Being a lawyer or a doctor guarantees you'll be making tons of money. But what if you don’t have a college degree? Are you consigned to working at a fast food joint for the rest of your life? Before you settle for a low-paying gig you don't actually enjoy doing, you should check out these jobs that pay really well without a degree.
Commercial pilots provide aerial tours and charter flights. All that’s needed to be in the aviation industry is a high school diploma and a commercial pilot’s license by training with an independent FAA-certified flight instructor or at a school offering flight training. Pilots can end up earning an annual pay of $78.740 and up.
Signal and Track Switch Repairers
Signal and track switch repairers only need a high school diploma. They don’t even need previous work experience to get this job. But they will learn as they go. Their role is to diagnose and repair malfunctioning tracks and switches in order to earn about $70,490 a year, which is seriously impressive.
Landscaper and Groundskeeper
Landscapers are responsible for trimming trees and flowers, as well as watering, fertilizing and planting. While groundskeepers are required to maintain lawns, get rid of waste, clear out snow and keep pools running smoothly. You might not need a college degree, but you do need to pass a landscape exam to get a state license. The median salary in this position is about $27,670 annually and up to $43,797 a year according to Career Explorer.
A virtual assistant is responsible for providing administrative support services to other businesses remotely from the comforts of their own home. They can earn anywhere from $21,090 to $60,916 a year. And it’s easy to train by taking free marketing courses on sites like VA Training Academy, and VA Networking. Plus, if you scale your business and outsource tasks, some VA's are making over $100,000 a year and more.
Nuclear Power Reactor Operator
Nuclear power reactor operators need a high school diploma and on-the-job training to adjust control rods and monitor cooling systems, generators and turbines on a nuclear reactor. Formal technical training to prepare for the license exam is also needed. But you’ll earn an annual salary of $93,370.
Elevator Installers and Repairers
An elevator installer and repairer is responsible for installing, fixing, and maintaining elevators, escalators and other types of lifts. A high school diploma and complete a four-year-apprenticeship program sponsored by a contractor or a union is required to get licensed. But you can earn an annual wage of $79,480 which kind of makes you wonder if you should switch careers.
Electric Power-Line Installers and Repairers
Electric power-line installers and repairers are in high demand as the need to expand power grids continues to grow. Luckily for those who aren't planning on going into debt to get an education, this job doesn’t require a degree. But it can easily provide an average annual salary of $70,910.
A programmer can work as a freelancer or as part of a team writing code for proprietary equipment, computers, and even mobile apps. In most cases, experience is better than a four-year degree. You can even take coding courses for free or at a low cost like GitHub, AGupieWare, Udemy, or Coursera. Programmers can earn about $82,240 annually but depending on your level of experience and the languages you chose to specialize in, you can easily make over $100,000 a year.
Personal Care Aide
In most cases, personal care aides only require a high school diploma. Their main responsibilities involve carrying out daily living tasks for people who are elderly or disabled. While a degree isn’t required, some states may require training at a vocational school or at home health care agencies. But this position can provide an annual salary of $25,850. But in places like Ocean City, New Jersey, you can make around $43,770 according to a survey published on Money.usnews.com.
A bookkeeper creates and maintains a company or individual client’s financial records. But while a college degree isn’t required, they will need a good knowledge of computers, Excel and math in order to earn a decent annual salary of $39,270 and up.
Gas Plant Operator
Becoming a gas plant operator doesn’t require a college degree or previous work experience. But it will require on-the-job training to become an expert at using all the equipment that operators use to guarantee that the plant is able to store and distribute gas properly. The annual salary for this job is $71,070 and that rate can go a lot higher in certain states around the United States.
Insurance Claims Investigator
An insurance claims investigator is responsible for working with accident investigators and fact-checking to see if an insurance claim should get paid or not. At an entry-level, an investigator only needs a high school diploma, but other certifications and training are required to end up earning a salary of about $63,670.
Home Health Aide
Home health aides make sure clients take their medicine. They also check respiration and pulse, change bandages, and assist with exercises. Aides that work at agencies that get funding from Medicare or Medicaid need training to pass a competency evaluation. They also need to be certified by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, which requires 75 hours of training and passing a written exam. The median salary for this job is $52,000 a year according to Neuvoo.com
Media Equipment Manager
A media equipment manager sets up and handles sound equipment, cameras, and other media gadgets. A high school diploma is required. But the rest of the training comes from on-the-job experience. A knowledgeable person in this field can earn about $59,040 annually and more if they join large projects.
Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
A transportation, storage, and distribution manager is in charge of planning, directing and coordination the proper storage and distribution of goods. A high school diploma and a minimum of five years of experience working in this field is required. It's not too shabby, if you consider that the average annual salary is around $92,460 and up.
Immigration and Customs Inspector
An immigration and customs inspector is a great way to land a government job with only a high school diploma. These inspectors protect the United States borders by working with law enforcement and freight handlers and provide an annual salary of around $55,000 to $84,000 according to Recruiter.com
Customer Service Representative
A customer service representative requires a great deal of patience, and the ability to speak in a clear, friendly manner to customers on the phone while working on a computer. An experienced representative can earn from $21,015 to $44,679 annually, according to a report on Payscale.
Hairdressers need a high school diploma and a cosmetology license from a state-approved cosmetology school or barber. But the programs last about 9 months before the licensing exam and they're actually affordable. After that, they can clean, cut, color and style and earn about $24,850 annually if they're working at a salon. But savvy entrepreneurial hairdressers who own their salon can make over $80,000 a year and more.
Advertising agencies, retailers, websites and even newspapers are constantly on the lookout for a good graphic designer. A college degree isn’t always required as long as the candidate has experience, passion, tons of creativity, and a badass portfolio. Graphic designers can earn an annual pay of around $50,000. But freelancers who outsource their work and focus on acquiring clients can double those digits quite easily.
Gaming managers monitor casinos to ensure that players and employees adhere to all of the rules and that all payouts are done correctly. The hours are always in flux, but the hourly wage is about $40.99 and the position doesn’t require a college degree. Annually, a gaming manager can earn about $74,700.
Boilermakers are in charge of assembling, installing, and repairing boilers and other containers that hold gases and liquids. A high school diploma is required but the individual will learn through an apprenticeship that provides on-the-job training., leading to a $62,060 average annual salary.
Working as a postmaster for the United States postal service requires delegating responsibilities to other workers and provide administrative and support services. A high school diploma and on-the-job training is the only requirement for this government job which provides $71,670 annually.
Massage therapists must undergo 500 hours of training or more from a program at a college or vocational school to get their state-required license. Other requirements vary from state to state. From there, a therapist can help ease the tension from people’s bodies and earn an annual salary of about $40,000, or earn more if they have a select group of clients.
A celebrity bodyguard doesn’t need a fancy degree to protect Hollywood royalty. But they will need to be flexible with their hours and look very fit and muscular to keep their charges safe. On average, a bodyguard can make a minimum of $55,000 annually or even $180,000 a year and more depending on the celebrity, location, or level of danger.
A phlebotomist needs to complete a certificate program and acquire a professional certification from a technical school or community college. This takes less than a year. And as long as they’re not squeamish about blood, they can draw blood in a doctor’s office or work at donation centers for $33,670 annually.