18 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree

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highest paying jobs without a degree College is crazy expensive. And, I know many people who will tell you how their student loans haunt them later on.

Besides cost, another reason many people don’t go to college is that it doesn’t fit them.

In fact, Billionaire Peter Thiel who co-founded PayPal with Elon Musk, and funded tech startups like Facebook, Yelp, and Spotify is paying teens $100,000 to skip college altogether.

Other times, life may just have gotten in the way. I have a friend who had to skip college to take care of his dad who got severely ill. Since his dad was the family’s breadwinner, he had to start working to support his younger siblings instead of going to college.

Whatever the case may be, the good news is that a college degree is not the be all and end all of things. In fact, if you look around, you’ll see a lot of very successful people who never graduated or even attended college.

But, that didn’t stop them from pursuing their dreams.

So, if you’re looking for work that pays well, here are the best high paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.


Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree You Can Start Now

1. Blogger

Blogging continues to gain in popularity because it gives you the ability to live your life the way you want.

  • You get to set your own schedule
  • You’ll be able to work from home
  • You can travel all the time
  • Be able to meet lots of people and experience different things
  • And, you can make a full-time job, or even a 6-figure income from it

It’s amazing because it gives you an alternative to the standard 9 to 5 job.

This gives you somewhere else to turn to if you don’t like spending all your time away from your kids, hate your job, are hitting a ceiling in terms of your career potential or just tired of doing something you don’t really enjoy.

The best part about blogging is that a lot of bloggers make a full-time income doing it. There are also many 6-figure bloggers around. And, a smaller group of 7-figure bloggers.

So, as far as earning potential goes, the sky’s the limit.

2. YouTuber

Not a fan of writing but prefer talking in front on a camera instead? Then try being a YouTuber or Vlogger.

Basically, you make money by creating videos that you post on YouTube or your Vlog. You can earn via advertisements based on how many people watch your videos.

If you have a healthy following, brands may also approach you to promote their products. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with them and earn commission for every sale you make.

As far as YouTube goes, you earn about $1 for every 1,000 views. The actual figure varies depending on a few factors including what topic your video is about and how many subscribers you have.

That means if one video goes viral and receives 1,000,000 views, you make $1,000 just from that one video.

3. Freelance Writer

Not many know this, but freelance writing is a very lucrative job. In the past, you needed contacts in the industry just to get work as a freelance writer.

But, that’s not the case anymore.

Thanks to the internet, blogging, and websites, everyone needs good, high-quality content. This can be in the form of how to articles, news bits, research reports or e-commerce product descriptions. All of which are written by writers.

And for individuals or companies who don’t have their own in-house writing team or don’t have time to do it themselves, freelance writers are the who they turn to.

As a freelance writer, you can earn anywhere from $30 to $500 for a 1,000-word article. Some firms even pay over $1,000 for them, although these are the exception rather than the rule.

If you’re good at it, and you have a consistent source of clients, you’ll be able to easily make a full-time job just from freelance writing.

In fact, I know a number of them who consistently make over $100,000 a year doing this. And, a smaller handful making between $200,000 to $250,000 freelance writing as well.

4. Proofreader

If you don’t like writing but are good with attention to detail, then take a good look at proofreading. This is another stay at home job where you don’t need a college degree to excel in.

You do need to have a good grasp of written English. This includes checking for typos, grammar, spelling and word construction.

Your job is to proofread and correct any errors that may be found in a given article. This ensures that the final copy doesn’t have typographical mistakes and sounds correct.

Proofreading isn’t as lucrative as freelance writing simply because not everyone needs or hires a proofread like they do a writer.

But, you can still make a nice full-time income from it. I know some proofreaders who make over $50,000 a year doing so.

And, they get to have a lot of free time to spend with their family and travel at the same time.

5. Computer Programmer

Thanks to the internet, social media, apps and digital devices, computer programmers are well in demand. This is a skill that you need to know if you want to create any type of software.

As such, companies like Facebook and Google hire a lot of programmers whom they call software engineers.

For your efforts, you can expect an annual income of $87,530. This can go up significantly depending on where you live, what programming languages you know and what expertise you have.

Python, Java, and Ruby are among the most in-demand languages to know. They also offer the highest pay.

When it comes to location, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose are the highest paying cities. Not coincidentally, it is around these areas where you’ll find the headquarters of tech titans like Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple.

6. Web Developers

Another field that’s related to computer programming that doesn’t require a college degree is web development. It’s somewhat similar yet, very different.

Web developers are focused on everything website related. This includes the layout, design, and functionality of the pages you see on the internet.

It also means you don’t need to do as much programming. In fact, some web development jobs don’t require any coding at all.

Being a web developer is a very fruitful career since it pays an average of $76,075 per year according to the job site Indeed.

And, if you’re good enough at what you do or lucky enough to get there, you may end up with some of the big names in tech including Apple and Amazon which are among the best when it comes to paying their employees.

Web developers at Apple earn an average of $133,496 per year. Amazon is not far behind compensating their web development team members an annual median income of $105,620.

If you prefer dealing with data and less tech, try financial institutions instead. Finance invests heavily on technology to store all their data. They also need web developers to maintain their online banking systems.

Among the best paying firms is Wells Fargo which pays $103,391 per year.

7. Computer Support Specialist

Probably one of the less glamorous jobs in tech is the support specialist. Because of the nature of the job, you won’t likely be the favorite of customers.

After all, they’ll only call you when they’re having trouble. This often means an angry person on the other line. But, when you’re able to really help them, you’ll be able to turn that frown into a smile which is truly rewarding.

As far as pay goes, it can vary significantly. Some companies pay between $15.90 to $29.90 per hour depending on your specialty.

Typically, jobs related to technical support, IT technician, help desk personnel are on the lower end of the range. Meanwhile network specialists, technical specialists, applications specialists are on the higher end.

That said, if you’re good at your job, you may want to look for companies that pay you an annual salary instead of an hourly rate. This gives you steadier cash flow month in and month out.

Companies in this bracket are also more lucrative as the median annual salary is about $62,340 as of 2017. And, the top quartile of support specialists made $82,000, while the lowest paid 25% averaged $47,530.

As you would expect, states where there are a lot of companies doing computer support for tech and finance-related firms, pay the best. These include Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Washington states.

8. Freelance Photographer

Freelance photography is a fun job that lets you combine your passion and employment. Here, you’ll be able to unleash your creative side while enjoying all the places you work will take you.

Because people like having their photos taken in beautiful and adventurous places, you’ll be able to enjoy nature and scenery that other jobs don’t come with.

As a career, freelance photography is also rewarding providing for an average annual salary of around $47,000 a year.

Plus, there are no qualifications needed. And, you can work from home.

9. Personal Trainer

If you’re into fitness and are good with people, being a personal trainer is a very rewarding job. It lets you stay fit and help others achieve their fitness goals.

Personal trainers can work for themselves doing freelance, start their own businesses or be employed at fitness centers. Each has its perks.

The best part is, you’ll be enjoying what you love doing while earning a living from it. On average, personal trainers make $37,500 a year.

And, you don’t need a college degree to be one. All you need to do is get a certification which isn’t that difficult to obtain.

10. Service Delivery Analyst

Service delivery analysts are the unsung heroes of retailers and e-commerce stores. They’re the people working behind the scenes making sure that you get your package on time.

While they don’t make the deliveries themselves, they do supervise and coordinate the logistics. They analyze the fastest way to get you the items you ordered in the shortest amount of time with high-quality service.

To get to the position, you do need about 3 years of experience in the delivery industry including knowledge of software. And, the reward is an average of $62,500 annual salary.

11. Postmaster and Main Superintendents

When it comes to snail mail and the post office, the people we know best are our postmen and women as well as the employees on the counters.

Supervising all of them are the postmaster and superintendents. They make sure that delivery, customer service, and mail organization is properly handled.

To qualify as one, you do need a high school degree or an equivalent GED. It also does take time to work up the ranks before you’re able to get to the position which pays an average of $74,840 a year.

12. Real Estate Agent/Broker

Unlike some of the high paying jobs on our list, as a real estate agent, you kind of work for yourself. While you are employed by an agency, a lot of what you end up earning really depends on how much sales you make.

After all, that’s the main part of the job.

As a real estate agent, your job is to broker the sales of homes. That is, find a buyer to your seller, or vice versa. And, on each sale, you and the agency you work for earn a hefty commission.

Because homes easily cost 6 figures, that’s a lot of commission for each sale. And, if you’re good at selling high-end lots and homes, you may be able to get the homes that are in the 7-figure range which make your commissions even higher.

Payscale estimates that real estate agents earn about $48,883 a year with the top 10% making over $100,000 annually.

13. Pilot

As kids, many of us dreamed of being firemen, astronauts, and pilots. That’s because they were jobs that let you do cool things.

As a bonus, you get to take home a hefty paycheck as well. According to Payscale.com, pilots average about $100,722 a year. That’s a good chunk of change considering you don’t need to get a college degree to become one.

Pilots do need special training. So, you’ll need to go to aviation school.

As with many of the jobs on our list, the kind of pilot you become can vary considerably.

For one, there’s a hierarchy including being a chief pilot or copilot. You can also end up working for commercial or non-commercial airlines. Plus, there are non-jet and helicopter pilots as well.

The good news is that you can become a pilot for the large commercial airlines like Delta, United, and American. Or, you can try your hand at budget airways like JetBlue and Southwest. In fact, the latter two pay better than Delta and United.

There’s also FedEx and UPS which have their own jets to carry deliveries.

14. Start Your Own Business

If you’re entrepreneurial at heart, you may want to start your own business. This is a bit more daunting than finding a job because you’ll need to figure things out for yourself.

And, in the beginning, you’ll likely have to do everything yourself.

But, if you’re able to pull it off, it can be very rewarding.

Starting your own business gives you unlimited potential. You don’t need any college degree or special education. And, how much you end up earning has no cap.

This is why the richest people in the world are entrepreneurs. Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, and Warren Buffet are just some examples on the top of the Forbes richest list who started their own businesses.

15. Construction Manager

If you have experience in construction, you may want to pursue this career a little further. That’s because construction managers earn one of the highest annual incomes on our list.

On average, they make between $93,589 to $123,657 according to Salary.com. That’s a lot more compared to some other fancier sounding desk jobs.

And, you don’t need a college degree to get there.

As far as the job goes, construction managers oversee the entire work area. They make sure that the project is on time and within budget.

It’s their job to make cost estimates and timetables. They also report on its progress to the client.

Because you manage the entire job site, you’ll need to be able to coordinate with engineers, architects, and other building personnel.

16. Plumber

Plumbers sometimes get a bad rap because of how they’re often portrayed in TV and movies. But, if you’ve ever had waterpipe problems at home, you know it costs a pretty penny to have a plumber fix it.

At some point, you’ve probably spent anywhere from $25 to $40 an hour to have someone fix your leaking pipes or kitchen plumbing.

That’s about how much you can make on an hourly rate.

But, companies also hire plumbers on an annual basis. This will let you get a pay boost that’s more consistent. As of 2019, Salary.com estimates that plumbers earn an average of $55,687 per year. Some plumbers even make over $100,000 annually.

17. Paralegal

Paralegals are an essential part of any law firm. They do a lot of work to help lawyers prepare for court. This includes doing research, sifting through legal documents and organizing files to be presented.

As a paralegal, you will average around $53,743 a year. Although, your exact income will vary depending on the state your work in, years or experiences and field of specialization.

Because the law has so many branches, the pay varies as well. Among the popular areas include corporate, immigration and tax law. But, there are many more fields you can go into as a paralegal.

Some paralegals have Bachelor’s degrees. But, it’s not a requirement. In fact, the most common educational background of paralegals is an Associates’ degree.

18. Optician

Opticians help customers pick out the right eyeglasses for them. This includes the frame design that suits your face. And, the lens that will let you see clearly.

You’ll often find them in eyewear stores when you need to get your reading glasses or lenses fixed.

The best part about being an optician is that it has a very low unemployment rate. Less than 2% of them don’t have work. So, that gives you a really good shot at earning your income year after year.

Also, unlike many other medical fields, this one doesn’t require a medical school diploma or a college degree. All you need to be is a high school graduate and have an associates’ degree or some certifications.

On average, opticians make $45,457, with salaries ranging from a low of $42,000 and a high of $54,817.

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