15+ High-Paying Jobs that Don’t Require a Degree in 2022

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You don’t necessarily need a bachelor’s to get these high-paying jobs.

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A bachelor’s degree takes time and money—valuable resources that impact everyone differently. Whether you want to bypass college in order to get a head start in the workforce or have responsibilities that make such an investment too costly, it's possible to get a high-paying job without a degree. The reality is that most Americans don’t have a college degree [1].

In this article, you will find more than 15 jobs that pay higher than the national median income in the United States where the most common entry-level requirements do not include a degree. While some jobs on this list might require additional training or certification, the time and money it takes to achieve them is often much less than that of earning a bachelor’s degree.  Learn what you need to do to get started in each one, and discover ways to get job ready with in-demand skills. Whether you like to work with your hands or on a computer, alone or in a team, in an office or on the set of a television show, there is likely a job on this list that will appeal to you. 

15+ top-paying jobs that don’t require a degree

According to the US Census Bureau, the median income for individuals in 2020 was $35,805 a year [2]. Each of the jobs listed below don’t typically require a college degree, have and annual salary exceeding the national median individual income, and are projected to grow over the next decade. 

Note that the list below is organized from highest to lowest annual median salary. Rather than simply considering income level, though, you should also think about what jobs seem to fit your unique personality, interests, and skill set. 

These are some of the highest-paid jobs listed by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that don’t require a college degree for most entry-level positions: 

  1. Commercial pilot: $134,630

  2. Transportation, storage, and distribution manager: $103,320

  3. Elevator and escalator installer and repairer: $97,860

  4. Detectives and criminal investigator: $83,640

  5. Project coordinator: $80,220

  6. Web developer: $77, 200

  7. First-line supervisor: $67,330 - $73,590

  8. Aircraft mechanic and service technician: $65,550

  9. Wholesale and manufacturing sales representative: $62,890

  10. Water transportation worker: $62,760

  11. Flight attendant: $61,640

  12. Chef or head cook: $50,160

  13. Broadcast, sound, and video technician: $49,050 

  14. Real estate broker: $48,770

  15. Carpenter: $48,260

*All data is taken from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) unless otherwise noted.

1. Commercial pilot

Commercial pilots fly aircraft, such as passenger airplanes, helicopters, and cargo planes. In order to become a commercial pilot, you must have a high school diploma and receive a commercial pilot license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and an Airline Transport Certificate. 

If you are someone who enjoys traveling, flying, and careers where constant tests of skills are a professional responsibility, then becoming a commercial pilot might appeal to you.

Commercial pilot
Median annual wage$134,630
Projected number of new jobs14,700
Projected growth rate13 percent (faster than average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent + Commercial Pilot’s License from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

2. Transportation, storage, and distribution manager

These managers plan and coordinate the storage of goods and products within warehouses and their transportation through distribution networks while complying with governmental regulations. In order to become a manager in this field, you typically need a high school diploma and five or more years of experience in a related occupation, such as prior experience working within distribution centers. 

If you are skilled at big picture thinking, coordinating others, and keeping track of the fine details of rules and regulations, then you might consider a career as one of these managers. 

Transportation, storage, and distribution manager
Median annual wage$103,220
Projected number of new jobs11,400
Projected growth rate8 percent (average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent

3. Elevator and escalator installer and repairer

As their name suggests, elevator and escalator installers and repairers are those people that ensure elevators, escalators, and other lifts operate smoothly. In order to become an elevator and escalator installer and repairer, you must undergo a four-year apprenticeship that is usually sponsored by an employer, industry association, or union. While their training might take as long as a college degree, elevator and escalator apprentices have the benefit of being paid as they learn their craft. 

If you are someone who enjoys problem solving and working with mechanical systems, then you might consider these jobs. 

Elevator and escalator installer and repairer
Median annual wage$97,860
Projected number of new jobs15,000
Projected growth rate6 percent
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent + apprenticeship

4. Detective or criminal investigator

Detectives and criminal investigators collect facts and compile cases in order to solve crimes. You will likely have to undergo training at a police academy alongside on-the-job training for either of these positions. Detectives and criminal investigators are often required to have prior experience in law enforcement, typically as police or patrol officers. 

Detectives and criminal investigators must be adept at interviewing others, collecting information, and piecing together evidence. If this sounds like you, then you might consider jobs in this line of work. 

Detective or criminal investigator
Median annual wage$83,640
Projected number of new jobs51,700
Projected growth rate7 percent (slower than average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent + training academy

5. Project coordinator

Project coordinators organize the various parts of a project and ensure they run efficiently. Although the BLS does not collect direct data on project coordinators, the projected job growth for the jobs category under which project coordinator falls is estimated to be between 5 and 10 percent in the next decade. In order to become a project coordinator, you should have some prior experience in the general field in which you would be coordinating. Although you do not need any specific credentials, some employers might prefer candidates with either a professional certificate or a relevant degree.

The role of project coordinator is one that requires big picture thinking, attention to detail, and creative problem solving. If these sound like skills you exemplify, then you might consider this career path. 

Project coordinator
Median annual wage$80,220
Projected number of new jobs141,900
Projected growth rate5 - 10 percent
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent + technical certification
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6. Web developer

Web developers are responsible for creating and maintaining websites. The importance of a company’s web presence to their financial success means that the job outlook for web developers is particularly good over the next decade. In order to become a web developer, you don’t need any specific credentials, but some employers may prefer candidates who possess either a certification or a relevant degree. 

If you like pairing technical skills with creativity and would like a position that could be done remotely, then a career as a web developer might suit you well. 

Web developer
Median annual wage$77,200
Projected number of new jobs25,500
Projected growth rate13 percent (faster than average)
QualificationHS diploma or bachelor's degree + knowledge of programming language
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7. First-line supervisor

First-line supervisors oversee and coordinate the work of others in a variety of industries. If you are someone who excels at big picture thinking, teamwork, and managing others, then you might consider pursuing one of the following first-line supervisor jobs. 

First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers

These first-line supervisors oversee the work of mechanics, installers, and repairers and occasionally recommend services to customers. In order to become a supervisor in this field, you need a high school diploma and typically less than five years of experience in a related occupation. 

If you work well with others, possess unique attention to detail, and enjoy mechanical systems, then you might consider pursuing this first-line supervisor job. 

First-line supervisor of mechanics, installers, and repairers
Median annual wage$73,590
Projected number of new jobs31,700
Projected growth rate7 percent (as fast as average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent

First-line supervisor of construction trades and extraction workers 

These supervisors work on construction sites and extraction sites, such as on oil rigs or in mines. In order to become a first-line supervisor in this field, you will typically need at least five years of experience in a related occupation. Examples of entry-level positions include construction laborer and oil rig worker. 

The potentially hazardous nature of the sites on which these supervisors work means that it is a job well-suited to those who value responsibility, safety, and teamwork. 

First-line supervisor of construction trades and extraction workers
Median annual wage$75,060
Projected number of new jobs43,100
Projected growth rate6 percent (as fast as average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent

First-line supervisor of production and operating workers

These first-line supervisors oversee production and operating workers, which the BLS define as “inspectors, precision workers, machine setters and operators, assemblers, fabricators, and plant and system operators." Employers typically expect these supervisors to have less than five years of related work experience. This position might appeal to someone who enjoys mechanical systems, working with others, and is looking for a supervisor position that can be reached faster than in some other fields. 

First-line supervisor of production and operating workers
Median annual wage$67,330
Projected number of new jobs22,700
Projected growth rate4 percent (slightly slower than average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent

8. Aircraft mechanic or service technician

Aircraft mechanics and service technicians perform repairs and maintenance on aircraft. In order to become an aircraft mechanic and service technician, you need to either be certified by the FAA or have undergone relevant training in the military. 

Working as a mechanic and technician on an aircraft is a likely job best suited to those that enjoy working with their hands, learning about mechanical systems, and solving problems. 

Aircraft mechanic or service technician
Median annual wage$65,550
Projected number of new jobs17,400
Projected Growth Rate11 percent (faster than average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent + FAA certification or relevant military training

9. Wholesale and manufacturing sales representative

Wholesale and manufacturing representatives sell goods and products to organizations, government agencies, and other businesses. Employers typically offer on-the-job training that can occasionally span as long as a year.

The Manufacturers’ Representatives Educational Research Foundation (MRERF) offers both a Certified Professional Manufacturers’ Representative (CPMR) certification and the Certified Sales Professional (CSP) certification for those looking to gain industry-relevant skills.

Sales representatives usually make their income through sales commissions. As a result, it is likely a job well-suited to those who enjoy traveling, working in sales, and interfacing with clients. 

First-line supervisor of production and operating workers
Median annual wage$62,950
Projected number of new jobs77,600
Projected growth rate5 percent (slower than average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent

10. Water transportation worker

Water transportation workers are the captains, mates, and ship pilots that operate seafaring vehicles. As global supply chains expand, water transportation workers become ever more important to the economy. In order to become a water transportation worker, you usually must undergo several months of on-the-job training and complete formal US Coast Guard-approved training programs.

Life at sea can be unpredictable and requires a workforce prepared to deal with quickly changing conditions. As a result, ship life is best suited to those that are highly adaptable, work well in highly structured organizations, and don’t mind being away from home for long periods. 

Water transportation worker
Median annual wage$62,760
Projected number of new jobs7,800
Projected Growth Rate12 percent (faster than average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent + U.S. Coast Guard-Approved training program

11. Flight attendant

Flight attendants run an airplane’s onboard service and ensure passenger safety during flights. To be hired as a flight attendant, you don’t need any specific degree, but you will likely need some prior experience in customer service.

Before working on a plane, flight attendants will need to undergo training through their employer and then become certified through the FAA. Afterwards, flight attendants receive on-the-job training. If you are hoping to work on international flights, then likely will also be required to speak more than one language.

Becoming a flight attendant might appeal to those who enjoy travel, interfacing with customers, and working in professional team environments. 

Flight attendant
Median annual wage$61,640
Projected number of new jobs31,100
Projected growth rate30 percent (much faster than average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent + certification from FAA

12. Chef or head cook

Chefs and head cooks oversee the preparation of meals in restaurants, private homes, and other dining establishments. In order to become a chef or head cook, you will typically need at least five years of prior experience, usually working in a professional kitchen as a cook or sous-chef.

Although some chefs receive formal training through culinary programs, many others gain the required knowledge through an apprenticeship or on-the-job training. Some entry-level positions within the food industry include prep cook and line cook. 

The path to becoming a chef or head cook requires dedication to the craft of cooking, attention to detail, organization, and the ability to work in a high-pressure environment with a team. 

Chef or head cook
Median annual wage$50,160
Projected number of new jobs28,000
Projected growth rate25 percent (much faster than average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent

13. Broadcast, sound, and video technician

These studio technicians operate the electrical equipment required for productions, including for radio, television, film, and live performances. Although it is possible to get a job in this field without any credential, some employers might prefer candidates with a professional credential like the Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) offered by the  Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. Additionally, serious professionals are expected to routinely acquaint themselves with new technology and practices as they develop in the field. 

Individuals who enjoy collaborating with others, working on a team, and regularly learning about new technologies should consider this potential career path.

Broadcast, sound, and video technician
Median annual wage$49,050
Projected number of new jobs28,600
Projected growth rate21 percent (much faster than average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent + certifications or associate degree (depending on position)

14. Real estate broker

Real estate brokers work with clients to buy, sell, and rent properties. While the nationally projected job growth for real estate brokers is a bit less than average, real estate markets differ considerably from one place to another. As a result, if you live and work in an area with a thriving real estate market, then you are more likely to find clients than if you are located in an area with a less active market. In order to work as a real estate broker, you typically need a state-specific license. 

If you enjoy sales, interacting with clients, and the freedom to set your own schedule, then you might consider becoming a real estate broker.

Real estate broker
Median annual wage$48,770
Projected number of new jobs21,800
Projected growth rate4 percent (slower than average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent

15. Carpenter

Carpenters use wood and other materials to build, repair, and install structures. There are many paths to becoming a carpenter, including getting an associate degree, becoming an apprentice, or receiving on-the-job training. 

If you are someone who enjoys working with their hands, building things, and working with others, then you might consider a career in carpentry. 

Carpenter
Median annual wage$48,260
Projected number of new jobs20,100
Projected growth rate2 percent (slower than average)
QualificationHS diploma or equivalent

Job resources for a changing job landscape

In addition to the above-listed jobs, there are many more that can be found in the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. There, you will not only find updated jobs information, but also tools to help you search for jobs by various filters. 

Although many employers ask for college degrees, not all do. A growing trend has recently seen many companies broaden their hiring scope to include those without college degrees. Some companies, such as Google, IBM, and Apple, have publicly done away with degree requirements altogether for entry-level positions [3].

Get job ready 

Whatever career path you choose, you can benefit from honing your technical and transferable skills. Whether you want to learn how to better manage projects or troubleshoot technology, consider a Professional Certificate as a way to build the skills companies are looking for. 

Much like your next job, the best educational program is the one that best fits your unique personality, interests, and goals. The choice is yours.

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Related articles

Article sources

1. US Census. “Educational Attainment, https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2020/educational-attainment.html.” Accessed May 22, 2022.

2. FRED. “Real Personal Income in the United States, https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MEPAINUSA672N”. Accessed May 22, 2022. 

3. TechWafter. "Google, Apple, IBM Many Other Companies No Longer Require Employees To Have A Degree, https://techwafer.com/google-apple-ibm-many-other-companies-no-longer-require-employees-to-have-a-degree/." Accessed May 22, 2022.

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