15 Jobs That Pay Over $60K and Don’t Require a 4-Year Degree

If a college education isn’t on the table for you, consider these 15 high-paying jobs you can get without a four-year degree.
Last updated Nov 17, 2020 | By Ben Walker
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Getting a college education has always been generally viewed as an important step to take after finishing high school and before starting your full-time career. However, for the past three decades, the average annual cost of attending a four-year institution in the U.S. has steadily increased from less than $10,000 per year to over $20,000 per year.

As an alternative to help you do well in an uncertain economy, consider other types of careers that don’t require a four-year degree. Many of these jobs often require only a high school diploma or equivalent education, and they still pay high salaries. Taking this route can help you avoid paying expensive tuition costs and save money for your financial goals, whether you’re looking to retire early or simply thrive between paychecks.

15 high-paying jobs you can get without a 4-year degree

Boilermaker

Boilermakers build, install, and maintain boilers and other similar pieces of equipment that house liquids and gases. They can work either outdoors or indoors and in various locations throughout the country.

Boilermakers often learn their trade through an apprenticeship program, so there’s no previous college education experience required. However, it can be helpful to have previous applicable experience, such as knowing how to weld.

Here are some quick facts about the boilermaker occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $63,100 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: +1% (slower than average)

Power line installer

Power line installers work on electrical power systems and other similar projects. This could include both installing and repairing power lines.

Although this type of position may not require a four-year degree, it’s common to have a high school diploma and relevant experience or an apprenticeship. Because power line installers regularly work with high-voltage electricity, it’s essential that they’re properly trained.

Here are some quick facts about the power line installer occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $65,700 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: 0% (little or no change)

Claims adjuster

Claims adjusters inspect properties that people have made insurance claims on, including buildings and vehicles. Their job could involve inspecting damages on properties because of accidents or natural disasters. The purpose of the claims adjuster is to investigate a claim to see whether the insurance company needs to pay anything and how much they would need to pay.

You typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to get an entry-level position as a claims adjuster. Insurance-related work experience could be helpful when applying for this type of employment.

Here are some quick facts about the claims adjuster occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $66,540 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: -6% (decline)

Lead mechanic

Lead mechanics are typically the supervisors of other mechanics and repairers. They likely determine schedules and assignments for the workers under them, plus provide training when needed. They may be required to advise customers on recommendations when needed.

Although there’s no higher education requirement for lead mechanics, you can expect to need prior experience as a mechanic to land this type of management position.

Here are some quick facts about the lead mechanic occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $67,460 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: +3% (as fast as average)

Subway operator

Subway operators operate subway or elevated trains, which means that professionals in this role are typically located in or around bigger cities throughout the country. Common responsibilities may include opening and closing vehicle doors for passengers, driving the vehicle, and maintaining the subway schedule.

This type of position doesn’t usually require more than a high school diploma, though you can expect on-the-job training to learn your responsibilities.

Here are some quick facts about the subway operator occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $67,880 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: +5% (faster than average)

Gas plant operator

Gas plant operators control the operation of equipment used to change the form of natural gas, whether it’s for liquefying, compressing, or regasifying. They monitor plant equipment to make sure everything is running properly and also keep track of the safe transportation of potentially dangerous products they work with.

You don’t need more than a high school diploma for entry-level gas plant operator positions, but you should expect long-term on-the-job training to move up in the field.

Here are some quick facts about the gas plant operator occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $70,710 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: -6% (decline)

Agricultural manager

Agricultural managers raise crops or livestock for the purpose of selling them as products themselves or selling related products, such as dairy goods. Although farmers and ranchers often have a physically demanding lifestyle, agricultural managers may not be as physically invested. Instead, they may hire supervisors for the physical parts of the job and make sure everything else is well-coordinated and running smoothly.

You don’t need more than a high school diploma to be an agricultural manager, but you’ll need some relevant experience to get started. Working on farms and ranches can give you a good idea of how to run one.

Here are some quick facts about the agricultural manager occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $71,160 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: -6% (decline)

Lighting technician

Lighting technicians typically work in the media and communication industries, helping to set up and operate lighting equipment for events or other productions. You may find lighting technicians working at performance venues like performing arts theaters, concert halls, or similar locations.

You likely only need a high school diploma and a small amount of on-the-job training for this type of role.

Here are some quick facts about the lighting technician occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $73,460 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: +5% (faster than average)

Signal and track switch repairer

Signal and track switch repairers work on railroad systems across the country. They install, inspect, test, and maintain equipment, such as signals, track switches, and electric gate crossings.

There’s no higher education requirement for one of these positions, but you can expect a moderate amount of on-the-job-training to learn all your responsibilities.

Here are some quick facts about the signal and track switch repairer occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $73,890 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: -1% (decline)

Elevator installer

You may not think about it as you’re riding in one, but someone had to initially install that elevator before you could use it. Elevator installers install, fix, and maintain elevators, which is a growing industry as cities across the country are continually expanding with buildings that have elevators.

Most states require elevator installers to get certain licenses before being able to work, though the position itself shouldn’t require any education more than a high school diploma. On-the-job training is typically done through apprenticeships.

Here are some quick facts about the elevator installer occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $84,990 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: +7% (faster than average)

Power plant operator

Power plant operators help keep the lights on because they control the systems that generate and distribute electricity around the country. You may not need a higher education to start off in this career, but on-the-job training can be extensive and you’d still likely need to take some classes to know how to best perform your responsibilities.

Here are some quick facts about the power plant operator occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $85,950 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: -16% (decline)

Police supervisor

Police supervisors are in a managerial role within the police force. They train their staff, supervise and coordinate investigations, and stay updated on regulations and policies.

The position of a police supervisor isn’t an entry-level job, so you’d likely need to work your way up to this level. However, moving up the ranks is a great way to boost your income, as you’ll only need a high school diploma and the required amount of experience to qualify. You can expect to have a moderate amount of on-the-job training for this role.

Here are some quick facts about the police supervisor occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $91,090 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: +5% (faster than average)

Transportation, storage, and distribution manager

Transportation, storage, and distribution managers make sure all transportation, storage, and distribution activities are following government laws and regulations. They coordinate these activities for many types of organizations. These roles could include logistics managers as well.

You don’t typically require more than a high school education for these types of positions, but you won’t often qualify for these roles without at least five years or more of relevant experience.

Here are some quick facts about the transportation, storage, and distribution manager occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $94,560 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: +4% (as fast as average)

Commercial pilot

Commercial pilot positions are regularly thought of as some of the best jobs available because of the appeal of a jet-setting lifestyle and the amount of money pilots can make. These jobs are available all over the world, though the travel industry has recently taken a big hit from the economic effects of COVID-19.

Commercial pilots don’t need a degree from a higher education institution, but they’ll need their commercial pilot’s license. It can take a few years to finish the required training to get your license, so it’s not an extremely fast process. That said, it can be well worth it if you love to travel and are looking to earn a high salary.

Here are some quick facts about the commercial pilot occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $121,430 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: +5% (faster than average)

Air traffic controller

Air traffic controllers make sure all aircraft coming in and out of their airport is coordinated so no accidents occur. This type of position can be very demanding because of the focus required, but it typically pays well.

Most air traffic controller positions require a bit more than a high school diploma, but not necessarily a four-year degree. You may need an associate’s degree and a reasonable amount of relevant work experience to qualify. As you work your way up to being an air traffic controller, expect to have a lot of on-the-job training.

Here are some quick facts about the air traffic controller occupation:

  • 2019 median pay: $122,990 per year
  • Job outlook growth rate, 2019-2029: +1% (slower than average)

The bottom line

Although getting a college degree may lead to more employment opportunities and financial stability, it won’t always be the best option for everyone. The money you need to invest in an education can offset your financial gains for years to come and limit your progress at the same time.

If you want to learn how to make money while also saving the funds that could have gone toward an education, consider the types of employment that don’t require four-year degrees. The jobs we’ve listed here are only a small example of the many occupations available that offer high salaries without expensive higher education requirements.

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