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11 Best High Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree

The struggle to find high-paying jobs with no degree requirement sometimes seems impossible. The truth is, people with college degrees struggle to find employment, and there are people without degrees who are billionaires.
11 Best High Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree

The struggle to find high-paying jobs with no degree requirement sometimes seems impossible. The truth is, people with college degrees struggle to find employment, and there are people without degrees who are billionaires.

When you hear the names Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Henry Ford, and Jack Dorsey, do you think of big, expensive college degrees? Turns out, they are only a few who have achieved billionaire success without a college degree. In fact, some of the best-paying jobs have no college degree requirements.

To find a high-paying job that can become a successful career, consider your interests. Were you the kid that loved getting stuck at railroad crossings? Maybe you always watched Walker, Texas Ranger as a kid, loved numbers, or enjoyed writing stories. These can be clues to a career that fits your personality.

When you see an interesting job, talk to people working in that position to learn more about it. Then prepare for the job interview by asking questions. This is how you decide if the position is right for you.

You do not need to have a college education to find a lucrative career. Keep reading for information on where to look to find a job that fits your personality with no college degree required.

Educational Basics

Unless otherwise specified, the jobs listed below require a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent. A high school equivalent is an acceptable alternative to earning a high school diploma. There are three acceptable equivalency tests:

  • General Educational Development Test (GED)—well known, has five sections covering math, reading, science, social studies, and writing; you must score at least 145 on each section to pass
  • High School Equivalency Test (HiSET)—has five sections covering math, reading, science, social studies, and writing; you must score at least 145, eight out of 20 on multiple-choice sections, two out of six on essays.
  • Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC)—has five sections covering math, reading, science, social studies, and writing; you must score at least 500 on each section plus two out of eight on the writing

Which test you take will depend on what your state offers. If any other training is necessary to obtain the job, it is shown under that career listing.

After you find your dream career, check to see what the employer wants to see and put your best foot forward during the interview.

1. Postmaster and Mail Superintendents

According to Recruiter.com, the 2021-2022 salary ranges between $66,360 to 93,350 based on seniority for this position. Mail superintendents and postmasters are employees of the U.S. Postal Service.

The postmaster must be knowledgeable about the principles of management. They must be familiar with software programs necessary on the job and have technical skills. Postmasters work under the guidance of the Postmaster-General.

Postmasters are in charge of a post office or a network of post offices. Their duties include creating work schedules, supervising employees, and overseeing both outgoing and incoming mail. Some work experience may be a requirement.

To obtain a job you need to visit the post office where you want to work and request a USPS employee application. The requirements include being at least 18 years old. The alternative is at least 16 years old with a high school diploma.

Most postmasters work their way up through the postal service, beginning at the entry-level as a postal carrier, clerk, or mail processor. Once you have a foot in the door you may seek promotions. To become a postmaster or supervisor you will need to complete the Associate Supervisor Program (ASP) which is provided by the U.S. Postal Service.

2. Operating a Streetcar or Subway

Other titles for this position include light rail transit operator, light rail operator, rapid transit operator, subway conductor, tram operator, trolley car operator, and light rail vehicle operator. Persons holding these positions have the responsibility of operating and maintaining the subways and streetcars located above ground that have no separate locomotive.

The position requires standing for long periods. Depending on the position, you may need to collect fares. Once you obtain employment, you will need to have up to one year of formal training before you can begin officially working in the position.

According to recruiter.com the pay range for this position is $40,880 to $86,200 depending on tenure and expertise in the industry.

3. Railroad Worker

The duties in this position include controlling switches within the railroad yard, quarry, construction project, industrial plant, or other similar locations. The switches are made for the purpose of loading, unloading, breaking up trains, or building trains.

You will need several months of training. You may need to complete some trade school courses and obtain certification.

The pay range for railroad workers varies between $43,557 to $62,672. This depends on education, additional skills, certifications, and the number of years working in the railroad industry.

4. Railroad Track and Signal Switch Repairs

You will receive on-the-job training regarding the duties of installing, testing, inspecting, maintaining, and repairing equipment in this role. This includes railroad signals and signal equipment, track switches, electric gate crossings, section lines, and intercommunications systems that are part of a railroad system.

The salary range for this position is between $47,130 to $96,990 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

5. Computer Programmer

As a programmer, you will use programming languages to write codes that meet a business’s requirements. These may cover various areas including projecting finances, website operation, and more.

To be a programmer you will need to become proficient in programming languages. You must apply concepts to solve problems. Other skills include self-motivation and inquisitiveness, plus skills in writing, mathematics, and communication.

While many job listings for programmers may state that they require a college degree, many employers will hire based on a good portfolio of projects.

The salary for computer programmers ranges between $32,000 to $109,000 according to ZipRecruiter.com. The scale variation is dependent on where in the country you are working, with the average being $65,142 per year. There are three states in the country where the salary for this position is above the national average:

  • New York—average annual salary is $73,428 or $35.30 per hour
  • New Hampshire—average annual salary is $71,181 or $34.22 per hour
  • Vermont—average annual salary is $67,285 or $32.35 per hour

New York has a very large job market because of several companies that hire programmers. Before moving to an area with a higher than normal pay rate you need to consider other factors, such as the area’s cost of living, tax rate, and whether or not you could work remotely without having to relocate.

6. Real Estate Agent

If you want a career where you can set your own hours and receive a lucrative salary without a college degree, becoming a real estate agent may be the career for you. To handle this position you do need to be self-motivated and like meeting a wide variety of people. You will be working with clients to help them sell, buy or rent homes, office buildings, and land.

Your work will be performed under the guidance of a real estate broker. The work has a variety of duties which include handling phone calls and emails, and scheduling appointments and showings. You will draft and deliver documents, update property listings, photograph the property and upload them onto multiple listing services
You will conduct research to complete a real estate market analysis and search open listings to find properties for your clients. To be successful you will need to stay current on the trends, practices, and real estate markets.

You will also be involved in marketing by creating and distributing promotional material. You will manage your own online and social media presence and network with potential clients. You may create a website or blog and run advertising campaigns.

To become an agent you must meet your state’s licensing requirements. This will include passing a background check and a real estate license exam. You will pay for the training and exam, but the expense is minimal compared to a 4-year college education.

According to Indeed.com the average base salary for this position is $94,914, with the range stretching from $85,570 for 1-2 years of experience to $112,273 for more than 10 years of experience.

7. Freelance Writer

If you have basic grammar skills, creative writing ability, and a knack for details and research, consider becoming a freelance writer. The salary varies depending on how many hours you choose to devote to the career and the type of services you provide.

According to ZipRecruiter salaries vary from $11,000 to $159,500 per year, with the average freelance writer earning $63,213 annually. You may choose to write product descriptions, web copy, blogs for businesses, resumes, video games, or more. The advantage of this career is many positions have the ability to be done remotely from home.

8. Elevator and Escalator Installer and Repairs

To be responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of escalators, moving walkways, and elevators you will need to go through a four-year apprenticeship. This includes classroom instruction and paid on-the-job training. Most states require you to be licensed.
In this job, you need to work in cramped spaces, including high elevator shafts. You may be on call 24/7 if you handle repairs.

Duties will include the ability to read and interpret blueprints, connect electrical wiring to control panels and motors, and test newly installed equipment, making sure it meets specifications. You will perform duties that include troubleshooting problems with motors, switches, brakes, and controls.

You will take apart and replace defective parts, and conduct preventative maintenance and inspections. You will need to maintain a service record of all maintenance and repairs you perform.

The pay range for this position is $45,950 to $128,500. The average worker makes about $88,540 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

9. Transportation, Storage, or Distribution Manager

This job involves getting products to their destination. You can seek positions in the transportation and warehousing industry. Part of your duties will include planning, directing, and coordinating activities necessary to implement this goal. You may be responsible for transporting, storing, and distributing a product in compliance with the law and government regulations.

You will need about five years’ experience in a related field to enter this career. Transportation and Logistics Managers usually need a bachelor’s degree in their area of specialty.

According to Salary.com the salary range for a Transportation, Storage, or Distribution Manager is $85,060 to $113,610. The variation is due to factors including certification, education, additional skills, and the number of years you work in this industry.

10. Wedding Planner

If you love weddings, are super-organized, and love a fun party, this may be the career for you. According to Comparably.com, a wedding planner’s salary ranges from $19,470 to $559,540 per year. The median yearly income is $100,978, plus bonuses and tips.

This is a position you may hold as an employee or have your own business. Those hiring planners are usually those who marry later in life, have established careers, and have more money to spend on their weddings. They prefer to spend money on the professional services of a wedding planner.

Typical duties of a wedding planner include:

  • Meet with the bride and groom to learn their vision for their wedding
  • Find venues and vendors, including invitation designers and printers, photographers, caterers, DJs, and bands
  • Inspect venues to make sure they meet the couple’s requirements
  • Negotiate all contracts on behalf of the bride and groom
  • Coordinate any additional services including hotel rooms, transportation, and catering
  • Monitor the wedding activities to make sure everything goes according to plan
  • Handle any problems that arise before, during, or after the wedding
  • Review all wedding event bills and approve payments

You can secure a position without a college degree, but many employers prefer applicable work experience in a similar field. While many planners learn through on-the-job training, some employers request a person have a bachelor’s degree in hospitality or a similar field.

If you are facing a “college degree” preference, you need to help the interviewer understand why they should hire you for the position. Once you have the job you will need to keep current on trends. This includes color, flowers, and music. You will be conducting research by reading bridal magazines and publications to stay current.

11. Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

In the United States, there are 55 nuclear power plants and 93 nuclear power reactors located in 28 states.

As a nuclear power reactor operator you are responsible for operating and monitoring the reactors, adjusting controls, starting and stopping equipment, and recording data. You will also implement emergency procedures if necessary. You may need to troubleshoot abnormalities and recommend the corrective action to take.

The national salary range for this position is $76,360 to $133,170 as set forth by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To become an operator you will undergo extensive on-the-job training and technical instruction. This includes several years of onsite training and experience to become fully qualified.

The on-the-job training is part of the NRC licensing process. You will need to meet all training and experience requirements, pass the NRC licensing exam, and pass a medical exam.

To maintain your license you must pass a plant-operating examination every year and a medical exam every two years. Your license will need renewing every six years. If you change nuclear plants you must obtain a new license for the new facility.

You will participate in ongoing training to keep your skills up-to-date. As you progress through your career, advancements include becoming a consultant, trainer, or shift supervisor.

No College Degree Help

Big Interview is a hub of resources that will walk you through every step of obtaining a high-paying job that does not require a college degree. By understanding your greatest weakness, you can get the help you need. This includes everything from writing a resume, negotiating your salary, and having a successful interview.

PS: Once you’ve landed the job, make sure to read up on the top work mistakes so you can avoid them in your new role!

Pamela Skillings
Pamela is the co-founder of BigInterview and an expert interview coach on a mission to help job seekers get their dream jobs. As an HR authority, she also provides consulting services to companies wishing to streamline their hiring process.

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