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10 of the Highest Paying Jobs You Can Get Without a Degree

Updated on August 27, 2018

It doesn’t matter where you came from because you’ve still heard people say “Go to college, get a degree, and make more money.” And while I’m not bashing college, because it is a great way increase your earning potential, I am saying that you don’t have to go to college to make good money. In fact, if you play your cards you can actually make an amazing living without a degree. However, is it important to realize that many of these jobs pay well because their either carry a certain level of risk, or are very labor intensive.

1. Firefighter 46k

If you never dropped that dream you had in grade school then you still may want to look into becoming a firefighter. The job is both tough and dangerous, but it can be extremely rewarding if you are the kind of person who has a strong desire to serve the community. The job is also a very strange combination of long periods of waiting around followed by incredibly intense events (both physical and mental). On top of that there are extreme conditions such as major fires which can have you working practically nonstop for weeks on end.

If that’s still appealing then you may find the 46,000 dollars per year that the average firefighter makes to be quite decent income. Do note however that becoming a firefighter still does require training. But it’s not college.

2. EMT 31k

Emergency Medical Technicians are easily mistaken for paramedics, but think of EMT’s as the entry level position. The primary difference is the scope of what the emergency personnel is allowed to do to the patient. The other difference is the amount of education required, whereas EMT courses are 120-150 hours in length and paramedics are around 1200-1800. There is a difference in pay that comes with the increased education, but that’s possible to get after you are already making 31,000$ a year as an EMT, which is the average pay for the position.

The job takes a very special kind of person, one who isn’t easily shaken even when witnessing some of the most horrible events imaginable. You have to be able to keep your calm, and do your job correctly. While that doesn’t bode well for the average person, it does mean that the pay is quite amazing for how little education is required. Just be prepared for some downtime too. Some days are slow as molasses, but others can be the most hectic thing you can imagine.

3. Real Estate Agent 20-227k

Real Estate Agents of course require no college whatsoever in order to begin a very (potentially) high paying job. There are requirements that very by state however, but they are nothing too complicated or lengthy for the average person to be able to tackle.

Since real estate agents are paid on commission only, the pay varies greatly. Agents make anywhere from 20,000-227,000 dollars a year which makes this potentially the highest paying and lowest paying job on this list.

Agents are responsible for facilitating the sales and purchases of property, which sounds a lot simpler than it really is. You need to be an effective networker, marketer, sales person, customer service representative, and bargainer. And each of these respective skill sets takes time to develop, though you can do it on the job.

You do get a nice flexible schedule, but you have to be entirely self motivated. If you can’t pull yourself out of bed each morning without a specific time that you have to be at work, then you are going to have a hard time doing this job right. The last thing to think about is that this job can also be done part-time, so you can work somewhere else until you start having money roll in.

But here, take a look at the perspective from an actual agent in this video.

4. Roughneck 34k

A roughneck is the entry level position for the oil industry. You would be responsible for helping to drill new oil wells and all the work that is associated with that. In an offshore rig position, roughnecks are expected to live there for a period of time which varies and can potentially be months long.

The nice part is that working for the oil industry doesn’t require a whole heap of education, and of course there is plenty of room for growth.

The work is hard though. If you want to do this job well then you are going to need to be strong, and tough as nails. Having an aptitude for mechanics is a big plus here too.

5. Police Officer 60k

Are you driven by a strong sense of justice? Then you may want to consider a career in law enforcement. Don’t get too excited though, as the job is a lot different than the movies portray it to be. You often have to deal with people when they are at their absolute worst, and it’s not a pretty sight. Not to mention police officers catch a lot of flak for trying to do the right thing.

As for education required, you need a high-school diploma or GED, and have to attend a police academy. It’s a pretty strenuous course, so you should make sure that you are prepared before you sign up.

The pay for this job is quite well as a country-wide average of 60,000 dollars per year, but that’s in part because it can be such a demanding occupation.

In order to make a good police officer, you are going to need patience, and lots of it. And furthermore you have to be willing to kill to protect yourself and others. If that's not something you think you can do, then you should keep looking elsewhere for employment.

6. Taxi Driver 23k

If you don’t have a problem dealing with people on a daily basis, and have a good driving record, then consider becoming a taxi driver.

The pay isn’t the best at only 23,000 per year on average, but the only education required is getting a driver’s license.

You do have to be good at navigating, have at least reasonable customer service skills, and be a good driver. But those are all skills that can be learned with a little time and effort.

7. Casino table dealer 25k

Casino table dealers are also one of those positions where the pay can vary significantly. What establishment you work for makes a huge difference in your income, with some paying more than twice as much as others.

While it only requires a diploma or GED, you are going to want to have exceptional customer service skills, and you are going to need to be quite proficient in mathematics. But it can be a fun job if you like the atmosphere.

It's just you and the road.
It's just you and the road.

8. Long haul truck driver 40k

Truckers deliver everyday goods from point A to point B. It’s not exactly a complicated job, you get in a truck, have it loaded up, and drop the load where it needs to be.

The pay is good as the average trucker makes around 40k per year, and it requires relatively low levels of training. You should realize that you need to be an excellent driver, lest you cause an accident.

The job itself is rather boring. You get in your truck and drive for hours on end until you reach your destination. So you are going to want to be good at finding ways to entertain yourself, without being so distracting that you are endangering yourself and others.

9. Garbage Truck Driver 33k

If you didn’t mind the idea of driving a truck, but don’t like the concept of being away from home for long periods of time, then you should consider being a garbage truck driver.

The pay is quite good when you consider that the job is mostly driving around and operating a mechanical arm to pick up trash. Though the job does get nasty sometimes, so you need to be prepared to handle that.

10. Journeyman Lineman PG&E 53.59 an hour! 64-111k

Here’s the job that takes the cake. A journeyman lineman is a union job with electric companies that pays a fortune for how little education it requires.

At a whopping 111,000$ that PG&E is paying their linemen, it’s certainly the most reliable way to make six figures without going to college. Even at its lowest pay bracket, linemen still make around 64,000 dollars a year.

The education level is exceptionally low, but it’s not exactly an entry level position. And you are going to need training in order to do it safely, but if you are willing to get in that bucket and ride up to the power lines, then this is one you should definitely look into.

Would you actually consider any of these jobs?

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All things considered there are plenty of high paying jobs which you can get without a degree which still provide an income that you can build a life on. You just have to be willing to do the tough stuff that few people have the desire to take care of. But if you are that kind of person, then there are certainly opportunities out there for you.


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