You don’t need a four-year degree to score these jobs.
A traditional four-year college degree is not the only route to a high-paying career. Among the U.S. News list of the 100 Best Jobs, these 25 offered the highest pay without requiring a degree. An important note: Most of these jobs do require some form of postsecondary training, be it on-the-job experience, coursework at a technical college or other credentialing and licensure. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Solar Photovoltaic Installer
Median Salary: $42,680
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 63.6%
These clean-energy experts build, install and repair solar panels on buildings. Many installers take courses at community colleges, technical schools or as part of an apprenticeship program, although a high school diploma is typically the only educational requirement to get started in this career. Some companies will offer on-the-job training.
It’s a job that is mostly conducted outside. If you’re working inside, you may be in an attic or crawl space, connecting panels to the electric grid. You also will have to do some traveling, locally and regionally, since you’ll always go to the customer, rather than them coming to you.
Learn more about solar photovoltaic installers.
Median Salary: $40,710
Expected Job Growth by 2028: -1%
Auto mechanics, also called service technicians, inspect and fix cars and light trucks, focusing on engines, transmissions and braking and steering systems.
There may not be a lot of growth, currently, in the auto mechanic industry — the -1% really means little to no change, according to the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics — but it’s still a profession that requires qualified, skilled people to work on cars. If working on engines is in your wheelhouse, you should be able to get a job.
You don’t need a college degree, but most automotive service technicians and mechanics complete a program at a postsecondary institution, according to the BLS. Industry certification is often required after you get a job.
Learn more about auto mechanics.
Median Salary: $41,910
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 5.3%
Insulation contractors keep us dry during thunderstorms, warm in the winter and cool in the summer. In other words, their work protects us from the elements whether we’re at home or in an office building.
The work tends to be physically challenging, requiring bending in tight spaces, and it’s not for the claustrophobic. But it’s also a job that requires you to use your brain. These workers read blueprints, measure materials and install and replace insulation. They may need hazardous material training.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most insulators, especially those who specialize in floor, ceiling and wall insulation, learn their trades on the job. Many mechanical insulators finish an apprentice program after they earn a high school diploma or an equivalency degree.
Learn more about insulation contractors.
Median Salary: $41,420
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 22%
Using their bodies and various methods of touch, massage therapists relieve client pain and help people relax.
Why is this an in-demand career? Because we’re all getting older, and many health care providers are recognizing the benefits of massage. That said, you may not work in, say, a hospital or at a physician’s office. Many massage therapists work at hotels, franchised health care clinics and fitness centers. Some are self-employed and visit clients’ homes or offices to give massages.
It’s a job that often requires a postsecondary education program of 500 or more hours of study and experience, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, although what you’re required to do for training is going to hinge upon your state or local jurisdiction’s requirements.
Learn more about massage therapists.
Cement Mason and Concrete Finisher
Median Salary: $44,810
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 11%
It’s easy to take a cement mason or concrete finisher’s work for granted. We see what they produce everywhere — when we drive on roads or walk in the city. These workers use power tools to finish the surfaces of poured concrete used for sidewalks, roads, curbs and floors.
Most people in this profession have a high school diploma or an equivalent degree — and learn through an apprenticeship program or through on-the-job training.
It’s a physically demanding job since you’ll often be lifting heavy materials. You may be bending or kneeling a lot. But if you like exercise, you may love this job. It’s also a career often spent outdoors.
Learn more about cement masons and concrete finishers.
Median Salary: $34,450
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 5%
Transit and intercity bus drivers carry passengers where they need to go, sometimes collecting tickets and helping with luggage. School bus drivers take children to and from school.
Being a bus driver isn’t an easy job, but it’s an extremely important one. City administrators aren’t interested in putting just anybody behind the wheel, and so if you do your job well, you’ll likely have a lot of job security.
You’ll probably be required to have a high school diploma, or something equivalent to that, and you’ll need to have a commercial driver’s license, which you may be able to earn through on-the-job training. You’ll also need to have a good driving record as well as meet the physical, hearing and vision requirements for the job. You may have to pass a background check as well; as noted, they don’t let just anybody get behind the wheel.
Learn more about bus drivers.
Median Salary: $43,550
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 11%
These workers read blueprints, remove old panes and cut and install glass for doors, windows, mirrors and display cases. If it involves glass in a building, a glazier is probably involved.
It’s a physically taxing job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You may be climbing up ladders or on scaffolding, which means it’s a potentially dangerous job.
You’ll probably be able to get this job with your high school diploma, though you can learn the trade through an apprenticeship, on-the-job training or a vocational program. There’s more to this job than you might think; you may need to know something about math and design and be able to work with construction equipment. As you might expect, the most demanding and best-paying jobs are often on high-rise buildings.
Learn more about glaziers.
Licensed Practical Nurse and Licensed Vocational Nurse
Median Salary: $46,240
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 10.7%
In schools, nursing homes, clinics and hospitals, these nurses offer basic medical care.
Licensed practice nurses and licensed vocation nurses are basically the same jobs. In California and Texas, these positions are called LVNs; everywhere else, it’s an LPN.
If you’re an LPN or LVN, you’ll be doing crucial, life-saving tasks such as checking vital signs, performing enemas, installing catheters, dressing wounds, delivering medicine, massaging muscles, assisting patients in maintaining their hygiene, helping with feeding (for infants to the elderly), starting IVs, monitoring medical equipment and so much more. You’re also helping adults and children, often when they’re at their most vulnerable. It’s a very important job.
Learn more about licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.
Median Salary: $46,590
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 8%
Carpenters read directions and use tools to build, fix and install wooden frameworks. You typically don’t need any more than a high school diploma to be a carpenter, but it will help if you know basic math to calculate floor space and wall heights, and more complex trigonometric formulas to make right angle cuts. They also use muscle and endurance to do their jobs well.
Carpenters are everywhere new and older homes and buildings are. They mostly construct and repair building frameworks and structures such as stairways and door frames.
Learn more about carpenters.
Real Estate Agent
Median Salary: $50,300
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 7%
When homebuyers or renters are looking to buy, sell or rent a home, these professionals are available to help with the process. Training requirements vary by state, but all require licensure.
Technically, you can get by with no more than a high school diploma for this job — but plenty of college graduates become real estate agents, and it’s a field where you use just about every skill you can imagine. Many real estate agents run their own businesses. You have to be a people person. You need to have a deep knowledge of the real estate market and the communities in your area. You have to know the ins and outs of buying, selling and renting properties. There’s a lot to this career.
You will need to get a real estate license, though specific requirements vary by state. You’ll probably need to be at least 18 years old and complete real estate courses and pass a licensing exam.
Learn more about real estate agents.
Median Salary: $47,300
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 8.7%
Surgical technologists help doctors during stressful procedures in the operating room. They organize tools and disinfect incision sites.
It may sound simple, but these are people who are basically the surgeon’s right hand during operations. You might be suturing wounds, suctioning incisions and, of course, handing any tool to the doctor that he or she asks for.
Generally, to do this, you’ll need a postsecondary nondegree award or an associate degree. The BLS points out that getting certified might help your job prospects and that a small number of states regulate surgical technologists. As you would imagine, you’ll likely work in a hospital, if you take on this career, and you’ll spend a lot of time on your feet. And while the surgeon may get all of the glory, you will be helping to save lives.
Learn more about surgical technologists.
Median Salary: $46,990
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 10%
On construction sites, equipment operators drive and control heavy machines such as bulldozers, trench excavators and pile drivers. If as a kid you were the one in the sandbox with a toy bulldozer, well, this job may be for you. It’s a career in which you often do get dirty, working in all sorts of conditions, such as construction sites and in all kinds of weather.
You may also work a lot at night, if you’re involved in building roads.
You’ll likely need a high school diploma or equivalent education, and you may be able to learn how to operate equipment by taking vocational courses — or through on-the-job training.
Learn more about equipment operators.
Sheet Metal Worker
Median Salary: $48,460
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 8%
Sheet metal workers work with thin layers of metal to create and install ducts used in heating and cooling.
It’s what some might call a good honest day’s work. Meaning, you’ll work hard, lifting heavy sheets of metal — with a lot of physical activity involved. But by the end of the day, you’ll have made some indispensable products, such as having made and assembled heating or cooling equipment. Or you might make vent hoods for a stove or countertops for a commercial kitchen. You might make signs or automobile parts. If it’s made of metal, you may help make it.
You often learn this type of trade on the job — or at technical school.
Learn more about sheet metal workers.
Median Salary: $47,800
Expected Job Growth by 2028: -1%
Choreographers select movements and music to design new dances for performers.
The market for this career isn’t expected to grow much throughout much of the 2020s, unfortunately, but according to the BLS, a -1% growth is little to no change. So at least the career field isn’t shrinking, or shrinking much.
The good news is that if you get a job as a choreographer, you’re probably going to be very happy.
After all, you’re helping to put on a show, possibly a musical, presumably working hard, but doing something you love. But choreographers are needed elsewhere, too. Interest in dance and choreography is diversifying across other platforms such as television, theme parks and casinos. You might also land a job at a dance school.
As for schooling, choreographers may not have a college degree (although plenty do), but they do tend to have years of formal training and usually have a lot of experience as a dancer.
Learn more about choreographers.
Insurance Sales Agent
Median Salary: $50,600
Expected Job Growth by 2026: 10%
These professionals are insurance know-it-alls who sell a range of policies, including auto, health, home and life insurance, as well as various commercial products. You’ll want to be a person who enjoys being immersed in details; insurance often isn’t an easy topic for a layman to understand.
Many insurance sales agents have a college degree, but you may not need one. Before becoming an insurance sales agent, you’ll have to get a license to sell insurance.
If you become an insurance sales agent, you’ll likely work in an office — and spend time shuttling around to visit clients. You may have some irregular hours, if you need to meet clients in the evenings.
Learn more about insurance agents.
Brickmason and Blockmason
Median Salary: $50,950
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 9.7%
These workers use bricks and other materials to construct or repair walls and various structures. Brickmasons and blockmasons may gain skills through on-the-job training, technical college programs and apprenticeships.
As with so many jobs, it’s harder than it may appear. Masons must be able to follow detailed building instructions, break or cut brick and stone to the proper sizes, mix and apply mortar and grout, assemble and finish the required structures.
Brickmasons do predominantly residential work, and blockmasons tend to do more commercial work.
If you work as a blockmason, doing commercial jobs, those tend to be longer projects — as much as two years, possibly. Residential work is much shorter.
Learn more about brickmasons and blockmasons.
Median Salary: $53,910
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 14%
Plumbers assemble, install and repair pipes and pipe systems. It’s a position with a lot of job stability, if you’re good at your job. After all, buildings, factories and homes are always going up, which means pipes are needed — and somebody’s septic system will always back up or a basement will flood. Old buildings’ pipes often need to be retrofitted to meet energy efficiency standards. Plumbing careers aren’t going anywhere.
You’ll probably attend a technical school if you become a plumber, and you’ll need to get a license.
It’s also worth noting that you may be called in for a plumbing emergency — so you may be working some weekends and evenings.
Learn more about plumbers.
Structural Iron and Steelworker
Median Salary: $52,770
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 11.5%
Here’s the good news: What these workers do is very cool. These employees install iron and steel structures.
What’s not so good: It can be a dangerous career. You’re around heavy equipment and sometimes way up high on an unfinished, incomplete building that doesn’t have walls in certain areas, or floors.
It’s a position that you often learn on the job or while being trained in an apprenticeship. The on-the-job training isn’t a bad thing; you’ll learn how to be safe in real time from experienced workers.
Learn more about structural iron and steelworkers.
Wind Turbine Technician
Median Salary: $54,370
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 56.9%
These workers adjust, diagnose, inspect or repair wind turbines. Training may take place on the job or through a technical program.
This is not a job for somebody with a fear of heights.
As you would imagine, you’ll likely spend a lot of time at the top of a turbine performing maintenance or troubleshooting the turbine’s electrical, mechanical or hydraulic components and replacing or fixing malfunctioning components.
Most wind turbine technicians learn how to do what they do in vocational school. Expected job growth is very high in this profession.
Learn more about wind turbine technicians.
Median Salary: $55,190
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 10.4%
Electricians install and repair electrical power and other systems in businesses, factories and homes. Training happens on the job, usually through an apprenticeship program, or at a technical school, with many states requiring licensure.
This is a job that can be dangerous. Apprenticeship training can often last four years. There’s a lot that an electrician can be asked to do, from designing, installing, maintaining and repairing equipment and electrical systems of businesses and factories or installing, maintaining and repairing the electrical systems of residences.
Mostly, you’ll work days, but evenings and weekends are common. So is overtime, according to the BLS.
Learn more about electricians.
Hearing Aid Specialist
Median Salary: $52,770
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 15.9%
These professionals specialize in selecting, fitting and maintaining hearing-loss devices.
It’s a hearing aid specialist’s job to evaluate the extent of the client’s hearing loss with various tests — and then figure out the best fit for the client’s particular level of hearing loss and his or her lifestyle. There’s also a lot of adjusting and maintaining involved in dispensing and fitting hearing aids.
This isn’t to be confused with an audiologist, which requires more education. Hearing aid specialists generally only need a high school degree — though a bachelor’s degree may be more attractive to some employers. You also will likely need to get a license before becoming employed as a hearing aid specialist.
Learn more about hearing aid specialists.
Sound Engineering Technician
Median Salary: $43,660
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 8%
These audio whizzes are adept at setting up and operating sound equipment at a variety of events, from weddings to concerts.
It’s the type of job that you can get a college degree for — but you can become a sound engineering technician with a high school degree. Many people also go to vocational school.
If you become a sound engineering technician, you’ll typically work indoors — often in radio, television, movie and recording studios. But theaters, hotels, arenas and even some schools hire sound engineering technicians.
You won’t need a license for this job, but you may want to look into obtaining various certifications, to show that your skills are up to date. The technology that you’ll be working with is often evolving.
Learn more about sound engineering technicians.
Median Salary: $58,510
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 1.7%
Instead of selling to consumers, like at a clothing store, these professionals sell goods and services to businesses, government agencies and other organizations.
Being a sales representative, or you might be referred to as a sales executive, is an important job at a company. If you’re selling laboratory equipment, for instance, and you land a large contract with a chain of health care facilities, the deal may be worth millions of dollars. In other words, sales representatives are often key personnel when it comes to building a business.
Some businesses will prefer or require you to have a college degree but many won’t. Your expertise in the business and product and being able to sell is the main thing that employers will be looking for. That, and enthusiasm to sell, as well as a willingness to travel. Those are often important ingredients to being a successful sales representative.
Learn more about sales representatives.
Median Salary: $59,340
Expected Job Decline by 2028: -19.8%
It’s a great job but in a shrinking field. Executive assistants are often being replaced by executives using administrative assistants (who are cheaper and often shared by several executives, instead of one).
Executive assistants manage the boss’s calendar, coordinate meetings and take messages, but executive assistants are also tasked with providing high-level administrative support for the company and its top executives. An executive assistant’s role may also include analyzing documents, preparing research reports and occasionally supervising clerical staff members.
It can also be a gateway to other important jobs in a company — and it’s one that you typically don’t need a college degree for.
Learn more about executive assistants.
Median Salary: $61,380
Expected Job Growth by 2028: 5%
Patrol officers — typically people who work for the police or the sheriff’s office — protect people and their property, which includes patrolling local areas, writing reports and responding to incidents.
In this job, you’re an authority figure, and when people have a problem, they’re looking to you for help.
But it can also be boring, too. A large portion of the job involves driving and walking around with no incidents. You’ll likely be working long hours, and of course, you could get hurt.
But, you’re helping people and making a difference in people’s lives. For the right person, this could be a wonderful job. Generally, you won’t need a college degree, but you will need to go somewhere for training, such as a police academy.
Learn more about patrol officers.
The highest-paying jobs without a degree requirement include:
— Patrol officer.
— Sales representative.
— Sound engineering technician.
— Wind turbine technician.
— Hearing aid specialist.
— Real estate agent.
See full rankings of the highest paying jobs without a degree requirement.
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Update 01/29/20: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.