Earning

7 high-paying jobs you can get without a college degree

Myelle Lansat@myellelansat
Twenty/20

The median annual wage for someone with a high school diploma is $37,690, whereas someone with a bachelor's degree earns a median wage of $72,830, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. But if college isn't right for you, you're not locked out of earning a salary that's close to six figures, well above the country's median income.

Several high-paying jobs only require a high school diploma or equivalent.

Keep in mind, though, that no degree doesn't mean no experience necessary: Most of these roles require on-the-job training, like apprenticeships, while others expect that you've taken certain relevant classes or gotten certification.

Before going down any particular path, you may want to explore your options and find out what you actually enjoy, says certified financial planner Jude Boudreaux, a partner at The Planning Center in New Orleans: "There is a lot that you can do [without a bachelor's degree] that I think you may not have realized."

Here are seven high-paying occupations that don't require a college degree, according to BLS data.

Commercial pilot

Median annual wage: $78,740

To become a commercial pilot, you need relevant certifications plus 1,500 hours of flight time, says Nikhil Varaiya, a finance professor at San Diego State's Fowler College of Business. In some cases, airlines may recruit pilots from the Armed Forces because some members of the military gain relevant training to become commercial pilots during their service.

Elevator installer and repairer

Median annual wage: $79,480

For this role, your daily routine may involve assembling, installing, or maintaining elevators, escalators, and the occasional chairlift, according to the BLS.

Detective and criminal investigator

Median annual wage: $79,970

In addition to about five years of work experience and training as a police officer, you may want to consider taking university level criminal justice classes to develop "critical thinking skills, education, and maturity," says Erika Safran, certified financial planner and founder of Safran Wealth Advisors based in New York City. Still, you're not expected to have a bachelor's degree.

Power distributor and dispatcher

Median annual wage: $82,510

You can get a head start in this highly skilled and somewhat risky position, in which you monitor energy flows from power stations, by joining a trade association, according to Boudreaux.

First line supervisor of police and detectives

Median annual wage: $87,910

First-line supervisors must have in-depth knowledge of the criminal justice system and be able to manage people in a high-stress environment, says Varaiya.

Transportation, storage, and distribution manager

Median annual wage: $92,460

Transportation managers focus on the movement of merchandise. They usually start out as truck drivers and are responsible ensuring that shipments and supply chains run efficiently and cost-effectively.

Nuclear power reactor operator

Median annual wage: $93,370

This is one of the highest-paying jobs that require only a high school degree or equivalent to enter, but it also comes with a high degree of risk and requires long-term training, says Varaiya.

Overall, says, Boudreaux, "There are trades that pay extremely well, and that's a good path to [take] for some people who do not want to go the college route but still want to have a profession."

More from Grow:

Get the Grow Newsletter Every Week
The best money advice you never got, delivered to your inbox weekly.
The best money advice you never got, delivered to your inbox weekly.
 

Twenty/20
acorns+cnbcacorns cnbc

Join Acorns

GET STARTED

About Us

Learn More

Follow Us

All investments involve risk, including loss of principal. The contents presented herein are provided for general investment education and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation to buy any specific securities or engage in any particular investment strategy. Acorns is not engaged in rendering any tax, legal, or accounting advice. Please consult with a qualified professional for this type of advice.

Any references to past performance, regarding financial markets or otherwise, do not indicate or guarantee future results. Forward-looking statements, including without limitations investment outcomes and projections, are hypothetical and educational in nature. The results of any hypothetical projections can and may differ from actual investment results had the strategies been deployed in actual securities accounts. It is not possible to invest directly in an index.

Advisory services offered by Acorns Advisers, LLC (“Acorns Advisers”), an investment adviser registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). Brokerage and custody services are provided to clients of Acorns Advisers by Acorns Securities, LLC (“Acorns Securities”), a broker-dealer registered with the SEC and a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”). Acorns Pay, LLC (“Acorns Pay”) manages Acorns’s demand deposit and other banking products in partnership with Lincoln Savings Bank, a bank chartered under the laws of Iowa and member FDIC. Acorns Advisers, Acorns Securities, and Acorns Pay are subsidiaries of Acorns Grow Incorporated (collectively “Acorns”). “Acorns,” the Acorns logo and “Invest the Change” are registered trademarks of Acorns Grow Incorporated. Copyright © 2019 Acorns and/or its affiliates.

NBC Universal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns Grow Incorporated.