25 Highest Paying Jobs -- No Bachelor's Degree Required

construction jobWhat do Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and entertainment mogul David Geffen have in common? Huge bank accounts and no student loans. These industry leaders are some of the most successful people in business and none of them has a college degree.

The belief that you need a college education to have a well-paying and rewarding job is quickly fading. A four-year degree definitely has its benefits in the business world, but it's not the only path to a successful career.

In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), eight of the 10 fastest-growing occupations through 2014 don't require a bachelor's degree. And these jobs, which include health technology, plumbing, firefighting and automotive repair, are less vulnerable to outsourcing. After all, if a fire breaks out, you need the fire department to be a few blocks away, not halfway around the world.

While the educational requirements for many good jobs have risen, many occupations still don't require a four-year degree. Several of these positions require vocational training or an associate degree. All of them require some on-the-job training or an apprenticeship.

Here are 25 of the top-paying jobs that don't require a four-year degree and their average salaries, based on data from the BLS and CBSalary.com.

1. Air traffic controller: $102,030

2. Funeral director: $79,517

3. Operations manager: $77,839

4. Industrial production manager: $73,000

5. Transportation manager: $72,662

6. Storage and distribution manager: $69,898

7. Computer technical support specialist: $67,689

8. Gaming manager: $64,880

9. First-line supervisor/manager of police and detective: $64,430

10. Nuclear power reactor operator: $64,090

11. Computer specialist: $59,480

12. First-line, non-retail supervisors/manager: $59,300

13. Nuclear technician: $59,200

14. First-line supervisor/manager of fire fighting and prevention worker: $58,920

15. Real estate broker: $58,720

16. Elevator installer and repairer: $58,710

17. Sales representative, wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products: $58,580

18. Dental hygienist: $59,790

19. Radiation therapist: $57,700

20. Nuclear medicine technologist: $56,450

21. Power plant distributor and dispatcher: $57,330

22. Fashion designer: $55,840

23. Ship engineer: $54,950

24. Detective and criminal investigator: $53,990

25. Commercial pilot: $53,870

For some of these occupations, the highest earners in the field make a significantly higher amount than the national average. For example, the top funeral directors can make $225,500. Some non-retail sales representatives can earn as much as $114,540, nearly double the national average. Operations managers, who already rank highly on the list, can make $132,537. As with any occupations, location factors heavily into how much you earn. (For example, major metropolitan areas will probably pay more than smaller towns.)

"The thing to keep in mind is that there are something like 50 million jobs out there that don't require a bachelor's degree and pay upwards of $40,000 a year," says Harlow Unger, author of "But What If I Don't Want to Go to College? A Guide to Success Through Alternative Education."

He goes on to say that according to the U.S. Department of Labor, by 2010, almost two-thirds of all projected job openings will require only on-the-job training.

So while a college degree was de rigueur for the Baby Boom generation, that's not necessarily the case now. In today's highly technical and service-related market, workers are judged more on their skills than their sheepskins.

Next: 10 Highest-Paying Blue-Collar Jobs >>

Copyright 2008 CareerBuilder.com.

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Executive chef assosiate of science annual salary upwards of 150,000 per year in large 4 diamong hotel Resort and casino operations

August 26 2012 at 6:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Iain Geddes

Not much chance of getting any of these jobs sadly! As Geno said, lottery chance!


October 25 2011 at 7:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What they don't tell you is how many people are actually hired for most of these jobs without a degree. Very few. If you don't own the business you basically have a lottery chance of getting most of these jobs.

July 26 2011 at 1:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hold fast Dan. I recall working for a hospital years ago in the Washington, DC area as a Medical Billing Manager/Cost Center Liaison. Let me tell you this. Because I showed initiative of coming in to work hours other than work hours and I assisted other departments that had work not being done by who they hired, I still got fired. Explain that Dan? I got an even better one for you. I got injured on the job some years ago and ended up totally disabled. How come I had to type a resignation letter saying I would never attempt to be an employee of the company ever again and I recieved less than two years salary and had to pay back more than $12,000.00. The accident was not my fault, but someone else's. Explain that Dan.

September 18 2010 at 5:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My thing is this. Are we so worried about unemployment numbers now and saying getting a college education, well, ummm, not so important? Consider if someone wanted to have a serious relationship and the woman wanted children. What if a couple is already married and their two combined incomes, still only allows them to have less than $200.00 monthly combined? These are real issues relating to families of today. Let's not forget those unexpected medical bills because now stress and hypertension has come into play under financial stressors. Let's also throw in, the car just stopped running while in trafic, now it needs to be towed and then a diagnostics at the car repair shop. Meanwhile, while the mechanic is playing doctor with your vehilce, a pipe burst in the basement of your home and floods your basement. Now all of a sudden your wife wants a divorce because the hardship has taken its toll on your marriage. Therefore, a college education is necessary. I also believe while working at that so called cushion job, that at least one parent should work a second job just in case.

September 18 2010 at 5:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dan stanick


What a bunch of crybabies. First we want no government, then we want the government to fix everything. The job market is not easy, but for people with the right attitude, there are jobs. Most folks think they are entitled to benefits and perks. Think again. These things are earned. The unions have a lot of responsibility for employers going to part-time workers because they could not meet the ever-increasing demands of more pay, more time off, more benefits, etc. Our capitalist society will eventually bring jobs and wages back into line, but not without it being difficult and painful. All of us can't own houses and every 'toy' imaginable from ski-do's to big screen TV's. These things have to be earned. Too many people mortgaged their houses and their kid's futures by trying to impress people they don't even know.

September 17 2010 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to dan stanick's comment

The problem with this is, that today it is difficult to hold onto a job long enough to earn any benifits. For most people things are not like they use to be back over the last several decades; very few options for starting at the bottom and working your way up in a company for a long term career. I know people from all walks of life, in a variety of industries, that can't seem to get past more than a couple years employment before being let go. It's very frustrating and something is obviously broken. The difficult question is, what is wrong and how do we fix it?

September 18 2010 at 4:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to 13thGeneral's comment

I know exactly what you mean. Government has placed business owners to do whatever they want to do. Every business imaginable is crying poor mouth. These businesses used the recession to cashout some long term pentions and to avoid insurance costs by letting firing people. The phrase of 2010 and 2011 is "Out sourced" businesses have hired staffing agencies for labor to avoid employee overhead costs. These employment agencies are bringing in people and paying pennies in salary to do work that would have paid the labors 3 times as much as the staffing agencies are paying. The labor has no choice but to take the jobs because all of the jobs have been divided among the staffing agencies, "Can you say slavery?" This is going to back fire because our economy thrives on consumers who spend money. If you take the money from the consumers, there will be no money to flow through the economy. You are forcing the spendors to tighten their belts even tighter. If they continue to squeeze the money up top the value of he dollar will lower. The rich will finally get poor and the poor will look at the rich as they jump out of the wallstreet windows.

July 26 2011 at 6:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

Some people don't even have the opportunity to earn . Thats not even available. LOL .

September 18 2010 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Janice L. Cerda

The economy has something to do with this is a statement of the obvious. I am 56 yrs old returned to college, attained my A.A.S. in Business in Dec of '08 and have yet to even get an interview. I have plenty of clerk experience in the course of all my past jobs. but nothing directly as a clerk. I have no clue as to why I was not interviewed, what I lack, because it is like I flushed my resume right down the internet toilet. My frustration and school loans have led back to school. It is a certificate that I am working toward and not a traditional job I am seeking, hopefully when I graduate I will find work.

September 17 2010 at 2:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Janice L. Cerda's comment

My husband is also 56 and was terminated from a company he had worked for 32 years. He was one of the few with length of employment therefore his salary was very good. He too has applied in all surrounding cities, and in six months has had one job interview. He is now back in school trying to get accepted to RN school. If we can "financially survive" for the next two years maybe he will get a job paying "half" of what he was making before. And to the other person that said it was the fault of Corporate America - I totally agree because the greed factor has taken over loyalty!

September 18 2010 at 7:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sally Abbott

Good grief! I've been reading these comments. No wonder you can't find a job if you can't spell or write English.

September 17 2010 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sally Abbott

Good grief! I've been reading these comments. No wonder to can't find a job if you can't spell or write English.

September 17 2010 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Funny, the first position that I looked at was for a full-time, book distribution manager in West Palm Beach, Florida...a four year degree is required with 5 years experience a must.

September 17 2010 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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