15 High-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree


Believe it or not, college degrees are not always required to work a high-paying job. You just need to know where to look.

These jobs range from skilled trades like plumbing and electrical work to tech roles like software development and cybersecurity. Other opportunities include becoming an airline pilot, real estate broker, or commercial diver.

With the right skills, experience, and determination, you can snag one of these lucrative gigs and enjoy a fulfilling career without the hefty student loans.


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Skilled electricians are in high demand (it seems like everyone is looking for an electrician, doesn’t it?). With specialized training and certifications, electricians can earn a substantial income. For the entrepreneurial-minded, starting an electrician business can increase the income potential substantially.

From wiring buildings to troubleshooting electrical issues, their expertise is crucial. And at some point in our lives, we’ve all needed their help.

Commercial Pilot

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Commercial pilots need several qualifications to fly airplanes professionally, but typically not a college degree. First and foremost, they must obtain a commercial pilot’s license from the aviation authority in their country, which involves passing rigorous exams and logging a certain number of flight hours.

They also need a medical certificate to be physically fit to fly. Additionally, they typically need to complete specific training programs covering topics such as navigation, aircraft systems, and emergency procedures. Some (but not all) employers also require pilots to have a bachelor’s degree in aviation or a related field.

Good communication skills, decision-making abilities, and the ability to remain calm under pressure are also essential for commercial pilots.

Construction Manager

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Construction managers oversee building projects, coordinating activities from planning to completion. Sometimes, they even get their hands dirty.

Relevant experience and industry knowledge are key, and many professionals in this field earn well over $100,000.


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Plumbers play a vital role in maintaining and repairing plumbing systems. Licensing and hands-on experience are essential, and successful plumbers often enjoy lucrative earnings.

Air Traffic Controller

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Responsible for managing air traffic, air traffic controllers ensure the safe and efficient aircraft movement. Training is intense, but a college degree is not mandatory for this high-paying position.

IT Manager

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Information Technology (IT) managers oversee an organization’s technology systems. Certifications and experience in IT can lead to managerial roles with salaries surpassing $100,000.

Commercial Diver

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Working underwater, commercial divers perform tasks such as underwater welding and inspection. Certification from a recognized diving school is crucial, and this challenging profession offers substantial compensation.

Oil Rig Worker

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Jobs on oil rigs, such as drillers and rig managers, can provide substantial salaries. These roles often require specialized training and experience in the oil and gas industry.

Elevator Installer and Repairer

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Elevator installers and repairers ensure the proper functioning of elevators and escalators. It’s a somewhat dangerous job, which is why salaries tend to be higher. With on-the-job training and relevant certifications, these professionals can earn impressive incomes.

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

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Operating and controlling nuclear reactors demands specialized training and certification. While intense, this career path offers high salaries due to the critical nature of the work.

Executive Chef


Culinary experts can climb the ranks to become executive chefs without a college degree. Experience, creativity, and leadership skills are paramount in this high-pressure but rewarding role.

Power Plant Operator

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Power plant operators manage the generation and distribution of electricity. Specialized training and experience in power plant operations can lead to well-paying positions.

Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Manager

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Coordinating the movement of goods from manufacturers to consumers, these managers oversee logistics and distribution networks. Experience in the field can result in a six-figure salary.


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While police officers often require some formal education, becoming a detective may not necessitate a college degree. Detectives investigate crimes and often climb the ranks based on experience and performance.

Sales Manager

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Sales managers lead sales teams, developing strategies to meet revenue targets. Successful sales experience and leadership skills can propel individuals into high-paying managerial roles.