If school is not your thing or you want to start working right away, there are plenty of options! Many people have successful careers without a bachelor’s degree in a wide variety of fields. There are quite several positions where employers tend to evaluate a person’s talents and work ethic instead of their formal education.
Many of these options involve some form of on-the-job training, but a 4-year college degree is not required. Whether you prefer a job that’s related to technology, construction, medicine, or another industry, this guide can help you choose a rewarding career where you make a lot of money without having a degree!
1. Flight Attendant
This position is ideal for those who love to travel and interact with people. The only requirement is a high school diploma and a modest amount of on-the-job training, including certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. If you don’t mind being away from home for most of the year and working an intense schedule, this job is perfect for you!
Having experience related to being a flight attendant can help you get hired, so working in a hospitality environment like a restaurant or hotel before pursuing this career can give you an advantage. The median salary for flight attendants is $48,500.
2. Nuclear Power Reactor Operator
Working with nuclear power can be dangerous, which is why this is one of the highest paying jobs for those without a degree. Operating and controlling nuclear reactors requires workers to be meticulous and excellent at troubleshooting. It’s imperative to follow protocol diligently and be comfortable working in high-pressure situations. Working in a power plant can help you prepare to be a nuclear power reactor operator.
Along with a high school diploma, operators need on-the-job training and licensing through the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. This field is competitive, with around 260 new jobs opening each year, you can expect to make an average of $91,370 annually in this field.
3. Real Estate Agent
For a career with a lot of variety and room for growth, become a real estate agent. In addition to a high school diploma, you’ll need to take training courses, pass an exam, and become licensed to sell homes in your state. Many states require new agents to work under a broker for six months to a year to expand their portfolio and gain experience.
The real estate business is excellent for those looking to be their own boss and have a flexible schedule. The average yearly salary of real estate agents is $46,410, but if you sell high-value property, that number will steadily rise.
4. Elevator Installer and Repair Technician
Elevator installers and repair techs are in demand, and the need for them is growing at a rate faster than most jobs in the United States. In this position, techs install and repair elevators, escalators, chair lifts, moving walkways, and more. After graduating from high school, elevator technicians are required to complete a 4-year apprenticeship to become licensed. In addition, on-going training is typical for this industry.
The average salary for installers is around $79,480, but because repairers are required to know about electricity, hydraulics, and electronics, they tend to make more. Be prepared as this job is extremely physical and demands much stamina. Many techs are also required to be on call for emergency repairs.
5. Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator
Operating rail switches, rerouting train cars, and using hand signals to communicate with engineers are the main tasks assigned to railroad brake, signal and switch operators. The ideal candidate for this position should be quick on their feet, pays attention, and can communicate well. Having knowledge of public safety, customer service, and transportation are all recommended.
Many operators use a variety of software for route mapping, electronic train management, and time tracking. A high school diploma or GED and little to no on-the-job training are the requirements for operators. On average, operators make $57,260 annually. Currently, there are 19,300 railroad brake, signal, and switch operators working in the United States.
6. Nuclear Monitoring Technician
Because this job involves a lot of data analysis, an associate’s degree is required, as well as on-the-job training. Nuclear monitoring technicians assist engineers by monitoring experiments and observing atomic radiation levels. The main goal of this job is to minimize toxic exposure to radiation. Site visits are rare, with most of this job happening in an office. Decontaminating objects and setting up equipment for use by engineers is another facet of this position.
Having experience in military or healthcare related to the nuclear field is a plus. Those who enjoy problem-solving and working in a hands-on environment are a great fit for this industry. The average yearly salary for a nuclear monitoring technician is $79,140.
7. Network Systems Administrator
With just an associate’s degree or some level of post-secondary education, you can be a network systems administrator! Computer networks are valuable to almost every business, so having someone to take care of them is essential. Network systems administrators are responsible for installing and repairing hardware and software, maintaining system security, and optimizing system performance.
Other aspects of this job include training users and managing a business’ desktop and mobile equipment as well as servers. Also, systems administrators oversee computer support specialists and offer technical support to computer users. Expect to make around $79,700 working as a network systems administrator.
8. Engineering Technician
Becoming an engineering technician in the electrical, mechanical, or civil fields only requires an associate’s degree. Mechanical engineering techs primarily assist with the development of industrial machines and engines. Electrical engineering technicians help to create, experiment with, and repair electrical equipment. Civil engineering techs are involved with the design of highways, bridges, and other necessary infrastructure.
Being strong in math, science, and data analysis is advantageous for all three engineering areas. These industries are experiencing a lot of job growth, so they are ideal fields to get into right now. Electrical techs make an average of $62,190, mechanical techs make $54,480, and civil techs make around $49,980.
9. IT or Computer Support Specialist
Anyone can be a computer support specialist! It’s a great job option for those who keep up with the latest technology and have worked with the many different operating systems on the market. Regular on-the-job training is required to keep up with the newest technology, but no formal degree is necessary. As an IT specialist, you’ll help a company’s employees with understanding, using, and troubleshooting their computers.
Being able to solve problems quickly, maintain patience, and interact with people is essential for an IT specialist. Some specialists work unusual schedules like nights and weekends, depending on a company’s operating hours. IT support techs make an average annual salary of $52,160.
As long as you’re 18 years or older and have a high school diploma or GED, you can train to become an electrician. A four to five-year apprenticeship is necessary before becoming licensed, with the apprentice working 40 hour work weeks with a licensed electrician. Electricians wire buildings for power, perform general electrical maintenance and troubleshoot electrical issues.
More skills an electrician needs involve reading blueprints, working well with people, and being comfortable with a physical job. By 2026, the electrician job market is expected to grow nearly 10%! The average annual salary for electricians in the US is $52,750.
11. Funeral Service Manager
The funeral services industry may seem morbid, but it’s actually highly rewarding. You’ll get to help people properly celebrate the lives of their loved ones and help them through their grief. Typical tasks associated with this job include staffing, marketing, preparing for funeral services, and offering counsel. The funeral service manager is also required to file death certificates and fill out other legal documents for the deceased.
An associate’s degree, along with a one to a three-year internship, is required to be a funeral service manager. You must also pass a state and national board exam. Funeral service managers make an average of $78,040 per year.
12. Postal Service Mail Sorter and Processor
Preparing mail for distribution is an important job that doesn’t require any post-secondary education. In addition to sorting mail, you will also be examining mail, sorting odd-shaped parcels by hand, and keeping shipment records. Sorters operate a wide variety of equipment, including computer scanners, addressographs, and barcode sorters. This job also has room for growth with supervisors being tasked to monitor and train new personnel.
The essential skills for a mail sorter are problem-solving, communication, and paying attention to detail. Loading large sacks of mail is common, so be prepared for a physical job. Most mail sorters and processors make $57,260 each year.
13. Web Developer
Are you looking to get into an industry that’s continually growing and adapting to new technology? Become a web developer! As long as you have some knowledge of programming and a high school diploma or AA, you can get a great job in web development. Aspects of this job include building websites and applications, maintaining them, and developing content for the web.
Carpentry is an excellent option for those who like to work with their hands and on their own time. Many carpenters work independently so they can have their own client base and set their own schedule. With a high school diploma or GED, carpenters are required to complete a four-year apprenticeship. Aspiring carpenters will complete 144 hours of technical training and 2000 hours of practical training in the field each year of their learning. During the apprenticeship, you will learn not only the skills of the trade but also how to use construction tools and how to avoid becoming injured on the job.
Carpenters make an average of $43,600 every year. Because the business of carpentry is continuously fluctuating, specializing in renovation or infrastructure can help keep your business consistent.
15. Transportation Inspector
The main job of a transportation inspector is to ensure that vehicles on the road meet safety regulations. Other tasks include checking for illegal car modifications, ensuring that vehicle emissions abide to meet environmental standards and inspecting cars after repairs. On-the-job training is the only education needed, along with a high school diploma or GED.
Most of the time, a vehicle inspector will work on behalf of a government agency or car dealer. This job is ideal for those who like practical work as well as working outside. Some physical strength may be required to lift equipment or operate a vehicle. The average annual salary for a transportation inspector is $72,220.
16. HVAC Mechanic
Depending on your area’s climate, an HVAC mechanic can be quite busy throughout the year. HVAC mechanics install and repair air conditioning and heating units in homes and businesses. They are often on call for emergency repairs and specialize in safety compliance. Companies within this industry are looking for people with a high school diploma, HVAC apprenticeship, and one or more years of on-the-job training.
Being an HVAC mechanic is an extremely physical job and requires knowledge of HVAC protocols and OSHA codes. Working after hours, on weekends and holidays is common as well. The average HVAC mechanic brings home $45,910 per year.
17. Transportation/Storage/Distribution Manager
This position is all about monitoring the safety and efficiency of goods being sent all around the world. The manager works hard to analyze costs, maintain budgets, and comply with government safety regulations. Negotiating with equipment dealers and transportation workers to keep costs down is a significant part of this job. Learning how to use supply management software is another aspect of being a transportation/storage/distribution manager.
A high school diploma and at least five years of working in a related field like logistics or supply chain operations are required to be a transportation/storage/distribution manager. The average salary for this position is $89,190.
18. Executive Administrative Assistant
Among office administration staff, those who work as executive assistants stand out because they are tasked with supporting high-level executives and CEOs. They are considered senior office staff, and part of their responsibility is overseeing the rest of the office’s support staff and overseeing their work. Executive assistants are put in charge of major projects that can affect the success of the company.
Most executive assistant jobs require just a high school diploma, but having business experience or training helps. Duties involved with this position include bookkeeping, typing, client relations, and event planning. The average executive administrative assistant makes $57,410 a year.
Plumbers are skilled at installing and repairing pipes in homes and businesses. They work with supplying water and gas and removing waste from homes via plumbing systems. Equipment testing, clearing drains, troubleshooting issues, and making repairs are the most common duties of a plumber.
With an average annual salary of $51,450, plumbing is a lucrative career. A high school diploma or GED is necessary as well as an apprenticeship sponsored by an employer or trade union. Most apprenticeships last four to five years and involve more than 2000 hours of on the job training. Almost all states require plumbers to be licensed, and some require you to pass an exam.
20. Commercial Pilot
If you love to fly, consider becoming a commercial pilot! Commercial pilots fly tour charters, participate in medical evacuations, and help with firefighting and other unscheduled flight activities. They also help with loading and unloading luggage, scheduling flights, and ordering airplane maintenance. A commercial pilot can also fly helicopters, balloons, gyroplanes, and airships.
In addition to a high school diploma, a commercial pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration is required to become a commercial pilot. The average commercial pilot earns $105,720 per year. The industry is growing rapidly, and the need for pilots is increasing as the FAA permits pilots to fly no more than 100 hours per month.
21. Detective/Criminal Investigator
While an associate’s degree or formal training is helpful, it’s not required to become a detective. Investigators attend a training academy before going out into the field. Duties include examining a crime scene, interviewing witnesses and interrogating perpetrators. It’s common for detectives to specialize in one area of crime like fraud or homicide. They must work on a case from when it’s opened until an arrest, and a trial is complete, or it’s closed.
Being a detective is an intense but rewarding career. Be prepared to work long, odd hours, and frequently be on call. On average, detectives make $78,120 a year.
22. Registered Nurse
Nurses are an essential part of the medical field, and becoming one requires an associate’s degree and a nursing license. Registered nurse duties include creating a patient care plan, administering medications, ordering tests, and evaluating patients’ needs. They must have compassion, empathy, and top-notch bedside manner with their patients.
Many nurses choose to specialize in one area of medicine like oncology, pediatrics, or critical care. Nurses are the key to monitoring a patient’s health and evaluating their needs. Besides working in hospitals, nurses are employed in schools, the military, and outpatient clinics. The median salary for a registered nurse is $68,450.
23. Air Traffic Controller
Although being an aircraft controller is lucrative, it’s also a highly competitive industry to break into. Along with on-the-job training, you’ll need an associate’s degree from the Air Traffic Collegiate Training Initiative. Air traffic controllers are also required to pass Federal Aviation Administration exams.
Duties for this position include ensuring the safe movement of planes on the ground and in the air, giving takeoff and landing instructions and controlling ground traffic on the runways. Safety and training are essential to being an air traffic controller because this job is responsible for maintaining the security of many passengers each flight. The average air traffic controller salary is $122,410.
24. Nuclear Medicine Technologists
For those interested in working in the imaging side of the medical field, consider becoming a nuclear medicine technologist. Tasks associated with this job include preparing radioactive drugs for imaging, utilizing imaging equipment, and researching radioactive drugs. Standard tests for this job include PET scans and SPECT scans.
To become a nuclear medicine technologist, you’ll need an associate’s degree from an accredited program. Having a degree in a different health-related field and completing a 12-month atomic medicine technology program can also help you qualify. Check to see if your state requires you to pass an exam before working. The average salary for this industry is $75,660.
25. Fire and Arson Investigator
Fire investigators are employed by local governments to examine incidents of fire to see if arson or an accident caused them. Specially trained investigators work hard to determine the cause of the flames, assist in fire prevention, and bring perpetrators to justice. Duties of fire investigators include collecting evidence, writing reports, and arresting suspects.
Typically, fire investigators work for state law enforcement agencies and are sworn officers. A 4-year college degree is unnecessary, but all investigators must attend a police academy. Having a background in criminal justice, fire science, or criminology is helpful as well. The fire investigator median salary is $95,330.
26. Paralegal/Legal Assistant
Trained to assist attorneys with the delivery of legal services, paralegals are an essential part of the legal system. Paralegals work in a wide variety of environments, including law firms, the government, and corporations. No matter where they work, they must always be supervised by a licensed attorney. They are not allowed to practice law; their primary purpose is to free up a lawyer’s time so they can focus on being in court and advising clients.
On average, paralegals make $49,500 each year. Main duties of this position involve contributing to trial preparation, supporting clients behind the scenes of the courtroom, organizing documents and filing documents with state and federal courts.
27. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Also known as an ultrasound technician, this job involves operating medical equipment designed to use high-frequency sound waves to take images of internal organs. The diagnostic medical sonographer works closely with doctors and their patients. Specialty areas for this industry include obstetrics, abdominal, cardiac, and vascular sonography. The sonographer is responsible for preparing the exam room, administering the exam, and working with physicians on a patient’s care.
Those already working in a related healthcare area can take a one-year training course to become a certified sonographer. If not, earning an associate’s degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography is an option. The median annual salary for a diagnostic medical sonographer is $55,270.
28. Makeup Artist
For a fun, creative job, consider becoming a makeup artist! This career requires you to attend cosmetology school for between several months and a year. Many makeup artists also specialize in hair and wig styling. You can choose to do makeup for everyday clients, movies, or stage productions. Other skills that are useful for becoming a makeup artist include an aptitude for visual arts, time management skills, and the ability to communicate with clients.
Working as a makeup artist is ideal for self-starters who want to work for themselves. Makeup artists can work in retail stores, on the set of news programs, at weddings and many other locations. For makeup artists today, the average salary is $59,300.
29. Radiation Therapist
Radiation therapists administer high doses of radiation to patients with cancerous growths. Primarily, radiation therapists work in hospitals, cancer treatment centers, and doctor’s offices. They are a vital part of a cancer treatment team and work alongside doctors, nurses, and medical imaging professionals. Radiation differs from chemotherapy because it’s a localized treatment that is only applied to certain parts of the body. The primary purpose of radiation therapy is to damage cancer cells without affecting surrounding healthy tissue.
Requirements for this job are an associate’s degree, certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists, and state licensing. On average, radiation therapists make $80,160 a year.
30. Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists are an integral part of a dentist’s office. They are responsible for cleaning teeth, examining the mouth for damage, gingivitis and other periodontal diseases. Hygienists are also tasked with teaching patients about good oral health practices. Main tasks for hygienists include removing stains and plaques, applying sealants, taking x-rays, and administering local anesthetics. It’s important for dental hygienists to have compassion, excellent interpersonal skills, and manual dexterity.
The most common education for dental hygienists is an associate’s degree from an accredited dental hygiene school. You’ll also need to pass a licensing exam from the dental board in your state. The average salary for a dental hygienist is $72,190.