Best Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree

Updated on February 14, 2024

In an ever-evolving job market, many high-paying careers do not necessitate a traditional four-year college degree. Here’s a look at ten such roles, offering lucrative opportunities based on skills, experience, and specialized training rather than formal education.

Underwater Welder

  • Average Salary: $83,000
  • Job Description: Underwater welders combine welding skills with diving expertise to repair submerged structures like oil rigs and bridges.
  • Responsibilities: Conduct welding tasks underwater, inspect and maintain equipment, ensure safety standards.
  • Required Education: Diving certifications and 2-6 years of training in underwater welding.


  • Average Salary: $75,000
  • Job Description: Boilermakers work with boilers, vats, and other large containers, often in industrial settings.
  • Responsibilities: Assemble, install, and repair boilers and vats, work in various locations, including remote and high-altitude sites.
  • Required Education: On-the-job training for 3 years or more.

Dental Hygienist

  • Average Salary: $72,000
  • Job Description: Dental hygienists play a crucial role in dental care, focusing on oral hygiene and preventive dental care.
  • Responsibilities: Clean teeth, assess oral health, provide preventive care, and educate patients on oral hygiene.
  • Required Education: 2-year associate’s degree in dental hygiene.


  • Average Salary: $72,000
  • Job Description: Detectives investigate crimes, gather evidence, and assist in solving cases.
  • Responsibilities: Crime scene investigation, evidence collection, report writing for court cases.
  • Required Education: Police academy program and extensive on-the-job training.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

  • Average Salary: $68,000
  • Job Description: Sonographers use imaging equipment to conduct ultrasounds for diagnostic purposes.
  • Responsibilities: Operate ultrasound equipment, analyze images, and communicate findings to physicians.
  • Required Education: Post-secondary diploma and certification from relevant bodies like the ARDMS.

Aircraft Mechanic

  • Average Salary: $58,000
  • Job Description: Aircraft mechanics maintain and repair airplanes to ensure they meet safety standards.
  • Responsibilities: Inspect aircraft, perform maintenance, troubleshoot issues.
  • Required Education: 2 years of training, with FAA certification recommended.

Shipping Engineer

  • Average Salary: $72,000 (Tax-free)
  • Job Description: Shipping engineers oversee the maintenance of ship machinery and equipment.
  • Responsibilities: Supervise crew, coordinate maintenance tasks, ensure operational efficiency.
  • Required Education: On-the-job training, with some positions requiring certifications or military experience.

Golf Ball Retriever

  • Average Salary: $63,000
  • Job Description: Retrievers dive into water hazards on golf courses to collect lost golf balls.
  • Responsibilities: Dive and retrieve golf balls, manage inventory, and resell balls.
  • Required Education: Minimal, often just on-the-job training and a driver’s license.


  • Average Salary: $52,000
  • Job Description: Plumbers install and repair piping systems in homes and businesses.
  • Responsibilities: Install plumbing systems, troubleshoot issues, perform repairs.
  • Required Education: Apprenticeship through a certified institution.

Web Developer

  • Average Salary: $64,000
  • Job Description: Web developers design and create websites, focusing on aesthetics and functionality.
  • Responsibilities: Develop website layouts, create interactive features, ensure website performance.
  • Required Education: On-the-job training, with many developers being self-taught or attending coding bootcamps.

Final Thoughts

These roles demonstrate the wide range of high-paying opportunities available outside the traditional four-year college pathway. With specialized training, certifications, and a willingness to learn, individuals can pursue rewarding careers in various industries.


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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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