15 High-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a Lot of Schooling

Just because you don't go to college doesn’t mean you can’t earn a good salary.
Updated May 16, 2024
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Nearly 50% of American adults aged 25 and over have some sort of college degree, indicating that even in this day and age, it's really up to the individual whether or not a college degree is necessary.

Fortunately, there are also plenty of lucrative career paths that will lead to good salaries and large paychecks, helping you get ahead financially.

Following are 15 jobs that don’t require much schooling but pay at least $50,000 a year on average. 

Salary estimates come from data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

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Web developer

rh2010/Adobe male programmer writing program code

Developers create and test website layouts, functions, and navigation systems and can earn an average of $92,750 per year. 

If you're tech-savvy, a career in web development is a great option that may not require much schooling at all. 

Some companies may require their developers to have a degree, but others are much more concerned with your skill set and previous work experience.

Dental hygienist

Antonioguillem/Adobe dentist examining a patient teeth

Dental hygienists typically work in dentists’ offices and perform teeth cleanings, preventative care, and examinations of patients for signs of oral diseases.

The requirements for dental hygienists vary by state. They typically don't need a four-year degree but do often require an associate’s degree in dental hygiene as well as a license to practice. 

Hygienists can earn $87,530 per year on average.


puhimec/Adobe male electrician works in a switchboard with an electrical connecting cable

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power and communications, lighting, and other systems. Most states do require that electricians be licensed, however.

Those interested in becoming an electrician can learn through an apprenticeship or a trade school and can earn an average salary of around $61,590. 

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Monkey Business/Adobe male plumber using wrench to fix leaking sink in home bathroom

Plumbers — some of whom specialize in pipefitting or steam fitting — install and repair piping fixtures and systems. 

Many learn on the job through an apprenticeship, though some attend vocational school beforehand. Most states require a license.

A career as a plumber is another lucrative job that pays an average of around $61,550 per year. 

Paralegal/legal assistant

Mangostar/Adobe auditor checking document

Paralegals or legal assistants typically work in law firms or corporate legal departments. They can earn an average of $60,970 per year.

Though the required education depends on the company, many people get paralegal jobs with just an associate’s degree or a certification in paralegal studies. Some may even be trained on the job.

Flight attendant

Akarawut/Adobe flight attendant closing the overhead luggage compartment lid

Flight attendants provide services aboard airplanes, such as serving food and drinks, assisting customers, and responding to emergencies.

While flight attendants may have to work some unusual hours, this is a gig that can pay well and doesn’t require much schooling. 

They typically get on-the-job training and need to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

On average, flight attendants can earn around $68,370 annually.

Clinical lab technician

ashtproductions/Adobe young scientist in lab coat wearing nitrile gloves

Clinical lab technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissues, and other substances and can often land a job with just an associate’s degree. 

Some states require technicians to be licensed, but it depends on where you work and the work you're doing.

On average, clinical lab technicians can make around $60,780 per year.

Software developer

BalanceFormCreative/Adobe programmers and software developers working on a new project

Software developers design computer applications and programs and may monitor software quality and identify problems and fixes for existing applications.

Developers can earn serious salaries, and while many do attend four-year universities, others undergo software development training outside of the traditional education system.

If you're tech-savvy and can get through training, you can make an average of $130,160 a year as a software developer. 

Commercial pilot

Sidekick/Adobe male pilot checking control panel in airplane cockpit

As opposed to airline pilots, who typically are required to attend college, commercial pilots can usually land jobs after fulfilling the required amount of flight training and meeting FAA requirements. 

Commercial pilots may also transport cargo and passengers but don't fly regularly scheduled passenger flights like airline pilots.

Commercial pilots can earn an annual income of $171,210 on average.

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Police officer

Gérard Bottino/Adobe police officers photographed from behind during a protest

In many places in the country, those interested in police work can find a job without spending too much time in school. Some districts do require a college degree, while others are fine with a high school diploma. 

Most police officers and detectives also have to graduate from their agency’s training academy and complete on-the-job training.

The average salary is around $74,910 per year, but to reach the higher end of the pay scale, you may need seniority and experience.

Computer support specialist

deagreez/Adobe skilled web expert

Another well-paying gig for the tech-savvy is computer support specialist. These employees maintain computer networks and may provide technical help to users or colleagues. 

Some computer support gigs require an associate’s degree, while others may require just a high school diploma and some relevant information technology (IT) training or certification.

Computer support specialists can make around $60,810 a year on average.

Insurance sales

bnenin/Adobe male client signing document on a meeting with real estate agent

Jobs in insurance sales include selling life, property, or health insurance. They typically don't require a college degree, though many states require their agents to be licensed.

Insurance sales agents make an average of $59,080 a year.


VAKSMANV/Adobe confident firefighter smiling outdoor

Firefighters typically only need a high school diploma and some training in emergency medical services. Certification requirements also vary by state and some towns have only volunteer firefighters.

The job often includes responding to emergency calls, preparing incident reports, and maintaining equipment.

Firefighters make about $57,120 on average, although starting salaries may be lower, and it may take seniority to reach the higher salary ranges.

Subway/streetcar operator

Mulderphoto/Adobe female tram driver on workplace

Subway/streetcar operator is a great gig for those who love to be on the move. Typically, these jobs only require a high school diploma along with some on-the-job training. 

Employees may operate trains on elevated or underground tracks or trolleys powered by electricity that run on tracks along urban streets.

On average, these operators make about $77,370 per year, but as with police and firefighters, it may take years to reach the higher salary ranges.

Radiologic (X-ray) technologist

Kadmy/Adobe radiologist in protective wear

Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging examinations (otherwise known as X-rays) on patients. 

Typically, these employees only need an associate’s degree to get licensed or certified, though these requirements may vary from state to state.

On average, radiologic technologists can make around $76,020 per year.

Bottom line

Fractal Pictures/Adobe cops stand near patrol car

While we often hear that returning to school is the only way to get a job that will allow you to stop living paycheck to paycheck, the fact is that college isn't for everyone. 

Trade school is a great option (and often much shorter and easier to get through), and there are many trades you can learn on the job as well.

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Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

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