9 Well-Paying Jobs That Don't Require A Degree

Richard Branson, Rachael Ray, Mark Zuckerberg and Lady Gaga all have two things in common: 1) They are incredibly successful; 2) They are college dropouts. While it's a common belief that in order to be successful and make a lot of money you need to have a college degree, those four prove that's not necessarily true.

Sure, college-educated workers may have access to more opportunities and, on average, make more money than workers without degrees, but college isn't for everyone. Some people just don't want to take that direction in life, while others may have financial or personal reasons for foregoing higher education. And just because someone doesn't have a college diploma hanging on his or her wall doesn't mean he or she can't find a fulfilling job with a steady income. While we can't all be the founder of a ubiquitous social network or an international pop star, there are still a variety of jobs available that pay well, no college diploma required. These jobs may offer extensive on-the-job training or value real-life experience over a college education. While every company is different, and some employers may prefer that employees attain certain degrees or certifications, here are nine jobs that don't require a degree in order to get hired:

1. Administrative services manager*
  • What they do: Administrative services managers plan, direct and coordinate supportive services of an organization. Their responsibilities vary and may include keeping records, distributing mail, and planning and maintaining facilities. Experience in managerial and leadership roles is often required or preferred.
  • Typical education level that most workers need to enter this occupation: High-school diploma or equivalent.
  • Average annual pay: $86,720.

2. Claims adjuster, examiner and investigator
  • What they do: Workers employed in this occupation evaluate insurance claims. They decide whether an insurance company must pay a claim, and if so, how much is owed. Employers may prefer that workers have some prior insurance experience or vocational training in a related subject.
  • Typical education level that most workers need: High-school diploma or equivalent.
  • Average annual pay: $61,110.

3. Crane and tower operator
  • What they do: These material moving machine operators use machinery, such as cranes and forklifts, to transport objects. Some workers in this role move construction materials around building sites or earth around a mine, while others transport goods around a warehouse or onto and off of container ships. Machine repair and inspections may also be part of the job. These workers usually get about a month's worth of on-the-job training.
  • Typical education level that most workers need: Less than high school.
  • Average annual pay: $50,040.

4. Derrick operator, oil and gas
  • What they do: These oil and gas workers execute drilling plans designed by petroleum engineers. They operate equipment that digs wells and removes oil or gas. Most companies require that workers be at least 18 years of age and in good physical condition. Workers may also need to pass a drug test.
  • Typical education level that most workers need: Less than high school.
  • Average annual pay: $47,120.

5. Elevator installer and repairer
  • What they do: Elevator installers and repairers install, fix and maintain elevators, escalators, moving walkways and other moving/transportation machinery. Some states may require licensure in order to work in this role. Most workers in this field participate in a formal apprenticeship before entering this field full time.
  • Typical education level that most workers need: High-school diploma or equivalent.
  • Average annual pay: $73,560.

6. Electrical and electronics installer and repairer, transportation equipment
  • What they do: These workers install, repair or replace various types of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities and other industries. While a high-school diploma may be enough for workers to find employment, some do gain voluntary certification to learn the required skills.
  • Typical education level that most workers need: Postsecondary non-degree award.
  • Average annual pay: $52,080.

7. Loan officer
  • What they do: Loan officers evaluate, authorize or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses. Most workers in this field gain on-the-job training within the first few months of employment.
  • Typical education level that most workers need: High-school diploma or equivalent.
  • Average annual pay: $67,960.

8. Nuclear power reactor operator
  • What they do: As a nuclear power reactor operator, you're tasked with moving control rods, starting and stopping equipment, monitoring and adjusting controls and recording data. You may also have to implement emergency procedures when needed. Many companies require potential employees to take the Edison Electrical Institute's Power Plant Maintenance and Plant Operator exams to gauge whether they have the right aptitudes to succeed in this occupation.
  • Typical education level that most workers need: High-school diploma or equivalent.
  • Average annual pay: $77,550.

9. Subway and streetcar operator
  • What they do: Subway and streetcar operators transport passengers in both urban and suburban areas. The vehicles they drive travel underground, on above-ground and elevated tracks, on streets or on separate tracks. Several months of on-the-job training is usually required to perform in this role.
  • Typical education level that most workers need: High-school diploma or equivalent.
  • Average annual pay: $59,400.

*All average annual pay figures, job descriptions and education levels are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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A Edwards Anderson

Great article. Two other careers I would add to this list are medical billers and medical coders. I owned a billing and coding business for years and made 6 figures. I do have a BS and MS. However, I learned my healthcare information technology skills while working my way through college in the field.

Another great thing about the administrative related jobs listed here are that they can be done from home. In this technological age, more and more companies are offering telecommuting mortgage, insurance and administrative jobs.

Anne Marie Anderson
Legitimate Online Job Directory - specializing in legit, scam free, fee free, mlm free work from home jobs

November 30 2012 at 3:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is a different sort of list from many I have seen and it is surprising what some of these jobs pay on average...the place for more of this info is in high schools so that kids do not blindly assume they need a
college degree to earn pay this good. Ed http://youtu.be/8hPgjUkzyP4

October 14 2012 at 11:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scottie & Les

How comforting to know that the only qualification a nuclear power reactor operator needs is a high school diploma....or GED. Three Mile Island anyone?

August 12 2012 at 2:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Andrew John Cheadle

Every one of these jobs needs training in their particular field. However, as these lists usually have ten here is number 10 which, apparently requires no training whatsoever ...

10) AOL Blogger

August 07 2012 at 7:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Renee Annette Silva

really good article

August 07 2012 at 6:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kimberly Dooney

What a false sense of hope. I am 45 and have been a waitress for 25 years. I raised two children, owned my own home, always had a nice car etc...It used to be a pretty decent salary to live on. Now however, when I search for a waitress job, they require a resume. SERIOUSLY??? And what skills am I supposed to list? How I have mastered the skill of carrying a tray, or how I can efficiently carry 5 plates in one hand. Yes, I've also mastered the skill of setting a table properly. It makes me sick to my stomach. It all comes down to whats written on a piece of paper? What happened to a person to person evaluation?

July 28 2012 at 8:44 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

There are a lot of jobs that dont require a degree , not just the ones listed here. Believe me though , as the nuclear power plant operator job may not require a degree, it most certainly isnt a walk-in position. You will definitely need a clean background check .I've worked outages in nuclear plants and the way the background checks are conducted let you find out more about yourself than you thought you knew. If you have any sort of police record, credit problems or drug addiction...dont bother to apply.

July 24 2012 at 8:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nuclear power plant operator, US Navy training considered the best, after all they have been using them on ships and submarines for 60 plus years.

July 24 2012 at 1:59 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

They forgot "air traffic controller” that has a mean salary of $154,000 per year plus great retirement benefits along with health insurance……………….

July 24 2012 at 12:16 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


Now post the job listings and locations...

and their off to the races........ ........... ............

Oh wait...... their are no jobs even in these fields...

One Term 4 Obuma

July 23 2012 at 10:20 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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