12 High-Paying Trades and Jobs That Don’t Require a College Degree

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While it is true that having a college degree can open up broader career prospects and more lucrative salaries, it is a myth that you must have a degree to enter a high-paying profession. If you are looking for a solid career with a good salary without having to study at college or university for years, here are twelve high-paying trades and jobs that you might like to consider.

1. Firefighter

If you have what it takes to be at the forefront of emergency situations, you could consider becoming a firefighter. You only need a high school diploma, followed by both classroom-based lessons and physical training, to begin this career.

Firefighters do far more than just put out fires. They also respond to emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at risk. If you are physically fit, passionate about helping others, and cope well in high-stress environments, this rewarding occupation might be fitting for you.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the current median salary for a firefighter is $51,680 per annum.

2. Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents facilitate property transactions between buyers and sellers. This job is perfect for those who are great with people, enjoy flexible working hours, and have an entrepreneurial spirit.

In most states in the U.S., you do not need a degree, but you do need to have a valid real estate agent license. To get one, you will need to pass the brokerage exam. However, in some states, and in other countries, no certification or license is necessary to work as a real estate agent.

In the U.S., the median annual salary for this role is $52,030 per year. However, successful agents can earn a great deal more, especially those dealing with luxury real estate with high commission rates.

3. Postal Service Mail Carrier

You only need a high school diploma to work as a postal service mail carrier. But, in the U.S., you must be either at least eighteen years of age or sixteen years of age with a high school diploma. You must also pass a criminal background check, a drug screening, and a medical assessment. 

As a mail carrier for the postal service, your main duty would be sorting and delivering mail to homes and businesses. This job is appealing to individuals who enjoy physical work, routine tasks, and being outdoors. The average salary for his job is $53,680 per year.

4. Wind Turbine Technician

Wind turbine technicians are tasked with inspecting, maintaining, and repairing wind turbines. Entry into this trade commonly involves attending technical schools or community colleges to obtain a postsecondary certificate in wind energy technology.

While you do not need to have a degree to enter this position, you may find it easier to land a job with a degree in hand. So, research entry requirements more before you decide to become a wind turbine technician.

If you are not afraid of heights, are mechanically inclined, and interested in green energy, this could be your dream job. The average yearly salary is currently $59,000.

5. Plumber

As a plumber, you would be tasked with installing, repairing, and maintaining pipes in homes or businesses. Most plumbers learn the trade through an apprenticeship program which generally just requires a high school diploma or equivalent. If you are skilled at problem-solving and prefer hands-on tasks, plumbing might be an excellent career option. 

Experienced plumbers can earn more, but on average, the yearly salary of a plumber is $60,090.

6. Electrician

Electricians work on electrical equipment and systems in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. Like plumbers, electricians usually receive their training through apprenticeships after finishing high school. For anyone who likes working with their hands and solving complex problems, being an electrician could be a thoroughly rewarding job choice. 

Again, the more experienced you become, the more lucrative your salary can be, but on average, electricians earn $60,240 per annum.

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7. Police Officer

Police officers uphold the law, protect the public, and ensure the safety of community members. While serving requires completion of police academy training and often a high school diploma or equivalent, it does not usually necessitate a college degree. 

If you are brave, enjoy problem-solving, and wish to serve and protect communities, this role could be your calling. And you could earn, on average, $69,160 per year.

8. Collision Repair Center Manager

Another role to consider is that of a collision repair center manager. In this position, you would manage and lead a team of automotive repair technicians at an accident repair center. Your tasks would include supervising employees, inspecting vehicles, training new employees, and much more. 

On average, collision repair center managers earn $76,792 per year.

9. Transportation Inspector

Transportation inspectors evaluate vehicles like buses or trains for compliance with safety regulations. No degree is needed, but you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. Furthermore, you will need to have had previous experience in a related position.

If you are meticulous, have good observational skills, and prefer hands-on work, you might find this career option appealing. The average annual salary is $79,570.

10. Power Plant Operator

Overseeing the production of electricity and maintaining power plant equipment falls under the role of a power plant operator.

A high school diploma or equivalent combined with extensive on-the-job training is generally required to enter this field. However, bear in mind that you may more easily land a job if you do have a college or vocational school degree.

Power plant operators earn an average of $93,060 per year.

11. Computer Programmer

Computer programmers write code and programs. They can also perform tasks like testing, updating, and expanding existing programs. The more languages you know and the more experience you have, the higher your salary can be. But on average, computer programmers earn $97,800 per annum.

12. Elevator Installer and Repairer

As an Elevator Installer or Repairer, you would have the responsibility of maintaining and fixing the elevators that people use daily. To get started in this field, you will typically need to earn a high school diploma and successfully complete an apprenticeship under a seasoned professional.

If you enjoy hands-on work and problem-solving and you have a good mechanical understanding, this might be a perfect option for you. Furthermore, it is the highest-paying role on our list. As an elevator installer and repairer, you could earn an average yearly salary of $99,000.


The pursuit of a college degree is not the sole pathway to achieving a high-paying and fulfilling career. There are numerous opportunities in various trades and professions that offer substantial salaries and job satisfaction without the need for extensive formal education. From brave firefighters to skilled electricians, meticulous transportation inspectors to innovative computer programmers, and many more, these careers provide a diverse range of options for individuals with different interests and skill sets.

Whether you prefer working with your hands, solving complex problems, or serving and protecting your community, there’s likely a high-paying profession that aligns with your goals and values. It’s essential to explore your options, consider your strengths, and weigh the benefits of each career path. By doing so, you can find a rewarding and financially stable occupation that doesn’t require a traditional college degree.

Ultimately, the key to success in these professions lies in dedication, hard work, and continuous learning. By pursuing opportunities in these high-paying trades and jobs, individuals can forge their own unique paths to prosperity and job satisfaction, proving that success doesn’t always come with a diploma but with a commitment to excellence in one’s chosen field.

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