This list of high-paying jobs without college degrees has been compiled using reliable occupational employment statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With most of these jobs having a mean annual salary of more than $70,000 and some earning up to $170,000 per year, it’s a clear indication that one can still find a job with high earning potential even without a college degree.
These jobs are skills-based and focus more on the skills one has in place of a university education.
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High-paying jobs without college degrees
High-paying jobs without college degrees include commercial pilots, air traffic controllers, radiation therapists, elevator & escalator installers & repairers, dental hygienists, power plant operators, registered nurses, diagnostic medical sonographers, and MRI technologists.
1. Commercial Pilots
Commercial pilots fly aircraft in non-scheduled air-carrier routes and helicopter trips and require at least a high school diploma or its equivalent along with a commercial pilot’s license from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
One must undergo flight school training and pass multiple exams before being cleared to fly planes or helicopters. The mean annual salary for commercial pilots is $102,870, with some earning more than $179,440 a year.
2. Air Traffic Controllers
Air Traffic Control is one of the best-paying jobs without a college degree. It’s a very intense and stressful profession that requires you to be alert at all times. Air traffic controllers monitor and direct aircraft loaded with people and/or cargo to land safely.
Air traffic controllers go through intense, rigorous, and lengthy training that will hone their skills to work in a highly stressful and demanding environment. The mean annual salary for air traffic controllers is $120,140, with some earning as high as $176,320 a year.
3. Radiation Therapists
Radiation therapists mainly work in cancer treatment centers, providing patients with radiation treatments, observing patients after the treatments, and documenting all treatment sessions. It is one of the best-paying healthcare jobs in the United States, but you don’t necessarily need to have a university degree.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, radiation therapists earn a mean annual salary of $91,620 and $44.05 per hour. The bureau also estimates there will be 18,600 more jobs in this field by 2028, representing a 9% growth rate.
4. Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers
Elevator installation and repair is one of the high-paying jobs without college degrees in the U.S. Elevator installers and repairers install, fix, and maintain elevators, escalators, and moving walkways. All you need to work in this job is a high school diploma or its equivalent.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field will experience a 10% job growth between 2018 and 2028, with more than 2,800 new jobs being created. Elevator installers and repairers’ mean annual salary is $83,250 with the highest-paid earning up to $124,150 a year.
5. Nuclear Technicians
For one to become a nuclear technician, they have to undergo an intense training program that involves learning how to operate different nuclear plant equipment, monitor radiation levels and adjust controls as well as implement emergency procedures when necessary.
Nuclear technicians work in nuclear plants, and although the demand for nuclear technicians is on a decline, one can earn a mean annual salary of $$82,710 while the highest earners get up to $117,480 a year.
6. Detectives and Criminal Investigators
Detectives and criminal investigators help law enforcement personnel by collecting evidence of possible crimes and gathering facts that will help track down and arrest crime suspects.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, detectives and criminal investigators earn a mean annual salary of $86,030 with the top earners earning up to $139,180 a year.
7. Power Distributors and Dispatchers
Power distribution and dispatch is another well-paying job without a college degree or education. Power distributors and dispatchers coordinate, regulate, and distribute electricity or steam. It requires a high school diploma or its equivalent.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, power distributors and dispatchers earn a mean annual income of $88,910, with some earning as high as $122,380 a year.
8. Postmasters and Mail Superintendents
Without the need for even a high school diploma, this happens to be one of the well-paying jobs without a college degree. Postmasters and mail superintendents plan, direct and coordinate operative, administrative, management, and supportive services of a post office.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage is $78,220, with the highest-earning employees getting more than $94,880 a year.
9. Dental Hygienists
Dental hygienists examine patients’ oral hygiene problems and help maintain health records. They also advise patients on disease prevention and oral hygiene. In some instances, dental hygienists can provide advanced care such as administering topical anesthesia or providing fluoride treatment.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that dental hygienists earn a mean annual salary of $77,230 with the highest earners earning more than $103,340 a year.
10. First-Line Supervisors of Firefighting and Prevention Workers
First-Line Supervisors of Firefighting and Prevention Workers are tasked with coordinating and supervising the actions of individuals engaged in fire fighting, fire prevention, and blaze control.
This job doesn’t require one to have a college or university degree. The mean annual salary for this job title is $82,010 while the top earners enjoy a salary of up to $126,720 a year.
11. Nuclear Medicine Technologists
One requires an associate’s degree to work as a nuclear medicine technologist. It involves preparing, administering, and measuring radioactive isotopes in therapeutic, diagnostic, and tracer studies using radioisotope equipment.
They subject patients to radiation and also execute blood volume, fat absorption, and red cell survival studies following standard laboratory procedures. Nuclear medicine technologists earn a mean annual salary of 80,240 with the highest earners earning more than $105,690 a year.
12. Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers
While they may not stand out as flashy and impressive jobs for the millennials, farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers earn a mean annual salary of $80,360 with the top earners earning in excess of $132,760 a year.
Their job description includes planning, directing, and coordinating the management and operation of farms, ranches, greenhouses, timber tracts, nurseries, aquacultural operations, and other agricultural establishments.
13. Power Plant Operators
Power plant operators control, operate and maintain machinery used to generate electric power. They include auxiliary equipment operators but not nuclear power reactor operators.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, power plant operators earn a mean annual salary of $79,370 with the highest-paid personnel earning $108,380 per year.
14. Registered Nurses
Registered nurses administer nursing care to sick, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients. They also help develop and implement nursing care plans. One doesn’t need a university degree to become a registered nurse but must graduate from a nursing program and meet the requirements outlined by a licensing body.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses earn a mean annual salary of $77,460 while the top-earning nurses make up to $111,220 a year.
15. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers
Diagnostic medical sonographers use specialized equipment to produce ultrasonic recordings, including images, used to assess and diagnose various medical conditions. They make a mean annual salary of $75,780 with the best-paid earning as high as $102,060 a year.
16. MRI Technologists
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists operate MRI scanners and monitor patient safety and comfort while ensuring the scanners produce quality images. They can also interview patients, explain MRI procedures, administer gadolinium contrast dosage, and position the patient on the examining table.
MRI technologists earn a mean annual salary of $74,270 with the highest-paid earning more than $101,580 a year.
17. Petroleum Pump System Operators
Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators, and gaugers operate petroleum refining or processing units. One can specialize in controlling manifold and pumping systems or regulating oil flow into pipelines or testing and gauging oil in storage tanks.
Their mean annual salary is $73,830 with the best-paid operators earning as high as $100,070 a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
These are just a few of the high-paying jobs without college degrees in the U.S. There are hundreds of jobs available for college dropouts that can earn you more than $100,000 a year.