20 Highest-Paying Jobs You Can Get Without a Degree

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Enjoying work-life balance, financial success and a meaningful career doesn’t always depend on a college degree. While they do lead to more opportunities, you can still take on exciting and high-paying roles by having a high school diploma or equivalent.

From aviation to insurance, there are opportunities to make as high as a six-figure income regardless of the industry you choose. Keep reading to learn more about the highest-paying jobs without a degree required.

1. Commercial Pilot

Median income: $148,900

  • Avoid if: You have a fear of heights and do not have good vision.

Commercial pilots fly aircraft for business or commercial reasons and receive payment for their services. Unlike airplane pilots, they do not fly for regional or major airlines. To start, you need to obtain a private pilot license. Then, you can apply for a commercial license involving flight time, pilot-in-command time and other training.

2. Radiation Therapist

Median income: $99,793

  • Avoid if: You have radiation sensitivity, experience burnout quickly and if you are sensitive to patients having a terminal illness.

Radiation therapists are trained professionals who work in physician offices, hospitals and outpatient centers. They administer radiation doses to patients with cancer and other serious medical ailments. To become a radiation therapist, you must attend an accredited radiation therapy program, receive licensure and pass the certification test administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

3. Elevator Mechanic

Median income: $97,860

  • Avoid if: You are claustrophobic, have a fear of heights, dislike dark settings, dislike working with electrical systems, have limited mobility, and have back, neck or shoulder pain.

Elevator mechanics have physically demanding jobs that involve moving through tight and enclosed spaces, working with electricity and machinery, and having knowledge of power tools. To become an elevator mechanic, you must have a minimum of a high school degree or GED, complete an apprenticeship and apply for a license, depending on your state.

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4. Truck Driver

Median income: $97,565

  • Avoid if: You cannot sit for extended periods, have back or neck pain or take certain medications.

Truck drivers make the list of the highest-paying jobs without a degree needed. You can make a lucrative income by driving to and from a designated destination to pick up and deliver cargo. Truck drivers may perform many short jobs daily or take on longer trips that can take multiple days. To become a truck driver, you must have a Commercial Driving License and pass the requirements established by your local DMV.

5. Entrepreneur

Median income: $86,888

  • Avoid if: You do not have a solid plan, cannot assess risk and do not have strong organizational and marketing skills.

Entrepreneurs are business owners who plan, conceptualize and launch their businesses. They can fund their business using their savings, apply for loans, or involve investors in their business, depending on the model, product or service. You do not have to have a college degree to become an entrepreneur. However, depending on your business, you may have to apply for special certifications and licenses.

6. Air Traffic Controller

Median income: $84,843

  • Avoid if: You cannot handle high-stress environments and don’t have strong organization skills and attention to detail.

Air traffic controllers prioritize the safety of aircraft by managing their flow in and out of airports, guiding pilots through takeoff and landing, maneuvering planes in the airport environment and communicating with pilots during the flight. These professionals also monitor the speed, position and altitude of the aircraft depending on assigned airspace privileges. The Federal Aviation Administration sets the requirements for this position, and applicants must have a combination of postsecondary education or work experience in the field.  

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7. Flight Attendant

Median income: $84,397

  • Avoid if: You prefer a stable schedule, are not in excellent physical condition, or have a fear of heights, turbulence or flying.

Flight attendants work on airplanes with the primary goal of keeping passengers safe. These highly trained professionals ensure compliance with federal and international aviation safety regulations. They secure the flight deck, have CPR training and assist passengers throughout the flight. To become a flight attendant, you must be at least 18 years old and receive a certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.

8. Court Reporter

Median income: $72,948

  • Avoid if: You do not have exemplary typing skills, dislike sitting for extended periods or have a sensitivity to potentially distressing conversations or events in the courtroom.

Court reporters are essential members of courtrooms across the country. They provide written records of every spoken work during a legal proceeding verbatim. These professionals use specialized equipment called stenotype machines to keep up with the spoken dialogues during depositions, hearings and other proceedings. You do not need a license to work as a court reporter. However, depending on your state, you may need a certification from an institution accredited by the National Court Reporters Association or pass a civil service exam.

9. Insurance Appraiser

Median income: $72,531

  • Avoid if: You prefer an office or desk working environment, have limited mobility and do not have strong communication skills or attention to detail.

Insurance appraisers gather data and information about claims by making physical inspections of properties and accident sites and assessing property losses or damages. They usually work for insurance companies but take on a more active role than other insurance jobs that involve working in an office environment. You do need specific licenses to practice in some states, including pre-licensing exams or experience. Each state has different licensing rules.  

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10. Fire Inspector

Median income: $72,000

  • Avoid if: You do not possess strong attention to detail, have limited mobility or prefer working in an office environment.

Fire inspectors work to prevent fires and maintain building safety for occupants. Their job is to perform routine inspections and examinations of buildings to detect fire hazards and ensure compliance with state and federal laws. State laws vary in terms of training requirements. However, you will undergo basic training and pass a written examination to receive a certification.

11. Executive Assistant

Median income: $63,858

  • Avoid if: You dislike desk jobs and working with data and spreadsheets.

Executive assistants play essential roles in onsite or remote settings. They schedule appointments, book travel tickets, coordinate between employees and managers, answer guest queries and input data into systems and spreadsheets. You do not have to have a certification or license to become an executive assistant. Training courses, workshops and staying updated on recent software can help you get a promotion or receive higher pay.

12. Police Officer

Median income: $63,100

  • Avoid if: You are not in prime physical condition, have qualms using firearms or don’t want to be in unusual situations that may be dangerous.

Police officers respond to emergency calls, patrol commercial and residential areas, apprehend offenders and ensure compliance with local and federal laws. You must be physically fit and pass through rigorous training to start your career. To score one of the highest-paying jobs without a degree, you must be a US citizen, be 21 years old or older, have a high school diploma or GED and complete police academy training.

13. Electrician

Median income: $62,024

  • Avoid if: You have mobility issues, dislike working in enclosed or tight spaces, do not have a solid understanding or desire to learn about electrical systems and safety measures, and have limited visibility.
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Electricians help keep homes, businesses and streets alight by inspecting, installing and maintaining light systems, controls, wires and fixtures. They can repair transformers and circuit breakers, use equipment and testing machinery and often have physically demanding jobs. You do not have to have a license in all states to start electrical work at the primary level. However, training is essential to decrease the likelihood of safety hazards.  

14. Sound Engineering Technician

Median income: $60,500

  • Avoid if: You dislike working late-night hours and have sound sensitivity.

Sound engineering technicians operate equipment that produces sound. They prepare speakers, set up amplifiers and microphones, and make sure equipment is running correctly during events and recording sessions. You only need a high school degree or diploma to start. Still, you can apply for an associate degree or a yearly program to learn the basics and understand your role better.

15. Fleet Dispatcher

Median income: $59,662

  • Avoid if: You have communication issues, lack strong attention to detail, dislike or cannot sit in one place for an extended period.

Fleet dispatchers work in commercial trucking companies and help truck drivers plan and navigate their route from point A to point B. The role involves coordination, constant communication and monitoring of road and weather conditions. You do not need specific certifications to become a fleet dispatcher. However, you can apply for a license by passing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration exam for higher income.

16. Transportation Security Officer

Median income: $56,762

  • Avoid if: You do not have strong attention to detail, are not in excellent physical condition, dislike standing for extended periods and dislike consistent communication with others.
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A Transportation Security Officer is an employee who works for the Transportation Security Administration, typically in airports. Their duties include maintaining the safety of the airport by pre and post-screening passengers, disposing of hazardous materials, monitoring bags, luggage, and travelers and examining cargo. To apply, you must be at least 18, have a high school diploma or GED and pass a training program at the TSA Academy.

17. Licensed Practical Nurse

Median income: $54,620

  • Avoid if: You are susceptible to health issues, have limited mobility and cannot handle long hours or high-stress scenarios with patients.

Licensed Practical Nurses are nursing professionals who offer basic medical care services to patients. LPNs work in multiple healthcare settings like nursing homes, hospitals and physician offices. Some may also work with private patients in a home setting. To start working, you need to complete a state-approved program and receive your license.    

18. Life Coach

Median income: $54,237

  • Avoid if: You do not have strong communication skills, and you are uncomfortable or unable to advertise your skills online and in person.

Life coaches help people overcome obstacles that they are experiencing in their personal or professional lives. These professionals usually have lived experience in the areas they are coaching. As a life coach, you can choose a schedule that suits you and limit the number of clients you work with on a monthly basis. You do not need to undergo special certification requirements or licenses to start working as a life coach.

19. Dental Assistant

Median income: $44,710

  • Avoid if: You are sensitive to pathogen exposure, cannot handle physical or psychological stress and prefer not to work with bodily fluids.
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Dental assistants support dental teams by assisting during dental procedures, administrative tasks, sterilizing and disinfecting dental equipment, and communicating with patients. To become a dental assistant, you need to be at least 18 years old and complete a 1-year dental assistant or hygiene program accredited by the American Dental Association’s Commission.  

20. Commercial Bus Driver

Median income: $42,820

  • Avoid if: You have mobility and vision issues, cannot sit still for extended periods or take certain medications.

Commercial bus drivers transport people between cities and borders on assigned routes. Their role is to ensure that their passengers reach their destinations safely while they adhere to traffic laws and regulations. To become a commercial bus driver, you must have a driver’s license, undergo a background check and apply for a Commercial Driving License from your local DMV.


You don’t have to have a college degree to have a fruitful career that interests you and allows you to hone your skills. As long as you commit to the industry of your choice, complete the necessary certification and licensing requirements, and comply with any local or federal laws, you can earn a good income and enjoy a stable job.

With patience and dedication to finding the right fit, you can choose one of the highest-paying jobs without a degree and start working in a career you are passionate about.


Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the highest-paying jobs.
  • How can I make $100,000 a year without a degree?
    • Some of the highest-paying jobs you can get without a degree are:
      • Commercial pilot: $148,900 yearly median income
      • Radiation therapist: $99,793 yearly median income
      • Elevator mechanic: $97,860 yearly median income
  • How can you make $50,000 a year without a degree?
    • Some jobs that will pay you $50,000 without a degree are:
      • Life coach: $54,237 yearly median income
      • Licensed practical nurse: $54,620 yearly median income
      • Fleet dispatcher: $59,662 yearly median income
  • What job makes the most money without a degree?
    • Commercial pilots top the list of the highest-paying jobs you can get without a degree. The average yearly salary for this job is $148,900.
  • What is the least stressful job you can get without a degree?
    • Some low-stress jobs that don't require a degree are:
      • Executive assistant
      • Truck driver

Pay data is accurate as of Oct. 17, 2023, and was sourced from Indeed, CareerExplorer, Talent.com, Salary.com, Glassdoor, U.S. News and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.


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