What Are the Best Paying Careers for People without College Degrees?

Which Jobs Pay Best with No College Degree?

There are well-paying careers that people do not need college degrees to enter. Most of these careers are found in fields that are either highly competitive or that include responsibility with many lives on the line or a lot of money on the line.

You’ll also notice that these positions tend to require someone to receive a hefty amount of on-the-job training and possibly a license of some sort. But you won’t have to sit in a classroom for four years to hold these jobs.

Air Traffic Controller

An air traffic controller does not need a college degree. The air traffic controller does need four years of college and three years of on-the-job training. That’s because air traffic controllers direct airplanes on their takeoffs and landings and make certain they don’t crash into one another waiting to land or flying across the country. That’s a high pressure job with lots of training required, but the job pays on average nearly $93,000 a year for people with 10+ years experience.

Commercial Pilot

The commercial pilot will need to complete a pilot’s license and maintain certification. Becoming a commercial pilot usually requires 250 hours of flight for smaller companies, 1,000 for regional commercial airlines and 2,000-3,000 hours for a national commercial airline. Getting hours to get to that 250 hour plateau often comes with a local flying club or through classes at the local airport.

Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent doesn’t need to have a college degree, since their job is sales related. Salesmen seldom do, but often make good money. A real estate agent will need between 60-90 hours of training and generally needs between 1-3 years of training as a real estate sales agent (different than a real estate broker) to attain a real estate broker license. Once you get this, you’ll buy and sell houses on the real estate market. A real estate broker might become a commercial property broker, instead.

Keep in mind that real estate is a highly competitive field. The turnover rate is incredible, because of how easy it is to enter the real estate broker field. Most decide the job isn’t for them or they can’t make a go at it. Those who remain in the real estate business for 5 years can make upwards of $75,000 to $80,000 per year on average, at least in the bigger cities.

Sales Representative

Sales job aren’t likely to require a college degree. These individuals require a certain charisma to make sales that isn’t taught in schools. Sales reps tend to be personable, talkative, charming and gregarious. Typically, the sales representative sells a company’s merchandise to a store owner, who in turns sales them in retail to public customers. This position is generally not an entry-level position, but is attained after a time of service to the company. Some college might be preferred, but is not required.

Transportation Manager

Trucking companies inevitably need someone to organize and direct their transportation and trucking activities. That’s what a transportation manager does. The entry position is generally a truck driver himself (or herself). Many transportation managers have some college hours, but it’s not a necessity.

Immigration and Customs Officer

An immigration officer or customs inspector is charged with keeping illegal people and items out of the country. Because of the high level of responsibility required for this career, the salary for a customs officer tends to be pretty high. Once again, this job requires a keen eye and honesty, but does not require a college degree.

Nuclear Power Reactor Operator

No, you don’t have to have a college degree to be put in charge of whether a nuclear reactor has a meltdown or not. You do have to get a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and pass a yearly examination. Nuclear power reactor operators make a median income of just over $80,000 a year.

Casino Floor Manager

The casino floor manager is a highly important position in a casino, because he oversees the pit bosses and dealers: in effect overseeing huge amounts of money every day. The casino floor manager not only has to have a keen eye for gamblers and casino patrons involved in shady activities, but he has to keep an eye on a huge room full of employees, too. Most of all, the casino floor manager has to be honest.

You don’t walk into a casino and get a job as a casino floor manager. You’ll probably start as a card dealer. If you are successful and impress the casino management, you’ll get a job as a “pit boss”, who settle disputes, watch out for cheating and give comps to customers in one aspect of the casino: the blackjack pit or the craps tables, for instance.

If you’re successful at this intermediate step and stand out from the other pit bosses, you’ll get a shot at the casino gaming manager, who is likely to make over $75,000 a year. The casino wants to make sure you make a comfortable living, to avoid tempations to cheat the casino.

With all that in mind, you don’t need a college degree to become a casino gaming manager.

Police Detective

Once again, to become a police detective, you’ll need to work your way through the ranks of the police force, most likely starting out as a patrol officer. The police detective, like the air traffic controller and the nuclear reactor operator, has a lot of lives in his or her hands.

Not only are you solving crimes that might involve getting justice for a murdered someone and their family, but you are also saving lives by taking dangerous people off the streets. A bad detective can cost the wrongly accused years of jail time, while costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars in court costs. So the police detective has major responsibilities.

Fire Fighting Supervisor

The fire fighting supervisor has not only the lives of the public in their hands, but also the lives of the firefighters working under him. This individual generally comes from the ranks of the firefighters themselves.