Career Advice

Fast-Growing, High-Paying Jobs that Do Not Require a Degree

by CareerFitter

man smiles in a work shirt with no college degree career

Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs Requiring No Degree

These are the facts that are challenging the conventional thinking about college degrees:

  • College is now more expensive than ever. The average four-year degree costs $192,000! Many graduates start out their working lives buried by a debt that takes 10-20 years to pay off.
  • By delaying work for several years, you miss out on the most important money-earning and money-saving years of your life. All while you could be gaining valuable skills and professional experience.
  • Some of the most in-demand jobs in the U.S. don’t require a degree.
  • A few rare but amazing companies don’t care if you have a degree; they only care about what you can do. Self-taught knowledge, initiative, and a portfolio that shows what you can do is far more attractive to them than a piece of paper that indicates what you’ve learned.

But you need to know your strengths.

Now, all that said, the reality is you still need a skill, one that will make you employable. The better your skills, the bigger your paycheck. And the bigger your paycheck, the better your quality of life. Money may not be everything, but who doesn’t want to have a reliable car, a comfortable home, or the stability that comes with financial security?

There’s more than one way to increase your skill set and make yourself a valuable asset to potential employers. Consider these examples:

So, if college is not for you, that’s fine! It’s not the tragedy it was once thought to be. You can save yourself time and money by focusing on a career that can be obtained by cultivating the right skills. Still unsure of what you want to do? No problem. Here’s a list of 10 of the highest-paying jobs that could be yours with the right skill set.


  • $60,330 Per Year
  • High school diploma or equivalent

Millwright working on the job

Millwrights are in high demand, a much-needed profession that offers a unique career path and job stability. As a millwright, you’ll be responsible for installing machinery at factories, power plants, and construction sites. You don't need a college degree for this high-paying, hands-on career! To become a millwright, all you need is a high school degree (or equivalent) and an on-the-job apprenticeship.

Let’s Talk Money: As a Millwright, you can make an average annual salary of $60,330. The demand for millwrights is expected to grow by as much as 13% over the next decade in the coming years, thanks to technological advancements and the need for skilled professionals in various industries. This means you'll have plenty of job opportunities to provide you with a stable career.

Things to Consider: Every coin has two sides. As a millwright, you'll work on your feet, often in challenging environments. Tight spaces? You'll ace them. Heights? Consider them conquered. The job can be physically demanding, but that’s also what makes it so exciting! Safety gear and attention to detail will be your best friend.

Subway and Streetcar Operators

  • $81,180 Per Year
  • Moderate-term on-the-job training

Imagine being the captain of an urban ship. Subway and streetcar operators transport hundreds of passengers daily, guiding them through the underground labyrinth of major cities. By becoming a subway and streetcar operator, you drive the city's pulse. Every commute becomes a chance to connect, navigate, and explore the world around you.

Ready to get started? With a high school diploma, determination, and a love for navigating, you're well on your way to a public transportation career that's as thrilling as it is rewarding.

Let’s Talk Money: The average streetcar operator or subway driver earns $81,180 per year. That’s more than double what the average worker makes with only a high school degree! Your "office" is the city's heart, and your commute becomes your canvas. Every day is a new story, a new passenger, and a new adventure.

Things To Consider: Just like any journey, there can be bumps. Dealing with crowded platforms, unexpected delays, and navigating through the hustle and bustle can test your patience. Yet, it's a challenge that can turn you into a master navigator. 

Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians

  • $65,380 Per Year
  • Post-secondary Nondegree Award

No degree is required to turn your love for aviation into a rewarding career! To get started, you only need a postsecondary nondegree award from an FAA-approved program. This could take 2-3 years to complete at a technical school which is much more affordable than getting a traditional four-year degree.

Let’s Talk Money: You're not just repairing planes but safeguarding passengers on their next flight. As an aircraft mechanic, you could earn an average of $65,380. You are the unsung hero behind the scenes, ensuring every nut, bolt, and wing is in perfect harmony. Every day you spend elbow-deep in engines, you're not just maintaining aircraft but keeping dreams alive.

Things To Consider: There are moments when you'll tackle tight deadlines, tricky technical problems, and demanding schedules. Your patience and problem-solving skills will be put to the test. But guess what? Each challenge you tackle only fuels your expertise further, making you a true master of the craft.

Commercial Diver

  • $60,360 Per Year
  • Post-secondary nondegree award

Commercial diver underwater

If you've ever dreamed of exploring the hidden wonders beneath the waves, commercial diving might be for you. You can dive into this exciting field with a postsecondary nondegree award. You will learn the ropes from experienced divers who've conquered the aquatic unknown. As a commercial diver, you will work in depths of up to 1,000 feet or more. It's a profession that combines adventure and skill in a truly extraordinary way.

Let’s Talk Money: On average, as a commercial diver, you will make around $60,360 per year. Riding the wave of positivity, this profession offers great fulfillment and accomplishment. You will use specialized equipment and techniques for things like underwater welding, inspection, construction, or even assisting with marine research.

Things to Consider: As a commercial diver, you may face hazards such as decompression sickness, equipment malfunctions, or encounters with dangerous marine life. You must be physically fit, mentally prepared, and committed to strict safety protocols. With the right training and dedication, commercial diving can be a highly rewarding and fulfilling career.

Industrial Machinery Mechanics

  • $59,840 Per Year
  • High school diploma or equivalent

industrial machinery mechanic working on machine

As an industrial machinery mechanic, you’ll spend your days surrounded by roaring machines, grease on your hands, equipped with a toolkit that's your modern-day superhero utility belt. No need for a college degree – bring your high school diploma (or equivalent) and your passion for tinkering with all things mechanical.

Industrial machinery mechanics are similar to millwrights but with a greatly expanded job scope. You’ll be responsible for maintaining, cleaning, and repairing large industrial equipment that’s essential to keep things flowing. If things go wrong, you’ll be the first person the boss calls to diagnose the problem.

Let’s Talk Money: Industrial machinery mechanics bring home the bacon – we're talking an average of $59,840 a year! As an industrial machinery mechanic, you're not just responsible for fixing machines; you're the heartbeat of industries, from manufacturing to aviation. The world runs on your expertise.

Things to Consider: Machines might make you feel like Tony Stark, but working with them is physically challenging, and the hours can be long. If rolling up your sleeves and diving into the world of cogs and gear circuits doesn’t excite you, this may not be your calling.

Commercial Pilot

  • $99,640 per year
  • License & Experience

two pilots in the cockpit of a plane

Unlike many professions that demand those university years, the skies call for you with open arms, and no degree is required. If you love to travel, becoming a commercial pilot may be for you. Your "office" is the open sky, fluffy clouds, and breathtaking sunsets. Every day presents a new destination and a new adventure for you. Say goodbye to the cubicle life and hello to your endless horizons!

Let’s Talk Money! Imagine you are cruising at 30,000 feet while your bank account soars. As a commercial pilot, you will earn an average salary of $99,640 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With that kind of money, you can fund your globetrotting dreams and upgrade your seat on your next flight too.

Things also to consider: While jetting around the world sounds incredible, it also means you will be away from home for extended periods. Long hours cramped in a cockpit could deter you if confined spaces make you uncomfortable. Jet lag, being called to work in the middle of the night, and flying through thunderstorms are all part of the package.

To get started, you must obtain your commercial pilot license and meet FAA regulations by logging 1,500 hours of flight time. Even though becoming a commercial pilot doesn’t require a degree, obtaining your commercial pilot’s license still won’t come cheap. It could cost as much as $100K or more, depending on where you’re getting your license. The time this takes depends on your schedule, but be prepared to invest months or even years before you can take flight.

Hearing Aid Specialist

  • $59,500 Per Year
  • High school diploma or equivalent

hearing aid specialist conducting a hearing test

Have you ever wondered how it feels to make a living by helping people hear the world around them? Get ready because this hearing aid specialist doesn't require a college degree! To get started, all you need is a high school diploma or its equivalent. It's time to turn your passion for communication into a career that counts!

As a hearing aid specialist, you’ll help customers find the perfect hearing aid fit. You’ll test the hearing aids to make sure they work properly and assess how well they impact your customer’s life. This career is truly meaningful and rewarding!

Let's Talk Money: Working as a hearing aid specialist, you can expect to earn around $59,500 a year, which can make a significant difference in your life as you change the lives of others. You'll be raking in the dough while helping folks hear their favorite tunes and heartfelt conversations.

Things to Consider: You'll be working with people who might be struggling emotionally due to their hearing loss. It takes empathy and patience to navigate this, but remember, you're also part of their journey to reclaiming their world of sound.

Private Detective Investigator

  • $59,380 Per Year
  • High school diploma or equivalent

Private investigator reviewing files

Do you consider yourself a modern sleuth? Have you ever imagined a job where you get to crack cases, unveil secrets, and earn a pretty penny without needing a college degree? With typically less than five years of experience required and just a high school diploma (or equivalent), turn your love for true crime into a career!

Let’s Talk Money: Private detectives can earn an average of $59,380. That’s a pretty penny to spend your days serving justice by uncovering secrets, solving mysteries, and piecing together clues. Each day brings new surprises and is sure to keep you on your toes.

Things to Consider: Let's be real – not every case can be solved or has a neat resolution. You might hit dead ends, deal with resistant clients, or even uncover truths that can be hard to digest. It's a job that requires mental resilience and a strong stomach for facing life's dark sides.

Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics, Except Engines

  • $58,030 Per Year
  • Long-term on-the-job training

Mobile heavy equipment mechanic working on heavy equipment

Ever seen those giants of construction sites? As a Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanic, you're the master behind their flawless performance. You're not just fixing machines; you're orchestrating their symphony of power and precision.

Let's Talk Money: $58,030. That's not just a number; it's your annual payday all for pursuing a career as a mobile heavy equipment mechanic. Plus, you're not confined to a desk; you're out in the field, helping ideas come to life. Each piece of heavy equipment is your canvas for success, from cranes to forklifts.

Things to Consider: You often work in tough conditions – dusty construction sites, remote locations, and sometimes unpredictable weather. The work can be physically demanding, requiring both muscle and precision. But remember, each repair and adjustment is a step towards mastering the mechanics.

Wind Turbine Whisperer Service Technicians

  • $56,260 Per Year
  • Postsecondary nondegree award

Wind turbine service technician working on wind turbine in field

Ever dreamt of a career where you're dancing with the wind? That's exactly what wind turbine service mechanics do. As a wind turbine service technician, you're nurturing the very essence of renewable energy. You're the modern-day steward of the environment, contributing to a greener future. No college degree is needed – just a postsecondary nondegree award, a knack for mechanics, and your desire to make a real difference.

Let's Talk Money: As a wind turbine service technician, you can expect to make some serious cash – we're talking $56,260 per year, and that's just the start! Plus, you're not just earning a decent paycheck; you're helping Mother Earth by keeping clean energy flowing. Saving the planet AND stacking cash? Now, that's living the dream.

Things to Consider: We're all about keeping it real, so here's the deal: this job is an adrenaline-packed rollercoaster. You're working at dizzying heights and battling whatever weather Mother Nature throws your way. This may not be your scene if you do not like heights or unpredictable weather. With great risk comes great reward, right?

Aircraft Cargo Handling Supervisor

  • $65,380 Per Year
  • High school diploma or equivalent

plane with cargo near it

Enjoy spending time at airports? If so, becoming an airport cargo handler might be the job for you. As an aircraft cargo handler, you’ll make sure luggage and packages safely make it from Point A to Point B. No missing suitcases on your watch. In a supervisory role, you’ll oversee a team of handlers to keep operations moving smoothly.

Let’s Talk Money: Expect to earn an average salary of around $65,380 per year. With typically less than five years of experience and just a high school diploma (or equivalent), this job offers you great earning potential.

As an aircraft cargo handling supervisor, you will ensure smooth and efficient airplane cargo handling. You will oversee a team of cargo handlers, coordinating the loading and unloading of cargo, inspecting shipments for damage, and ensuring that all safety regulations are followed. This job requires strong organizational skills, leadership skills, and attention to detail.

Things to Consider: One potential downside is that the hours can be unpredictable. The aviation industry operates around the clock, which means you might find yourself working odd hours – but hey, that's the price of being a part of something as dynamic as the skies!

So make a plan!

You don’t need a college degree to have a successful career. For example, remote closers don't need a degree and can make over 112k per year! That said, you do need a plan, knowledge of your skills, initiative, and a lot of hard work. So, take the time to open the details of the careers listed above and make a note of the required personality characteristics. Invest in yourself to find out the natural personality traits you have that fit the careers you are interested in. Chart a career path that will get you where you want to go, with or without a degree.

The CareerFitter work personality tests help you narrow in on who you are and the career that is best for you. This valuable tool helps you gain insight into who you are at work, what work environment you excel in, your strengths, weaknesses, and much more. So before you choose a career – find the career that fits you best.


Choosing the Best Career
Working From Home
Economic Crisis Career Tips
Improve Your Career Finding Skills
Career Tips from an Expert
Career Counselor Resources
Career Focus Guides