.

11. Cosmetologist

Education Level: Cosmetology School

Average Salary: $28K

Cosmetology school is typically a two year program. During this time you are learning everything there is to know about doing hair, nails, skincare and more.

Most cosmetologists can complete their training and start working right away. It’s the kind of position that you can increase your income by growing your clientele. 

12. Hair Stylist

Education Level: HS Diploma and certification/licensing

Average Salary: $25K

Not every stylist will need to go to a full cosmetology school in order to work on hair. 

Now someone can opt to get a natural hair stylist license. With this license you can focus on hair alone and not have to worry about all the extras that come with cosmetology school. 

Also, it doesn’t look like a hair stylist makes much, but keep in mind that most stylists are self-employed. The more work you take in (i.e. clients) the more money you will make. 

13. Police Officer

Education Level: HS Diploma plus academy/specialized training

Average Salary: $60K

You see police officers getting made fun of in cartoons for being lazy, donut loving individuals. But in fact policing is a really hard job.

If you make it through police academy, you will be in charge of upholding the law in your area. 

Lately police officers are undergoing a lot of increased scrutiny. Despite this, it is still a rewarding career that offers a good annual salary. 

14. Mechanic

Education Level: HS Diploma

Average Salary: $38K

The perfect job for anyone into cars, trucks or motorcycles. As a mechanic you will need to have the knowledge to fix anything and everything car related. 

You only need a highschool degree. After that you will learn everything else on the job or you can enroll in vocational school to get ahead of the curve.

15. FireFighter

Education Level: HS Diploma and Technical School or Apprenticeship

Average Salary: $50K

Not just anyone can work as a firefighter. You have to be physically and mentally fit. After passing a written test, you’ll be required to take a physical one as well. 

Passing both of these plus an interview will land you at fire academy training.

One great thing to note about working as a firefighter is that they have an excellent pension plan. The work is tough but you’ll enjoy your retirement.

16. Plumber

Education Level: HS Diploma and Technical School or Apprenticeship

Average Salary: $50K

I don’t know if plumbers love being plumbers. But they must have a lot of job confidence as it is a position that will likely never go away. 

A plumber isn’t just needed for those pesky clogs that pop up in toilets and drains. They can also install pipes and provide maintenance on old parts. 

Most new buildings and homes couldn’t be built if a plumber wasn’t looking over the blueprints for all the places plumbing pipes need to be laid. 


Education Level: HS Diploma and Technical School or Apprenticeship

Average Salary: $55K

After graduating highschool, you’ll want to secure an apprenticeship or attend a tech school if you want to work as an electrician.

Most states require some type of official certification. A lot of electricians work in construction.

18. Detective/Criminal Investigator

Education Level: HS Diploma 

Average Salary: $77K

Technically you only need a high school diploma and some training to start working as a detective. Though more and more employers are asking for an Associate’s degree at least. 

You could opt to take a few courses in criminal investigation. Or get a job at your local police station to start building your credibility as a detective. 

19. Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

Education Level: HS Diploma 

Average Salary: $60K

Working at a plant with chemicals is a high risk job to hold on  to. But since you only need your diploma, it’s an opportunity to make decent money in a steady career. 

20.Claims Adjuster

Education Level: HS Diploma 

Average Salary: $65K

Claims adjusters typically work for insurance companies. This is one of those jobs that accepts you at entry level and you grow from there.

You can pick up this job right out of high school and start gathering hands-on-experience. This position pays pretty well even at entry-level and offers room for advancement. 

21. Costume Designer

Education Level: HS Diploma 

Average Salary: $64K

Although a high school diploma is preferred, you can actually work as a costume designer even if you don’t have a diploma.

If you have an eye for design and a talent for putting together garments, you can work as a costume designer. 

You can look for work at your local theaters or surrounding college campuses in the arts departments. 

22. Rancher

Education Level: HS Diploma 

Average Salary: $68K

As a rancher you can work on a family-owned farm with only a high school diploma. In some cases you may not even need that. 

A rancher will work with a farm’s livestock, including all equipment and living space. 

23. Food Service Manager

Education Level: HS Diploma 

Average Salary: $54K

Working in the food industry can be challenging. But to make it more rewarding for you and your bank account, you will want to aspire for managerial positions.

As a manager you are required to take on a leadership role. You’ll do things like make schedules for other employees, settle disputes with clients and customers, and handle the hiring of new workers. 

24. Caterer

Education Level: HS Diploma 

Average Salary: $38K

If you are going to get into the catering business, you will want to work for a company that does high end catering.

Not only will the pay be better, but you’ll get to experience some pretty exclusive venues, amazing food, and continuous work opportunities. 

25. Paralegal

Education Level: HS Diploma, Certification or Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $51K

You can start working as a paralegal, or legal assistant, with just a high school diploma. But most companies prefer the employee with an Associate’s degree or Paralegal Certification. 

As a paralegal you will do a lot of work that a lawyer will do. Only without the bigger paycheck or ability to give legal advice. 

If you ever thought about becoming a lawyer, working as a paralegal would be a good place to start. 

26. Pharmacy Technician

Education Level: HS Diploma and Technical School or Apprenticeship

Average Salary: $32K

Working as a pharmacy technician is something you can do as soon as you graduate. 

Most technicians learn through on-the-job training. Pharmacy techs do not mix any medicines. Instead they deliver prescriptions to patients or talk with them on the phone.

If you eventually want to work as a full time Pharmacists, you will need to get a degree for that. But at least working as a pharmacy tech gets your foot in the door.

27. Real Estate Agent

Education Level: Certification

Average Salary: $59K

You don’t even need a high school diploma to get a job as a real estate agent. All you need to do is commit to a few hours of training to get your license. Boom, you can start selling houses. 

Some people can start as an agent part-time, especially if they are working full time somewhere else. 

You can build up your skills until you can go full time. The best part about being an agent is that when you sell a house, you make a commission. And that’s on top of a regular, hourly paycheck.  

28. Blogger

Education Level: HS Diploma

Average Salary: $62K

There are several ways to be a blogger. You can be a blog writer or a video blogger. There are food bloggers, travel bloggers, mom bloggers, and so much more.

It can be difficult to break into a particular niche. But once you do, blogging can become a profitable career. 

Most bloggers make the bulk of their money via paid advertisements running on their site. 

29. Web Developer

Education Level: Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $68K

Web developers have a pretty low unemployment rate and that’s because they are always in hot demand. 

Web developers are in charge of creating websites and webpages. It is their job to create all the eye catching details that draw in traffic. 

Not only do they insure that a site looks good, they also make sure that it works and runs seamlessly. 

30. Graphic Designer

Education Level: Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $49K

Graphic design covers a wide range of areas when it comes to securing a job. You could work in animation, website design, logo design and more.

To succeed as a graphic designer you will need to have an eye for detail and a great deal of creativity. 

Job opportunities for graphic designers are best in larger cities. But you can still find good work in smaller communities.

Most companies will rely on a graphic designer to help with their marketing materials. 

31. Phlebotomist

Education Level: HS Diploma and Certification

Average Salary: $34K

Phlebotomy is one of those careers you can get into right out of high school after a little training and certification. 

Phlebotomists are in charge of drawing blood for lab testing and donations. They have the opportunity to work in varying settings, from doctor’s offices, to hospitals to scientific labs. 

32. Welder

Education Level: Certification

Average Salary: $41K

Working as a welder may sound like an old-fashioned job but it is surprisingly still a high demand, well-paying position. 

In recent years, more welding is being done by machines but that doesn’t mean experts aren’t required to assist.

Plus, real welders are still needed in places like the automotive industry, construction and in fabrication plants. 

33. Sonographer

Education Level: Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $71K

A sonographer isn’t just needed to track the growth of a fetus during pregnancy. Their skills are also essential to look at the heart to detect heart disease or to check for cancers.

Medical facilities are always looking for skilled Sonographers. It is one of those jobs that sees very little unemployment. You only need two years of schooling to get started in this field.  

34. Radiation Therapist

Education Level: Certificate or Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $80K

Radiology technicians help administer radiation to cancer patients. While it may be oncologists prescribing treatment, it is the radiation therapist that does the actual work. 

You really only need a certificate to work as a radiation therapist. This can be earned within twelve months. More opportunities will be available if you have an associates degree. 

The pay will be better too. 

35. Physical Therapy Aide

Education Level: Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $58K

This is a great position for someone that wants to work in physical therapy, but doesn’t have the energy or funds to commit to all the schooling.

As a physical therapy aide, you will get to work with patients recovering from injuries and helping them regain their mobility. 

36. Dental Hygienist

Education Level: Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $74K

Honestly I feel like dental hygienists do most of the work. They are tasked with preparing you for exams, taking x-rays, and scraping the plaque off your teeth.

The work may not sound glamorous, but the pay is pretty good and you only need an Associates degree to start making a great salary. 

37. It Support Specialist

Education Level: Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $54K

Similar to a computer technician, an IT support specialist will provide a company with the help they need to maintain their computer systems. 

In some cases a company may want you to have a Bachelor’s degree. But you can get your foot in the door with an Associate’s and possibly some additional certification. 

38. Boilermaker

Education Level: HS Diploma

Average Salary: $61K

You can get paid around $60,000 a year to make, construct, maintain and assemble boilers. Boilers are used on ships and in homes, along with several other places. 

The work requires the use of tools and the ability to follow blueprints. 

39. Railroad Technician

Education Level: HS Diploma

Average Salary: $51K

Even though people may not travel by train as much as they fly in the U.S., railroad technicians are still very important. 

Railroad track workers are in charge of maintaining train lines, ensuring switches work and keeping things running smoothly. 

40. Electrical Power-Line Installer

Education Level: HS Diploma and Hands-On-Training

Average Salary: $66K

Working with electrical power lines is no laughing matter. Especially given how important they are. 

Without electrical lines, using computers and cellphones wouldn’t be possible, not to mention providing homes with power. 

This type of job can be hazardous and physically demanding, but pays well. 

41. Forest Conservationists

Education Level: HS Diploma and/or Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $38K

In this job, you provide support regarding the conservation of water, soil, forests and other natural resources. 

It’s a great job for someone that likes to work outdoors and in a field that helps the environment. 

42. Sales Manager

Education Level: HS Diploma and/or Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $65K

Working in sales is a job that offers some growth. You can start working immediately out of high school and gain the experience you need to advance through the ranks.

You can get a job as a sales manager, where you oversee other employees and take on more responsibility. Eventually you could work your way up to being the VP of Sales and making over $100K a year. 

43. Chef

Education Level: HS Diploma and/or Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $46K

Take your love for cooking and turn it into a well paying job. Most chef’s only need an Associate’s degree to start working in their field.  Although, depending on where you work, you may not even need that.

Taking on an apprenticeship can help you get further in your career as you master new skills or types of cooking. 

44. Choreographer

Education Level: HS Diploma

Average Salary: $51K

You do not need an official certificate or degree to become a choreographer. You do need to have some kind of dancing talent.

A background in dance will help, but you can also work as a choreographer if you have experience in stage presentations or just a knack for creating dance routines. 

45. Mason

Education Level: HS Diploma

Average Salary: $52K

Despite the age-old title, this job is still a real thing. Masons specialize in laying different building materials with mortar to build walls and other structures. 

This is the kind of job for someone who likes to get physical, but can also read blueprints and provide basic math skills. 

A high school diploma is all you need, everything else you learn through hands-on training. 

46. Massage Therapist

Education Level: Certification and Training

Average Salary: $40K

While I’m sure it’s better to be on the receiving end of a massage, there is something equally soothing about administering them.

The great thing about being a masseuse is that you aren’t confined to a desk or computer. You also get to regularly interact with clients, so there’s a fair bit of socializing involved too.

You can opt to open your own practice or work for a chiropractor’s office, spa, or medical facility. If you want to build your clientele, you can specialize in something like sports therapy massage. 

47. Maintenance Worker

Education Level: Hands-On Training

Average Salary: $40K

A maintenance worker is like a jack-of-all-trades. They need to be pretty knowledgeable in all areas of repair. From plumbing to painting to patching a hole in the wall. 

Maintenance jobs are always available as pretty much every building needs one. Maintenance workers can end up working for a company, apartment building, hospital, or office building. 

48. Construction Carpenter

Education Level: HS Diploma

Average Salary: $46K

Construction work involves a lot of different types of workers. There are jobs specifically for roofers, dry-wallers, painting and carpentry.

Construction carpenters erect and repair any structure involving wood, plywood and wallboard. 

If you can work hard and get a job as a construction supervisor, you can bring in an additional $20,000 annually. 

49. Critical Care Nurse

Education Level: Associate’s Degree

Average Salary: $71K

Working as a nurse is a demanding job, but the pay and benefits are great. As a critical care nurse you will work in the critical or coronary care unit. 

One great thing about this type of nurse is that you get normal working hours, so an average of 40 hours a week.

50. MRI Technologists

Education Level: Associate’s Degree and Certification

Average Salary: $68K

MRI Technologists are in charge of operating MRI machines. They ensure that patients are safe and secure, and examine the images being taken.

You can get an Associate’s degree directly in this field and bypass any unnecessary subjects in school.

In states like California and Nevada, you could make as much as $88K annually. 

Final Thoughts

This list is just a snippet of the number of jobs available for people who don’t have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. 

Deciding on the right job for you will depend on your interests, skill-level, and the time commitment you want to put in for a job.

Most of these could turn into long-lasting careers. The longer you stay in your field, the better chance you have of seeing regular pay increases and job security.

Thanks for reading and hopefully one of these jobs will be the right one for you. 

Adrienne Romer-Jordan

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