Well-Paid Jobs You Don’t Need a Degree for: 17 Convincing Stats to Make You Drop out of College

Updated · Mar 06, 2023

Remember playing that weirdly nostalgic “The Sims” PC game back in 2000? (Zoomers, please disregard.)

If you didn’t resort to cheating, your Sim would be eventually forced to go to work. The somewhat dingy carpool would honk at 8 a.m., and off your poor, sleep-deprived Sim would go.

The Sim would naturally move up the ranks. At home, they had to hone their creative, charisma or logic skills. They’d also have to be diligent about not skipping more than a single day of work.

That seemed pretty inaccurate as not all open positions were jobs that pay well without a degree. As a mad scientist, for instance, you’d haul in an impressive §1,000 per day (that’s in Simoleons, not weirdly shaped dollars).

But you’d have to be insanely (excuse the pun) smart. 

Would the logic hold up in the real world? Are formal degrees the predictor of our financial fortune or can we expect to make a decent or above-average living from our actual skills and knowledge instead? 

Let’s resolve the riddle below.

Fascinating Facts About Jobs Without Degree Requirements (Editor’s Choice)

  • Some of the highest-paying jobs without a degree include transportation managers, business owners, and elevator installers.
  • You can earn a decent living without a college degree—executive assistants, warehouse training managers and sales representatives all earn above $50,000 per year.
  • Women get paid less than men, whether they have degrees or not.
  • Popular choices for female employees with no college education include dental assistants and fitness trainers, which earn less than $50,000.
  • Experience is more important than a diploma—data scientists can earn $134,000 annually.
  • You don’t need a degree to become a commercial pilot, but you can’t skip the formal training and certification.
  • Not all jobs in IT require a bachelor’s degree, though you’d benefit from a course beforehand.
  • There are also fun options for no-degree holders such as theme park testers, dog walkers, or worm farmers.

High-Paying Jobs Without Schooling

Well, honestly, not any type of schooling.

For the below, you’ll most likely benefit from having a high-school diploma to showcase to potential employers.

Furthermore, some positions might seem tantalizingly easy to get, but at the entry-level, you’d expect to receive much lower than the median salary for each job on the list.

1. Contenders for the number one spot.

(Source: intuit)

Classifications do not readily agree about the highest-paying jobs that pay well without a degree.

One list places “transportation, storage, and distribution managers” on top. They can expect to earn a median yearly income of $94,560.

Another posits small “business owner” at the peak as these guys and gals can bring home more than $100,000 (though others never make the rags-to-riches story come true).

A third ranks the position of “elevator installer and repairer” as supreme. These folks can land $88,540 per year.

2. Across the pond: getting by in the UK without a degree.

(Source: Monster)

The figures above are US-specific. And the job landscape becomes even more diverse if we take other countries into account.

In the UK, for instance, the top-paying jobs without a degree include firefighters (£30,000 to £40,000 per year), police constables (£20,000 to £45,000 per year), and entrepreneurs (though this can vary a lot).

On the EU front, you won’t need to count your pennies if you opt for the following positions—plumber, dental hygienist, or IT support specialist.

3. Working in the Land Down Under.

(Source: Pacific Training Group)

The Aussie job market has followed a similar trend. Practical skills are as prized as formal degrees. Or perhaps even more.

Being an electrician, project manager or construction manager are some top-paying jobs without a degree requirement

Even if you are in an entry-level position, you can still get double the Australian minimum wage ($40,000). Senior project or construction managers can earn up to three or four times that amount, respectively.

Jobs That Pay $50k

What constitutes a good salary?

For some, an individual income of $50,000 per year is more than sufficient to cover their basic needs. While the more ambitious among us would hardly be satisfied with less than that amount on a monthly basis. There is no golden mean,

For 2020, the median income for a single adult in the U.S. reached $35,805 per annu, which is close to the $40,000 mark. Logically speaking, earning $50,000 a year instead would land you quite neatly into the middle-class strata that many dream of.

4. What are some jobs that pay 50k a year?

(Source: indeed)

If you’re aiming at the low-hanging fruits on the job tree, you’re in luck. As an executive assistant, you can expect an average salary of $51,976. However, you’ll need at least 4 years of experience in a similar role to qualify for a similar salary. Luckily, there are plenty of VA agencies that can get you started.

Other jobs that don’t require a degree, but that can earn you a snug income include the position of a warehouse training manager ($55,753) and sales representative ($56,247).

5. Going digital: which career paths don’t require a bachelor’s?

(Source: Career Karma)

You need not restrict your professional choices to skilled trades in manufacturing or industry alone.

There are so many more tempting careers you can pursue without going to college. The internet has been spreading like crazy into all industries and domains of work. (You’re reading this article online after all.) You can earn at least $50,000 by going for proofreading, translation, digital marketing, or other online jobs. 

Not to mention the alluring glow of the freelancing world. True, starting from scratch you might have to make do with ad-hoc projects from here and there. But as you get more skilled at your freelancing craft, you’ll level up both your skills and your income.

Good Paying Jobs For Women Without A Degree

As much as we hate to admit it, the glass ceiling that women face in their career paths is more than real

 Worse yet, there’s also the floor of the job market to consider. And it’s not made of glass.

For men, we’d reckon the saying holds true and the floor is lava so they barely touch it. But for women?

Well, even in the world of highest-paid jobs without a degree, women still fare worse financially than their male counterparts.

6. How far can a high-school diploma get you as a woman?

(Source: MedCerts)

As dental assistants, women could earn a median yearly salary amounting to $37,630. 

Next on the list comes the role of a fitness trainer and instructor ($39,210). Other sources notch the number up to $42,547 for female trainers while males on average pocket $44,300.

The third best job is as a vet assistant who can bring in $26,140.

7. What about some high-paying jobs without a degree or experience for the average woman?

(Source: worldscholarshub)

Cheer up, ladies. There are more options on the job menu for you. And some can be quite fun or creative.

Women can expect to make a fine living as sales representatives, make-up artists or hairstylists, childcare workers and kindergarten teachers, digital librarians, and medical technicians.

Naturally, when we talk about the best jobs with no degree required, we don’t imply that a professional course won’t get you further ahead in the job race.

Entry-Level Jobs That Pay Well

It’s a given that you could be in the real estate business for decades without a degree. Or you could get along quite well as an aged sales representative.

But what about those fresh out of school, looking quite lost in the job market arena?

Or those adventurous souls looking forward to a career change without possessing any experience or academic qualifications for it?

8. Data-scientist is one of the entrant positions that are complex, challenging, and worth it.

(Source: themuse)

The list of best entry-level jobs without a degree might surprise you. 

Topping off the list is the job of a data scientist, which sounds scary at first glance. For an entry-level role, you’d haul in around $85,421 while the actual salary range can launch you up to $134,000.

The same holds true for software developers. You can be a self-taught whizz and rake in $62,581 as a junior.

9. Flight attendant is one of the best paying entry-level jobs that require only on-job training.

(Source: Money Crashers)

As a junior flight attendant, you’d normally collect $59,050 per year. You’ll undergo training and certification after you land the job.

If you opt to become a commercial truck driver, you’re entitled to at least $47,130, starting out as a co-pilot to a more senior colleague.

Not all entry-level jobs are all fun and games, though. You can opt to become a hazmat removal worker, which ranks among the good jobs without a college diploma.

Though you’ll definitely need to go through rigorous on-the-job training on how to do your duties right (and survive). In this role, you can expect to get around $45,270.

Careers That Don't Require A Degree

Some of the jobs that we already outlined might be nothing more than a short-term choice.

Perhaps you want to get by without indebting yourself to a 30-year student loan.

Or you want a break from the rat race and don’t have huge career plans at this very moment.

All the same, some jobs that pay well without a college diploma are only stepping stones, while others can pave your way to a steadfast career.

10. The aviation industry pays handsomely even without formal education.

(Source: CareerSidekick)

The field of aviation is not as off-limits as you might think. 

In order to become a commercial pilot, you’re not required (by all airlines) to show a college degree. If you’re set on this career path, you can expect to earn a six-to-seven-figure salary, from $78,476 up to $130,059.

If you’re scared of heights (and piloting), there are other jobs that make a lot of money without a college education. 

For example, you could be an air traffic controller. These guys bring in $122,990 on average, which compensates for a dynamic and draining job.

11. The Myths in IT

(Source: CompTIA)

In the not-too-distant past, people looked upon IT specialists as the gods of a new Olympus. Proficient in a sphere placed somewhere between rocket science and nanobiology, they probably got their degrees at the top universities.


In reality, an employer would likely pick an experienced but degreeless candidate as opposed to the A college student that has no portfolio to show up.

IT jobs that don’t require a degree are a web or app developer, help desk technician, cybersecurity specialist, systems administrator, and more.

12. Getting into government: no degrees attached

(Source: indeed)

Let’s not forget about some of the top jobs without a degree requirement on government pay.

Choices range from lifeguards and deputy sheriffs through mail carriers and census takers to accounting technicians and court clerks. 

Depending upon your selected path, you could earn between $15 to $22 per hour. Which firmly places you around or even beyond the national average.

Fun Jobs That Pay Well Without A Degree

None of the above jobs seems like your cup of tea?

Are you on the lookout for something more adventurous and inspiring?

Take your pick from these entertaining, creative, or plain weird jobs that don’t require a degree.

13. How to become Homer Simpson

(Source: Military.com)

If you’re also in it for the money, you could land a job as a nuclear power reactor operator. Top-earners take home $128,000 while the median salary hovers around $86,200.

It’s unlikely that this career path will disappear anytime soon. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US predicts that operator jobs (and pay) will increase faster than average career options.

14. With over $50,000 per annum, LEGO model builder is among the fun jobs that also pay well without a degree.

(Source: Exotic Careers)

There’s no need to restrain yourself to serious professions only.

Instead, you could strive to become a LEGO model builder. The average salary in the US is close to $50,751, but if you’re especially proficient at it, you could hope for $105,000.

You can also try your hand at Netflix tagging. It basically involves tagging a Netflix show or movie with relevant keywords and phrases about its plot, themes, characters, or whatever else will make it easier for watchers to find it.

15. Sommeliers earn above $50,000 a year

(Source: payscale)

Somme-what, you might ask?

Sommeliers are those fancy folks that you’d normally see with a self-satisfied grin on their faces after sipping wine from a deluxe glass. Or, in layman terms, wine tasters.

You can be a wine taster without having to go through a college education. 

But you can also diversify if wine is not to your taste, and turn towards more calorie-dense options like beer tasting or chocolate tasting. Really, who wouldn’t want that last one?

16. Unleashing your creativity - writers and video editors can land over $60,000 per year.

(Source: Career Karma)

There are numerous creative (and good-paying) jobs with no degree demands.

Free-spirited writers can hope to earn around $67,120, freelance photographers could start with $41,280, graphic designers get paid $53,380 on average, and video editors can receive $61,900 per year.

Art directors are quite well-paid with annual pay of $92,270 while special effects artists can haul in $77,700.

17. The list goes ever on: more unconventional choices 

(Source: The Pay at Home Parent)

Innovation and creativity are constantly spawning weird-and-fun careers you’d never have thought of just ten years ago.

For instance, you can aspire to be a proofreader of fiction books, a gaming blogger, a slogan writer, a theme park tester, or a dog walker.

Additional positions could make you a personal grocery shopper, a worm farmer, a brand ambassador, or a virtual assistant.

Who knows what else the future job market would have in store for us?

Wrap Up

The job market is changing.

And we’re not referring to the digital domain. Or to insanely successful trailblazers like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.

Not everyone makes their luck in their suburban home garage. (And some of us aren’t even lucky enough to own a garage).

Employers have become more demanding but more flexible as well.

Practical skills can get you further ahead than two bachelor’s and one master’s can. Although it wouldn’t hurt to obtain these diplomas.

Are you willing to forego the college education (and debt) for one of these jobs that pay well without a degree

Nick Galov
Nick Galov

Unaware that life beyond the internet exists, Nick is poking servers and control panels, playing with WordPress add-ons, and helping people get the hosting that suits them.