High Paying Jobs Without Degree: How To Start a Career Without Higher Education?

Updated on September 16th, 2023

December 5th 2022

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  • “To study or not to study?” — that’s a major dilemma for millions of young people today.

  • It seems that employers finally noticed that resignation from conventional recruitment strategies and dropping the higher education requirement for some jobs can diversify talent pools and improve the overall team productivity.

  • In this article, we introduce top 5 specialistic and well-paid careers that, surprisingly, don’t require any license or diploma.

Can You Get High-paying Jobs Without a Degree?

Many young professionals representing generation Z, also known as “boomers,” no longer believe in the role of the public education system in their life success and don’t trust higher education in general. They are eager to learn and start careers on their own rather than spending most creative years of their lives and often, getting in a massive debt, during the years spent at the university. 

Are they right or wrong by taking this approach? Well, there are many reasons why someone might not want to or be able to pursue a traditional college education. Maybe you can’t afford it, have family commitments, or just don’t feel like this is the path meant for you.

The reluctance to follow the traditional college education is fully understandable given that, especially in the US, the costs of higher education skyrocketed as compared to the 80ties. Perhaps, this is not a worthy investment anymore.

Indeed, the lack of traditional higher education doesn’t necessarily imply limited career options. It seems that employers finally noticed that resignation from conventional recruitment strategies and dropping the higher education requirement for some jobs can diversify talent pools and improve the overall team productivity. 

In a recent interviewMerck CEO, Kenneth Frazier and former IBM CEO, Virginia “Ginni” Rometty both admitted that university degrees are not as indicative of professional excellence as it used to be in the past.

Moreover, a recent study shows that over 60% of jobs in the United States now require postsecondary education. That’s a lot of jobs! But what about the other 40%? What are the high-paying jobs without a degree that don’t require any sort of professional license?

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Top 5 Specialistic and Well-paid Careers That, Surprisingly, Don’t Require any License or Diploma.

Luckily, there are quite a few specialistic and high-paying jobs without a degree, license or diploma. Here are just a few of them:

1. Cyber Security Specialist / Computer Security Analyst.

According to official projections, cyber attacks will cost the global economy over $10 trillion annually by 2025. Hacking has reached new heights, and along with the development of quantum computing, is becoming increasingly powerful. 

No wonder today, businesses take massive investments in cybersecurity to protect their own IP and infrastructure as well as the data and assets of their clients. The demand for Computer Security Specialists is here to stay. So, if you’re interested in a high-paying job that doesn’t require a college degree and you have interest in programming and IT, consider becoming a Computer Security Specialist.

A Cyber Security Specialist, or a Computer Security Analyst, is responsible for maintaining security during the development of software systems, networks, and data centers.

Cyber Security Specialists search for weaknesses and dangers in both hardware and software. They are responsible for monitoring and preventing any attacks or incursions in the network. They must notice potential threats, vulnerabilities, or attempted intrusions, and build firewalls against any potential hacker attacks.

Most Cyber Security Specialists hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science or a related field. However, many jobs in this field don’t require a college degree. Many online courses and certifications can help you qualify for a career in this field.


This job can earn you a handsome amount of $72,785 annually, of which $44,400 is base pay, and additional compensation is $28,386 annually.

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2. Electrician.

Surprisingly, you don’t need a college degree to become an Electrician either — and Electricians happen to be in high demand.

Electricians are skilled workers who install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring of buildings, transmission lines, cable lines, vehicles such as airplanes or ships, and stationary machines. They read installation blueprints and follow electrical codes. Electricians also build data and fiber optic cable systems. As an Electrician, you can get employed or become an independent contractor.

Electricians are trained to one of three levels: Apprentice, Journey Person, and Master Electrician. However, in most countries, you can train on the job. In the US and Canada, apprentices work and receive a reduced compensation while learning their trade, and apprenticeship takes between 3 and 6 years.

Journeymen are Electricians who have completed an accredited electrician training program and passed a licensing exam.

Master Electricians are the Journeymen who have performed well in the trade for a period of time, often seven to ten years, and have passed an exam to demonstrate superior knowledge of the National Electrical Code, or NEC. Some states of the US also offer separate Journeyman electrician licenses that allow Electricians to work independently.

If you’re looking for a high-paying job that doesn’t require a college degree, consider becoming an electrician. You can start on day one, you will learn everything on the job, and you can be sure that the demand for professionals like you will never end.


According to Glassdoor, an average electrician earns $66,021 per year in the United States.

3. Sound Engineering Technician.

Sound Engineering Technician is responsible for the setup, operating, and maintenance of the audio equipment in a studio or at a live venue. Sound Engineering Technicians may also be responsible for recording, editing, and mixing the audio, creating special sound effects, preparing studios for recording sessions, as well as operating transmitters and maintaining broadcasting equipment.

Many technicians work for the sound recording industries: motion picture and video industries, radio and television broadcasting companies, performing arts companies. Interestingly,  universities and colleges also employ some Sound Engineering Technicians.

While some employers may prefer candidates with postsecondary training in Audio Engineering or Audio Production or completing a vocational program in Sound Engineering, most Sound Engineering Technicians find jobs equipped with a high school diploma or an equivalent.

If you wish to gain a professional certificate, the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) offers exams and certifications for technicians in the field.

However, experience is much more important than a diploma here, as you need to demonstrate the ability to fluently work on a computer, basic tinkering skills, manual dexterity, good hearing, and problem-solving skills. There are many ways to gain the necessary skills for this job, including attending a trade school, completing an internship, or working as an audio assistant.


If you love music or also want to play with tech and software and earn well, then a Sound Engineering Technician is a profession worth considering. According to Glassdoor, as a Sound Engineering Technician, you can make $87,587 per year in the United States.

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4. Web Developer.

Web Developers design and create websites and applications using a client–server model. Usually, Web Developers specialize and choose either front-end development (client-side applications) or back-end development (server-side applications).

Front-end development involves taking care of the look of the site and of the user-experience, and requires mastering a few programming languages, including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Back-end development involves programming features behind the application and managing the communication between the application and the database. It often requires some knowledge in algorithmic or statistics, plus juggling a few languages among many possibilities, including:

This profession is not new in the market, but its importance has been increasing over the past two decades and the demand for Web Developers will only increase in the future. 

However, mind that now in the times of Squarespace, Wix, WordPress, and other commercial and open-source platforms for web development, you need much more sophisticated skills than Web Developers working 10 to 20 years ago to stay competitive in the market.

Web Developers usually hold a college degree in computer science or a related IT industry field. However, getting a job as a web developer without a degree is possible and even relatively easy. So, if you’re willing to put in the extra effort to learn programming and build a portfolio, you can find a high-paying job as a web developer without a college degree.

Please find some of programming languages that you need to learn to gets jobs in web development in our article “Top 5 Most In-Demand Programming Languages in the Today’s Job Market.” You can also find more IT professions that are currently in high demand in our article “7 Hottest and Most In-Demand Jobs in IT Industry.”


A Web Developer in a year can earn up to $109,704, according to Glassdoor. As talent in this area is currently in high demand, many companies offer additional perks to job candidates, such as flexible hours or the ability to work remotely.

5. Real Estate Agent.

A Real Estate Agent is an excellent option if you’re looking for a high-paying job that doesn’t require a college degree. This job required skills and knowledge different from anything that you can learn at school!

First, the job requires excellent people skills. Real estate agents sell homes, therefore, they must be able to build relationships with their clients and earn their trust.

Second, real estate agents need to have strong negotiation skills. They need to be able to persuade the buyers and advocate for their clients and get the best possible deal.

Lastly, Real Estate Agents need to be very knowledgeable about the real estate market. They need to know about the area’s neighborhoods, schools, and amenities. They also need to be up-to-date on the latest trends in the real estate market.


According to Glassdoor, as a Real Estate Agent, you can earn $135,823 or more per year. Of course, your income will mostly depend on the average prices of properties in the neighborhood where you work and your success rate in closing sales deals as most real estate agents live off commissions.

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Conclusion: Is It Hard To Secure a High-Paying Job Without a Degree?

Well, this is a hard question. Jobs that don’t require college degrees, usually require experience, connections, or building a portfolio of accomplished projects — or all of the above.

Also, mind two facts.

1. Patience Is a Necessary Ingredient of Every Career.

Each profession mentioned in this article involved certain specialistic skills that one has to build over the years. It doesn’t come easy or fast. Therefore, is avoiding the university degree an easy way out? Not necessarily.

Mind that your income will not grow linearly, but rather, exponentially. At first, you will need to acquire a minimum viable set of skills necessary to do the job. Then, you will slowly polish your skillset towards proficiency. But your income will start growing exponentially only when you become and expert and develop a personal brand around your skills. 

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However, if you have a practical mind and you don’t enjoy learning theoretical knowledge but rather, you would prefer to learn on the job, there you go — it certainly is the direction for you. 

2. High Earnings Don’t Imply High Stability.

When looking for your next job, it is best to take the 360-degree approach: not only take into account the salaries, but also, the current and possible future demand for professionals in a certain discipline.  

For instance, today, specialistic IT positions are well-paid and highly wanted, and yet, they are nowhere near the top ten positions with the lowest unemployment rate

In the near future, when ChatGPT and other chatbots will become better at programming, the demand for new developers might further decrease while the demand for more “traditional” professionals will hold. It is worth to take this into account when thinking about your future 20-30 years ahead.

Good luck with making your career choices!

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Please cite as:

Bielczyk, N. (2022, December 5th). High Paying Jobs Without Degree: How To Start a Career Without Higher Education? Retrieved from https://ontologyofvalue.com/high-paying-jobs-without-degree/

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