5 High Paying Occupations That Don’t Require a Degree

detectiveWe’ve been conditioned to believe that without going to college and obtaining a degree we’ll be relegated to the ranks of minimum wage or menial labor, slinging burgers at fast food joints, cleaning hotel rooms, or shoveling hot asphalt. But this is hardly the case. For the motivated individual that simply doesn’t want to waste four years (or more) on the collegiate path, there are actually a surprising number of jobs that can deliver not only a livable wage, but a truly decent income, perhaps even numbering in the six-digit range. You might be shaking your head in disbelief, but here are just a few of the highest paying occupations that don’t require a college degree.

  1. Commercial pilot. Ever wanted to fly the friendly skies? Well, you don’t need a college degree to do so. Of course, you will need training. If you’ve ever peeked inside the cockpit on a commercial flight, you’ve no doubt wondered what all the switches, dials, and gauges were for. Let’s just say it’s a little more complex than driving a car. So you’ll have to go through a training course and log a set number of hours before you’re cleared to fly commercially. But considering you could earn about $68,000 per year on average, and you’ll get free travel, to boot, it might be the most exciting job a high-school graduate can think of.
  2. Police detective. Incredibly, you need only a high-school degree in order to become a police detective, where you could earn a median salary of about $69,000. Of course, you will need several years of experience and on-the-job training, plus a proven track record in order to be promoted to this position. But the fact that you could be conducting criminal investigations within just a few years of joining the police force, without a degree under your belt, is enough to motivate some people. And the salary doesn’t hurt, either.
  3. Administrative services managers. Although you won’t need to sit in a classroom in order to get this job, several years of experience is often required, which means you’ll have to obtain a real-world education. You can start your journey to the top with a variety of entry-level positions, so long as they are part of a company’s administrative services division. For example, you could begin as a mail-room employee, a facilities worker, or even someone on the clerical staff. So long as you are part of the support network for the building or employees, you could work your way up to administrative services manager within a few years, depending on the size of the company. And your reward for diligence could be an average annual salary of about $78,000.
  4. Construction manager. To be honest, you will need a bit of schooling (the equivalent of an associate’s degree) and a lot of experience in order to become a construction manager. But if you’ve already got a few years of experience in the trenches, so to speak; pouring concrete, framing walls, installing plumbing and electrical, the whole nine yards; and you’re tired of the backbreaking labor, you may finally be ready to head back to school and learn what you need to in order to rise to the managerial level. The best part is that you can earn close to $85,000 a year, on average, in such a position.
  5. Air traffic controller. While you won’t need a bachelor’s degree to monitor and direct air traffic, you will actually need an associate’s degree, so there is some schooling involved. The upside is that you won’t necessarily need experience to get started, although you will undergo a significant amount of training. As jobs in the transportation industry go, you might not have as many opportunities for jobs in this field as you could find on, say, BestDriverJobs.com. But with an estimated median salary of $108,000, the pay is perhaps the best you can find without a bachelor’s degree.

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