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Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree

Rujuta Borkar
It is not really a prerequisite that one necessarily has to have a degree in order to garner a well paying job. In fact, there are several such jobs that do not require a college degree, but can do with basic education or training. Let us review a list of the same.
We are so completely taken up by the relation between a degree and a good job, that we rarely stop to think that it does not always have to be that way. There are several high paying jobs that don't require one to have a college degree.
 Though it does stand true that holding a college degree allows one to have direct access to the highest paying occupations, but that's not the end of it all. Because even without a degree, one can have good paying jobs. There are several jobs that pay really well and don't really require a degree.
 All one needs is to have basic education, training and work experience. Let us look through some of these highest paying jobs without a degree in the following section.

Jobs Requiring Basic Education

There are certain jobs that require basic education - like a high school diploma or a degree. Having which allows them several opportunities. The following are some examples of the same.
Please Note: The salary figures are median annual figures as of May 2010, provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

1. Real Estate Broker

What it Entails
A real estate broker is responsible for selling or renting out properties and places. It could be an independent business, or he could be working under someone. This profession requires one to have great people skills and the ability to follow long, flexible hours because the work is usually carried out at the convenience of their clients.
The job is highly dependent on the ups and downs in market trends and therefore there could be times when a broker could go for long periods without clients.
Interested people will require a high school diploma to start out as real estate brokers. Training under an already established real estate broker is an added advantage. So also, an experience of 1-5 years is helpful.
Median Salary - USD 75,000

2. Commercial Pilot

What it Entails
Commercial pilots can take up multiple types of jobs which usually have to do with unscheduled routes. They can either work for a company or they can be self-employed. Commercial pilots do not work in the same line as that of airline pilots because airline pilots work for major companies and are given scheduled routes.
Commercial pilots could work on a number of tasks like transporting patients to hospitals, being hired by VIPs, spraying pesticides in fields, traffic control operators and more. The job is considered high-risk and the hours could be long and erratic.
It is necessary to have a high school degree before starting out on this job. Thereafter, one is required to get a license for this job and complete a specialized program at a civilian or military school, or take sessions from an instructor who is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Median Salary - USD 79,500

3. Construction Manager

What it Entails
Construction managers are required to handle a construction project in all its entirety, which means that they are expected to handle multiple tasks at the same time. These would include setting budgets, determining the kind of construction methods and materials to use, hiring and supervising workers etc.
They are required to have a complete knowledge of the safety and construction codes and at most times work under pressure.
Most construction managers require to have experience in related fields of construction like carpentry and the like. The kind of job that one has will determine the educational requirements - while some require a bachelor's degree, others need them to have completed a program in management or construction technology. An experience spanning over 5 years or more is an added advantage.
Median Salary - USD 83,860

4. Air Traffic Controller

What it Entails
Air traffic controllers are required to manage and direct the movement of an aircraft. The requirements to become an air traffic controller are quite strict given the nature of the job. Most controllers work for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or are a part of a union. The job is rigorous and stressful given its erratic hours and the responsibility undertaken.
Interested applicants are required to have a high school degree and have undergone training in related subjects of air traffic control. These programs have to be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration's Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative.
They are also required to get medical and security clearances, as well as pass certain tests. After they are chosen, they are given special training at the FAA academy as well as provided with on-the-job training.
Median Salary - USD 108,040

5. First Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives

What it Entails
These people are usually hired by the state or local government. The job involves the training of police and detective personnel and coordinating the investigation of cases, along with handling the paperwork whenever necessary. They have to also be thorough with other techniques like crowd-control and usage of weapons.
Officers are required to have undergone training at a police academy and must be proficient in related laws of the same. A 1-5 years experience is an added advantage.
Median Salary - USD 80,000

6. Radiation Therapist

What it Entails
Radiation therapists are required to undertake several responsibilities when administering radiation to patients - they are responsible for checking the equipment and ensuring that it is working well. Along with that, they have to also review the patients' response to the treatment and document the same.
Radiation therapists work with radiation and are therefore required to undertake precautions and ensure that all the safety measures have been duly followed by them as well as their patients. They will usually be associated with hospitals and other health care facilities.
A certification in radiation therapy is a prerequisite for this job. If one has an associate's degree, it helps - though it is not a mandatory factor. Depending on the state in which the therapist is practicing, a license could also be required. Similarly, certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists might also be a necessary criteria to fulfill by certain states and/or employers.
Median Salary - USD 76,000

7. Loan Officer

What it Entails
Loan officers are required to review the applications of the people or businesses that apply for loan. They are expected to evaluate all the documents, do a thorough check and then recommend the approval or authorization of the same. Loan officers usually work in banks, mortgage companies and other financial corporations.
A high school diploma is a basic requirement for this job, after which, on-the-job training is provided. While mortgage officers require a license to work, commercial loan officers are required to have a bachelor's degree in finance, economics or business.
Median Salary - USD 81,000

8. Commercial Diver

What it Entails
Commercial divers are responsible for undertaking several types of tasks. They need to check on the safety of the equipment that is used underwater and repair it if damaged. This they do by using different types of equipment like drills and welding tools; which makes it mandatory that they know how to use the same.
Other important tasks also include carrying through certain tests to check for cracks on the surface or legs of oil rigs at sea and/or undertake rescue operations. They might even be required to undertake specialized tasks like photographing marine life.
This job requires one to have completed training in vocational schools with courses like construction trade, mechanics and personnel services. An associate's degree is usually required, but some companies might require one to have a bachelor's degree as well. 1-2 years of experience in related fields is necessary and so is training.
Median Salary - USD 59,925

9. Fashion Designer

What it Entails
Fashion designers work on apparel, footwear or accessories of different kinds and are a part of the designing and creating process. They undertake the sketching of designs, approve the patterns and then choose the kind of fabrics and materials required for carrying the task through.
They have to also instruct the concerned personnel on how to go about making the products that have been designed. Fashion designers have a wide range of avenues to work for. They may work for clothing or accessory brands, wholesale manufacturing units, boutiques, theater, films and others.
Since the field is skill-centric, it requires that the person has undertaken formal training and education to learn the varied skills that are required - these will depend on the kind of designer that he is. There are several courses that offer this training. Along with that, a basic or advanced course in computer software meant for designing is also an advantage.
Median Salary - USD 80,000

10. Power Plant Operator

What it Entails
Power plant operators are required to monitor, regulate and control the electrical power that is generated and transferred from the main station to the substations.
They have to also maintain all the equipment that is used in the power plants (compressors, fans) and may have to repair the same as well. Most workers are employed full time and may thus have to maintain long hours, which can get very tiring.
Candidates are required to have graduated from high school, though some places will even require them to have a degree in mechanical or electronics engineering. Given the nature of the job, they are also given extensive on-the-job training.
Computer skills can prove to be an added advantage. In case of nuclear power operators, they are required to have an authorized license from the state. In some places, a background check is usually done and workers are required to undertake alcohol and drug tests.
Median Salary - USD 84,019

Self-training Jobs

The following list provides certain career options that people can look into for self-employment. Though it has to be understood that getting established into the business with the view of earning high profits will require putting in a lot of time and efforts, which cannot be specified. It also depends on the skills of a person to be able to take a venture to successful heights.
Please Note: The salary ranges for these jobs cannot be specified because of the wide range and mediums of the same.

1. Writing

Writing as a profession does not necessarily require a professional degree. Though it definitely requires you to have a flair for the language(s) that you are going to write in. One of the key benefits of this job is that it provides for a lot of options, mediums and types of writings to choose from.
One can take up creative writing for a magazine, newspaper, blog or any other forum, or choose to go in for technical or content writing. The absence of a degree does not cause a hindrance in providing opportunities to move ahead in one's career and it depends completely on the skills of the writer.
In addition to taking up a full-time writing job, freelancing is also a viable option.
Though starting out might be a little difficult because one needs to establish themselves and create a network to work with, once the base is set, there really is no looking back.

2. Business

Starting a business does not require a college degree, it only requires the skills to be able to start and then sustain that business. If one has the required skills and expertise to do that, then starting out on a new venture is one of the best paying jobs that you can take up.
There is no limit to the turnover and profit that you can earn from a business venture. It depends on the way you expand it and the methods and strategies that you employ for its growth. This job comes with a lot of pressure.
Till the business has established and has a steady flow of clients, things might be a little slow. But once it has made a name for itself, one can hire supervisors and it can chalk out to be one of the best paying jobs without a degree

3. Agency Workers/Owner

There are several business ventures that can be taken up as agencies by people. Which means that they can sign up with the company and take up the rights of selling the products. The ways in which they are paid could differ, though usually, a commission is given on the total sale made.
The job offers for a lot of flexibility in terms of working hours and one can hire people in turn as well.
Examples of the same include beauty companies like Amway, Avon or Oriflame or insurance companies and several such companies that sell a wide range of products.
  • Developing a good network is the key to success in this type of career. One is also required to have great social skills

4. Franchise Owner

A franchise means taking up the workings of a business that has already been established and usually has a chain of the same through the country and possibly, the world. Since the ways in which the business is run has already been established, one only has to follow the set pattern.
The main requirement is that of the capital that you invest in and other requirements - like the staff that you hire.
  • One is required to have great business skills to be able to carry forth the business. The added advantage of owning a franchise is that the name of the business has already been established, which helps in earning goodwill and profits.
Event coordinators must have great interpersonal skills as well as be social. They need these skills to be able to plan, arrange for, organize, and carry forth major functions and events. The payment is quite high once one is established in the field and a professional degree is not necessary to make a start.
Though training under an established professional is known to help.
  • Event coordinators may be required to deal with all the employees, whether they are on the higher or lower ranks, in order to get their work done. They are therefore required to have basic skills of communication and the ability to get their work done under any circumstances.
The choice of careers that one can take up is limitless, and the lack of a college or a higher degree, not a deterrent. One then only needs to figure out what one is interested in and get into it with utmost sincerity to be able to carve a successful future for themselves.