14+ High-Paying Jobs that Don’t Require a Degree in 2024

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

You don’t necessarily need an undergraduate degree to get these high-paying jobs.

[Featured Image]:  Job candidate, wearing a black and white striped top, working at a laptop, searching for jobs that might not require a degree.

A bachelor’s degree takes time and money—valuable resources that impact everyone differently. Whether you want to bypass university 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 citizens in the United Kingdom don’t have a college degree—only 40.6 percent do [1].

In this article, you will find more than 14 jobs that pay higher than the national median income in the United Kingdom, where the most common entry-level requirements do not include a degree. Whilst some jobs on this list might require additional training or certification, the time and money it takes to achieve them are often much less than 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 a television show set, you’ll likely find a job on this list that will appeal to you.

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

According to the Office of National Statistics, the median income for individuals working full-time was £640 a week in 2021 [2]. The jobs listed below don’t typically require a college degree, have an annual salary exceeding the national median individual income, and are projected to grow over the next decade. 

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

These are some of the highest-paid jobs listed by the National Careers Service that don’t require a college degree for most entry-level positions: 

  1. Commercial pilot: £24,000 to £110,000 

  2. Lift engineer: £19,000 to £40,000

  3. Police officer: £19,164 to £41,130

  4. Business project coordinator: £28,000 to £75,000

  5. Web developer: £20,000 to £60,000

  6. First-line manager: £15,000 to £30,000

  7. Helicopter engineer:£30,000 to £60,000

  8. Sales representative: £20,000 to £52,000

  9. Marine engineer: £24,000 to £55,000

  10. Cabin Crew :£15,000 to £30,000

  11. Chef or head cook: £15,000 to £30,000

  12. Broadcast, sound, and video technician: £18,000 to £35,000 

  13. Estate agent: £19,000 to £40,000

  14. Carpenter: £17,000 to £38,000

*All data is taken from the National Careers Service unless otherwise noted and represents an average salary range based on experience.

1. Commercial pilot

Commercial pilots fly aircraft, such as passenger aeroplanes, helicopters, and cargo planes. In order to become a commercial pilot, you’ll begin by training to become a co-pilot. You can apply for a full Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) once you complete 1,500 flying hours. 

Demand for commercial pilots will likely remain high across Europe for the next two decades, with Boeing warning that a minimum of 6,000 new pilots are needed every year for the next 20 years [3]. So, if you are someone who enjoys travelling, flying, and careers where constant tests of skills are a professional responsibility, then becoming a commercial pilot might appeal to you.

Median annual wage in the UK: £24,000 to £110,000

2. Lift engineer

As their name suggests, lift engineers install and repair lifts. They also ensure escalators operate smoothly. Some lift engineers opt to take university courses. The available career path also includes completing an apprenticeship, earning a higher national diploma, or training with the Lift and Escalator Industry Association.

Experts predict that the UK's lift and escalator market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 4.7 percent through 2028 [4], which suggests promising demand for professionals who enjoy problem-solving and working with mechanical systems.  

Median annual wage in the UK: £19,000 to £40,000

3. Police officer or constable

Police officers and constables collect facts and compile cases to solve crimes. Whilst some people earn a degree, you may also complete a three-year Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship or apply directly through the Initial Police Learning and Development Program, which typically requires A levels, level 3 qualification, or relevant military experience. Once accepted, you'll have to pass an interview and written tests at the assessment centre.

With the government's Beating Crime Plan, recruitment is continually underway to add more officers to the force, suggesting continued demand. Police officers and constables must be adept at interviewing others, collecting information, and piecing together evidence. If this sounds like you, consider jobs in this line of work. 

Median annual wage in the UK: £19,164 to £41,130

4. Business project coordinator

Business project coordinators organise the various parts of a project and ensure they run efficiently. Although you could get a degree to pursue this career, you don’t have to. Alternate career paths include an apprenticeship, which typically lasts four years, or working your way up through the ranks to gain experience and expertise in the general field in which you would be coordinating. Whilst you do not need any specific credentials, some employers might prefer candidates with either a Professional Certificate or a relevant degree.

The role of business project coordinator 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.

Median annual wage in the UK: £28,000 to £75,000

5. Web developer

Web developers are responsible for creating and maintaining websites. The importance of a company’s web presence to its financial success means that the job outlook for web developers is particularly good over the next decade. 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 want a position that you could tackle remotely, then a career as a web developer might suit you well.

Median annual wage in the UK: £20,000 to £60,000

6. 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. To become a supervisor in this field, you need four or five GCSEs and an apprenticeship in a related occupation. 

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

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. 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 labourer 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 production and operating workers

These first-line supervisors oversee production and operating workers. 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 you can reach faster than in some other fields. 

Median annual wages in the UK: £15,000 to £30,000

7. Helicopter engineer

Helicopter engineers, sometimes called aircraft engineers or technicians, perform repairs and maintenance on helicopters. You could pursue university courses. Or, you can enter this professional field by completing an aircraft maintenance higher apprenticeship. Some aircraft engineering companies offer training, as do the armed forces—all of which may count toward your application for a licence.

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. 

Median annual wages in the UK: £30,000 to £60,000

8. Sales representative

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

Although the industry lacks standards that sales representatives must meet across the board, you can seek qualifications from the Institute of Sales Professionals, including level four sales apprenticeships and level six business-to-business sales apprenticeships to help prepare you.  Sales representatives usually make their income through sales commissions. As a result, it is likely a job well-suited to those who enjoy travelling, working in sales, and interfacing with clients. 

Median annual wages in the UK: £20,000 to £52,000

9. Marine engineer

In this role, you design, repair, and build ships, boats, drilling equipment, and submarines.

As global supply chains expand, marine engineers become ever more critical to the economy in supporting the vessels that travel via water. University is only one path you can take. Marine Engineer Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeships can help you get the qualifications you need to advance to positions such as small vessel chief engineer. Alternatively, you could gain training in the Royal Navy or Royal Navy.

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 highly-adaptable people who work well in highly structured organisations and don’t mind being away from home for long periods. 

Median annual wages in the UK: £24,000 to £55,000

10. Cabin crew

Air stewards, stewardesses, and flight attendants all fall under the umbrella of ‘cabin crew’. In this role, you would run an aeroplane’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, cabin crew members need to undergo some training. Examples include cabin crew advanced apprenticeships, which typically take about one year to complete, or applying directly with airlines. Some airlines offer cabin crew courses that can increase the odds of getting a job. Afterwards, flight attendants receive on-the-job training. If you are hoping to work on international flights, you will likely 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. 

Median annual wages in the UK: £15,000 to £30,000

11. Chef or head cook

Chefs and head cooks oversee the preparation of meals in restaurants, private homes, and other dining establishments. 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 apprenticeships 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, organisation, and the ability to work in a high-pressure environment with a team. 

Median annual wages in the UK: £15,000 to £30,000

12. Broadcast, sound, and video technician

Also called ‘audio-visual technicians,’ these studio technicians operate the electrical equipment required for productions, including radio, television, film, and live performances. Although it is possible to get a job in this field without any credentials, some employers might prefer candidates who complete a level three advanced apprenticeship. You may also opt to join professional groups such as the Production Services Association. Additionally, serious professionals must 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.

Median annual wages in the UK: £18,000 to £35,000

13. Estate agents 

Estate agents work with clients to buy, sell, and rent properties. 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, you are more likely to find clients than if you work in an area with a less active market. 

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

Median annual wages in the UK: £19,000 to £40,000

14. Carpenter

Carpenters use wood and other materials to build, repair, and install structures. You’ll find many paths to becoming a carpenter, including becoming an apprentice or receiving on-the-job training. If you want to work on construction sites, you'll need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme card.

If you enjoy working with your hands, building things, and working with others, consider a career in carpentry. 

Median annual wages in the UK: £17,000 to £38,000

Job resources for a changing job landscape

In addition to the above-listed jobs, many more can be found when perusing the National Careers Service job board. There, you will find updated job information and 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 university qualifications. Some companies, such as Google, IBM, and Apple, have publicly done away with degree requirements altogether for entry-level positions [5].

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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Article sources


Statista. “Higher Education in the UK - Statistics & Facts, https://www.statista.com/topics/6938/higher-education-in-the-uk/#topicHeader__wrapper.” Accessed February 21, 2023. 

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