No degree, no problem: 25 easy & high-paying jobs that require little work


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The key to finding jobs that make a lot of money but don’t carry the burden of student loan debt is looking at growing industries with high demand. These roles may require some technical certifications or on-the-job apprenticeships. Still, they offer competitive pay, coming close to or exceeding the annual expected salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree.

Don’t miss this roundup of even more high-paying jobs that don’t require college.

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Pros and Cons of Easy Jobs Without a Degree


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There are benefits and drawbacks to some jobs that make a lot of money without a college education.

Benefits of Easy Jobs Without a Degree

  • Beginning a career with little or no student debt
  • Entering the workforce earlier in life, with the potential to start saving sooner
  • Job security for roles that are in high demand
  • Less work-related stress

Drawbacks of Easy Jobs Without a Degree

  • Joining a high-paying trade or industry can be more physically demanding
  • Some roles require an apprenticeship or years of experience before you can earn a high salary. Entry-level salaries may be modest.
  • Lack of degree may stunt your earnings over your entire career in certain jobs
  • Jobs may be paid hourly, not salaried, which can impact earning potential
  • Less likely to accommodate work-at-home situations

Image Credit: PeopleImages/istockphoto.

Who Are Easy Jobs Without a Degree For?

High earning jobs that don’t require a degree can be a good fit for many individuals, including those who:

  • Don’t traditionally excel in an academic environment
  • Don’t want to take on student debt
  • Are eager to enter the workforce
  • Have interest in a trade or technical job

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25 Easy Jobs That Make a Lot of Money With Little Work Without College

Many jobs that don’t require a degree are minimum wage or low paying. However, there is a sweet spot where high-paying jobs and those that don’t expect a degree overlap. While some of the following call for certification or training, it’s unlikely to cost as much as a traditional four-year degree.

Salary figures represent the national median, and the job growth outlook is for 2021 to 2031.

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1. Power Plant Operator, Distributor, and Dispatcher

Description: Control and manage the electrical power systems of a plant.

Salary: $94,790

Job Growth: -15%

Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

Image Credit: dusanpetkovic/istockphoto.

2. Commercial Pilot

Description: Fly commercial airplanes and other aircraft.

Salary: $134,630

Job Growth: 6%

Requirements: Flight school

Image Credit: Hispanolistic/istockphoto.

3. Elevator Installer and Repairer

Description: Install, repair, and maintain elevators and escalators.

Salary: $97,860

Job Growth: 3%

Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

Image Credit: welcomia/istockphoto.

4. Makeup Artist, Theatrical and Performance

Description: Onset makeup application in the entertainment industry.

Salary: $124,380

Job Growth: 6%

Requirements: On-the-job training or beauty school certifications

Image Credit: MesquitaFMS/istockphoto.

5. Fire Inspector and Supervisor

Description: Inspect buildings to ensure they meet local, state, and federal standards.

Salary: $63,080

Job Growth: 6%

Requirements: Experience as a firefighter; high school diploma or equivalent

Image Credit: 10255185_880/istockphoto.

6. Aircraft Mechanic

Description: Work on plane equipment, including maintenance and repair. While pilots tend to be extroverted high achievers, aircraft mechanic is a solid job for introverts.

Salary: $65,550 per year

Job Growth: 6%

Requirements: On-the-job military training or certification from an FAA-approved technician’s school

Image Credit: RgStudio/istockphoto.

7. HVAC Technician

Description: Install, repair, and maintain HVAC systems in residential and commercial properties.

Salary: $48,630

Job Growth: 5%

Requirements: Technical school and/or an apprenticeship

Image Credit: fstop123/istockphoto.

8. Plumber

Description: Install and repair plumbing systems in homes, factories, or businesses. Plumber roles may include on-call emergency hours.

Salary: $59,880

Job Growth: 2%

Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

Image Credit: Kunakorn Rassadornyindee/istockphoto.

9. Drafter

Description: Digitize and convert architecture and engineering drawings using software.

Salary: $60,290

Job Growth: -3%

Requirements: Associate’s degree or technical certification

Image Credit: sabthai/istockphoto.

10. Sales Rep, Wholesale and Manufacturing

Description: Sell goods, at wholesale, to businesses and organizations.

Salary: $62,890

Job Growth: 4%

Requirements: Depends on the industry. Technical sales roles may require certification beyond a high school diploma.

Image Credit: Portra/istockphoto.

11. Physical Therapist Assistant

Description: PT assistants work alongside physical therapists in a medical setting to help patients regain mobility.

Salary: $49,180

Job Growth: 24%

Requirements: Associate’s degree, licensing, or certification

Image Credit: Halfpoint/istockphoto.

12. Radiation Therapist

Description: Administer radiation to patients in a hospital setting.

Salary: $82,790

Job Growth: 6%

Requirements: Associate’s degree

Image Credit: Povozniuk/istockphoto.

13. MRI Technician

Job Description: Operate the MRI machine to examine patients, and interpret scans.

Salary: $61,980

Job Growth: 6%

Requirements: Associate’s degree

Image Credit: Valerii Apetroaiei/istockphoto.

14. Programmer

Description: Write and test code for a variety of programs and software across industries and verticals. Programming is considered a popular job choice for antisocial people

Salary: $93,000

Job Growth: -10%

Requirements: Historically, roles have required a Bachelor’s degree. Recently, employers are considering candidates with certifications or bootcamp training.

Image Credit: dima_sidelnikov/istockphoto.

15. Postal Service Workers

Description: Process, collect, and deliver mail to homes and businesses.

Salary: $51,730

Job Growth: -6%

Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

Image Credit: boggy22/istockphoto.

16. Claims Adjuster, Appraiser, Examiner, and Investigator

Description: Examine and appraise insurance claims, from automotive to residential or commercial building damage.

Salary: $64,710

Job Growth: -6%

Requirements: For most entry-level roles, a high school diploma or equivalent is required. In some industries, such as auto damage appraisal, a certification may be required.

Image Credit: monkeybusinessimages/istockphoto.

17. Construction and Building Inspector

Description: Inspect residential and commercial buildings to ensure they adhere to local codes and specifications.

Salary: $61,640

Job Growth: -4%

Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

Image Credit: PeopleImages/istockphoto.

18. Court Reporter and Simultaneous Captioner

Description: Create exact transcripts of exchanges, including courtroom proceedings, or live captioning on television.

Salary: $60,380

Job Growth: 1%

Requirements: Training or certification

Image Credit: ijeab/istockphoto.

19. Sound Engineering Technician

Description: Maintain sound systems for live performances, broadcasts, and other programming.

Salary: $48,790

Job Growth: 10%

Requirements: Varies but often includes technical certification

Image Credit: monkeybusinessimages/istockphoto.

20. Police Detective

Description: Gather facts and investigate crimes. Some police departments are currently offering generous signing bonuses.

Salary: $66,020

Job Growth: 3%

Requirements: Police Academy completion and on-the-job training

Image Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/istockphoto.

21. Electrician

Description: Repair, install, and maintain electrical systems.

Salary: $60,040

Job Growth: 7%

Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

Image Credit: andresr/istockphoto.

22. Brick Mason

Description: Use concrete, stone, or brick to build structures.

Salary: $48,040

Job Growth: -2%

Requirements: Trade school or apprenticeship

Image Credit: Bogdanhoda/istockphoto.

23. Insurance Sales Agent

Description: Sell insurance, including home, life, and automotive. This is an excellent work-from-home job for retirees.

Salary: $49,840

Job Growth: 6%

Requirements: High school diploma or equivalent

Image Credit: LaylaBird/istockphoto.

24. Medical Sonographer

Job Description: Operate sonography or other specialty equipment in a medical setting to create digital imaging of patients.

Salary: $75,380

Job Growth: 10%

Requirements: Associate’s degree

Image Credit: Halfpoint/istockphoto.

25. Information Security Analyst

Description: Create and maintain security for a business’s computer networking systems.

Salary: $102,600

Job Growth: 35%

Requirements: Some employers may require a Bachelor’s degree, but other roles call for on-the-job training or IT certifications instead.

Image Credit: SARINYAPINNGAM/istockphoto.

The Takeaway

There’s a potential to earn a high salary in many jobs that don’t require a college degree. However, it may require some research and certifications beyond a high school diploma. Some jobs that pay well, don’t require a degree, and may even be enjoyable range from the medical field and construction to computers and insurance. If you know someone who’s a brick mason or a sonographer, take them out for coffee to get the inside scoop. You might even offer to shadow them at work to find out what their industry is really like.

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