7 High-Paying Jobs You Can Do Without A Degree in 2024

College degrees are great to have, but they're not the only way to a well-paid job. Here's some you can do without one.

Go to college, they say. Granted, you’ll have to shoulder the debt burden, but it’ll raise your earnings ceiling well beyond what it would be if you never attended. Plus, it’ll ensure you can secure a well-paid job at a reputable company.

In most cases, this is true — but that doesn’t mean the only way to earn the big bucks is by going to college. Companies are taking a much more holistic approach to hiring nowadays, factoring in a wider range of skills, courses, and experiences beyond a person’s education.

However, it’s not always easy to know where to start — jobs still favor specific experiences and skills, even if they’re less concerned about your college certificates. To get you started, we’ve rounded up some of the most interesting, well-paid job roles available in 2024.

The Highest Paying Jobs You Don’t Need a Degree For in 2024

In this section, we’ll go into some detail on the highest-paying jobs out there that don’t require a degree. I’ve included some jobs without eye-watering, $150,000 annual salaries but are worth considering because they’re more achievable.

For example, Executive assistant roles (average salary of around $88,000) will be within reach for a lot more people than “Entrepreneur,” which requires more business acumen and a hefty dose of luck. Here’s the list:

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While we’ve given the average salary as displayed on Salary.com for these roles because its more realistic, accurate, and achievable, the earnings potential will be significantly higher for some of these roles.

For example, some real estate agents will get commissions, while personal trainers will be able to charge more and more money as they accrue more experience.

1. Commercial Pilot

Degree Required? No
Other Qualifications Required? Yes
Average Salary: $189,000+ (Salary.com)

If flying planes across the globe is your dream, good news — this is an extremely well-paid profession that doesn’t require any degree-level qualifications. The ATP Flight School even states that an aviation degree is not necessary.

Of course, having a degree definitely shows you can complete projects, write reports, and solve complex problems. But if you’re set on becoming a pilot, it’ll be cheaper, quicker, and more useful for you to start taking private lessons.

As with most high-paying roles, there are other qualifications you’ll need to obtain to get a commercial pilot’s license. This includes medical tests and examinations, as well as an extensive FAA test.

2. Executive Assistant

Degree Required? No
Other Qualifications Required? No
Average Salary: $88,000+ (Salary.com)

Executive assistants do exactly what it sounds like they do — they assist executives and sometimes other members of a business who sit on the board and have final decision-making power.

Some companies have exec assistant roles for individuals, while other companies will appoint one employee to the role for the whole board. Duties include booking meetings, dealing with company comms, and summarizing reports.

Executive assistants don’t need a degree to do their jobs — if you’re an incredible organizer and good with numbers, then you’ll go far. However, having an accounting, finance, or business management degree wouldn’t harm your application.

3. Distribution Manager

Degree Required? Not essential, but preferred
Other Qualifications Required? Yes
Average Salary: $105,000+ (Salary.com)

A distribution manager will look after a company’s shipping and transportation processes, ensuring everything is running smoothly. It’s all about ensuring that products reach their predetermined location on time and in one piece.

You will need at least a high school diploma for this job, and while degrees are becoming increasingly preferred for roles like this one, they’re not yet considered essential.

However, in hiring, you’re likely to go up against people with logistic and management qualifications — so it’ll probably only be worth your time to apply if you already have some experience in this area.

4. Real Estate Agent

Degree Required? No
Other Qualifications Required? Yes
Average Salary: $104,000+ (Salary.com)

Real estate agents lease, let, and sell commercial and residential properties. They are involved in every step of the property-buying process, from the initial research and purchase to subsequent viewings and sales. The best-paid roles in the industry tend to be in commercial real estate.

You don’t need a college degree for this role, but you will have to pass some real estate exams to obtain your license, as well as a variety of other training courses to ensure you’re up to the job.

While Salary.com puts the average salary at just over $100,000 per annum, some other job websites, such as Glassdoor, display a pay range of $154,000-195,000.

5. Flight Attendant

Degree Required? No
Other Qualifications Required? No
Average Salary: $85,000+ (Salary.com)

Like the idea of traveling the world, but don’t want to go through the arduous process of obtaining a pilot’s license? Well, just hop on board as a flight attendant, a role that doesn’t require a degree yet pays better than some that do.

Flight attendants are responsible for ensuring passengers get to the right seats and have safe, pleasant journeys. Naturally, it involves lots of traveling and being away from your home for extended periods, which won’t fit with everyone’s lifestyle or personal responsibilities.

While you don’t need a college degree to be considered for a flight attendant role at any major US airline, you will have to go through extensive background checks, endure emergency training, and pass a medical exam.

6. Train Driver

Degree Required? No
Other Qualifications Required? Yes
Average Salary: $73,000+ (Salary.com)

Train drivers are pretty well paid in the US, at least compared to other roles that do not require prior qualifications. US train drivers tend to be better paid than their European counterparts and typically earn above the median average salary for a US worker (just under $60,000).

This is perhaps because it’s a little more than just getting passengers from A to B — train drivers will liaise with stationary control teams, check the train is fit for service, and follow track signaling protocols. It might be repetitive, but it’s also a job with significant responsibility. If you’re not focused, people could get hurt.

A lot of US railroad companies offer their own training programs and courses that you’ll need to complete before you’re let loose on the tracks. There are also some eyesight and color vision requirements.

7. Personal Trainer

Degree Required? No
Other Qualifications Required? No
Average Salary: $67,000+ (Salary.com)

Personal trainers do not require a degree to practice their profession, and you can be certified as a personal trainer with just a high school diploma.

Better still, while you can obtain supplementary qualifications, there’s no obligation to. However, a well-respected personal trainer course can be completed for under $1,000 over a couple of months — way cheaper than college.

This doesn’t stop some hotels, spas, fitness clubs, and gyms from demanding degree-level qualified personal trainers. However, if you can walk the walk and talk the talk, you’ve got a much higher chance of getting your foot in the door without a qualification than other professions in the same pay range.

Building Skills Outside of College

College degrees teach you a wide range of useful skills, which is why so many job roles require one. But going to college and swallowing the huge debts that come with it isn’t the only way to build the skills and experience needed to earn a high wage.

Right now, for instance, employers are looking for AI training courses to give them an edge over other candidates. Businesses are using AI more than ever and want competent, curious employees with foundational knowledge.

This is just one example of a way to stand out from the crowd — as are other short-term courses and boot camps. Volunteering for non-profit organizations, on the other hand, isn’t just rewarding — it reflects a person’s values, something businesses are more interested in now than ever.

The key takeaway is that there are loads of ways to build skills — and college-level education isn’t the only path to a better pay packet.

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Written by:
Aaron Drapkin is a Lead Writer at Tech.co. He has been researching and writing about technology, politics, and society in print and online publications since graduating with a Philosophy degree from the University of Bristol five years ago. As a writer, Aaron takes a special interest in VPNs, cybersecurity, and project management software. He has been quoted in the Daily Mirror, Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Computer Weekly, Cybernews, and the Silicon Republic speaking on various privacy and cybersecurity issues, and has articles published in Wired, Vice, Metro, ProPrivacy, The Week, and Politics.co.uk covering a wide range of topics.
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