Well-Paying Jobs Without a College Degree: 11 Options for a High School Diploma or GED

well paying jobs without a college degree

Having a college degree can unlock a lot of great jobs.

There are also a number of well-paying jobs without a college degree that are available right now.

With just a high school diploma or a general education equivalent (GED), you can unlock an annual income that can easily exceed $50,000 per year.

There are many non-college graduates who are earning six and seven figures.

That can be you.

A great job doesn’t magically appear, however, so it will require an effort on your part to make yourself a viable candidate.

Here are the best jobs for non-college graduates, what you can expect to earn, and what it will take to make that kind of life for yourself.


#1. Welder

Beginning a career in welding can be as simple as joining a union apprenticeship program.

Some are paid, others are unpaid, but either way you will learn the basics of welding so you can get to work.

There are also technical classes that can be taken at many different community providers.

Community colleges, job assistance programs, and private tutors may be available locally to teach the trade skills needed for welding.

You will need to hold proper certification in order to work as a welder.

This often means acquiring certification through the American Welding Society.

You can work as a MIG welder, TIG welder, and in other disciplines.

If you work as a welder locally, you can easily earn between $15-$25 per hour, even with a single discipline mastered.

Underwater welders can often charge $1,000 per day for their services.

Industrial pipe welders that are willing to travel can earn up to $185,000 annually with the right skills.


#2. Electrician

This job is another option that requires formal training, but not a college degree.

You will want to join an apprenticeship program that has been formally sponsored or approved by the IBEW, IEC, or NECA to make sure the skills you learn are approved for certification.

You can also join a training academy, attend a vocational school, or seek assistance with a private provider who is authorized to provide certification in this area.

Working as an electrician requires 1+ year of on-the-job training in addition to the basic skills that must be mastered.

This will allow you to be licensed.

Requirements for licensure vary throughout the United States and around the world, so you will need to look at local standards and expectations.

The average salary for an electrician is about $56,000 annually.

Top electricians can make around $90,000 or more.

If you’re working as an apprentice, expect to earn about 50% of the local salary rate that electricians are earning while you learn.


#3. Plumber

Plumbing requires some basic math and science skills.

It may also require an ability to read a blueprint.

What it doesn’t require is a college degree.

With the right vocational training, you can become certified to work in your community as a plumber.

After you’ve received your training, an apprenticeship program is generally required.

In this line of work, it is not unusual for an apprenticeship to last 5 years, but this allows for all aspects of the trade to be learned.

Most apprenticeships are offered through local unions.

You will likely need to have a plumber’s license, issued by your community, state, or governing authority, before you can complete this work as well.

Many communities require plumbers to be bonded and insured as well.

The average salary for plumbers is about $55,000 per year, with top earners receiving close to $90,000 annually.

Apprenticeships reduce the amount of salary by about 50%, while being a journeyman reduces the salary by 15-25% in most communities.


#4. Correctional Supervisor

If you’re attracted to a job in law enforcement, then you can earn a good salary while working as a first-line supervisor in a correctional facility.

This would require you to directly coordinate and supervise correctional officers and inmates who are at the facility.

Both juvenile and adult correctional facilities qualify for this opportunity.

Training for this type of position is usually done on-the-job.

Without a degree, it may be necessary to gain experience in this job before receiving a leadership position.

There may also be local learning classes or courses that could be taken to substitute for that experience.

Local internships may also be available.

Some level of self-defense training may be necessary to apply for this type of position.

You may be required to attend the local police academy in order to start working.

The average salary for a correctional supervisor in the US is about $60,000.

If you’re just getting started and you work as a correctional officer instead, expect to earn between $28,000-$40,000 per year.


#5. Real Estate Broker

In this position, you would be responsible for selling real estate, renting properties, and arranging loans.

Brokers oversee a real estate transaction from start to finish.

To get into this position, you will need to have a certain love for sales and be willing to have a social presence in your community.

Real estate brokers must also be licensed in most communities in order to work.

This means attending a specific training course or academy so you can be certified in this work.

A specific licensure is likely to be required for you to work as well.

The average salary for a real estate broker is about $60,000 per year, but many brokers work on a commission basis.

This means you can earn six figures very easily with this position, especially if you start your own real estate agency.


#6. IT Specialist

Computer technology is continually expanding in the business world.

Businesses need people who are tech savvy in order to make money in our modern world.

This means there is a great opportunity to find a well-paying job without a college degree if you love computers, networks, and other related technologies.

Your job as an IT specialist is to perform general network maintenance.

This will help the local network be able to operate correctly without interruption.

Many specialists are also required to take help desk calls, providing help to local users who are having trouble with their computer.

Some IT specialists may also be asked to install new technologies, monitor or repair equipment, and other duties as assigned.

The average salary for an IT specialist is about $65,000 per year.

Although some jobs do require a college degree, this educational requirement can be substituted with a specific certification in an IT field.

You could earn Apple or Microsoft certification, for example, and this may satisfy the screening requirement.


#7. Claims Adjuster

In this job, you’d be responsible for settling claims.

This occurs in a wide variety of industries, though it is most commonly found in the insurance industry.

You might see this position advertised as a “Claims Examiner” or a “Claims Investigator” as well.

This position would require an extensive knowledge of local, regional, and national laws or regulations governing the settlements that you’d be reviewing.

You would also be required to determine if any payments or settlements that had been completed were done so in accordance to the policies, procedures, and practices of your employer.

Investigators and examiners may also be required to look at the validity of a claim that is being made before a settlement is made.

The average salary for a claims adjuster is about $62,000 per year.

Adding an investigatory element to the job responsibilities could give that salary a 10-20% boost in some areas.

Certification and licensure may be required in order to pursue this career option.


#8. Air Traffic Controller

The requirements of this job have you directing and monitoring the movement of aircraft in local space.

It’s a high-stress job that offers varying hours and being able to pay close attention to details.

There are also local and federal regulations that must be followed at all time.

On-the-job training is almost continuous in this career option.

Being able to manage the stress and the varying hours does have its rewards.

The average air traffic controller in the United States earns over $120,000 per year.


#9. Commercial Fisherman

Workplace stress can come in many forms.

For the commercial fisherman, it is in the need to work in uncertain seas to meet a quota by a specific date.

This can mean working multiple 20+ hour days in a row while being out at sea for several weeks at a time.

It can also be a very lucrative career option, even with just a high school diploma.

Most commercial fishermen start as a “greenhorn.”

It’s like an apprenticeship program for other careers, allowing an individual to learn the basics of what is required of them.

This status may apply for 1-3 years, depending on the type of fishing that is being done.

Most commercial fishermen are paid in a lump sum format, based on a contracted agreement on the amount of quota that has been fulfilled.

If a fishing boat were to clear $3 million in quota, a 2% share would net a payment of $60,000 for that season.

It is not unusual for a commercial fisherman to earn upwards of $100,000 per year if they are willing to work multiple seasons.

Some choose to work just 1-2 seasons per year instead.

If you’re a boat captain, you can easily earn upwards of $100,000, but to earn that rank, you would need to pass certain courses and be insurable.


#10. Radiation Therapist

Many high-paying jobs exist in the medical field for high school graduates or those who hold a GED.

Radiation therapy is one of the best paying options of them all.

Your job would be to check on the equipment being used, observe patients, note their reactions to any treatments being issued, and then thoroughly document the session.

You may also be asked to assist with using the equipment as well.

There are specific training requirements which must be met and there may be some ongoing educational or certification requirements as well.

Some communities do require at least an associate’s degree to work in this type of position.

In return, you can earn an average salary of nearly $90,000 per year.

#11. Writer/Blogger

Writing does require a certain control over language, spelling, and grammar concepts in order for it to be a successful venture.

It doesn’t require you to have a college degree in order for you to be successful.

You can provide writing as a service or you can write for yourself and sell completed products or information.

This means you could write blog posts for other people, create content marketing materials for organizations, or ghostwrite books in professional settings or from home and earn a living doing so.

If you sell your writing as a service, you can do so privately or through an online platform like Upwork or Fiverr.

This is called “freelancing.”

Many employers also seek out writers for social media marketing, video game scripts, and other general composition needs.

Some freelancers are required to be licensed as a business.

Check local requirements before offering your services to make sure you are in compliance of any regulations or laws.

You could also write a book, acquire an agent, and have it published.

You could publish a book on your own through a service like Amazon Direct Publishing and market it on your own.

You can run your own blog, create affiliate marketing sites, or solicit for advertising revenues.

Or you can do all of the above if you wish.

In 2014, a survey showed that hybrid authors, or writers who offer multiple products and services, earn the most money.

Even that can be a struggle, however, as more than 80% of them earn less than $20,000 per year.

On the other hand, hybrid authors are the most likely to earn $100,000 or more annually as well.

If you think that blogging could be for you and you want to learn how to create a blog and start building an online business, then click here and join the community of Internet entrepreneurs.


Going to college or a university might be a dream that many students have, but it isn’t a requirement to get a good job.

You can still build a great life for yourself without a college degree.



, , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply