The 10 highest-paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree

Believe it or not, there are dozens of careers out there that pay high salaries and full benefits, but don’t require a bachelor’s degree. With student debt skyrocketing, saddling graduates with many years of loan repayments, more and more people are realizing they don’t need a four-year degree to make a good living.

In 2017, Business Insider published a list of the 25 highest-paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree. Here are the top 10 from that list, along with the median annual wage for each in 2016, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

10. Commercial Pilots: $77,200

These aren’t the folks who fly you on regular airline flights. They fly planes and helicopters on non-scheduled flights, such as private charter travel, tours, cargo runs, rescue missions, photography trips, firefighting and crop dusting. To become a commercial pilot, you’ll need a high school diploma or GED, and then you’ll need to earn a commercial pilot’s certificate. Commercial pilots often become airline pilots. The BLS projects there will be more than 15,000 commercial pilot job openings through 2024.


9. Detectives And Criminal Investigators: $78,120

Public investigators help solve federal, state and local crimes and work to help prevent them. These are not private investigators hired by citizens, law firms or businesses. Detectives and criminal investigators need a high school diploma or its equivalent and on-the-job training. The BLS estimates that more than 28,000 new hires will be needed from now until 2024.


8. Elevator Installers And Repairers: $78,890

How often does a week go by when you don’t go into a building with an elevator? That’s why the people who install and fix elevators are in such high demand. These jobs require an apprenticeship and some on-the-job training. Close to 6,000 new elevator pros will be hired through 2024, according to BLS estimates.

Flickr | TheDarkThing

7. Nuclear Technicians: $79,140

You don’t need to be a nuclear scientist to make close to $80,000 a year. Nuclear techs provide assistance to the physicists, engineers and other workers in nuclear power plants and research facilities. This job requires an associate’s degree and on-the-job training. The BLS projects that the country will need approximately 2,800 new nuclear techs through 2024.


6. Radiation Therapists: $80,160

The health care field has dozens of good career paths that you can get without a bachelor’s degree. One of the highest-paying jobs is as a radiation therapist, which requires an associate’s degree and certification. Radiation therapists help treat cancer patients and others in need of radiation treatments. The U.S. will need about 6,200 new radiation therapists through 2024.


5. Power Distributors And Dispatchers: $81,900

The people at utility companies who help keep your lights, air conditioner, heater, appliances, and other devices running in our homes, businesses and schools earn close to $82,000 per year. They also go through long-term, on-the-job training to keep them current (pun intended). The BLS estimates close to 4,000 power distributors and dispatchers will be hired through 2024.

4. First-Line Supervisors Of Police And Detectives: $84,840

Who’s watching the watchdogs? It’s these supervisors, and they earn close to $85,000, plus good benefits, for supervising police department staff. The job requires a high school diploma or its equivalent, as well as ongoing work training.

Flickr | GTA Emergency_Photography

3. Transportation, Storage And Distribution Operators: $89,190

With more and more people buying their goods online, logistics are playing a greater role in the U.S. economy. Logistics involves stocking, warehousing, storing, shipping and tracking goods. Demand for these workers is expected to be high through 2024, with more than 27,000 new jobs projected to be created.

2. Nuclear Power Reactor Operators: $91,170

Reactor operators manage the nuclear plants that provide energy to consumers across the U.S. They keep an eye on the reactors, keep data accurate and current, and are the frontline people during an emergency. The job requires a high school diploma or its equivalent and long-term training during the course of a career in this field. There will be approximately 2,600 new reactor operator jobs available through 2024, according to the BLS.

RELATED: 10 Work-From-Home Jobs With Salaries Of $100,000 Or More

1. Air Traffic Controllers: $122,410

The people who direct your airplane pilots and make sure you take off and land safely earn the most of any career that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree, according to Business Insider’s list. An air traffic controller job does require an associate’s degree and long-term on-the-job training. There will be approximately 7,500 new air traffic controller jobs through 2024, according to the BLS.

Getty Images | Andreas Rentz

About the Author

Steve Milano


More to explore