10 Jobs With High Pay, Low Education Requirements

policeMichael Kling, Investopedia

You don't have to go to college earn a decent living. Some professions pay good salaries without requiring post-secondary schooling.

A college degree can be a great path towards a well-paying, satisfying profession, but a bachelor's degree isn't for everyone. In fact, some see advanced education as overrated. A surge in the number of college graduates have dampened the value of a college education. College comes intact with high tuition, room and board, and supplies fees - and that's not even factoring in debt payments that usually last for years, if not decades.

Trusting the 'Net

Beware of online lists of top-paying professions with little schooling. Some lists cite obscure professions or ones requiring long-term on-the-job training. Just because a profession doesn't officially require a degree is no indicator that and education wouldn't be advantageous, especially for inexperienced applicants in today's competitive job market.

Your New Career

Here's a list of top-paying jobs requiring little schooling, and their median annual earnings as of 2006, using the latest data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Keep in mind that these jobs have their own challenges and often require some type of specialized schooling - sometimes on-the-job training.

1. Air Traffic Controllers: $117,200

These workers make sure airplanes land and take off safely, and they typically top lists of this nature. The median 50% earned between $86,860-142,210, with good benefits. Air traffic controllers are eligible to retire at age 50 with 20 years of service, or after 25 years at any age.

Watching blinking dots on a radar screen that control the lives of hundreds can be stressful, and the job require specialized FAA schooling and on-the-job training. Typically, two to four years of training are needed in order to become fully certified, although previous military experience can cut that time down significantly.

2. Industrial Production Managers: $77,670

They oversee manufacturing activities. A college degree is preferred, but not necessarily mandatory. They often work in industries such as aviation and automobiles.

3. First-Line Police and Detective Supervisors: $69,300

Police officers can advance through the ranks to become supervisors by passing exams and achieving good performance reviews, and advanced training can help win promotions.

4. Funeral Director: $49,620

College programs in mortuary science usually last from two to four years. You typically must also serve a one-year apprenticeship, pass an exam and obtain a state license. Hours can be long and irregular. Dealing with dead bodies and crying relatives isn't for everyone.

5. Police and Sheriff Patrol Officers: $47,460

Police corporals had an average minimum annual base salary of $44,160, according to the International City-County Management Association. But total income can significantly exceed base salary because of overtime pay. And police officers can often retire at half-pay after 25-30 years of service.

Applicants usually must have at least a high school education, and some departments require a year or two of college or even a degree. Rookies are trained at police academies.

6. Advertising Sales Agents: $42,750

20% have a high school degree or less, and 10% have an Associate's degree.

7. Real Estate Brokers and Sales Agents: $39,760

Don't let that figure fool you; the highest 10% earned more than $111,500. While advanced coursework is not necessarily required, new entrants must pass an exam and get a state license. Connections in the community and a willingness to work hard are what really count, but experience and a good housing market also help.

8. Occupational Therapist Assistants: $42,060

These workers usually need an associate degree or a certificate. They work with occupational therapists, helping injured patients recover from, or compensate for, lost motor skills. Job prospects are good in the growing health care field, especially for those with some post-secondary education.

9. Occupational Therapist Aides: $25,000

These employees receive most training on the job. Under supervision of occupational therapists, they also work with injured people. Competition for jobs is tougher for those with only a high school diploma.


10. Physical Therapist Assistants: $41,360

These workers deal with physical therapists, helping patents improve mobility, relieve pain or overcome injuries or disabilities. Those working in home health care services tend to make more on average. Aides, earning an average of $22,000, are trained on the job. Assistants, who have greater responsibilities, typically need an associate's degree.

The Bottom Line

Despite a recession, plenty of career paths can lead to well-paying professions without spending four years or more hitting the books, including opportunities in law enforcement, health care and sales. The goal is to find a job that matches your own particular talents and preferences in addition to supporting your lifestyle.

Next: Top 10 Companies Hiring This Week >>

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Tom thompson

the best paying profession in this country IS SALES iworked as a salesman,selling different things I HAVE MADE WELL OVER A 100,000 K A YEAR. and you wouln,t have some ******* bugging you all the time big money in sales you you have enough brains and no education.no background check.

December 09 2013 at 2:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
don stack

Actually Bob, Obama has a job that requires no education. In light of the intelligence of the American people these days, it would seem he is overqualified for the position. I mean, after all Harvard AND Columbia Law Schools??? In the same 6 years it took Palin to get her 4 year degree in Journalism.. you feel that education isnt a requirement then you have plenty of choices, dont you?

January 26 2010 at 4:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

out of all of those, i'd chose none...no offense, but it's just not my thing. I need more drama! lollz. like the president would remember what I want...

January 22 2010 at 12:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

k, this is great for my project, but some jobs don't say whether Bachelor's is required or not! HELP?

January 21 2010 at 11:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


January 04 2010 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
larry jaggie

Gee I ould starve if I couldn't make better than what the above 10 job classifications had to offer, with a high school, or a little above education........I never went to high school, and I gross about 110.000, a year

December 19 2009 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I do know that if you can pass a drug screening and physical exam, you can apply for a job as a law enforcement officer and in five years you can make about $60,000 a year w/benefits.

November 18 2009 at 9:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


November 14 2009 at 8:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Interesting article, covering various activities.

November 09 2009 at 2:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am a beginner on here, please review my previous comment!

November 07 2009 at 11:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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