The 10 Most Satisfying Jobs You Can Get in America Without a Degree

By Austin Kilham · April 22, 2023 · 7 minute read

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The 10 Most Satisfying Jobs You Can Get in America Without a Degree

If you don’t have a college degree, certain jobs may be out of your reach. But does that mean that you can’t feel professionally fulfilled? Absolutely not. There are many careers that don’t require post-secondary education and can provide workers with a sense of happiness and purpose.

Here’s a look at the characteristics that make a job rewarding, the industries that offer the greatest sense of well-being, and the most satisfying jobs you can get in those industries that don’t require a degree.

Characteristics of a Satisfying Job

It can be tough to pin down the characteristics of a satisfying job. That’s because satisfaction can be subjective. There are plenty of roles out there that you may prefer to avoid but others would be over the moon to try.

That said, the most rewarding jobs tend to share some qualities. According to the Urban Institute, good jobs typically offer:

•   Liveable wages that allow employees to cover basic needs.

•   Growth opportunity within the company to improve skills and advance.

•   Workplace flexibility and control over one’s schedule.

•   Benefits, such as paid leave, health care, and retirement contributions.

•   Safe working conditions.

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Why Is It Difficult to Find a Satisfying Job Without a College Degree?

There are other characteristics you might find necessary to consider work satisfying. For example, you might want a job where you help people, like a doctor, or a job where you work with animals, like a veterinarian.

Unfortunately, without a post-secondary degree, your pool of available jobs will likely be limited. Depending on the job market in your area, that may mean you have to compromise on the job you choose or relocate so you can be closer to meaningful work you qualify for.

Recommended: Should I Go to Community College?

Tips for Finding a Satisfying Job Without a College Degree

It’s a good idea to start your job hunt with online search engines. Your search will likely lead you to large job sites that compile listings from industries across the country. If you’re looking for a particular type of role, you may want to try industry-specific job boards.

Networking and word of mouth are also good ways to find work. Reach out to people in your area who work in the industry you’re looking to join. Ask to meet with them to learn what you need to do to successfully apply for a job in that field, and put the word out that you are actively looking.

Just because a job doesn’t require a degree doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find one that pays well. Consider exploring high-paying trade jobs and high-paying vocational careers to find jobs that pay top dollar.

Once you begin to earn a salary, consider using a spending app to help you budget and track your money.

Recommended: 25 High-Paying Trade Jobs in Demand

Top 10 Most Satisfying Jobs You Can Get in America Without a Degree

Now for the tricky part: How to take a subjective measure like satisfaction and apply it to a list of jobs that don’t require a degree?

For this list, we looked at The Washington Post’s roundup of 10 industries that offer the greatest sense of well-being, which was based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Those fields include:

•   Agriculture, logging, and forestry

•   Real estate, rental, and leasing

•   Construction

•   Management, administrative, and waste

•   Information

•   Health and social assistance

•   Arts and entertainment

•   Transportation and warehousing

•   Wholesale

•   Retail

What are the most satisfying jobs in those industries? Read on for examples.

Forest and Conservation Workers

Forest and conservation workers typically help measure the state of forest and improve quality. They may work for state and local governments or for privately owned forest lands.

Median annual wage: $30,550

Job outlook: Employment in this industry is expected to decline 3% through 2031. However, there are still 2,300 openings for forest and conservation workers projected each year.

Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents

Real estate brokers and sales agents help people who are looking to rent, buy, or sell properties. They tend to be self-employed and are usually able to set their own hours.

Median annual wage for real estate brokers: $62,010

Median annual wage for real estate sales agents: $48,340

Job outlook: Employment is expected to grow 5% through 2031, which is about as fast as average. There are a projected 54,800 job openings each year.

Construction and Building Inspectors

Construction and building inspectors work alongside or as part of a team to make sure that new buildings meet codes, ordinances, zoning restrictions, and match up with specifications made in building contracts.

Median annual wage: $61,640

Job outlook: Employment for this job is expected to decline 4% through 2031. However, there are a projected 14,800 new jobs annually.

Refuse and Recyclable Material Collector

As part of waste management infrastructure, refuse and recyclable material collectors collect and dump waste materials. Their job may include driving waste collection vehicles.

Median annual wage: $38,500

Job outlook: N/A

Library Assistant

Library assistants work in public, private, or university libraries helping to shelve and organize materials, assist patrons, and perform clerical tasks. The job typically requires a high school diploma, and may require a post-secondary certificate.

Median annual pay: $34,050

Job outlook: Library assistant jobs are expected to decline 4% through 2031, with a projected 24,000 openings each year.

Home Health Aide

Home health aides are among the fastest growing jobs. They help people with chronic disabilities or illness perform acts of daily living, like getting dressed and eating. They may work in a client’s home, a group home, or a day service facility.

Median annual wage: $29,430

Job outlook: Jobs for home health aides are expected to grow 25% through 2031, with about 711,700 openings projected each year.


Musicians sing or play musical instruments in recording studios or in front of live audiences in concert halls, clubs, and churches. Many singers work part-time.

Median hourly wage: $30.49

Job outlook: Employment for singers is expected to grow through 2031 by 4%, with 20,800 projected job openings.

Truck Driver

Truck drivers are charged with transporting goods from one place to another. It’s typically a pretty solitary line of work, but if being on the open road brings you happiness, it might be worth considering.

Median annual salary: $48,310

Job outlook: Employment is expected to grow 4% through 2031, which is nearly average for all occupations.

Material Recording Clerk

Material recording clerks help track product information and keep supply chains running and businesses on schedule.

Median annual wage: $37,870

Job outlook: Employment is expected to decline 3% through 2031, with 131,900 projected job openings each year.

Retail Sales Worker

Retail sales workers help customers in stores find the products they need and then ring them up at the cash register. They may also restock shelves

Median hourly wage: $14

Job outlook: Employment is expected to stay the same through 2031, with a projected 594,00 openings each year

The Takeaway

Not having a college degree doesn’t mean you can’t find fulfilling work. Satisfying jobs that don’t require a degree can be found in any industry, though certain roles may provide a great sense of well-being. Examples include a construction inspector, a real estate broker or sales agent, a retail sales associate, a musician, a truck driver, and a library assistant. As you hunt for a job, look for roles that match up with what you want in terms of the type of work, workplace, amount of social interaction, and wage requirements.

Once you find a satisfying job and start earning a paycheck, a money tracker app can help you manage your finances. The SoFi app connects all of your accounts in one convenient dashboard. From there, you can see all of your balances, spending breakdowns, and credit score monitoring, plus you can get other valuable financial insights.

Stay up to date on your finances by seeing exactly how your money comes and goes.


What are the most satisfying jobs?

According to a Washington Post analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the most satisfying jobs can be found in the agriculture, logging, and forestry industry.

What jobs pay over $100,000 without a degree?

It is possible to find jobs that pay over $100,000 a year and don’t require a college degree. One example is a construction site manager or a senior real estate manager.

How can I make $100,000 a year without a degree

If you want to make more than $100,000 a year without a college degree, begin by researching jobs that offer high wages and only require a high school diploma. You may then consider taking an entry-level position that allows you to gain the skills and experience needed so you can advance to higher wages.

Photo credit: iStock/Pekic

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Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

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