15 Great Jobs That Don’t Require a College Education

Photo (cc) by photologue_np

College is a great time to figure out what you want to do with your life. But if you’re not on scholarship, it’s an expensive way to think things through. The Institute for College Access & Success’ Project on Student Debt reports two-thirds of the Class of 2010 graduated in debt, owing more than $25,000 on average.

It’s not uncommon for students to change majors multiple times and still end up in a field different from their degree. I went from computer science to English to communication, briefly flirting with photography somewhere in between. And after I graduated? I went into journalism, which sort of combines them all, but isn’t what my diploma says.

This doesn’t mean college isn’t worth it – for those who pick a field and stick to it, it usually is. Having a degree usually leads to higher lifetime earnings, in part because leadership roles and higher-paying positions tend to require them. And there are plenty of ways to cut college costs, from attending cheaper schools to scoring lots of scholarships and recycling textbook cash.

But college straight out of high school (or ever) isn’t for everybody, and many people get ahead in life pursuing jobs that don’t require a degree. By the time bright-eyed graduates hit the job market looking for their entry-level seats, those grizzled workforce veterans are a rung or two up the ladder with four years of experience under their belts.

A degree may even be an entry barrier in some fields – because practical experience is prized over a piece of paper. Plus, you’re making money instead of spending it. Or, as job search site CareerCast puts it…

Assuming you have no degree but are willing to do some advanced training, such as attending a technical school, you could earn around $30,000 a year as a beginner, if you are sharp. That means that over four years, you’d earn about $120,000, while your counterpart who’s in college earns little or nothing, and may even carry the same amount in debt by graduation.

With that in mind, here are 15 titles CareerCast says are great jobs making over $40,000 a year without a four-year degree

1. Dental hygienist

Income average: $68,000

Income growth (from entry-level to top): 109 percent

Employment growth (through 2020): 37.70 percent

2. Online advertising manager

Income average: $87,000

Income growth: 255 percent

Employment growth: 25.00 percent

3. Web developer

Income average: $76,000

Income growth: 179 percent

Employment growth: 21.70 percent

4. Paralegal assistant

Income average: $47,000

Income growth: 159 percent

Employment growth: 18.30 percent

5. Stenographer – court reporter

Income average: $48,000

Income growth: 250 percent

Employment growth: 14.10 percent

6. Heating and refrigeration mechanic

Income average: $43,000

Income growth: 158 percent

Employment growth: 33.70 percent

7. Surveyor

Income average: $55,000

Income growth: 190 percent

Employment growth: 25.40 percent

8. Executive assistant

Income average: $44,000

Income growth: 131 percent

Employment growth: 12.60 percent

9. Insurance agent

Income average: $47,000

Income growth: 342 percent

Employment Growth: 21.90 percent

10. Industrial machine repairer

Income average: $45,000

Income growth: 127 percent

Employment growth: 21.60 percent

11. Tax examiner – collector

Income average: $49,000

Income growth: 207 percent

Employment growth: 7.30 percent

12. Wholesales sales representative

Income average: $52,000

Income growth: 304 percent

Employment growth: 15.60 percent

13. Construction machine operator

Income average: $40,000

Income growth: 173 percent

Employment growth: 23.50 percent

14. Electrical technician

Income average: $56,000

Income growth: 138 percent

Employment growth: 1.90 percent

15. Architectural drafter

Income average: $46,000

Income growth: 140 percent

Employment growth: 3.20 percent

Already saddled with college debt? Check out What to Do If You’re Struggling with Student Loans. And for more on this topic, When a High School Diploma Beats a College Degree

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

Read Next
Grow Your Savings in 2020 With These 5 Tricks
Grow Your Savings in 2020 With These 5 Tricks

Saving money doesn’t have to be painful. Here are some ways to game yourself into stashing more cash.

8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths
8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths

Think you’re ready to buy a house? Don’t fall victim to these rookie mistakes.

7 Reasons You Should Consider a Career Change at 50
7 Reasons You Should Consider a Career Change at 50

Wondering how to change careers at 50, or if it’s possible at all? The good news is that many older workers have the energy and experience to pull it off.

How to Get Rid of 6 Hard-to-Sell Things
How to Get Rid of 6 Hard-to-Sell Things

Find out where to sell, donate or recycle items — and feel good about it.

8 Ways to Slash the Cost of Homeowners Insurance
8 Ways to Slash the Cost of Homeowners Insurance

Reviewing this critical insurance policy takes a little effort, but it pays off big.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Whether you resell it for a big profit or add it to your own wardrobe, this type of clothing is a hidden steal.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds
Organize Your Home With These 10 Thrift Store Finds

Resolve to be clutter-free in 2021 with these secondhand purchases.

11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It
11 Laws You Could Be Breaking Without Knowing It

Seriously? Fibbing about the weather is a crime? This and other little-known legal traps await the unwary.

Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?
Is This Treatable Condition Causing Your High Blood Pressure?

Researchers say too many doctors are overlooking this potential source of hypertension.

13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free
13 Things Seniors Can Get for Free — or Almost Free

There are many ways to get cheap or free services and goods after reaching a certain age.

Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider
Taking a Multivitamin? Here’s Why You Should Reconsider

A new study has bad news for the millions of Americans who spend money on multivitamins.

21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss
21 Items to Cut From Your Budget That You Won’t Even Miss

Start off the new year by implementing these small-but-smart savings strategies. They’ll soon add up.

These 10 Postal Price Hikes Start Next Week
These 10 Postal Price Hikes Start Next Week

Starting on Jan. 24, the price of various mail and shipping services will rise.

Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore
Internet Providers Can’t Charge You for This Anymore

Starting this month, your ISP no longer can bill you for this fee.

15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years
10 Cars You Are Most Likely to Keep for 15 Years

The cars that owners hold onto the longest have one thing in common, a new study shows.

This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia
This Surprise Factor Can Raise Your Risk of Dementia

Nearly half of U.S. residents may face this threat.

Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021
Prepare to Pay More for These 31 Drugs in 2021

More than 700 prescription medications have seen price hikes so far this year. Here’s a look at the worst.

5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them
5 States Lowering Taxes This Year and 2 Raising Them

State personal income tax rates, brackets and deductions just changed in these places.

7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster
7 Tricks to Cleaning Your Bathroom Faster

These tips can get your bathroom sparkling with little time and no elbow grease.

The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire
The 10 Golden Rules of Becoming a Millionaire

I’m a millionaire several times over. I got here the same way you can — by following these simple steps.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.