Seven Jobs That Make It Worth Skipping College


Ask most high school guidance counselors, and they'll tell you a college degree is your key to a decent paying job. But that's not necessarily always the case. While many jobs like lawyer, doctor, and professor still require degrees, Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis at, helped us pinpoint several jobs that don't.

However, before you ditch your plans to earn a college diploma, we should note that these jobs do require specialized knowledge, whether it's obtained through a vocational training program or an on-the-job education. Many people in these occupations also have a traditional degree, so that certainly can't hurt.

There's no high-paying job that doesn't require a high level skill," says Lee. "You can learn it on the job, but you're going to have to learn it." With the rising cost of college tuition, it may make sense to pursue one of these career paths.

1. Freelance Photographer - $47,800

Lee says that non-degree jobs tend to fall into one of two categories: technical or entrepreneurial. Being a freelance photographer requires a high degree of business savvy in addition to photography skills. Depending on the type of work you do, you might take product shots, family portraits, corporate headshots, wedding pictures, or other images, then touch up the pictures digitally and send them to clients for review.

2. Private Detective or Investigator - $50,600

This is another area where a high degree of personal initiative is required. Private detectives or investigators might testify at hearings, analyze data, search databases, or question suspects. Knowledge of psychology and the law, critical thinking skills, and the ability to listen and read body language are also useful.

3. Elevator Mechanic - $61,500

"When [elevators] break, people are miserable," Lee points out. "You might have travel that makes it pay more so you can get there and fix it before the morning rush hour." Successful elevator mechanics generally have a knack for understanding complex mechanical systems, assembling and disassembling elevator parts, and following safety standards.

4. Nuclear Power Reactor Operator - $79,100

Since nuclear power reactor operators work with highly sensitive reactors, they need an understanding of physics and engineering, as well as active learning and troubleshooting skills. The higher pay correlates to the highly specialized skill set required.

5. Personal Trainer - $37,500

Knowledge of nutrition, anatomy, and first aid are helpful, so many personal trainers have a college degree or specialized certification. Since the independent personal trainer's income is tied to the number of clients they train, time management skills, physical stamina, and customer service skills are assets in this field.

6. Director of Security - $62,400

Someone might start out as assistant to the director of security and work their way up. Tasks might include analyzing security data, investigating security breaches, and supervising others. Lee says jobs like this are "not a bad track for someone who is more physical or manual, where it's about on-the-job training and less about formal programs."

7. Air Traffic Controller - $60,200

Although the job doesn't require a college degree, the FAA screens prospective air traffic controllers with a pre-employment test and other requirements, so it's a competitive field. The job might entail monitoring aircraft, issuing take-off and landing instructions, and directing ground traffic.

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Well, This is at least something. However, It would appear that these are also very good reasons to skip high school.

August 13 2011 at 8:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Jobs listed, either in short supply or don't exist.

August 02 2010 at 4:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sharanne Wick

Having a college degree is not a requirement for the position of President of the United States of America, or Vice President. In fact, a high school diploma is not a requirement, either. Article 2, Section 1 of our Constitution sets forth only 3 requirements: Be a natural born citizen of the USA, be at least 35 years of age, have resided in the USA for at least 14 years.

August 02 2010 at 3:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I grew up on on the water,landed a job on a ferry and I worked my way up through the "hawsepipe" and obtained through many years of "hands on", professional training and rigorous coast guard exams my master's license. I operate a good size vessel (320' in length). There are maritime acadamies out there that graduate officers with degrees and that is all good too but not required.
I was making a six figure income before I became "semi" retired..Just do what you have a passion for and you will be good at it whether or not you have go to college. Things will fall into place.

August 02 2010 at 1:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is totally a false statement or report about FedEx. My husband works for FedEx Express and my aunt died in 2006 and my mother died in 2007 and my husband was able to attend both funerals out of state. He received 4 days off each time, and these were only his in-laws. So, I know for a fact that this is all bogus about FedEx, and totally nonsense. If you have serious family emergencies you can even request a leave of absence for short term or long term, and still have a job when you return.

August 02 2010 at 1:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

there are alot of companys like that and i work for one pratt inds but my wife works for a bank and they give you 10 days paid sicktime a year and help you pay for day care and more.

August 02 2010 at 12:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I so agree with RR. My son mailed a ring via UPS. They asked what is was, they didn't have to know. He got his receipt and left. Of course the package never arrived, traced the ticket# to the store, the package had never left but the person at the store said it was not there. Which only tells us, someone in the store took the package and it was never mailed out. We got a crumy $250 for it. I will never use UPS again and yes I agree although not managed well, I will only use the US Post Office.

August 01 2010 at 11:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is now our corporate culture. As a upper management in the know, let me tell you a few things that go on.
Some companies will tell employees the financial plight of the company and layoffs are likely. However, the real truth is they will cut positions to save money even though it isn't necessary. It makes the upper eschelon look good while the existing employees are expected to pick up the slack. Therefore, when someone needs to take time off it causes real problems. This is due to the fact there is no one to pick up the slack. Therefore it puts a strain on management and their co-workers. I could write a book on how corporate greed takes advantage of their workforce. Why temp agencies are thriving at 20% growth while there are no permenant jobs. You get the message.
It's a deceit that will someday come to light.

August 01 2010 at 11:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

FedEx also doesn't pay their customers claims against them for damaged shipments, they will run you round and round until you get tired but never pay. I almost exclusively ship with the US postal service now.

August 01 2010 at 11:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Best job i ever had must of been that blow-job i got after leaving the bar last night with this unemployed little college girl. She must of needed a bed for the night, because this morning when i woke, she was gone and so was all my money and i'm still wondering what happened to my old truck.

August 01 2010 at 11:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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