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Good Paying Jobs Without a College Degree

By Rebecca Lake · December 27, 2022 · 25 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Good Paying Jobs Without a College Degree

A four-year college degree is a minimum requirement for many jobs, and more education can translate to higher earnings. It’s possible, however, to find jobs that make good money without college.

When comparing good jobs you can get without college experience, it’s helpful to consider earning potential and the skills you might need.

Definition of a Good Paying Job

There is no standard benchmark for what constitutes a good paying job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual wage in March 2021 was $58,260. That’s across all occupations, regardless of education level.

Whether that’s a good paying job for you depends partly on your lifestyle. Some people can live comfortably on $58,000 or less, while others might struggle. A single person living in an area with a low cost of living may feel rich. But someone supporting a spouse and children in a high-rent area could easily disagree.

Jobs that don’t require college can pay more or less than $100,000, depending on the industry. Perhaps a better question is what kind of trade-offs are involved in working a good paying job, in terms of time commitment and flexibility.

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Good Paying Jobs vs Highest Paying Jobs

The highest paying jobs have a median pay of around $200,000 a year, according to the BLS. People who work in the highest paying jobs may require advanced education, certifications, or specific job skills.

Does that mean good paying jobs aren’t worth considering? Not at all. The highest paying jobs can also be some of the most stressful jobs. Many of the highest paying jobs are in the healthcare field, which can require long hours, dealing with emotional or mental stress, and working in potentially hazardous surroundings.

Good paying jobs can still pay the bills, even if you don’t make a $100,000 salary. And the job itself may be less stressful and allow for more work-life balance, which some people prefer over a bigger paycheck.

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Pros and Cons of Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree

As with all jobs, better paying ones have advantages and disadvantages. Whether it makes sense for you to consider jobs that make good money without college can depend on your financial and career goals.

Here are some of the main pros and cons to weigh when deciding whether to pursue a good paying job and forgo college.

Pros

Cons

Avoid the potentially high costs associated with a four-year degree Some employers are reluctant to hire candidates who don’t have a degree
Start off your career without student loan debt Certain career fields require a college degree for entry
Earn a steady income right out of high school Good paying jobs that don’t require college can be hard to find, and hiring may be competitive

Why It’s Hard To Find Jobs Without a Degree

Finding good jobs without a college degree is often difficult because many employers have come to expect that job candidates will have a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. Additionally, many professions require four-year college degrees to be considered for entry-level positions.

There are lots of jobs you can get without a degree, or with an associate degree, but they may not pay as well as jobs that do require higher education. A college degree can make you a more attractive candidate for a position because it demonstrates to employers that you’ve taken steps to prepare for a successful career.

Does a four-year college degree or higher guarantee that you’ll be successful or make a lot of money? No, and some industries that require a degree pay very little. That’s another reason to consider good jobs that pay well without college being a requirement.

Tips for Finding Jobs Without a College Degree

If you’re interested in getting good paying jobs without college, it’s important to do your homework. Specifically, it’s helpful to understand:

•   Which industries or career fields generally require a degree and which ones don’t

•   What skills, experience, or expertise may be substituted for a college degree when searching for good paying jobs in specific industries

•   Whether it may be to your advantage to get an associate degree or a postsecondary non-degree certification

•   What is competitive pay for any good paying jobs you’re interested in, based on industry standards and trends

•   The difference between salary vs. hourly pay and why it matters

You should also consider the types of jobs you’re interested in. If you’d like to do something hands-on, for instance, then you may be curious about what trade makes the most money and whether you’ll need an associate degree to enter that field.

Or if you’re the introverted type, you might be focused on finding the best paying jobs for antisocial people that don’t require a degree.

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25 Good Paying Jobs Without a College Degree

Wondering which jobs pay the most without a college degree? We analyzed BLS data to find good paying jobs that don’t need a four-year degree and compiled the following list based on:

•   Median annual pay

•   Minimum education level required (high school diploma or equivalent, postsecondary non-degree award, or associate degree)

•   Expected job growth through 2031

Read on for 25 good paying jobs you can get without college.

1. Makeup Artist, Theatrical and Performance

Median pay: $134,750/year

Job growth outlook: 7%

Job description: Makeup artists apply cosmetic and special-effects makeup to performers in theatrical and other entertainment settings.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Create and apply makeup looks to performers

•   Complete touch-ups as needed to keep makeup looking fresh throughout the performance

•   Postsecondary non-degree award is usually required

How to get started: Makeup artists may attend cosmetology school or earn professional certifications in makeup artistry before applying for jobs. Some artists, however, are self-taught and start their careers by showcasing their makeup skills on TikTok or other social media.

Pros:

•   Makeup artists can make excellent money without a college degree

•   This is a highly creative job that often involves meeting new people

•   Makeup artistry can offer flexible hours and opportunities to travel

Cons:

•   Higher pay isn’t guaranteed

•   Working environments can sometimes be harsh, and artists may be subject to criticism

•   Not ideal for people who aren’t comfortable in a fast-paced work environment

2. Commercial Pilot

Median pay: $134,630/year

Job growth outlook: 6%

Job description: Commercial pilots fly planes and other aircraft, and can work for major airlines, charter companies, or private individuals.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Operating flight equipment to safely transport cargo or passengers

•   Checking the condition of the aircraft prior to takeoff

•   Associate degree and on-the-job training may suffice for pilots who don’t plan to fly for major airlines

How to get started: Flight training and FAA certification are essential for commercial pilots. On-the-job training may be substituted for an associate or a bachelor’s degree.

Pros:

•   Commercial pilots can make a lot of money, even without a degree

•   Pilot jobs offer opportunities to travel to new places

•   Work can be flexible

Cons:

•   Requires extensive flight and on-the-job training

•   Flying for a living is generally a higher-risk occupation

•   Private pilots may have to contend with demanding clients

3. Air Traffic Controller

Median pay: $129,750/year

Job growth outlook: 1%

Job description: Air traffic controllers help to guide aircraft from one destination to another. They can work at major airports or smaller airfields.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Monitor the movement of aircraft in the air and on the ground

•   Communicate with pilots during takeoff, while in-flight, and during the landing

•   Sufficient work experience and on-the-job training

How to get started: If you’re interested in becoming an air traffic controller, you’ll need to first meet the minimum requirements. Typically, that means at least three years of work experience, a mix of work experience and education, or training through an FAA-approved program.

Pros:

•   Air traffic control jobs can pay exceptionally well

•   A college degree isn’t always required if you have appropriate work experience or training

•   Job growth is not spectacular but demand is expected to hold steady

Cons:

•   High-pressure job

•   May require working long hours, including weekends and holidays

•   Room for advancement may be limited

4. Nuclear Technician

Median pay: $99,340/year

Job growth outlook: -17%

Job description: Nuclear technicians work in nuclear facilities to assist physicists, engineers, and professionals in maintaining those facilities and conducting nuclear research.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Monitoring nuclear facility equipment

•   Measuring levels of radiation and collecting air, soil, and water samples to test for contamination

•   Associate degree or equivalent military service

How to get started: Anyone interested in working as a nuclear technician may first want to obtain an associate degree in nuclear science or a related field. Job applicants may be able to substitute military experience for an associate degree if they had nuclear training while enlisted.

Pros:

•   Nuclear technicians can be compensated well for their time and skills

•   An advanced science degree is not necessarily a requirement

•   Nuclear tech jobs may offer opportunities to work independently

Cons:

•   Working in a nuclear facility is generally a high-risk job

•   Job outlook is declining, which means there may be fewer nuclear technician jobs to go around in the future

•   Advancement opportunities may be limited without a higher degree

5. First-Line Supervisor of Police and Detectives

Median pay: $99,330/year

Job growth outlook: 3%

Job description: First-line supervisors are responsible for overseeing the conduct of subordinate officers, managing investigations, and ensuring that all law enforcement protocols are properly applied.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Assisting in criminal investigations as needed

•   Managing daily operations of police and detective personnel

•   High school diploma or equivalent

How to get started: Becoming a first-line supervisor begins with completing the necessary training to become a police officer. That usually means attending the police academy. Once hired as a rookie officer, individuals can work their way up the ranks to a supervisory position.

Pros:

•   First-Line supervisors can earn a salary that’s close to six figures

•   High school education may be enough to get started in a law enforcement career

•   Additional room for advancement

Cons:

•   Entry-level salaries may be relatively low

•   It can take years to work your way up to a supervisor position

•   Police work in general tends to be a dangerous profession

6. Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Manager

Median pay: $98,230/year

Job growth outlook: 8%

Job description: Managers are responsible for planning and coordinating transportation, storage, and distribution services or activities. Logistics manager is one job title that can fall under this occupational heading.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Overseeing and organizing operations related to the transportation, storage, and distribution of movable goods or commodities

•   Ensuring that all activities are completed in accordance with local, state, and federal law

•   High school diploma or equivalent, plus relevant work experience

How to get started: Since this is a managerial role, it’s generally necessary to start off in an entry-level position in the transportation, storage, and distribution industry. On-the-job training and experience, as well as time on the job, can be key in earning advancement with this type of job.

Pros:

•   Suitable for organized and detail-oriented individuals

•   Well-above-average earning potential

•   Industry is experiencing above-average job growth

Cons:

•   May require long working hours

•   Can be a high-pressure job

•   Certain aspects may be more challenging, including working with a wide range of customers

7. Elevator and Escalator Installer and Repairer

Median pay: $97,860/year

Job growth outlook: 3%

Job description: Elevator and escalator installers and repairers assist with the installation, maintenance, and repair of elevator and escalator systems in commercial and residential properties.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Develop and implement plans for elevator or escalator installation

•   Maintain, service, and repair elevator and escalator equipment

•   High school diploma or equivalent

How to get started: The typical path to becoming an elevator and escalator installer and repairer begins with completing an apprenticeship. Apprentices may join a program approved by a union or trade industry to learn the necessary skills.

Pros:

•   No advanced degree needed to get started

•   Great earning potential for high school grads who are interested in a hands-on technical job

•   While job growth is slower than for other occupations, there continues to be high demand for workers with these skills

Cons:

•   May need to work on-call, which can complicate work-life balance

•   Elevator installers and repairers generally need to be comfortable working in close or cramped conditions

•   The work can sometimes be hazardous

8. Power Plant Operator, Distributors, and Dispatchers

Median pay: $94,790/year

Job growth outlook: -15%

Job description: Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers oversee systems that generate and distribute electric power. Nuclear power reactor workers can also fall within this job category.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Control and maintain equipment that’s used in power generation

•   Routinely conduct safety checks to ensure equipment is functioning properly

•   High school diploma or equivalent and on-the-job work experience

How to get started: A college degree is not required to work as a power plant operator, though it may benefit you to have an educational background in engineering or a related field. This job emphasizes extensive on-the-job training, though it’s possible you may need to obtain certain professional certifications for career advancement.

Pros:

•   No degree is needed to qualify for this job

•   Much of what you need to know can be learned on the job

•   Power plant operators earn a competitive salary

Cons:

•   Can involve hazardous working conditions

•   May require working long hours or on-call

•   Job growth is on the decline as use of renewable energy increases

9. Radiation Therapist

Median pay: $82,790/year

Job growth outlook: 6%

Job description: Radiation therapists administer radiation to people being treated for cancer and may work hand-in-hand with medical dosimetrists, medical physicists, and oncology nurses.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Explain treatments to patients and answer any questions they might have

•   Administer doses of radiation in a safe environment and at the levels specified by the patient’s treatment plan

•   Associate degree or certificate program

How to get started: If you’re interested in a career in radiation therapy, you may need an associate degree in nursing or a certificate in nursing to qualify. State law may also require you to be licensed or certified and complete ongoing education requirements.

Pros:

•   Earning potential is solid and there may be room for advancement

•   Demand for radiation therapists appears to be holding steady

•   Good for people with strong soft skills

Cons:

•   May require working long hours

•   Can involve a lot of standing

•   Working with people who are severely ill can take a toll emotionally and mentally

10. Subway and Streetcar Operator

Median pay: $81,180/year

Job growth outlook: 4%

Job description: Subway and streetcar operators are responsible for the safe operation of subway trains, streetcars, and similar methods of transportation in compliance with local, state, and federal laws.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Operate subway or elevated trains or streetcars to convey passengers from one location to another

•   Some subway or streetcar operators may be charged with collecting fares

•   High school diploma or equivalent and on-the-job experience

How to get started: You’ll need a high school diploma or GED to apply for subway or streetcar operator jobs. That’s typically sufficient to get most entry-level positions and from that point on, you’ll largely learn what you need to know to do the job through hands-on training and experience.

Pros:

•   Pay scale is great for a job with no degree

•   Not required to sit at a desk all day

•   Working hours may be flexible

Cons:

•   May involve dealing directly with the public

•   There is some risk, as subway and streetcar accidents can happen

•   No hard physical labor but may be mentally and emotionally draining

11. Signal and Track Switch Repairer

Median pay: $80,570/year

Job growth outlook: 4%

Job description: Signal and track switch repairers are responsible for keeping track switch systems used on rail lines functioning properly. They primarily work within the railroad system, though they may also be employed by state and local government agencies.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Install and inspect track switches and signal equipment

•   Test, maintain, and repair gate crossings along railroad lines

•   High school diploma or equivalent and on-the-job training

How to get started: Getting an associate degree in electrical repair could give you an edge if you’re interested in getting hired as a signal and track switch repairer. However, it’s possible to break into this field with just a high school diploma because much of what the job requires is learned in a hands-on way. Completing an apprenticeship with an electrician could also be helpful.

Pros:

•   No degree is required to enter this industry, though it’s something to consider

•   Room for advancement

•   Above-average pay

Cons:

•   Generally requires good communication skills

•   Work has the potential to be hazardous

•   May require working on-call hours or long shifts

12. Postmaster and Mail Superintendent

Median pay: $80,250/year

Job growth outlook: -5%

Job description: Postmasters and mail superintendents oversee the operation of postal service branches and offices. This is technically not a federal job, but postal workers are entitled to the same benefits as federal employees.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Plan, direct, and coordinate administrative, operational, management, and support services at U.S. post office locations

•   Oversee the activities of employees working at post office branches

•   High school diploma or equivalent and on-the-job training

How to get started: If you’re interested in postal service jobs, you can apply for them online through the post office website. You’ll need to complete the Postal Battery Exam, but no degree or prior experience is required in order to get hired. This could be a good way to continue working after retirement.

Pros:

•   Room for advancement

•   Competitive pay and great benefits, including paid leave and health insurance

•   Full-time postmasters generally have weekends off

Cons:

•   Seasonality can make this job more hectic at certain times of the year

•   May involve dealing with the public from time to time

•   Job growth is on a slight decline, though there continues to be demand for postal workers

13. First-Line Supervisor of Firefighting and Prevention Workers

Median pay: $80,890/year

Job growth outlook: 4%

Job description: First-line supervisors oversee the activities of firefighting and prevention workers. They’re responsible for coordinating the operation of fire departments and may be referred to as a fire chief or fire captain.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Respond to fire calls and assign firefighters specific tasks to extinguish fires and rescue persons who may be trapped in affected buildings

•   Assess fire damage and write reports summarizing fire calls

•   Postsecondary non-degree certificate and on-the-job training

How to get started: A high school diploma may be sufficient to apply for a firefighter job, though it may benefit you to earn a degree in fire science if you’re hoping to obtain a managerial or supervisory role. You’ll need to be physically fit, attend fire academy, and complete a written exam as part of the application process.

Pros:

•   Opportunity to give back to your local community and do work that’s rewarding

•   Solid earning potential with room for advancement

•   Firefighting jobs include a solid employee benefits package

Cons:

•   Can involve working long hours and on-call hours, which can make achieving work-life balance difficult

•   Job may be physically demanding

•   Firefighting can also be mentally and emotionally taxing

14. Dental Hygienist

Median pay: $77,810/year

Job growth outlook: 9%

Job description: Dental hygienists typically work in dental offices and perform basic preventative care for patients, including visual exams and cleanings. They may work on a part-time or full-time basis.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Perform dental cleanings and take X-rays

•   Educate patients on proper dental hygiene techniques

•   Associate’s degree and licensing, when required by the state

How to get started: High school graduates who have taken courses in health or science may have a good framework for pursuing an associate degree in dental hygiene or enrolling in a dental hygiene training program. Licensing and certification may be required by the state before you can work in a dentist’s office.

Pros:

•   May offer the flexibility of part-time or full-time work

•   Potentially a great job for people who enjoy interacting with others

•   Dental hygienists typically have nights and weekends off

Cons:

•   Some patients may be more challenging to work with than others

•   May require lots of standing and bending which can take a toll physically

•   Training and licensing can take time and money to complete

15. Police Officer and Detective

Median pay: $66,020/year

Job growth outlook: 3%

Job description: Police officers enforce the law and protect people and property. Detectives investigate crimes, which can include collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses and potential suspects, and testifying in criminal court cases.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Police officers respond to emergency and non-emergency calls, patrol assigned areas, make arrests, and execute search warrants

•   Detectives investigate crimes in order to identify victims and suspects, and collect evidence for cases that may be referred for prosecution

•   High school diploma or equivalent and on-the-job training

How to get started: A high school diploma may be all you need to apply for police officer training at a local accredited academy. Some departments may require an associate or bachelor’s degree. You’ll need to be physically fit and successfully complete a psychological evaluation.

Pros:

•   Opportunity to serve in your local community and give back

•   Room for advancement, particularly if you’re interested in detective work or a supervisory role

•   Opportunities for specialization if you’re interested in becoming a game warden or eventually pursuing a career in federal law enforcement

Cons:

•   Entry-level pay may be on the lower end

•   While a degree is not necessarily required, getting hired can be a rigorous process

•   Work involved can be mentally, emotionally, and physically taxing, and in some cases dangerous

16. Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanic and Technician

Median pay: $65,550/year

Job growth outlook: 6%

Job description: Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians maintain and repair aircraft. They can work at airports, repair stations, or hangars, and some may have previous experience serving planes in the military.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Diagnose mechanical or electrical problems with aircraft and make repairs

•   Test aircraft instruments to ensure that they’re in good working order

•   High school diploma, though an associate’s degree doesn’t hurt

How to get started: People who are interested in working in avionics may be able to enter the field with just a high school diploma, though some employers may look for an associate degree or higher. Technicians may need to complete FAA-approved training.

Pros:

•   The work itself might be interesting to someone who’s fascinated with planes or mechanical engineering

•   Above-average pay

•   Job growth outlook suggests that these jobs will continue to be in demand

Cons:

•   Working around airplanes and other aircraft can lead to hearing loss

•   FAA certification is required, which can take time to complete

•   Work schedules may be less flexible than other jobs

17. Claims Adjuster, Examiner, Appraiser, and Investigator

Median pay: $64,710/year

Job growth outlook: -6%

Job description: Claims adjusters, examiners, appraisers, and investigators handle various aspects of insurance claims filings. They typically work full-time and help insurance companies decide when to pay claims, based on the information they gather.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Investigate, evaluate, and settle insurance claims, including determining how much an insurer should pay

•   Review claims information to look for signs of insurance fraud

•   High school diploma or equivalent

How to get started: If you’re interested in insurance jobs, the path you follow can depend on what type of role you’re interested in. If you’d like to be an appraiser, for instance, you might complete a postsecondary non-degree award program and gain experience by working in an auto body shop.

Pros:

•   While job growth is expected to decline, demand for adjusters and related roles is set to rise as currently employed professionals age into retirement

•   Depending on which role you’re interested in, your work may take you outside the office versus keeping you at a desk all day

•   Work may be interesting for people who have an inquisitive nature

Cons:

•   Gathering information and writing reports can be tedious

•   A bachelor’s degree may be required for certain jobs

•   Work schedules may be less flexible than other jobs

18. Fire Inspector

Median pay: $63,080/year

Job growth outlook: 6%

Job description: Fire inspectors are responsible for visiting commercial and residential buildings and ensuring that they’re observing proper fire safety protocol. They can also specialize in fire prevention education or forest fire management.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Inspect buildings to look for fire hazards and ensure that structures are aligned with local, state, and federal fire codes

•   Review building plans with developers to ensure that new construction meets fire code standards

•   High school diploma or equivalent and previous experience as a firefighter

How to get started: Typically, fire inspectors first work as firefighters, though that isn’t necessarily a requirement for candidates who have other suitable education or training. A high school diploma may be sufficient for the job, though it may benefit you to earn a degree in fire science or attend a fire academy.

Pros:

•   Fire inspection is typically less hazardous than firefighting

•   Above-average pay with room for higher earnings if you decide to complete a degree program

•   Can be a rewarding job for people who want to do work that serves the public good

Cons:

•   Previous experience as a firefighter may be a requirement to get hired

•   Working hours may be long and irregular

•   Fire inspectors may potentially be exposed to hazardous materials or substances during the course of their work

19. Water Transportation Worker

Median pay: $62,760/year

Job growth outlook: 1%

Job description: Water transportation workers operate vessels that transport goods or people over bodies of water. Ferry operators, barge operators, and ship captains are all examples of water transportation workers.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Operate and maintain marine vessels in accordance with local, state, and federal laws

•   Ensure the safety of people or cargo on board marine vessels

•   High school diploma or equivalent and relevant work experience

How to get started: There are different requirements for each type of water transportation role. Sailors, for instance, typically don’t need formal education, but you might need Coast Guard-approved training to captain a ship or helm a barge. Certain water transport workers may need to obtain Merchant Mariner credentials or Transportation Worker Identification credentials.

Pros:

•   Water transport jobs may appeal to people who love being on open water or want to work outdoors

•   A bachelor’s degree isn’t always necessary but it could lead to higher earnings and promotions

•   More new openings are expected over the next decade as existing water transport workers retire

Cons:

•   Work schedule may be highly irregular and require you to spend extended periods of time away from home

•   Work hours may be long, with little time for breaks

•   Operating marine vessels can be a hazardous occupation

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20. Electrical and Electronics Installer and Repairer

Median pay: $61,760/year

Job growth outlook: -1%

Job description: Electrical and electronics installers get paid to install and repair electrical or electronic equipment. They may work in repair shops or factories and usually work on a full-time basis.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Inspect and test equipment to diagnose potential issues

•   Disassemble, reassemble, clean, and repair equipment

•   Training and education at the trade school level

How to get started: Electrical and electronics installers and repairers are typically expected to complete a training program through a trade, vocational, or technical school. Hands-on training, either through a school program or apprenticeship, can also be highly useful when seeking these types of jobs.

Pros:

•   No bachelor’s degree required

•   Could be ideal for people who enjoy hands-on work

•   Licensing and certification may not be required, but it could help to open up opportunities for advancement or higher earnings

Cons:

•   Job growth is stable but not spectacular

•   Working around electricity and electronics is not a risk-free job

•   Can be a physical job that requires lots of standing, squatting, bending, and lifting

21. Occupational Therapy Assistant and Aide

Median pay: $61,520/year

Job growth outlook: 25%

Job description: Occupational therapy assistants and aids work in healthcare settings, including hospitals, doctor’s offices, and nursing care facilities. They help patients to develop necessary skills for daily living and working.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Occupational therapy assistants provide therapy services to patients

•   Occupational therapy aides provide support services to occupational therapy assistants

•   High school diploma for aides; associate degree for assistants

How to get started: If you’re interested in becoming an occupational therapy assistant aide, then a high school diploma may be all you need. You could pursue an associate degree if you’d like to advance into an occupational therapy assistant role. Certifications in CPR and basic life support may also be required for these types of jobs.

Pros:

•   One of the fastest growing jobs in healthcare with excellent demand for qualified candidates

•   Great earnings potential for people with a high school diploma

•   May allow for travel or flexible work schedules

Cons:

•   Can be a physically demanding job

•   Flexible working hours are not always guaranteed, and you may need to work nights or weekends

•   Certain patients may be more challenging to care for than others

22. Court Reporter and Simultaneous Captioner

Median pay: $60,380/year

Job growth outlook: 1%

Job description: Court reporters transcribe official court proceedings, including trial proceedings, hearings, and depositions. Simultaneous captioners provide transcription services for video recordings that require closed captioning.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Court reporters attend court proceedings and transcribe the details word-for-word

•   Captioners transcribe dialogue for video recordings, including television shows and films, that are used to create captions for viewers

•   Certificate or associate degree

How to get started: Becoming a court reporter or captioner may start with completing a certificate or associate degree program at an accredited trade school. Court reporters may need to complete additional training to learn how to use transcription software. States may require certification or licensing for court reporters and captioners.

Pros:

•   Good-paying job for people without a four-year degree

•   Opportunities exist to do court transcription or captioning work on a freelance basis

•   While job growth is steady, rather than fast, demand is stable overall

Cons:

•   Work may involve sitting for long periods of time

•   Working hours may be long and might necessitate taking work home with you

•   Could be stressful as there’s no room for errors or mistakes

23. Telecommunications Equipment Installer and Repairer

Median pay: $60,370/year

Job growth outlook: 8%

Job description: Telecommunications and equipment installers and repairers are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing telecommunications equipment, including phone lines, cable lines, and wireless communication equipment.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Install telecommunications equipment in commercial and residential structures

•   Inspect, service, and repair telecommunications equipment

•   Certificate or associate degree

How to get started: Telecom equipment installation and repair jobs typically require some form of education beyond high school. Depending on the employer, that might mean a certificate or associate degree. Once hired, you can expect to complete on-the-job training.

Pros:

•   May involve travel or working in different settings, which is great for people who get bored easily

•   Salaries are above-average, with room to advance and increase earnings

•   Affords opportunities to meet new people and flex your problem-solving skills

Cons:

•   Average salaries are not as high as what you might get with other good paying jobs that don’t require college

•   Additional education may be required for certain jobs

•   This kind of work has the potential be dangerous; for example, there is a risk of falls associated with servicing cell phone towers

24. Commercial Diver

Median pay: $60,360/year

Job growth outlook: 15%

Job description: Commercial divers can work in a number of capacities, but generally they’re paid to use their scuba skills. For example, divers employed by the oil and gas industry may be charged with inspecting underwater drilling structures to check for damage or structural issues.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Some commercial divers are paid to inspect and repair underwater structures and equipment

•   Other commercial divers may earn a living by photographing marine life

•   Postsecondary non-degree award and scuba training

How to get started: Becoming a commercial diver starts with deciding what type of work you want to do. For instance, if you want to get paid to photograph marine life, then you may want to complete a photography certificate program at an accredited school. If you’re interested in using your diving skills to repair underwater structures, then you may need to learn a specialized skill like welding.

Pros:

•   Diving for a living can be a fun job for people who like being in the water

•   Advanced education or training may not be a requirement for entry-level jobs

•   Diving jobs can offer flexibility and great earning potential

Cons:

•   Can be physically demanding

•   Work may not always be steady or consistent if you’re hired as a contract worker

•   Diving is an inherently dangerous activity

25. Drafter

Median pay: $60,290/year

Job growth outlook: -3%

Job description: Drafters use software programs to convert engineering and architectural designs into technical drawings. They may work in a variety of fields, including architecture, engineering, manufacturing, and construction. This could be a lucrative work-at-home job for retirees.

Job duties and requirements:

•   Use Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to design plans, working from sketches done by architects or engineers

•   Specify dimensions and materials for new building projects

•   Certificate, diploma, or associate degree

How to get started: Drafters may continue their high school education by attending a trade school to obtain a certificate or associate degree. They may also opt to obtain certifications in their field, though that isn’t always necessary to get hired.

Pros:

•   Drafting may be a good career for someone who’s artistic or creative

•   Getting certification or earning a four-year degree could boost your earning potential

•   Job growth is projected to slow but there will still be demand for drafters as current employees retire

Cons:

•   Requires exceptional attention to detail with no room for error

•   Economic disruptions, such as recessions, may reduce demand for drafters if construction slows

•   Certain aspects of the job can be repetitive or tedious

Recommended: What is The Difference Between Transunion and Equifax?

The Takeaway

Finding a good paying job without college is possible. Some require technical education, military training, or on-the-job experience. Industries that welcome high school grads include transportation, law enforcement, power plants, telecoms, the postal service, and healthcare. Perks can include the opportunity to travel and flexible hours. Some jobs pay more than $100K.

Using a spending app can help you stay on top of your financial situation once you finally begin collecting a paycheck. SoFi Insights money tracker app can simplify the way you manage your income, budgets, and savings goals. See all of your money in one place, and even track your credit score as you work on improving your financial health.

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FAQ

What good jobs can you get if you don’t go to college?

Some good paying jobs you can get without college include air traffic controller, law enforcement, and certain healthcare roles. Trade jobs and jobs in transportation can also pay well and don’t necessarily require a college degree.

How can I get 6 figures without going to college?

If you’re interested in making six figures without a college degree, you’ll need to either find a good paying job or start a successful business. It’s possible to make six figures online as a freelance writer or blogger, if you have good writing skills and are motivated to grow your business.

How do people make a living without a college degree?

Plenty of people make a living without a college degree by using their skills and experience to land good paying jobs. Others can earn a good living, including making six figures a year, by starting their own business, which doesn’t necessarily require a degree.


Photo credit: iStock/MesquitaFMS

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