The Top 11 Highest-Paying Jobs Without a Degree Want to get a new job but don't have time to finish a degree? Check out the highest-paying jobs without a degree to narrow down your job search.

By Entrepreneur Staff

Everyone wants to make more money, but not everyone has the time to commit to a full college program to acquire another degree. Fortunately, some of the most lucrative jobs don't require a degree in any field or concentration.

Read on to discover the highest-paying jobs without a degree to know where to focus your professional development efforts.

1. Commercial pilot

Commercial pilots are fairly similar to "normal" aviators, with one big difference: they don't work for the major airlines. Instead, commercial pilots work for private individuals, like well-off businesspeople, as well as for smaller companies. As a result, they don't need to have bachelor's degrees in aviation or aeronautical science.

Therefore, you can become a commercial pilot with just on-the-job training and your pilot's license. Of course, keep in mind that a pilot's license usually takes a few years to acquire, even if you study full-time. That said, this could be a satisfying career opportunity if you don't have a lot holding you down at home, and you might appreciate the opportunity to travel frequently.

Commercial pilots usually make about $135,000 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Although a bachelor's college degree isn't needed, an associate degree often makes you a more competitive candidate.

2. Police officer

Police officers oftentimes have bachelor's degrees in criminal justice or similar majors, but they aren't legally required to. In fact, you can become a police officer, a detective and similar professionals without any college education whatsoever.

All you need to do is pass the police academy entrance exam for your state. These entrance exams typically require you to have a high school education. Once you pass that, you'll complete police training, which can take anywhere from six months to a year or two, depending on state requirements.

Applicants are supposed to learn everything needed to be a successful police officer in this on-the-job training program.

Once you become a police officer, you'll likely initially earn a decent salary with the potential to increase your pay the longer you stay on the force. Most police officers earn about $66,000 a year.

Related: 8 Great Ways to Make Money Without a Degree

3. Executive assistant

Executive assistants are trained professional aides for business people, chief executives and other professionals. For example, a CEO may have an executive assistant to:

  • Organize meetings.
  • Make contact with other executives.
  • Keep track of the CEO's schedule.
  • Take appointment requests.
  • Organize the CEO's calendar.

Overall, this is an attractive entry-level position with a fair possibility for job growth. Annual salary starts off reasonable but has the potential for higher growth with a certificate program or some other formal education.

Think of executive assistants as personal aids for individuals. Executive assistants are excellent communicators and organizers who have a full grasp of time management. Many executive assistants make good salaries, averaging out to about $40,000, all without a four-year degree.

4. Flight attendant

Flight attendants check on passengers, serve food and beverages and clean aircraft cabins in between flights. They provide the majority of customer services to flight passengers for the big airlines. One perk of this job is that, aside from not requiring a degree, flight attendants get to travel around the world practically for free, plus they often get other company-related perks.

Flight attendants have to work relatively long hours since they have to travel to and from airports, plus be away from home all the time. Still, they generally make excellent salaries for not having any education requirements beyond a high school diploma. There's mostly no degree requirement for this hands-on work, and it's in high demand.

The average salary of a flight attendant is $61,000.

Related: Is That High-Paying Job Really Worth It?

5. Electrician

Many trades are particularly hurting for young professionals, including electricians. Becoming an electrician could be a great job if you want to earn money without having to get a degree. Instead, you'd likely go to trade school for one to two years and get extensive on-the-job experience before working as a licensed electrician in your area.

Electricians set up power lines, perform maintenance work and repair electrical appliances and power lines for residential and commercial areas like. Many electricians love the job because they get to do something different every day, and their skill sets are highly in demand. Once you know what it takes to be an electrician, you could possibly get a job practically anywhere in the world, opening up additional life flexibility.

The median salary for an electrician is $60,000.

6. Plumber

Similar to electrician, the profession of a plumber is very high paying for not requiring a bachelor's degree or any degree, for that matter. Most candidates only need two years of experience and on-the-job training, and then you can earn your plumber's license from a trade school or a private company. Technical school doesn't charge high student loans, either.

In either case, plumbers perform valuable work at residences and business locations, repairing plumbing systems, fixing errors and performing regular maintenance. Plumbers typically enjoy wonderful job security, as almost everyone needs these professionals no matter what technology comes around the corner in the future.

Furthermore, once you acquire enough skills and expertise in this industry, you can potentially open up your own plumbing company if you wish to focus more on the business side of things. The average plumber makes about $60,000 a year.

Related: A Complete Guide to the Highest-Paying Jobs, Companies, Freelance Jobs and More

7. Brickmason

Brickmasons are a subset of the construction contractor that focus on creating bricks and other structural stones to construct, polish and maintain buildings for residences and commercial enterprises. They make and lay bricks but also focus on making structures that are aesthetically pleasing and functional for their needs. In this way, they combine bricklaying skills with architectural skills.

Brickmasons require a high school diploma as well as completion of an on-the-job apprenticeship program. However, this is not the same requirement as a degree. Brickmasons usually earn very decent salaries for the education required to succeed, about $48,000 a year.

8. Wind turbine technician

With the increased focus on renewable energy, wind turbine technicians are needed more than ever. These licensed mechanical professionals build, maintain and repair wind turbines for cities. This job can be somewhat dangerous, as you have to be comfortable with heights. But if you complete the on-the-job training program, you can potentially earn a fantastic salary in as little as two years.

The average wind turbine technician makes $56,000 a year.

Related: 50 of the Best Work from Home Jobs That Pay Well in 2023

9. Firefighter

Firefighters also earn excellent salaries in exchange for risking their lives in some situations. Firefighters have to be very physically fit and complete about two years of training before they are licensed.

Once they finish the training, they often have superb job security and can take pride in the fact that their job is very necessary. They save people from burning buildings and help to put out fires all the time.

Firefighters make about $51,000 a year.

10. Computer support specialist

If you have a mind for information technology and want to earn more, faster, consider becoming a computer support specialist. Computer support specialists solve computer and technical problems for clients, including business customers. They need some knowledge of computers and computer science but don't need a full degree in a major in order to qualify. Many computer support specialists make about $34,000 per year.

Related: The 30 Best High-Paying Jobs of the Future

11. Real estate agent

Real estate agents have a huge potential for profit, depending on the market and their personal expertise in marketing and communication. Real estate agents work for real estate agencies or realtors in most cases, earning their licenses to showcase and sell properties to homebuyers.

Real estate agents need to have a mind for bartering and negotiation, and they are responsible for hustling to get great deals. The most successful real estate agents make a truly astounding amount of money, oftentimes well over six figures. Real estate agents also work closely with other professionals in this industry, like contractors, salespeople, etc.

The average real estate agent makes $49,000 a year.

There are many great opportunities

Ultimately, any of these jobs could be top-notch choices if you want to make more money without having to acquire a degree. Be sure to do more research and figure out what each job needs before applying to open positions.

Check out Entrepreneur's other guides and resources for more information on this topic.

Entrepreneur Staff

Entrepreneur Staff


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