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 offer the highest pay without requiring a degree. That said, it should be noted that most of these jobs require some form of postsecondary training. It may be on-the-job training, or you may have to take coursework at a technical college. You may have to get a license. Data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Median Salary: $44,180
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 2.9%
Insulation contractors are unsung heroes in home and building construction. If they weren’t around, we’d all be living like it was the year 1421.
As a career profession, it simply hasn’t been around that long. Fireplaces came about in the 1700s. During the 1800s, people started insulating homes, but unfortunately with asbestos.
If you become an insulation contractor, you’ll be utilizing safe products to insulate homes and buildings, helping to keep temperatures regulated and life indoors comfortable.
For all the good you do, you will unfortunately be rewarded by often working in tight spaces, such as between walls, and there’s a lot of training to do before you’ll be a full-fledged insulation contractor. You’ll likely go through an apprentice program.
Learn more about insulation contractors.
Median Salary: $44,630
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 3.9%
Even if you don’t realize it, you’re familiar with a glazier’s work. Every time you look out a window in a building or even your home, it was probably done by a glazier. A glazier is someone who cuts and installs glass in all types of buildings.
It can be a challenging job — especially once you get to the second story, or higher, of a building. You don’t want to fall, and you don’t want to drop the glass either, although in some cases, you may be working with construction equipment. It can be a fairly physically demanding job. It’s also more mentally taxing than you would think, requiring skill in math and design knowledge.
Learn more about glaziers.
Cement Mason and Concrete Finisher
Median Salary: $44,810
Expected Job Growth by 2029: -2%
This is a job in which you’re often working outside so people can work inside. That said, when you’re a cement mason and concrete finisher, you may work on more than buildings. Concrete is used for numerous structures, including bridges, roads and dams.
It’s a career in which you’ll be outside a lot, and there’s far more to it than knowing how to run a concrete mixing machine. For instance, you need to understand how the weather affects your concrete. There are different kinds of concrete, such as reinforced concrete and high-density concrete, and you have to know when to use what type of concrete.
As for training, there will be a lot of opportunities for on-the-job training if you take an entry-level position in construction.
Learn more about cement mason and concrete finishers.
Solar Photovoltaic Installer
Median Salary: $44,890
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 50.5%
As you would expect, solar photovoltaic installers put together solar panels and make sure they keep running properly. Solar panels, generally on the rooftops of homes and buildings, transform rays from the sun into energy, powering homes with electricity.
It’s a career that you can feel especially good about, because solar energy is about as eco-friendly as it gets. Meanwhile, the solar panel industry is hot — pun intended — so there are plenty of job openings for people interested in a career as a solar photovoltaic installer.
Learn about solar photovoltaic installers.
Median Salary: $46,330
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 14%
Show business is often pretty brutal, but the role of choreographer is a relatively stable career. First, it’s a talent that not just anybody has. You may not need a college degree to be a choreographer, but you do need artistry, skill and a lot of experience in putting on a show. If you have that, there are job opportunities.
Ballet companies, theaters, dance schools and even casinos, cruises and theme parks often need choreographers. During the next few years, as people embrace more social activities, choreographers should find themselves in demand.
Not surprisingly, it’s a job that often goes to current and former dancers.
Learn more about choreographers.
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse
Median Salary: $47,480
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 9.1%
Nurses hold essential jobs. They check vital signs, administer medicine, install catheters and start IVs. Doctors save lives, but so do nurses. You’ll probably work in a hospital, but nurses can also work in schools, on cruise ships, in giant corporations and with hospice facilities, among other places.
It isn’t an easy job. You’ll be on your feet a lot, and early on in your career, you may end up working a lot of nights. But above all, to do this job, you need to be a thoughtful, caring person who really enjoys helping people.
Learn more about licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses.
Median Salary: $48,300
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 6.8%
This can be a stressful profession, and you must steel yourself and learn to handle the sight of blood.
You may not be doing what the surgeon does, but you’re vital to the surgeon’s success. A surgical technologist sterilizes the operating room and sets out tools on the tables for procedures. During surgery, if a surgeon needs a certain tool or a wound sutured, you may be called upon.
After the surgery, you’ll likely take the patient to the recovery room and then perhaps restock the operating room.
It isn’t flashy work, but the surgeon and patient are lucky to have surgical technologists in their corner.
Learn more about surgical technologists.
Median Salary: $48,330
Expected Job Growth by 2029: -0.4%
While you don’t need a college degree to become a carpenter, you really do need to use your brain. In fact, you’re using a lot of math to make sure that when you finish building a room or a bookcase, it isn’t crooked. You have to decipher blueprints and understand building code requirements. Small wonder that you may end up in an apprenticeship program, possibly through a union or contractor association, because there is a lot to learn. For instance, you’ll need to learn to not mind chasing after building permits, depending on your role as a carpenter.
And, of course, you need to enjoy working with tools. It’s a technical yet creative job.
Learn more about carpenters.
Real Estate Agent
Median Salary: $48,930
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 2.3%
A house is the most expensive purchase that most people will ever make, and so as a real estate agent, people are counting on your expertise.
You may not need a college degree, but you do have to study the coursework to get your real estate license. For good reason, you need to get a license. You’ll be offering advice on how to price your client’s home, and you’re going to be playing something of the role of armchair psychologist. People go through a lot of emotions when buying and selling homes. It’s very personal, and so you’ll likely do well in this career if you’re a people person.
Learn more about real estate agents.
Median Salary: $48,980
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 4%
If you enjoyed playing in a sandbox as a kid, this may be your job. Equipment operators work in construction, running excavators, bulldozers and dump trucks, among other vehicles. They essentially build the foundations of our society, clearing pathways for buildings and roads.
You’ll need training for this work, of course — and learning all of the safety rules is imperative for your fellow construction workers. You’ll need to be licensed, too.
It’s also a job in which you could be working at night and in lousy weather. Still, equipment operators report a high job satisfaction rating.
Learn more about equipment operators.
Sheet Metal Worker
Median Salary: $50,400
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 1.3%
It may not sound like a fascinating or even important job, but people would notice a difference in their lives if sheet metal workers suddenly disappeared from the planet. For instance, our homes would be freezing in the winter and become hothouses during the summer. Businesses wouldn’t have signs, or at least not metal ones. Homes wouldn’t have rain gutters. It may not be a career that many people think about, but take away the sheet metal worker profession and the world would be an infrastructure nightmare.
Sheet metal workers often specialize in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. They also have a hand in installing fans and ducts and air handling units. And if you need metal in the form of a sheet, and you need it bent or shaped, welded, bolted, riveted or soldered, then you need a sheet metal worker.
Learn more about sheet metal workers.
Median Salary: $50,850
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 6.1%
Take on this job, and you’re pretty much automatically an admired hero. Practically a superhero. You’re rescuing people and pets from burning buildings and arriving on the scene of car accidents. You might help save someone from a flood or get a cat out of a tree.
Firefighting can be a stressful job, and the hours are often not so hot — no pun intended. You might be living for days at a stretch at a fire station, which can make it hard to balance family life.
But you’ll never wonder if what you’re doing is making a difference in the world.
Learn more about firefighters.
Insurance Sales Agent
Median Salary: $50,940
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 5.5%
If you’re an insurance agent, you may sell auto, health, home or life insurance and possibly other types of policies like product liability. But if you think that’s all you’re doing, you’re selling yourself short.
These are complicated products, and you need a license to sell insurance. You’ll also help people, even as you’re trying to get them to part with their money. Without insurance, people are putting themselves at great financial risk. So unlike selling stuff that people don’t need, you really are helping consumers, although, yes, an individual can be overinsured and purchase more insurance than they need. Still, it’s a much more noble professional than it may seem.
Learn more about insurance sales agents.
Computer Support Specialist
Median Salary: $52,270
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 8%
The good news for this profession is that in this digital age, this job isn’t going anywhere.
Computer support specialists presumably enjoy their jobs, and as a group, they only report “average” stress. They might work in an office, a call center or at home while diagnosing computer issues as quickly as possible and, in the process, eventually making a frantic or frustrated person very happy.
Learn more about computer support specialists.
Wind Turbine Technician
Median Salary: $52,910
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 60.7%
This is a field that’s expected to see sharp growth, as energy efficiency becomes more and more important in the battle against climate change.
As a wind turbine technician, your main duties are inspecting and maintaining wind turbines. Hopefully you aren’t afraid of heights; many days you’ll be high above the ground on a turbine, troubleshooting, fixing, upgrading and maintaining electrical, mechanical or hydraulic components.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of training involved, which you may be able to get from the company you work for — or through a vocational or trade school.
Learn more about wind turbine technicians.
Brickmason and Blockmason
Median Salary: $53,100
Expected Job Growth by 2029: -6.4%
Some people really enjoy working with their hands. If that’s you, you may be a future brickmason or blockmason.
Both jobs involve, as you’d imagine, working with bricks and structural stone blocks. There is also more to this profession than you might think. You’ll be following detailed building instructions and need to be able to break or cut brick and stone to the proper size and understand how to mix and apply mortar and grout as well as assemble the bricks and stones.
This profession requires someone who is very detail-oriented and enjoys working with his or her hands.Learn more about brickmasons and blockmasons.
Hearing Aid Specialist
Median Salary: $53,420
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 10.5%
As a hearing aid specialist, you’re an integral part of some people’s health care. This is a job in which you can really make a difference in the quality of people’s lives.
In this career, you’ll evaluate the extent of a patient’s hearing loss with various tests and figure out what type of hearing aid someone should be wearing as well as how to fit the device in the person’s ear.
You’ll need a license and training to be a hearing aid specialist.
Learn more about hearing aid specialists.
Sound Engineering Technician
Median Salary: $54,740
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 6%
It may not seem like a glamorous or interesting job, but it is a key part of show business. Without a sound engineering technician, everything from Broadway shows to presidential debates would be very quiet.
Sound engineering technicians are instrumental for a performance or a speech, serving as the link between entertainer and the audience.
If you take on this job, you’ll be setting up audio equipment, making sure that microphones work and monitoring and operating the equipment during a performance or an event. You might record and synchronize sound; you also may veer away from sound a bit and work the lights.
Learn more about sound engineering technicians.
Structural Iron and Steelworker
Median Salary: $55,040
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 4.7%
Politicians like to talk about building bridges to the future, but structural iron and steelworkers actually do just that. They’re the ones who install iron or steel beams into bridges and buildings.
It can be dangerous work, and it’s specialized work. So while you may not need a college degree, you usually need a high school diploma — as well as additional training, which you’ll often get through apprenticeships that can last three or four years.
That said, getting an apprenticeship isn’t always easy. You may have to apply for one, and there can be a lot of competition.
Learn about structural iron and steelworkers.
Median Salary: $55,160
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 4.3%
Being a plumber doesn’t have to be a pipe dream. Generally, you are going to need to go to a trade or vocational school, but you could potentially start your journey as a plumber today. Some plumbing companies offer pathways through apprenticeship programs for people to start off working as a plumber and get trained while on the job.
It’s a job in which you’ll install and connect pipes and fixtures, fix clogged sinks and toilets, and make sure that water can reach dishwashers, water heaters and come out of faucets. It’s an essential job, so it’s fairly recession-proof.
Learn more about plumbers.
Median Salary: $56,180
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 8.4%
If being immersed in a world of walls and wires excites you, you should get a charge out of this job.
Jokes aside, it’s a complicated profession that generally involves four years of training as an apprentice and then getting a license. Because if you don’t know what you’re doing, it is dangerous work.
If you take on this job, you’re going to have a skill that many people don’t have. An entire manufacturing plant can shut down if there’s an electrical snafu; you’re the one who may end up fixing it. So it’s an important job, and you’ll be paid accordingly.
Learn more about electricians.
Median Salary: $56,640
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 17.3%
In this career you’ll make sure people are comfortable. You’re also charged with keeping them safe in an emergency. Even without dramatics, flight attendants keep the peace, reassuring nervous fliers and asking kids not to kick the seat in front of them. Without your involvement, passengers’ time on a plane would be a little like “Lord of the Flies.”
After all, you’re inspecting emergency equipment and showing members of the public how to use an oxygen mask before takeoff. You’ll direct people to the restroom or remind them to keep their seatbelts fastened. The pilot may make sure you get from Point A to Point B in one piece, but during the trip, you’ll keep the passengers from going to pieces.
Learn more about flight attendants.
Median Salary: $59,930
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 0.9%
This can be a tough gig, especially if the economy isn’t firing on all cylinders. After all, your job is to get a potential client to part with their money and give it to your company.
But in exchange, your company will change this client’s life for the better — at least, that’s the message you need to convey.
If you’re good at conveying that message, you may love this job. And you may thrive if a sales commission is involved. As for what you sell, it depends on your company; you might sell anything from auto parts to antacid tablets.
It’s a job that may require a lot of travel or none at all. Every sales job is different. You also may need to attend trade shows and conferences to stay on top of new trends.
Learn more about sales representatives.
Median Salary: $60,890
Expected Job Growth by 2029: -20.4%
It’s a wonderful job if you can get it. This is an industry that is shrinking. Executives are often sharing administrative assistants who don’t work for as much pay.
But if you do become an executive assistant, you’ll field calls, schedule meetings and manage the boss’s calendar — another reason this job is often disappearing. Technology has made it easier for executives to manage their own calendars.
But you’ll do a lot of things that can’t be automated, such as providing high-level administrative support for the company and its executives, like putting out fires (figuratively) and making sure high-profile clients’ needs are met. You might also analyze documents, compile research reports or do some occasional supervising of clerical staff members. In other words, you’ll get a lot of experience that might prepare you to be an executive one day.
Learn more about executive assistants.
Median Salary: $63,150
Expected Job Growth by 2029: 5.7%
Being a cop always looks so exciting and even fun on TV, with crooks who can’t shoot straight and a partner who can deliver witty banter with the best of them.
But the reality is a little different. You’re often dealing with long hours and short tempers. It can be a stressful job that involves dealing with emergency situations and a wide spectrum of colorful characters. It can also be a boring job if you’re driving around in a quiet community all day and filling out police reports or updating records. At the same time, you’re making good money with benefits, and you are doing heroic work, helping people and making a difference.
Learn more about patrol officers.
The 25 highest paying jobs without a degree:
— Patrol Officer.
— Executive Assistant.
— Sales Representative.
— Flight Attendant.
— Structural Iron and Steelworker.
— Sound Engineering Technician.
— Hearing Aid Specialist.
— Brickmason and Blockmason.
— Wind Turbine Technician.
— Computer Support Specialist.
— Insurance Sales Agent.
— Sheet Metal Worker.
— Equipment Operator.
— Real Estate Agent.
— Surgical Technologist.
— Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse.
— Solar Photovoltaic Installer.
— Cement Mason and Concrete Finisher.
— Insulation Contractor.
See the full list of the highest paying jobs without a degree here.
More from U.S. News
Update 05/24/21: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.