10 Well-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree

Photo (cc) by Jason Hargrove

A college degree isn’t always a prerequisite for a well-paying job. While it’s true that many occupations that require only a high school diploma don’t pay much, a number of jobs actually pay above the median income.

A new study by 24/7 Wall St. analyzed wage and employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to identify the highest-paying jobs you can get with a high school diploma.

But 24/7 Wall St. noted that there’s often an underlying reason why the pay is high. For instance, the jobs often come with physical risks, irregular work hours, extensive on-the-job training, strict licensing requirements or union membership.

The five highest-paying jobs for those with only a high school diploma are:

  1. Transportation, storage and distribution managers, $83,890. For this important job in global trade and commerce, a high school diploma is all that’s required, although most managers hold a bachelor’s degree.
  2. Elevator installers and repairers, $78,640. This job requires an apprenticeship (typically a five-year program). Apprentices study everything from electrical theory to math and physics, and most states require a license.
  3. Detectives and criminal investigators, $76,730. Typically, detectives start out as police officers before moving up the ranks, 24/7 Wall St. said. Police officers train at an academy and have to pass physical and written tests.
  4. Commercial pilots, $74,470. Smaller airlines typically don’t require a college degree. But pilots have to pass medical, written and flight exams and log a number of hours before being licensed. “The BLS anticipates that the number of commercial pilots will increase 9 percent by 2022, making it one of the faster growing jobs on this list,” 24/7 Wall St. said.
  5. Power plant operator, $68,100. This position requires extensive on-the-job training, both in the plant and the classroom. Operators usually work in shifts, so irregular work hours can be a concern.

The next five top-paying jobs for high school graduates are gaming managers, transportation inspectors, postmasters and mail superintendents, electrical power line installers and repairers, and gas plant operators. Click here for more information.

While these jobs don’t require more than a high school diploma now, that could change in the future.

Martin Kohli, chief regional economist for the BLS, told 24/7 Wall St., “The trend now is to require college degrees in occupations that don’t have them.”

I grew up in a family of five kids. Of all my siblings, my sister, the only one of us with a master’s degree, is making the least amount of money (and her job requires a master’s degree). Meanwhile, one of my brothers makes nearly triple my sister’s salary, and he has a high school education.

Does your job require a college degree? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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