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Which jobs pay the most without requiring a college degree?

It’s common knowledge that getting an advanced degree is a guaranteed way to land a higher paying job. Yet college education isn’t for everyone.

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No degree, no problem

It’s common knowledge that getting an advanced degree is a guaranteed way to land a higher paying job. Yet college education isn’t for everyone.

Not everyone wants to put in two or more years of working to pay the bills while attending classes on the side, and when your goal is to make more money, incurring a whopping student loan debt might not appeal.

Make bank, don’t break the bank

So what options are out there for the money-minded potential employee with only a high school diploma? Fortunately there are a handful of high-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree, and may not even require any previous job experience. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has released a list of the top 25 highest-paying jobs you can land without a bachelor’s degree. All of the jobs on the list provide a median salary of at least $55,000 per year.

Work up to supervisor

If you are willing to work a few years in an industry to gain some experience, the fastest way to a higher salary may be becoming a supervisor in the field you’re already working in. Many of the highest paid workers without college diplomas are those who supervisor the work of others.

Supervisors of construction sites, of mechanics, installers, and repairers, of non-retail sales teams, and of correctional officers, police officers and detectives all made the list. Other managerial positions pay top dollar as well, relatively speaking. Farm, ranch, and agricultural managers ranked at number nine, casino gaming managers are ranked at eleven, and transportation, storage, and distribution managers outrank them all with yearly earnings of $81,830.

Through the rain, snow, and sleet

You could start out, without any previous experience, as a postal service mail carrier and earn $56,000 per year. Stick with it and you could advance to become a post master or mail superintendent, and your salary will raise to $63,050.

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Little to no experience required

What if you’re degree-less, and don’t have a lot of job experience either? Most of the top 25 jobs on the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s list require little to no previous experience.

Many of these jobs are related to manufacturing and to operating the various systems that provide power to the electric grid.

Operators for gas plants, petroleum pump systems, refineries, nuclear reactors, and power plants are all highly paid. So are subway and street car operators. Installers and repair people fair well, especially those who install and repair power lines (#13) and elevators (#3).

Location, location, location

What if you prefer a more hands-off profession? Real estate brokers, buyers agents, and claims adjusters all ranked high on the list as well.

If you’re feeling undereducated and underpaid, there are jobs out there for you that pay a respectable wage.


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Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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