20 Highest-Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2024 (2024)

In certain industries, relevant work experience, internships, training and certifications are just as important, if not more important, than graduating with a four-year degree.

Job applications usually have a minimum educational requirement — some college, an associate degree or a bachelor’s or master’s degree. But with student loan debt topping $1.77 trillion (an increase of 66% over the past 10 years), according to the Federal Reserve, you may ask if a four-year college degree is worth it.

The answer will likely depend on your career choice. Some professions — medical and healthcare providers, lawyers, teachers, nuclear engineers — all require a degree (or degrees). However, some underrepresented career fields welcome applicants who never attended college or didn’t graduate with a four-year degree, and some of these careers pay very well.

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There are plenty of in-demand careers with a salary higher than $56,420 (the median U.S. annual salary), according to 20 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree, a report from the leading career resource platform, Resume Genius. The list spotlights well-paying jobs and their accompanying educational requirements, based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here are the highest-paying jobs that don't require a degree this year:

1. Airline and commercial pilot

  • Median annual salary: $148,900
  • Number of jobs: 142,600
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 4%
  • Educational requirements: Vocational training or Associate’s degree
  • Work experience: None, but FAA certifications and flight hours are required

2. Information security analyst

  • Median annual salary: $112,000
  • Number of jobs: 168,900
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 32%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma or vocational training
  • Work experience: None, but relevant certifications are beneficial

3. Elevator and escalator installer and repairer

20 Highest-Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2024 (2)

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  • Median annual salary: $99,999
  • Number of jobs: 25,100
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 1%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma or GED
  • Work experience: Apprenticeship

4. Special effects artist and animator

  • Median annual salary: $98,950
  • Number of jobs: 89,300
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 8%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma or vocational training
  • Work experience: Portfolio of work. Certifications can be beneficial

5. Transportation, storage, and distribution manager

  • Median annual salary: $98,560
  • Number of jobs: 14,600
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 8%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma or equivalent; certification programs beneficial
  • Work experience: Five years in a related field

6. First-line supervisors of police and detective

20 Highest-Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2024 (3)

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  • Median annual salary: $96,290
  • Number of jobs: 4,300
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 3%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma, police academy training
  • Work experience: Several years in the police force

7. Radiation therapist

  • Median annual salary: $89,530
  • Number of jobs: 15,900
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 2%
  • Educational requirements: Associate’s degree
  • Work experience: Clinical experience/certification

8. Subway and streetcar operator

  • Median annual salary: $88,260
  • Number of jobs: 300
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 4%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma
  • Work experience: On-the-job training

9. Electrical power-line installer and repairer

  • Median annual salary: $82,340 per year
  • Number of jobs: 122,400
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 3%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma. Technical training preferred
  • Work experience: Apprenticeship

10. Dental hygienist

20 Highest-Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2024 (4)

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  • Median annual salary: $81,400
  • Number of jobs: 219,400
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 7%
  • Educational requirements: Associate’s degree in dental hygiene
  • Work experience: Licensing (varies by state)

11. Web developer

  • Median annual salary: $80,730
  • Number of jobs: 216,700
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 16%
  • Educational requirements: Ranging from a high school diploma to a bachelor’s degree (education requirements vary by employer)
  • Work experience: None.

12. Medical sonographer

  • Median annual salary: $78,210
  • Number of jobs: 142,800
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 10%
  • Educational requirements: Vocational school, associate's degree
  • Work experience: Licensing (varies by state) and clinical experience

13. Police and/or detective

  • Median annual salary: $69,160
  • Number of jobs: 808,700
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 3%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma, police training academy for an entry-level position. Detective work might require some college coursework or a degree
  • Work experience: Police academy and on-the-job training

14. Flight attendant

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  • Median annual salary: $63,760
  • Number of jobs: 111,100
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 11%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma, flight attendant training program. International routes may needfluencyin a foreign language
  • Work experience: Experience in customer service
  • Medical/physical requirements: Must have vision that is correctable to at least 20/40 and often need to conform to height requirements set by the airline

15. Lodging manager

  • Median annual salary: $61,910
  • Number of jobs: 50,800
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 7%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma
  • Work experience: Experience in various hotel operations, from front desk to housekeeping

16. Property, real estate, and community association manager

  • Median annual salary: $60,670
  • Number of jobs: 429,600
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 5%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma and licensing (varies by state)
  • Work experience: Several years of work experience in a related occupation, such asreal estate brokers and sales agents

17. Electrician

20 Highest-Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2024 (6)

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  • Median annual salary: $60,240
  • Number of jobs: 762,000
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 6%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma
  • Work experience: Apprenticeship program and licensing (varies by state)

18. Telecommunications technician

  • Median annual salary: $60,190
  • Number of jobs: 299,300
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 6%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma and a certificate or an associate’s degree (varies by employer)
  • Work experience: None

19. Industrial machinery mechanic

  • Median annual salary: $59,470
  • Number of jobs: 507,900
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 13%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma, associate’s degree in industrial maintenance for some positions
  • Work experience: None

20. Computer support specialist

  • Median annual salary: $59,660
  • Number of jobs: 914,110
  • Estimated job growth (2022–2032): 5%
  • Educational requirements: High school diploma and some IT knowledge
  • Work experience: Certification and some college coursework (varies by state)

Skills-based hiring

Given the soaring cost of college and an explosion in online learning and certificate courses, it's no wonder that students and employers are both looking for non-traditional ways to join the labor force.

“A college degree doesn’t mean quite what it used to, and we're witnessing a significant shift towards skills-based hiring," explains Eva Chan, a career expert at Resume Genius. "This change is creating more accessible opportunities, including a range of lesser-known yet well-paying roles."

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20 Highest-Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2024 (2024)
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