6 Best Paying Jobs Without a Degree

professional no degree

Didn’t want to go to college and bury yourself in student loan debt for the rest of your life? I don’t blame you. And guess what? More and more people are doing the same! As tuition costs at colleges are shooting to the moon, more people are opting to go through life degree-free, and a lot of them are absolutely killin’ it!

Lots of big companies like Apple, Netflix, and Google are dropping their degree requirements for potential employees, and it seems like you really just don’t need a degree anymore. So, if you got a high school diploma and you’re ready to make some money, listen up! These are the 6 best paying jobs that you don’t need a degree for! 

#6: Media Equipment Technician

media technician

If you’ve ever watched an episode of MTV Cribs, you probably noticed that almost all the super rich people out there have an in-home movie theatre. But have you ever wondered who installed those swanky movie screens? That’s right, media equipment technicians are responsible for installing and repairing media systems for businesses and individuals. 

It’s the guy who made all those Cisco meetings at your office possible, and the guy who made it possible for you to get your first kiss while watching Moana at the movie theatre. Average annual pay for media equipment technicians was about $80,000 in 2020. I guess some people are willing to pay big bucks to get the right stuff in their Netflix and chill rooms. 

Plus, as the media industry continues to grow, there’s going to be more and more demand for these professionals. The field of media equipment technician is expected to grow by 8% from now until 2026, so now’s a great time to get into it! 

All you need is a high school diploma, however, having a certification in electrical installation or a related field will help you get a job easier. The good news is that on-the-job training for these types of technicians is usually fairly short-term, so you can start making money quickly!

#5: Commercial Pilot

commercial pilot

Alright, so you don’t have a college degree. Does that mean you can’t get a cool job? Hell no! You can still get one of the coolest jobs on the planet! Well, above the planet. I’m talking about commercial pilots

If you want to fly for an airline, you’re probably going to need a degree, unfortunately. But there are plenty of other kinds of pilots out there! Commercial pilots might fly crop-dusting planes, or fly company executives around the country, or you could do charter flights or conduct aerial tours. 

And as if piloting a machine that flies through the air at 500 miles per hour wasn’t cool enough, commercial pilots’ average annual salary in 2020 was $82,000! Handsome pay for one of the coolest jobs ever? What’s not to like? 

To become a commercial pilot, you’ll need a high school diploma, and then you’ll have to get your commercial pilot’s license through an FAA-certified flight school. To get your license, you’ll need 250 hours of flight time. But, hey, flight school sounds like a lot more fun than math class. 

#4: Elevator Technician

elevator button

Now, here’s a job that may seem extremely random, but it actually requires a high degree of technical knowledge. Plus, people’s lives are in the hands of elevator technicians. And if you’re afraid of heights, you shouldn’t even consider going for this job. But, if you’re good with your hands, and you don’t mind being suspended from a harness hundreds of feet above the ground, then you can earn great money as an elevator technician.

All you need is a high school diploma. On average, elevator technicians made an annual salary of about $85,000 in 2020, and the profession is projected to grow by 7% in the next 5 years. As long as we have elevators, we’re going to need people to install and repair them. 

Yes, this job involves working in tight spaces with heavy machinery, installing and repairing elevators in any building that might need it, and a lot of the time you have to be on call 24 hours a day. Not to mention that screwing up on the job means everyone’s worst nightmare: a free-falling elevator. But, if you can get past all that, this is a great job that you can get without a degree. 

#3: Police Sergeant

police officer

Of course, jobs that involve risking your life always pay a premium salary, and policing is no different. While all police here in the USA are paid fairly well, one of the highest-paid positions within the force is that of police sergeant. Police sergeants often have more of a managerial role and don’t spend as much time in the field, but it definitely takes quite a few years of fieldwork to get to this position.

Once you rise through the ranks and get your sergeant title, though, you’re looking at some real good money. Police sergeants made an average annual salary of about $89,000 in 2020. This rather handsome compensation comes due to the fact that police sergeants are responsible for managing the activities of the police force, ensuring that police officers are conducting themselves according to law, and recruiting new officers. 

And, of course, it’s certainly worth noting that the police force in America is in some serious hot water these days, as their reputation has come under fire because of unfortunate cases of police brutality and unjust killings. If you’re interested in rising to the rank of police sergeant, it’s worth considering whether or not you want to be in a job that’s caused so much controversy in recent years.

#2: Nuclear Technician

nuclear reactor

Okay, so salary and benefits aside, this job is just a flex. Imagine you’re out at a cocktail party and someone asks you what you do for a living, and you get to tell them that you work in a nuclear reactor! That’s cool. 

Plus, the median annual pay for nuclear technicians in 2020 was just over $94,000. Sure, the stakes are about as high as they can get when you’re working with nuclear power, but I’d say for that much money, it might be worth it.

This job basically involves managing the control rods of the reactor, which govern how much electricity the reactor is producing at a given time. You also have to monitor the reactor, turbines, generator, and cooling system to make sure they’re operating safely. Like I said, these are high stakes, because if you mess up, you’re looking at a Chernobyl-type situation, and we don’t want that. 

You only need a high school diploma to work as a nuclear technician, but you will need to get extensive on-the-job training and pass a licensing exam. Unfortunately, the amount of nuclear technician jobs is expected to decline significantly in the next few years, mostly because we can’t figure out a good way to dispose of nuclear waste, and so many companies are turning to alternative forms of energy. Still, if you can get into this profession now, you’re looking at some serious cash. 

#1: Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Manager

warehouse manager

Now, here’s a job that’s actually projected to grow in the next few years. And, not to mention, it’s the highest paying job on this list. You ever wonder why Darryl from The Office is so chill all the time? Well, it’s probably because he’s raking in the big bucks and doesn’t have any student loan debt! 

Just like Darryl, this job basically entails being a warehouse manager and overseeing the allocation and shipping of merchandise. These managers are tasked with finding the most cost- and time-efficient ways to get products shipped all around the country, and sometimes all over the world. 

You don’t need any kind of college degree to get this position, but you’ll typically need at least five years of experience in a warehouse to get there. Plus, you’ll need a deep understanding of shipping logistics, a strong organizational mindset, and personnel management skills. 

Warehouse managers made an average of about $94,000 in 2020. That’s no small chunk of change. And if you’re worried about how Amazon has been replacing warehouse employees with robots, don’t worry too much, this field is projected to expand by 7% through 2026. I guess even Amazon still needs a human mind behind the wheel to drive warehouse operations. 

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