The 10 Best Jobs You Can Get Without a College Education

By on December 4, 2014 in ArticlesHow Much Does

Let's face it, mom and dad were right. There aren't a ton of opportunities out there for you if you don't go to college. With the cost of living these days, people who hold only a high school diploma just don't have the earning capacity of their degreed pals. What? You say Bill Gates didn't finish college? Correct. He did drop out of an IVY LEAGUE institution of higher learning. Even those with some college have more economic opportunities than those who never attended college. The median salary of those with just a high school diploma is $29,766 per year, while the typical college grad with a BA makes $50,281.

But wait! We're not here to beat you up about your life choices. However, for every Bill Gates, John Pau DiJoria, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg there are thousands of people trying to make a living on just a high school education. Look on the bright side; while a college graduated carries student loan debt that averages $29.400, you enter the workforce debt free. That puts things in a different light.

If you are not a tech genius, brilliant inventor, innovative entrepreneur, or the next Oscar winning thespian, don't despair. Today there are many thriving careers you can embark on. You don't have to sell shoes in your local mall like Al Bundy. The following 10 jobs don't require a college degree, have below average stress levels, and are in growing industries. Some do require post-secondary courses such as at vocational schools or in apprenticeships in that field. For comparison the average salary range of jobs that don't require a college education is from $22,670 to $56,860.


Dental Assistant

Top Salary Range: $41,980

Typical education requirement: Post-secondary non-degree schooling

Let's face it, for as long as the human race has teeth we will need dentists, dental assistants, and dental hygienists. This is one of the most rapidly growing fields out there thanks to aging baby boomers and their need for dental care. After some time as a dental assistant, you may decide to go out and get a 2-year associate's degree to become a dental hygienist. This would increase your earnings to $96,000 at the top end of the salary range.

Elevator Installer/Repair Person

Top Salary: $91,240

Typical education requirement: High school diploma or equivalent

I bet this isn't a job that ever occurred to you. Elevator Installers and Repair people make a very good living. The median pay of this position is $78,640. With the increase in construction projects as the economy improves as well as our aging population and their need for elevators to get from floor to floor, this is a specialty that will remain in demand. To get this job, you would obtain a five-year paid apprenticeship to learn the trade.


Top Salary: $66,360

Typical education requirement: High school diploma or equivalent

Electricians' job security just keeps getting better. Every building you see needs an electrician to wire it when it is built, upgrade it when it gets out of date, and fix it when something goes wrong. This isn't a job you just fall into out of high school, however. You get started with a four to five year paid apprenticeship to learn the trade. You also have to be 18-years old, have had one year of algebra, and passed an aptitude test as well as a drug test.



Top Salary Range: $67,150

Typical education requirement: High school diploma or equivalent

All those new (and old) buildings need pipes and drains, which creates a boatload of opportunities for plumbers. There's also the need for plumbers to fix backed up sinks and tubs and toilets in homes, businesses, and offices as well, which give plumbers steady business. You can dive into plumbing after high school via a four to five year paid apprenticeship to learn the trade. Once that is completed, you're considered a journeyman. After awhile as a journeyman, you become a master plumber, which requires a license in most states.

Construction Supervisor/Foreman

Top Salary: $76,700

Typical education requirement: High school diploma or equivalent

All those construction projects that employ plumbers and electricians need someone to oversee all of the work. That's where the Construction Supervisor comes in. Out of high school you would get started on this path by becoming a helper or laborer. With time, experience, and on the job training, you can advance to a supervisory role.

Police Officer

Top Salary: $85,100

Typical education requirement: High school diploma at minimum

All cities need their police force. From patrolling the streets to apprehending suspects to solving crimes, Police Officers are in charge with keeping people safe. The education needed for police officers and detectives ranges from a high-school diploma to a college degree or higher, depending on the level of the law enforcement position.


Sales Representative

Top Salary: $75,666

Typical education requirement: High school diploma

Some people have an inherent ability to sell and that isn't something you learn in college. You're either born with it and hone it, or you're not. When it comes to Sales Representatives, you can peddle everything from restaurant supplies to software to media time. It is a job that requires you to stay positive, energetic, and friendly while also being aggressive enough to close the deal. It is a career that is judged solely on performance. The better sales person you are, the more money you can make.

Air Traffic Controller

Top Salary: $158,966

Typical education requirement: High school diploma

Air traffic controllers undergo training, take multiple tests, have background checks run on them, and are subjected to pre-employment medical screenings before they can get a position. They command a high salary over time; however, the starting salary can be on the low side as new air traffic controllers gain experience in this very stressful job.

Fire Chief

Top Salary: $119,250

Typical education requirement: High school diploma

Most firefighters have at least a high school diploma and after years of experience at one battalion or division, they work their way up through the ranks to Fire Chief. Salaries for fire chiefs vary wildly from city to city with the low end of the range hovering around $42,000.

Real Estate Agent

Top Salary: $180,434

Typical education requirement: High school diploma

Real Estate Agents need to pass a test to get a license to sell real estate, but all that is required to take that test is a high school diploma. This is a job that is paid on results and therefore has a wide range from the top of the salary range to the bottom. Even if an agent has a great year and tops six figures, the next year the market may have a downturn that is significantly reflected in their income.

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