12 Jobs That Don’t Require a Four-Year College Degree and Pay Over $70,000 a Year

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12 Jobs That Don’t Require a Four-Year College Degree and Pay Over $70,000 a Year
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Having a college degree is one of the best ways to get into a high-paying career, or at least to set yourself up in a career that offers you the potential to make the most money.

Still, it’s no secret that college isn’t always the most accessible option for everyone.

As a former teacher, I’ve been able to help several juniors and seniors determine a realistic career path following high school. To my surprise, many of those students were better suited for financial success in trade jobs for which they’d already built experience and a passion. 

The cost of college is rising along with average student loan debts, which means a formal education can get pricey depending on where you go and how much you can get from scholarships and grants. And whether it’s due to financial resources or lifestyle choices, the time and money just may not be worth it for some people.

There are plenty of high-paying jobs out there that require only a two-year degree or high school diploma. Some may require additional on-the-job training, depending on the specific position and company.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, here’s a list of the top-paying jobs that don’t require a four-year college degree — all with median salaries of at least $70,000 a year.

12 Jobs That Don’t Require a Four-Year College Degree and Pay at Least $70K a Year

12. Signal and Track Switch Repairers

  • Median annual wage (2018): $70,490
  • Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
  • Work experience: None
  • On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training
  • Description: Signal and track switch repairers can install, inspect, test, maintain and repair electric gate crossings, signals, signal equipment, track switches, section lines and intercommunications systems for railroads.

11. Transportation Inspectors

  • Median annual wage (2018): $73,780
  • Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
  • Work experience: None
  • On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training
  • Description: Transportation inspectors check equipment and goods to ensure the safe transport of cargo or people. Careers in this field include freight inspectors, rail inspectors and other inspectors of transportation vehicles.

10. Dental Hygienists

  • Median annual wage (2018): $74,820
  • Education required: Associate degree
  • Work experience: None
  • On-the-job training: None
  • Description: Dental hygienists assist the dentist by cleaning teeth, examining patients and providing preventative dental care. Employment for dental hygienists is projected to grow 11% in the next 10 years.

9FirstLine Supervisors of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers

  • Median annual wage (2018): $76,330
  • Education required: Postsecondary nondegree award
  • Work experience: Less than 5 years
  • On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training
  • Description: In this job, you’ll directly supervise and coordinate the activities of workers engaged in fire fighting and fire prevention and control. There are 3,600 new jobs in this field projected over the next 10 years!

8. Nuclear Medicine Technologists

  • Median annual wage (2018): $76,820
  • Education required: Associate degree
  • Work experience: None
  • On-the-job training: None
  • DescriptionIn this career, you’ll prepare and administer radioactive drugs to patients for imaging and therapeutic purposes. There’s a 7% projected job growth rate over the next 10 years in this field.

7. Media and Communication Equipment Workers

  • Median annual wage (2018): $79,580
  • Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
  • Work experience: None
  • On-the-job training: Short-term on-the-job training
  • Description: Media and communications equipment workers specialize in installing, maintaining and repairing audio and visual systems in homes or businesses.

6. Elevator Installers and Repairers

  • Median annual wage (2018): $79,780
  • Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
  • Work experience: None
  • On-the-job training: Apprenticeship
  • Description: In this job, you’ll install, fix and maintain elevators, escalators, moving walkways and other lifts. Over the next 10 years, the job outlook is expected to grow by 10%.

5. Commercial Pilots

  • Median annual wage (2018): $82,240
  • Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
  • Work experience: None
  • On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training
  • Description: In addition to a high school diploma or equivalent, commercial pilots also need a pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration. If you do go on to get a bachelor’s degree, you can earn around $149,340 as an airline pilot, copilot or flight engineer!

4. Radiation Therapists

  • Median annual wage (2018): $82,330
  • Education required: Associate degree
  • Work experience: None
  • On-the-job training: None
  • Description: Radiation therapists work full-time in hospitals, physician offices and outpatient centers treating patients for cancer and other diseases.

3FirstLine Supervisors of Police and Detectives

  • Median annual wage (2018): $89,030
  • Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
  • Work experience: Less than five years
  • On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training
  • Description: People in this career directly supervise and coordinate members of the police force. There’s also a 5% projected employment growth rate over the next 10 years, which means 5,800 new jobs!

2. Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers

  • Median annual wage (2018): $94,730
  • Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
  • Work experience: Five years or more
  • On-the-job training: None
  • Description: In this job, you’ll follow organization policies and government regulations to plan, direct or coordinate transportation, storage or distribution activities. Logistics managers fall into this field.

1. Air-Traffic Controllers

  • Median annual wage (2018): $124,540
  • Education required: Associate degree
  • Work experience: None
  • On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training
  • Description: Air traffic controllers monitor and coordinate aircraft movements to keep a safe distance between them. While this field is a little more competitive with only 300 new job opportunities expected over the next 10 years, this is a tough annual salary to beat!

How to Find a High-Paying Job With Any Level of Education

The Bureau of Labor Statistics offers an occupation finder tool that allows you to search for jobs based on entry-level education, projected growth rate, 2018 median pay and more.

This is an excellent way to browse potential careers and find the most accurate, up-to-date information. Simply select your current level of education and the salary range you’re looking for. From there, click on each career for a brief description and more links that can help you get started!

Do you have a high-paying job that you landed without a four-year college degree? Let us know in the comments!

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