Fifty Great Jobs – Good Pay Without a Bachelors Degree

Finding a job without a bachelors degree that pays well is getting harder, according to U.S. News & World Report. But there are plenty of relatively high-paying careers available, including jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, and some only a high-school diploma.

Candidates with two-year associate degrees, postsecondary non-degree certificates, and other degrees do indeed earn more on average, but jobs that pay upwards of $55K are also available for people without a degree.

Many of these jobs require certain skills, but not necessarily a college degree or an extensive work history. Skills that employees need for these jobs can be obtained through vocational training, a certificate program, an apprenticeship, or in some cases a two-year degree.

These skill-based jobs are commonly found in healthcare, information technology and manufacturing. Hiring managers at hospitals, state governments, schools, manufacturers, IT companies and other organizations are trying to find candidates with the right skills, rather than the right degree. Some companies even offer paid training programs like apprenticeships. Here are 50 careers that do not require a bachelor’s degree.

50. Mail carrier

Average Salary: $51,130

Job Description: Sort mail for delivery. Deliver mail on established routes by vehicle or on foot.

49. Ophthalmic Medical Technician

Average Salary: $36,530

Job Description: Ophthalmic medical technicians support physicians who specialize in eye care. This job may include conducting eye exams or working with patients learning to care for contacts. These professionals are typically trained on the job, although some opt to attend a degree program.

48. Choreographers

Average Salary: $51,560

Job Description: Create new dance routines. Rehearse performance of routines. May direct and stage presentations.

47. Brick Masons

Average Salary: $51,750

Job Description: Lay and bind building materials, such as brick, structural tile, concrete block, cinder block, glass block and terra-cotta block, with mortar and other substances to construct or repair walls, partitions, arches, sewers and other structures.

46. Phlebotomist

Average Salary: $34,480

Job Description: Phlebotomist workers complete training programs to prepare for careers drawing blood for research, donations, and tests. Most Phlebotomists work in hospitals while others work in laboratories, doctor’s offices, and other settings.

45. Paralegal

Average Salary: $50,940

Job Description: Paralegals’ work includes research and administrative work that help lawyers best represent their clients. Typically, paralegals have an associate degree, though many firms and other employers want candidates to have a bachelor’s.

44. Costume Attendants

Average Salary: $52,870

Job Description: Select, fit and take care of costumes for cast members and aid entertainers. May assist with multiple costume changes during performances.

43. Insurance Sales Agent

Average Salary: $50,600

Job Description: Insurance sales agents work to sell home, health, auto, life, or long-term care insurance. While it’s common for insurance sales agents to have bachelor’s degrees, many companies only require a high school diploma.

42. Food Service Managers

Average Salary: $53,640

Job Description: Plan, direct or coordinate activities of an organization or department that serves food and beverages.

41. Railroad Operators

Average Salary: $53,990

Job Description: Operate railroad track switches. Couple or uncouple rolling stock to make up or break up trains. Signal engineers by hand or flagging. May inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes and hand brakes.

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40. MRI Technologist

Average Salary:$71,670

Job Description: MRI technologists use magnetic resonance imaging scanners. This equipment produces images that help physicians diagnose medical conditions. MRI technologists need associate degrees.

39. Radiologic Technologist

Average Salary: $59,520

Job Description: Radiologic technologists operate advanced equipment that produces images used to help diagnose and treat certain illnesses. They may also administer radiation therapy treatments. To become a radiologic technologist, one must typically earn an associate degree, and most states require you to be licensed or certified.

38. Painters

Average Salary: $54,170

Job Description: Create original artwork using any of a wide variety of media and techniques.

37. Plumber

Average Salary: $53,910

Job Description: Plumbers get their jobs through technical schools or apprenticeship training. They read blueprints, install pipes, and replace worn parts.

36. Locomotive Firers

Average Salary: $54,540

Job Description: Monitor locomotive instruments and watch for dragging equipment, obstacles on right-of-ways and train signals during run. Watch for and relay traffic signals from yard workers to yard engineers in the railroad yard.

35. Crane and Tower Operators

Average Salary: $54,560

* Some College or Associate’s Degree and High School Education required

Job Description: Operate mechanical boom and cable or tower and cable equipment to lift and move materials, machines or products in many directions.

34. Steel Workers

Average Salary: $54,750

Job Description: Raise, place and unite iron or steel girders, columns and other structural members to form completed structures or structural frameworks. May erect metal storage tanks and assemble prefabricated metal buildings.

33. Nail Technician

Average Salary: $24,330

Job Description: Nail technicians clean and style their clients’ nails. While you’ll typically find them in salons or spas, some go to their clients’ homes to provide services. Nail technicians must receive postsecondary training through a state-approved cosmetology program, and they generally require a license.

32. Environmental Engineering Technician

Average Salary:  $50,560

Job Description: After earning an associate degree, environmental engineering technicians carry out the plans produced by environmental engineers, which may include measuring pollution, operating equipment that cleans waste, keeping records, and disposing of hazardous materials.

31. Pile-Driver Operators

Average Salary: $55,150

Job Description: Operate pile drivers mounted on skids, barges, crawler treads or locomotive cranes to drive pilings for retaining walls, bulkheads and foundations of structures, such as buildings, bridges and piers.

30. Occupational Therapy Assistant

Average Salary: $60,220

Job Description: Occupational therapy assistants work under an occupational therapist to help patients develop skills needed for home or work. To become one, you need an associate degree.

29. Physical Therapist Aide

Average Salary: $26,240

Job Description: Physical therapist aides perform tasks that indirectly support the care of patients. These include cleaning and set up, filling out paperwork and moving patients. They usually need high school diplomas and receive training on the job.

28. Solar Photovoltaic Installer

Average Salary: $42,680

Job Description: These professionals specialize in the installation and maintenance of solar panels. After earning their high school diplomas, PV installers learn their trade while working in the field, by taking community college or trade school courses, or while completing an apprenticeship.

  1. Gas Station Operators

Average Salary: $57,510

Job Description: Operate steam, gas, electric motor or internal combustion engine-driven compressors. Transmit, compress or recover gases, such as butane, nitrogen, hydrogen and natural gas.

26. Real Estate Agents

Average Salary: $58,410

Job Description: Rent, buy or sell property for clients. Perform duties, such as study property listings, interview prospective clients, accompany clients to the property, discuss conditions of sale, and draw up real estate contracts.

25. Supervisors of Vehicle Operators

Average Salary: $58,470

Job Description: Directly supervise and coordinate activities of transportation and material-moving machines and vehicle operators and helpers.

24. Dental Assistant

Average Salary: $38,660

Job Description: These professionals assist dentists during procedures, sterilize dental instruments, and maintain dental health records. Educational requirements for this job vary. Prospective dental assistants in some states must complete an accredited dental assisting program and pass an exam, and in others, they learn on the job.

23. Locomotive Engineers

Average Salary: $59,360

Job Description: Drive electric, diesel-electric, steam or gas-turbine-electric locomotives to transport passengers or freight. Interpret train orders, electronic or manual signals and railroad rules and regulations.

22. Production Supervisors

Average Salary: $59,930

Job Description: Directly supervise and coordinate the activities of production and operating workers, such as inspectors, precision workers, machine setters and operators, assemblers, fabricators and plant and system operators.

21. Massage Therapist

Average Salary: $41,420

Job Description: Massage therapists are trained to ease tension and soothe muscles. They must complete training programs and typically need to obtain a license.

20. Stationary Engineers

Average Salary: $60,480

Job Description: Operate or maintain stationary engines, boilers or other mechanical equipment to provide utilities for buildings or industrial processes. Operate equipment, such as steam engines, generators, motors, turbines and steam boilers.

19. Subway Operators

Average Salary: $60,580

Job Description: Operate subway or elevated suburban trains with no separate locomotive or electric-powered streetcar to transport passengers. May handle fares.

18. Personal Care Aide

Average Salary: $24,020

Job Description: People with disabilities and many elderly people rely on the care and assistance provided by personal care aides. Often, aides need high school diplomas.

17. Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs

Average Salary: $61,270

Job Description: Enforce law and order in rural or unincorporated districts or serve legal processes of courts. May patrol courthouse, guard court or grand jury or escort defendants.

16. Correctional Officer Supervisors

Average Salary: $62,770

Job Description: Directly supervise and coordinate activities of correctional officers and jailers.

15. Non-Destructive Testing Specialists

Average Salary: $62,820

Job Description: Test the safety of structures, vehicles or vessels using x-ray, ultrasound, fiber optic or related equipment.

14. Landscaper and Groundskeeper

Average Salary: $29,000

Job Description: Groundskeepers help maintain lawns, remove snow, clear waste, and keep pools operational. Landscapers plant, fertilize, water, and trim trees and flowers. They receive job training once they’re in their role.

13. Makeup Artists

Average Salary: $66,560

* Some College or Associate’s Degree and High School Education required

Job Description: Apply makeup to performers to reflect period, setting and situation of their role.

12. Creative Writers

Average Salary: $69,130

Job Description: Create original written works, such as scripts, essays, prose, poetry or song lyrics, for publication or performance.

11. Licensing Examiners

Average Salary: $69,180

Job Description: Examine, evaluate and investigate eligibility for, conformity with, or liability under licenses or permits.

10. Veterinary Technician

Average Salary: $34,420

Job Description: Assist veterinarians during exams, conduct lab tests, and advise animal owners on proper pet care. Veterinary technicians typically need a two-year associate degree.

9. Power Plant Operators

Average Salary: $71,070

Job Description: Control, operate or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.

8. Customs Brokers

Average Salary: $73,480

Job Description: Prepare customs documentation and ensure that shipments meet all applicable laws to facilitate the import and export of goods. Determine and track duties, taxes payable and process payments on behalf of the client. Represent clients in meetings with customs officials and apply for duty refunds and tariff reclassifications.

7. Gaming Managers

Average Salary: $77,770

Job Description: Plan, direct or coordinate gaming operations in a casino. May formulate house rules.

6. Medical Records Technician

Average Salary: $40,350

Job Description: Medical records technicians are trained to translate diagnoses, procedures and treatments into clinical codes for insurance reimbursement and data analysis. To become one, you usually need at least a postsecondary certificate.

5. Power Distributors

Average Salary: $80,400

* Some College or Associate’s Degree and High School Education required

Job Description: Coordinate, regulate or distribute electricity or steam.

4. Medical Assistant

Average Salary: $33,610

Job Description: Medical assistants record patient histories, measure blood pressure, schedule appointments and assist with examinations. These workers usually complete training programs after high school to earn certificates in their field.

3. Ship Pilots

Average Salary: $83,150

Job Description: Command ships to steer them into and out of harbors, estuaries, straits or sounds, or on rivers, lakes or bays. Must be licensed by U.S. Coast Guard with limitations indicating class and tonnage of vessels for which license is valid and route and waters that may be piloted.

2. Respiratory Therapist

Average Salary: $60,280

Job Description: Assist patients with respiratory issues. These professionals need associate degrees, though some may have Bachelor’s degrees.

1. Financial Service Sales Agents

Average Salary: $102,860

Job Description: Sell financial services, such as loan, tax and securities counseling to customers of financial institutions and business establishments.

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