Meta: A four-year degree can be time-consuming and leave you with huge loans you have little hope of repaying. Fortunately, there are tons of jobs that don’t require a degree! From the hottest jobs in the medical field to jobs you never thought paid well, there’s something for everyone!
9 High Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree
College tuition costs are on the rise (and so is student loan debt). If wages were keeping pace with increased tuition, the higher prices wouldn’t be a problem. However, as salaries for many career fields stall out, individuals are looking more and more for jobs that don’t require a degree.
Below, we’re sharing nine jobs that don’t require four or more years out of the job field and instead, allow you to start earning almost immediately.
Top Paying Jobs in the Medical Field That Don’t Require a Degree
The medical field is a great one to get into. Here’s how the Bureau of Labor Statistics explains it:
“Employment of healthcare occupations is projected to grow 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations, adding about 2.4 million new jobs….This projected growth is mainly due to an aging population, leading to greater demand for healthcare services.”
In other words, working in the medical field means job security, good (and sometimes even phenomenal) pay, and numerous opportunities down the road. Here are a few medical field jobs that don’t require a degree:
Everything that happens at the doctor’s office–the patient’s vitals, the doctor’s notes, prescriptions, etc.–has to be digitally converted from handwritten notes to online databases, a job often performed by a medical coder.
Medical coders are also responsible for communicating services performed for patients to insurance companies. As you can imagine, medical codes are extremely complex and numerous. The good news is that this job isn’t going anywhere anytime soon–and you don’t need a degree (though an associate’s degree may be helpful).
Instead, you can enroll in a medical coding program. These can take up to two years, but most can be completed much faster. Medical Billing & Coding reports that medical coders make close to $40,000 a year (median), but additional certifications mean you can earn even more.
Nuclear Medicine Technologist
If you’d prefer to be more hands-on with patients, you might prefer being a nuclear medicine technologist. In this job, you’ll work with nuclear medicine doctors to use radioactive materials into patients. These materials help identify conditions during later diagnosis.
The median salary for nuclear medicine technologists is almost $75,000 (wow!), and you don’t need a bachelors degree (though you can earn a four-year degree in this field). Requirements vary by state, by normally there’s a year-long certification program or an associate’s degree required.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Sonographers have one of the best jobs on the planet–introducing parents to their brand new little ones, still in the womb!–but also some of the worst, as they are usually the first to find evidence of a tumor or a stopped heartbeat. They tend to earn well, however, and don’t typically need a degree.
Sometimes sonographers can receive on the job training, but you can also enroll in special certificate programs. There are also two-year and four-year options, as well.
Skilled Trade Jobs
White collar jobs have long been considered better paying than blue collar jobs, but that’s just not the case anymore. Thanks to the “skills gap,” which refers to the 6.2 million skilled trade jobs that are vacant right now, demand for plumbers, HVAC certified repair techs, electricians, welders, and more is growing almost by the minute.
And the salaries aren’t half bad! Plus, most of these offer relatively few obstacles to starting your own business, meaning you could become a successful entrepreneur with zero student loans acquired!
Here are some of the most promising skilled trade jobs that don’t require a degree:
Master plumbers can earn upwards of $100,000 annually, depending on where you live and if you’re self-employed or work for somebody else (start your own plumbing company and you could make even more). To become a master plumber, you’ll need your high school diploma or GED equivalent.
You can enroll at a plumbing vocational school, which is shorter, cheaper, and more flexible than your average four-year degree. When you’ve graduated, you’ll be able to undergo an apprenticeship or simply begin your employment. Licensing varies by state, but you’ll usually need 2-5 years of experience, and you’ll need to take (and pass) an exam.
HVAC (or HVACR) stands for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration, and technicians who are certified to work on these systems are extremely valuable. Like plumbers, you’ll attend a short trade school (some are over in as little as six months), and then you can move on to the work field or to an apprenticeship, where you’ll earn less at the start but learn much more.Five to ten years of HVAC experience gets you around $50,000, on average, but there’s always the potential to earn more.
Wind Turbine Technician
If you want a great conversation starter at parties, becoming a wind turbine technician ought to do the trick! This job is extremely physical and strenuous–often requiring you to climb to the top of massive wind turbines to make repairs! It can be exceptionally rewarding as a career, however, especially since turbines contribute so importantly to the greening of the US energy grid.To become a wind turbine tech, you’ll usually need about two years at a technical school followed by some serious on the job training.The median salary for wind turbine technicians, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is in the $50,000s, but the top 10% of techs can make over $80,000.
While there are degree programs available in computer science, coding, and similar fields, the nature of the industry is such that experience tends to speak the loudest when it comes to hiring. Plus, things change so fast that’s it’s not usual for degree programs to become outdated. All that to say, if you like computers, we’ve got some jobs that don’t require a degree for you!
o get started as a web developer, get to know the industry. Meet other web developers and put together your online portfolio. Try a hackathon or do unpaid freelance projects on the side. When you start looking for a job, look for a junior web developer job–that’s the entry-level job.You can get hired on with all types of companies, including huge multinationals or tiny startups. Of course, you can always skip a nine-to-five and opt, instead, to continue freelancing–for money, of course. Web developer salaries vary wildly, but the better you are, the more you can command.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s basically how Google (are their other search engines out there?) decides which websites to show people when they search for certain things (called keywords). SEO specialists can help websites optimize their pages to rank high in search listings.All this requires very little formal training–but loads of technical know-how, tons of studying to learn what Google is looking for, and lots of trial and error. The best SEO specialists can make tons of money because they’re extremely effective–their clients rank well on top keyword searches, which translates to lots of site visitors, which, more than likely, means money for the client.You can work for a company or an organization, or you can work as a freelancer or consultant; either way, there are tons of resources online to help you get started.
If you have an eye for design, becoming a graphic designer is yet another fantastic job you don’t need a degree to perform. You certainly can get a degree (there are even associate graphic design program available), but the best teacher in this field is practice, practice, practice.You can find numerous tutorials online to get you started on graphic design programs such as Photoshop or InDesign, and you can even enroll in online courses. Either way, getting started as a graphic designer is much like getting started as a web developer. Create an online portfolio and start reaching out to potential freelance clients or begin applying for graphic designer jobs.
Get Started Today!
These nine jobs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to jobs that don’t require a degree. Whether it was learning SEO, reaching new heights as a wind turbine technician, or diving into the multi-faceted world medical coding that piqued your interest the most, there’s no reason a lack of a degree should hold you back. Best of luck!