What Jobs Pay $50 an Hour without a Degree?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn more about what jobs pay $50 an hour without a degree with this 2024 guide.

[Featured Image] An air traffic controller, which is one of many jobs that pay $50 an hour without a degree, uses binoculars to look out a window over a runway.

Plenty of jobs pay well without the upfront cost of a higher education degree. Jobs requiring a college degree may seem more impressive on paper; however, the education cost of earning a degree can make it more challenging for some to qualify for these positions.

Many high-paying job positions exist without a degree. This list compiles jobs that pay $50 per hour and typically require only a high school diploma or its equivalent, although some jobs do require additional training or non-degree awards. 

Read more: 15 High-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree

10 jobs that pay $50 an hour without a degree 

From air traffic control to makeup artistry, the areas where you can find well-paying work are vast. Explore 10 jobs that pay $50 an hour without requiring you to have an undergraduate degree. 

*All salary data is sourced from Lightcast™, and all job outlook data is sourced from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of April 2024. 

1. Communications manager

Average annual salary: $96,289.04

Job outlook (2022 to 2032): 6 percent; considered faster than average

While a degree can be helpful, and some employers may prefer it, you can work in this field without one. As a communications manager, you will need to have solid writing and interpersonal skills and be a dependable leader. 

Gaining on-the-job experience and completing internships can make you eligible for communications manager positions. You can also consider industry certifications, which can help advance your employment and professional development qualifications. 

As a communications manager, you will promote your company’s brand and general image to the public. Typical tasks include communicating with members of the press and other marketing team members. You will likely speak at conferences or give media interviews to help enhance your company’s image and increase brand awareness.

2. Social media manager

Average annual salary (US): $139,051.42 

Job outlook (2022 to 2032): 6 percent; considered faster than average 

A degree can help build foundational knowledge, but you can create a successful career creating content for your company, managing social marketing campaigns and ads, and managing comments or messages through social media platforms. You will likely work with other teams, including graphic designers, to create content and report analytics to leadership and stakeholders.

As a social media manager, you will need strong creative skills, collaboration, and customer service skills. In this role, you often interact with the public online and collaborate with marketers to promote your company’s brand or message. You will be responsible for planning and creating ad or marketing campaigns and bringing them to the public through social media platforms. 

Read more: What's a Social Media Manager? And How to Become One

3. Commercial pilot

Average annual salary (US): $117,201.68

Job outlook (2022 to 2032): 4 percent; considered average

You will need a commercial pilot’s license from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified flight training school to become a commercial pilot. Once you have completed at least 250 hours of flying time in training, you can earn your license to become a commercial pilot.

In this job, you can expect to operate and fly aircraft for aerial applications, charter flights, or aerial tours. Piloting is a rewarding career, as you not only fly the plane but also learn how to control and maintain it. Keep in mind that you may spend long stretches of time away from home. 

Read more: Do You Need a College Degree to Be Successful?

4. Makeup artist

Average annual salary (US): $193,519.38

Job outlook (2022 to 2032): 9 percent; considered faster than average

To become a makeup artist, you will need an esthetician or cosmetology license. Requirements vary by state, often including a specified number of hours of work at a cosmetology school, with training also available. Additionally, you will need creative and artistic skills and dexterity to be a successful makeup artist.

To be a makeup artist, you should continually experiment with new products to create exciting looks and update your portfolio. You will need to communicate effectively with your clients to meet their desired makeup look. You also need to have a strong understanding of color theory to know what to apply to your clients, depending on their skin tone. 

You can work independently, out of a spa or salon, or in an industry like film, television, theater, or fashion. You should be able to work under pressure and provide a calming experience for your client.

5. Senior real estate manager

Average annual salary: $96,446.09

Job outlook (2022 to 2032): 5 percent; considered faster than average 

To become a senior real estate manager, you'll need to become certified in some form of property management and have experience in real estate. You should be comfortable with housing and zoning laws and have strong communication and interpersonal skills for working with clients.

As a senior real estate manager, you will discuss leases with potential renters or homeowners, delegate bill payments, and create and maintain records and contracts for the properties you manage. You may also take charge of the financial operations of properties and advertising new properties that go on the market.

Read more: How to Become a Real Estate Agent

6. Air traffic controller

Average annual salary: $130,832

Job outlook (2022 to 2032): 1 percent; considered little to no change

To be eligible to become an air traffic controller, you must be a US citizen, 30 years old or younger, and fluent in English. You'll need to pass the FAA’s pre-employment tests. Additionally, complete a medical exam and be subject to a thorough security investigation. While you do not need a degree to become an air traffic controller, you may need general work experience and be willing to relocate.

If you become an air traffic controller, your everyday tasks will include monitoring and directing airplane traffic both on the runway and in the sky. You will alert pilots of any changes, delays, weather issues, or anything else that might alter the original takeoff and landing instructions. Your ultimate goal is to direct traffic smoothly so that no delays or problems occur, but you must also mitigate any issues that arise.

7. Subway operator

Average annual salary (US): $75,878.40

Job outlook (2022 to 2032): 1 percent; considered little or no change

While this job often pays under $50 an hour, it is still a great option as you only need a high school degree or equivalent, work experience, and specialized training through your employer to meet the requirements. Additionally, you can expect to earn higher wages as your level of experience increases, if you work overtime, and if you choose to earn credentials and training, such as those available through the National Academy of Railroad Sciences. 

When you are in the onboarding stage of your employment as a subway operator, you typically receive specialized driving and training courses to build your experience and ensure you understand safety protocols. Knowledge of safety protocols, good time management, and customer service skills will make you a successful subway operator.

As a subway operator, you will operate vehicles and assume responsibility for safely and efficiently moving users through urban areas by performing basic maintenance and reporting any mechanical issues to dispatchers. You also might supervise passengers getting on and off the subway to ensure everyone’s safety and announce upcoming stops.

8. Distribution manager

Average annual salary (US): $104,254.14

Job outlook (2022 to 2032): 8 percent; considered faster than average

To become a distribution manager, you'll need to complete in-house training for the company you're working for and familiarize yourself with up-to-date shipping technologies and policies.

In this job, you’ll handle and oversee orders that come into the facility, stock products, monitor if anything is running low, and coordinate the shipment and delivery of products. As a distribution manager, you will also negotiate contracts for products, manage staff, and ensure safety protocols are in place. 

9. First-line supervisor of police

Average annual salary (US): $99,403.20

Job outlook (2022 to 2032): 3 percent; considered average

To become a first-line police supervisor, you will need at least five years of experience in law enforcement. Typically, you will graduate from a police academy and train to pass your physical exam and qualify for this position. 

As a first-line supervisor of police, you will perform administrative and leadership duties. You'll likely be in charge of a police department, which will involve coordinating police force activities or training, managing staff, and assigning cases. You will also likely organize investigations and maintain law reports.

10. Medical dosimetrist 

Average annual salary (US): $134,948.34

Job outlook (2022 to 2032): 3 percent, considered average

To become a medical dosimetrist, you may need to complete a certification program, but you do not necessarily need a bachelor’s degree; a postsecondary degree award is sufficient. 

You will review patient documents, calculate proper doses of radiation, and assist with positioning patients during treatments. As a medical dosimetrist, your primary responsibility will be managing radiation plans for cancer treatments through dosage calculations done manually and digitally. You will also need a solid understanding of medical physics and radiation oncology to be successful in this role.  

Which career is right for you?

When deciding which career is right for you, you should first consider your interests, the experience you already have, and what sorts of activities you excel at. Connect with those working in the fields you are considering and talk to them about how they achieved their professional goals. Research prospective careers and compare them to your existing experience and capabilities. 

Strive to pursue a career that aligns with your interests and satisfaction. Picking a job that is important to you and matches your abilities is a great way to ensure you are choosing the right one. 

Tips for entering your chosen field without a degree

Getting a college degree can open the door to some opportunities, but it is only one of the many career paths available. In many cases, gaining experience and skills can equalize educational differences. Fortunately, you have a vast number of options, including the following steps that can help you start on the path toward a high-paying job without a college degree. 

1. Boost your skills.

Enhancing your skills will strengthen your resume overall, allowing you to demonstrate to employers that you are a skilled and competitive candidate even without a degree. Boosting your skill set can help advance your career and keep you up to date with changes in your industry.

Read more: What Are Job Skills and Why Do They Matter?

2. Take online courses.

Taking online courses is a great way to expand your knowledge in specialized areas without paying for a four-year degree. Online courses can help you prepare for interviews by letting you familiarize yourself with certain concepts, and you can go at your own pace.

3. Join professional organizations.

These excellent resources can help you find and take advantage of more opportunities to advance your career and earn a higher salary. By joining discussions and meetings, you can connect with others in your field and create a robust professional network, which may aid you in finding and getting opportunities with higher-paying jobs.

Read more: What Is Networking? How to Grow Your Network

4. Earn certifications

Earning relevant certifications is an excellent strategy to sharpen your skill set and promote yourself as a potential hire. These credentials demonstrate your commitment to your field, highlight your skills, and can help boost your salary potential. 

5. Start your own business.

Starting a business doesn't require a degree because you set rules and boundaries. If you feel called to be an entrepreneur, starting and maintaining your own business can earn you significant money. Keep in mind that this will take time and commitment.

Read more: 10 Steps to Starting a Business

Getting started with Coursera 

You can start preparing for your career and exploring job options with online courses. Many positions are available to you without a degree. On Coursera, you can take courses such as Career Planning: Your Career, Your Life, offered by Macquarie University, to learn more about current issues in the career world and how you fit in. You will also learn how to design your career path and discover jobs that fit your interests and skill levels. 

Alternatively, if you decide to further your education, you could consider completing a Professional Certificate program, many of which are beginner-friendly. You can even get an online degree in areas like business and data science. 

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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.