10 High Paying Jobs You Can Land Today Without a Degree
For the longest time, there has been a general belief that candidates need a college degree to land a high-paying job. But nothing is cast in stone, and this belief is rapidly changing.
Many companies now understand that a four-year degree doesn't guarantee talent or success. These companies know that to build inclusive teams and attract the best candidates, they need to set aside a degree as a requirement in most open positions.
Every company today is trying to demonstrate its commitment to inclusion, equity, and diversity. Overlooking college degree requirements helps them achieve this goal.
Besides, recruiters have to acknowledge that certain factors discourage people from pursuing traditional four-year college degrees.
Chief among these reasons is the hefty school fees needed in most colleges and universities. Couple that with a not so obvious ROI after college, and it's easy to see why would-be students are skeptical of degrees.
As these views and trends on college degrees continue to change, they, in turn, create a job market with high-paying roles that don't necessarily require a degree.
Similarly, thanks to the internet and access to information, there has been a steady rise in the number of highly-skilled individuals who haven't necessarily gone through four years of college training.
So, the question now is, what are some of these high-paying roles you can land without a college degree?
We've done the bulky work so you can focus on choosing a career and work on getting your foot through the door.
But before we get to the list …
What is High Pay?
High pay is relative and varies depending on who you ask. However, our definition of high payment will refer to average incomes that are more than the U.S. median household income for this article.
With some of the jobs on this list, the average income will vary depending on where you live. For instance, a Silicon Valley-based software engineer's salary might be significantly higher than that of one based elsewhere in America.
One thing to note is that while most of these roles do not need a college degree, an individual employer or recruiter might still prefer hiring candidates with college degrees.
So, while you can easily land these jobs by demonstrating your skills, some companies might insist that you hold a college degree before they consider your candidacy.
Without further ado, here is our list of high-paying jobs you can land without a degree.
- Software Developer
Salary Range: $50,000 – $105,000
Average Salary: $71,752
Also known as software engineers, software developers are the brains behind all of the software we use. At their core, they thrive at solving problems, which helps them excel at their jobs.
Software developers determine the software needs of an end-user even before they write any code. Then, they design, test, and develop software that meets those needs.
Initially, software developers used to need a computer science degree to be considered for jobs. But the likes of Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft's Bill Gates, and many other tech billionaires have shown that you don't even need to graduate college to be a visionary software developer or a prosperous professional for that matter.
Today, most companies will be glad to hire software developers without a degree as long as they can demonstrate their technical expertise.
So, if you can write code and prove it in a technical interview, don't let that job opportunity pass you by. Apply and prepare to showcase your chops when you get invited for an interview.
- Network Engineer
Salary Range: $50,000 - $107,000
Average Salary: $74,286
Network engineers are the people who plan, design, build, and manage an organization's computer network. They make sure everything works well together and implement security measures across an organization.
Some of their roles include but are not limited to:
- Supervising network security and performance
- Computer hardware and software maintenance
- Hardware and software installation (routers, proxies, VPNs, etc.)
- Improving and optimizing the network
The work of a network engineer is tech-heavy and critical for an organization's secure and efficient operations. That is why it requires in-depth knowledge of computers and computer networks, even though a degree is not mandatory.
- E-commerce Manager
Salary Range: $40,000 - $96,000
Average Salary: $64,142
Earlier traditions have been changing gradually over the last few decades. One of those traditions is shopping. Unlike in previous years, more people shop online than they do in physical stores.
This has seen a rise in demand for e-commerce managers. As overseers of online sales, their roles range from developing online sales strategies to building the promotional calendar, running digital ad campaigns, and optimizing websites for better conversions.
The role of an e-commerce manager is even more demanding when a company is big. In such cases, they have to oversee a team of other creatives, including graphic designers and copywriters.
Most e-commerce manager positions do not require a degree. However, as these are result-driven positions, you'll need to prove your chops by showing previous results before landing a job.
These results can be from an intern, marketing, or a junior/assistant manager role.
- Real Estate Agent
Salary Range: $24,000 - $103,000
Average income: $48,582
If you prefer a more flexible job, being a real estate agent offers flexibility. As a real estate agent, your responsibilities fall under the facilitation of property sale/and or purchase.
Real estate agents can concentrate on commercial or residential properties. Similarly, they can choose to either represent buyers or sellers. The alternative is to pick a combination of the roles and run with it.
A typical day for a real estate agent will include activities like:
- Hosting an open house
- Taking buyers on property tours
- Negotiating home sales
- Managing a closing deal (including all the paperwork)
While real estate agents don't need a degree to execute their roles, they need industry-standard qualifications to practice legally.
For an agent to represent a property buyer or seller within the law, they must have a real estate license. Getting the permit often requires enrollment in a course and passing a licensing exam.
But unlike a traditional degree, these courses typically take less than a year.
- Software Sales Rep
Salary Range: $34,000 – $94,000
Average Salary: $51,730
Typically, sales jobs are amongst the highest paying professions in any industry. As most roles are commission-based, even when there is a retainer, you literally write your check when you are a sales rep!
The work of a software sales rep is as definitive as it sounds. They liaise with software companies to sell software to the target customers – individuals, businesses, professional, or casual consumers.
A software reps' day typically involves cold calling clients to schedule sales demos and presenting demos in person.
Like most sales jobs, software sales jobs don't need you to have a degree to excel. However, software sales can be a bit more technical, so most companies prefer that you have some experience in their software and technology.
- Digital Marketing & SEO Manager
Salary Range: $45,000 - $98,000
Average Salary: $66,481
Digital marketing & SEO are today's spine of marketing. Without it, surviving in today's business environment is impossible.
As people shift from traditional advertising models to the internet, digital marketing and SEO skills are among the most in-demand skills.
So, what do a digital marketing and SEO manager do? Their primary role is increasing the visibility of a brand online.
This means that a digital and SEO marketer must be well-versed in different online marketing strategies to thrive.
Among them are:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Lead generation
- Inbound marketing
- Digital advertising
- Social media advertising
Unlike some professions on this list, digital marketing and SEO is crucial in every organization regardless of the industry.
This only goes to show that the demand for savvy digital marketers is not diminishing any time soon.
If the job is on this list, then it means you don't need a degree to get a job as a digital marketing and SEO manager. However, like an e-commerce manager, you have to show previous results to get a real shot at an open position.
Even more important, you'll need to stay up-to-date on evolving digital marketing trends and adapting them to your campaigns.
- Executive Assistant
Salary Range: $50,000 - $94,000
Average Salary: $69,067
To command the kind of salary listed above, you have to be several scales better than the typical executive assistant. Only senior administrative assistants earn close to the $70,000 mark.
As an executive's right-hand person, executive assistants deserve high pay. Some of the roles of a senior executive assistant include:
- Calendar management
- Travel booking
- Planning events
- Project Management
But these are only just a few of the roles and priorities a senior executive assistant will be juggling for their boss.
To do well as an executive assistant for a senior-level executive, you also need to be highly organized.
Like with all the jobs we've listed above, you don't need a college degree to get a job as an executive assistant. However, some executives might have a college degree as a requirement before hiring you as their E.A.
In industries such as finance or medicine, a degree might be a requirement, even for an executive assistant.
- Massage Therapist
Salary Range: $46,797 - $60,066
Average Salary: $41,420
If you are in pain or need help relaxing, a massage therapist is an excellent professional to call on.
But why is this career in demand? As we are all getting older, it's becoming increasingly beneficial to take care of our health. Massage does wonders to the body, and other than in medical facilities, massage therapists are essential in hotels and spas.
Massage therapists don't need a degree to practice. However, they need a thorough understanding of human physiology to know what to do to relieve their clients of pain and help them relax.
To be a massage therapist, you'll need postsecondary qualifications. Often, the qualification requires you to study for 500 or more hours, depending on local and state laws.
Salary Range: $40,250 - $71,140
Average Salary: $53,910
Plumbers are always in high demand. Whether at home, at the office, or at construction sites, we all want to have a plumber on speed dial.
But did you know that you don't need a 4-year degree to become a plumber? As a plumber, you'll be assembling, installing, and repairing pipes and pipe systems.
And because pipes and plumbing are a requirement in all upcoming buildings, this is one profession where job stability maintains an all-time high. It also helps that there always seems to be a piping system that needs repair (backed-up septic systems and flooded basements etc.).
However, before you become a plumber, you often need to attend a technical school and get a license recognized where you intend to operate.
- Wind Turbine Technician
Salary Range: $39,820 - $80,150
Average Salary: $54,370
Global warming has become a cause for concern over the last few decades. With greenhouse gases wreaking havoc on the atmosphere, it only makes sense that green jobs have the most growth potential today.
As more people turn away from fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy, wind turbine technicians are among the most sought after. The work of a wind turbine technician involves adjusting, diagnosing, inspecting, or repairing wind turbines.
While you don't need a degree to work as one, you'll need to train for the job or take a technical program. It's important to note that this might not be a path you want to follow if you are afraid of heights.
A typical day for a wind turbine technician would include maintaining and troubleshooting a turbine's hydraulic, mechanical, and electrical components, replacing and fixing malfunctioning ones.
Now that you know which careers pay best and don't require a college degree, how do you land these jobs?
Tips for Landing High-Paying Jobs Without a Degree
The list above is nowhere near exhaustive. But it's an excellent place to start if you are looking for a job you can pursue without necessarily spending thousands of dollars and four years in college.
But how can you improve your chances of landing any one of these jobs?
Pursue Alternative Education
Great. There are tons of jobs you can pursue without a college degree. But that doesn't mean your potential employer doesn't value education.
An excellent way to stand out is to show your hunger for in-depth industry knowledge/education, although it's not a requirement.
Fortunately, today, you don't even have to walk into any class to take advantage of educational material.
With the number of open online classes available, you can learn from the comfort of your home or office. Online learning management systems such as Udemy, Coursera, and edX have hundred of high-quality courses that cost a fraction of college fees.
Besides short courses, these online learning management systems also offer long-term certification programs that are as structured as college programs. But they are more affordable than traditional colleges.
Enroll to Apprenticeship Programs
This is one of the best ways to land a high-paying job without a degree. Besides, as an apprentice, you get hands-on work experience.
Of course, not all professions will welcome you into the industry if your only lessons have been apprenticeship.
However, construction laborers, plumbers, pipefitters, electricians, and HVAC are some of those professions that approve of and appreciate apprenticeship.
Optimize Your Resume to the Job You Are Eyeing
As a career coach, I'll repeat this regularly to all my clients. One of the reasons most job seekers struggle to get a job is because they use the same resume to apply to multiple job posts.
Here's the thing. Each job post has a set of keywords that a recruiter will be looking for to determine whether they should give you a chance to interview.
This means that when you use the same resume repeatedly without optimizing it, you miss the chance to get it in front of a recruiter.
With the prevalence of ATS's, resumes go through a machine that weeds out resumes based on keywords used. So, the chances are that yours never passes this initial evaluation stage because it doesn't have the 'right' keywords.
Use the job post you are targeting to extract a few keywords to incorporate in your resume.
Pursue Internal Opportunities
When most people think about getting another, possibly high-paying job, it's rarely in the same company where they are working.
It's unfortunate because internal opportunities might be the most straightforward path for you to jump to the next pay scale.
An excellent way to boost your chances of landing a higher-paying role is by asking your superiors to assign you temporary roles. Temporary opportunities will not only teach you new skills; they'll also give your managers a sense of what you would do if they gave you more responsibilities in a higher-paying role.
It also helps that in your current position, your superiors already know your work ethic, potential, and your commitment. Remember, if you apply for a job at a new company, they might not give you a chance if you don't have a degree.
They already hired you once without a degree at your current company, so chances are they'll hire you for a different position if you can prove your worth.
The lack of a degree is not reason enough to make you give up on your dream. If none of these jobs interest you, you can always start with a certificate or a diploma before pursuing a college degree.
But the bottom line is that there are hundreds of jobs and opportunities that don't require you to go into student debt because of college.
Fortunately, we understand that it's not always as evident that you can pursue a specific career path and still achieve your dreams.
So if you are struggling to settle on a job to pursue or find one, we can help you. You don't even have to worry about your resume either because we can help you optimize it for the job you want.