The 20 Highest-Paying Jobs That Don't Require A College Degree


It turns out you don't need a college degree to pull in a pretty penny.


Yes, workers with only a high school diploma do face an unemployment rate nearly twice that of college educated workers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and they make almost half of what those with a bachelor's degree earn, on average. But a new report from CareerBuilder finds that despite this disparity, workers without a college education do have plenty of options for lucrative careers.

CareerBuilder says there are currently 115 occupations in the U.S. that only require a high school diploma and pay $20 an hour or more, on average.

"High school is the highest level of education completed by 25% of workers ages 25 and older," says Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America. "This list demonstrates that, while pursuing higher education is a proven way to increase your earning potential, there are other options for those who are unable or choose not to attend college."

With help from Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. (EMSI), an economic software firm that specializes in employment and labor market data, CareerBuilder put together a list of the 20 best-paying occupations for workers with a high school degree.


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CareerBuilder and EMSI used BLS data to compile the ranking, and analyzed factors such as anticipated growth and requirements for on-the-job training for each occupation, in addition to median hourly pay.

They found that 70% of the 115 highest-paying jobs for college grads typically require moderate to long-term on-the-job training or apprenticeships, while 30% generally require short-term or no on-the-job training.

In several of these jobs, workers may need to attend vocational school or other non-college-level training programs to achieve licensure or certification. Additionally, entry-level requirements will vary by state, locality, and employer.

CareerBuilder also notes that high-paying occupations for high school graduates aren't all necessarily entry-level positions. For instance, first-line supervisors, regardless of discipline, typically require one to five years of prior work experience.

"While the pursuit of higher education is the best bet for gainful employment, it is a myth that only good jobs go to college graduates and that workers with high school degrees are destined to low-wage careers," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, in a press release.


"It's important to note, however, that most high-paying jobs available to high school grads involve skillsets that require extensive post-secondary training or several years' worth of prior experience," she continues, "and are often in fields that have seen declining employment in recent years."