2017 RANKING & REVIEWS
TOP RANKING BEST JOBS WITHOUT A DEGREE
2017 Guide: Are High-Paying Jobs without a Degree Possible?
With college tuition soaring and national debt piling up, the decision not to get a degree is often a financial one. In fact, the average cost for a baccalaureate degree reached $37,172 in 2016. For those planning on getting more advanced certifications, that figure doubles.
Finances aside, finding jobs without college educations concerns the majority of the population. The most recent data shows that only 40 percent of Americans have a two-year degree or higher, leaving the majority to find jobs without a degree.
Contemporary American culture has stressed that higher education and learning translates into higher pay and higher reward, and this claim is not without truth.
Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Jobs without a Degree
A college education certainly can be profitable and valuable, and the argument can be made that finding high-paying jobs without a degree is much more difficult.
Still, recent estimates have shown that college graduates may not have as much of an advantage as expected. A study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that the 25th percentile of college graduates were either making equal or less pay in comparison to those working in jobs without degrees.
Contrary to popular belief, it is entirely possible to find high-paying jobs without a degree.
Bringing thousands of dollars in loan debt and a lowered income, a college education simply does not pay off for every single graduate. In fact, some circumstances may find it more profitable to find jobs without a college degree.
Jobs without a college degree are available, though it certainly helps to know where to look. Our review aims to highlight the highest paying jobs without a degree, providing essential guidance for those beginning careers without a college degree.
AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Jobs without a College Degree
List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the job names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that job):
- Appliance Repairer
- Computer Support Specialist
- Insurance Sales Agent
- Police Officers & Detectives
- Web Developer
Top 6 Best Jobs without a Degree | Brief Comparison
Best Jobs without a Degree
|Technical or trade school|
|Computer Support Specialist|
|Insurance Sales Agent|
|High school diploma|
|Police Officers & Detectives|
Table: Top 6 Best Paying Jobs without a Degree | Above list is sorted alphabetically
College Degrees: Are They Worth the Cost?
In analyzing careers without a college degree, discussing the worth of a college education is inevitable. Of course, making widespread judgements about finding jobs without degrees vs. with degrees does not provide a fair representation.
There is no simple answer to the worth of a college degree. Many obtain degrees for personal fulfillment, to further their careers, or to begin a completely new focus. To add more perspective, some degrees are more profitable than others. Some work, and some just don’t.
What can be said is that evidence suggests that the overall cost of a college education is actively devaluing degrees. Simply put, the high costs of a college education now outweigh the benefits.
Starting a new career saddled with debt paints a grim picture for many college graduates. The discrepancy between high student loan payments and low starting wages certainly seems to support finding high paying jobs without a degree instead.
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“It’s whether individual colleges offer a worthwhile return to the population of students they serve. The fact that some college graduates earn less than high school grads is one more reason for us to worry about the cost of tuition, not to doubt the value of higher education as a whole.”
Although studies show that unemployment rates are lower for those with a college degree, and lifetime earnings are higher than careers without a college degree, the variable is cost.
With a combined $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, higher education comes at a much higher cost. Students need to borrow more money, and most of them won’t make enough income to cover the cost of their education.
Given this stark reality, it’s no wonder that interest in good-paying jobs without a degree is increasing.
That interest is not without validity. There are certainly high-paying jobs without a degree available, and for many, finding jobs without a college degree simply makes the most financial sense.
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Detailed Review—Top Ranking Best Jobs without a Degree
Below, please find a detailed review of each job on our list of high-paying jobs without a degree. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these best paying jobs without a degree to score so high in our selection ranking.
Appliance Repairer Review
For those who prefer to work with their hands, becoming an appliance repairer is one of the best paying jobs without a degree. With a median salary of $43,640, becoming an appliance repairer is a viable way to make a living from jobs without college requirements.
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Appliance repairers specialize in a variety of different repairs, mostly revolving around HVAC systems. Aside from heating and cooling units, these jobs without a college degree also involve working on refrigeration units and dishwashers.
The profession is projected to experience significant growth, making it one of the best jobs without a degree for future investment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the need for heating and cooling technicians will increase by 21 percent over the next five years.
Not only is it one of the highest paying jobs without a degree, an appliance repairer is also one of the most dependable jobs without a degree.
Furnaces, air conditioners, refrigerators, and dishwashers are permanent household fixtures, making this one of the best jobs without a degree for long-term benefits.
Getting appliance repairer jobs without a degree is entirely possible, though enrolling in a technical or trade school is necessary for certification. Depending upon the program, certification may take anywhere between 6 and 24 months.
Although certification is needed, obtaining appliance repairer jobs without college classes is widely accepted.
Computer Support Specialist Review
If you’re savvy with computers and technology, and if you have good customer service skills, a computer support specialist is one of the best jobs without a degree to consider.
With a median salary of $61,830, computer support specialists can live comfortably without sinking into student loan debt, making it into one of the highest paying jobs without a degree.
Image Source: Pixabay
A computer support specialist may work in a variety of different settings, ranging from call centers, universities, corporate offices, or traditional offices. Ultimately, their goal is to help people with computer-related issues.
These jobs without a college degree involve customer service, troubleshooting, excellent communication, and the ability to maintain good customer relationships. They may also include instructing through email, online chat, video conference, phone, and in person.
As technology continues to be integrated into the workplace and software is continuously updated, the need for computer support specialists is projected to increase by 12 percent.
Because this job relies so heavily upon communication and customer service skills, this profession falls amongst good-paying jobs without a degree, since performance and ability is weighed much higher than college experience.
For those looking for the best jobs without a degree, this is a great career to consider. Rather than judged by education levels, employees are typically judged on their performance.
With salaries in the 75th percentile coming in at $81,800, computer support specialists are certainly high-paying jobs without a degree.
Insurance Sales Agent Review
For those who prefer on-the-job training, an insurance sales agent is one of the top jobs without a college degree. In fact, U.S. News & World Report placed it in the top three of their list of Best Sales & Marketing Jobs.
With a high school diploma, agents can make a median salary of $48,200 each year, earning a spot on our list of high-paying jobs without a degree.
Simply put, insurance sales agents sell auto, health, home, and life insurance. For commercial clients, they may also sell coverage for employees, policies for damage and liability, or product liability.
To be successful in these top-paying jobs without a degree, agents will need to be personable, knowledgeable, and willing to spend their time researching leads.
There is a wide range of employment options for these jobs without college degree requirements. Sales agents can choose to sell one brand of insurance or multiple. About 20 percent are self-employed, which means insurance sales agents could work from home.
As the economy slowly improves, so does the job outlook for these high-paying jobs without a degree. Demand is projected to increase by 9 percent, equating to 43,500 new jobs before 2024.
Insurance sales agents are amongst the best jobs without a degree, as most sales positions do not require college experience.
There will be some certification involved, however, as insurance regulations require state licensure and continuing education to remain updated with the latest policies and products.
Every building and home across the country has pipes running through them, which makes plumbing a good business for those looking for jobs without a college degree.
With a median income of $50,620 each year, plumbing is certainly amongst the high-paying jobs without a degree to consider.
Image Source: Pixabay
The Occupational Outlook Handbook combines plumbers with steamfitters and pipefitters, with duties ranging from installing and repairing pipes for homes, businesses, and factories.
Plumbers tend to work largely with sewer and water systems, whereas pipefitters and steamfitters specialize in pipes that carry acids, chemicals, and gases.
One of the reasons why plumbers have the best jobs without a degree comes from job security. New construction, home renovations, routine repairs, and changing efficiency standards means that plumbing jobs without a college degree are here to stay.
To become a plumber, students need to go through an apprenticeship. This involves on-the-job learning and some classroom learning, typically offered through unions and plumbing businesses.
No college experience is necessary to obtain an apprenticeship, allowing plumbers to have good-paying jobs without a degree.
What makes plumbing stand out amongst other high-paying jobs without a degree is that apprentices get paid. In fact, most apprentices can expect to be paid between 30% and 50% of a professional salary.
Job stability, high pay, and the ability to be compensated throughout training makes this one of the best jobs without a degree.
Police Officers & Detectives Review
Becoming a police officer or a detective typically involves training and experience rather than obtaining a four-year degree, making these great jobs without college degree requirements.
Although law enforcement is a potentially dangerous career, police officers and detectives are well-compensated for their time. Last year, the median salary was $60,270, making it one of the best jobs without a college degree to consider.
Image Source: Pixabay
Police officers and detectives have a wide range of responsibilities, all which revolve around protecting lives, property, and upholding the law. Polices officers typically respond to calls, conduct traffic stops, obtain warrants, arrest suspects, and issue citations.
Detectives have a much more focused responsibility, tasked with investigating crimes, gathering and analyzing evidence, and collecting facts.
Both of these high-paying jobs without a degree require good communication and observational skills. Writing detailed reports and testifying in court are common responsibilities, making clear and efficient communication important.
Projected need for police officers and detectives is expected to grow by 4 percent. Though this growth is slower in comparison, it’s worth noting that these jobs without a college degree are also high-paying jobs without a degree, making them great careers to consider.
The standard educational requirement is to have at least a high school diploma, and physical fitness is a must. Strength, agility, vision, and hearing exams are important factors in job eligibility.
Though many community colleges and four-year schools offer criminal justice studies, it is entirely possible to get these top-paying jobs without a degree. Many state and local agencies require graduation from a training academy, bypassing college coursework entirely.
Although the Occupational Outlook Handbook reports that a degree is unnecessary, it’s worth mentioning that many state and local agencies prefer applicants with some level of college experience.
Thus, the accessibility of these jobs without a college degree depend largely upon individual precincts and agencies.
Web Developer Review
With growing emphasis on strong website performance, web developers possess incredibly valuable skills for businesses in any field.
If you have knowledge of software programs, programming languages, and web applications, these are fulfilling and profitable jobs without a college degree.
Building websites can provide $63,490 each year, making these high-paying jobs without a degree well worth consideration.
Web developers discuss needs with clients and build websites according to their needs. This includes creating new designs, adding animation, creating test sites, and checking for bugs. Jobs can be split between back-end and front-end, with some web developers focusing on HTML and CSS codes and others creating design elements.
These top-paying jobs without a degree require great communication skills, audience awareness, knowledge of web-based applications, and attention to detail.
With the need for high-end websites growing by the day, demand for web developers is estimated to grow by a whopping 27 percent, making it one of the best jobs without a degree to pursue.
There are many certifications available for web development, and some companies may require a college degree.
Even so, the advantage that web development brings amongst jobs without college degree requirements is that developers are judged primarily by the quality of their work, not by their certifications. A great portfolio can make all the difference for a web developer.
As an additional benefit, many web developers work as freelancers, setting their own hours and providing their services across a wide range of businesses and corporations.
If you prefer to manage your own schedule, clients, and workload, a web developer is one of the best jobs without a college degree to consider.
Conclusion—Top 6 Best Jobs without a Degree
For most of the American public, it may be surprising to find that jobs without degrees can be considered high-paying jobs without a degree.
With employment opportunities and economic conditions constantly shifting, jobs without a college degree are continuously on the rise. These high-paying jobs without a degree tend to focus on proven success, quality of work, and the ability to learn while on the job.
“American adults face an unenviable choice: invest in something that is increasingly necessary but neither worth the cost nor flexible enough to accommodate their needs.”
Given this, it’s no wonder that jobs without a college degree are on the rise. High-paying jobs without a degree allow for profitable careers to form without the restrictions of heavy student loan debt, providing ample opportunities without a college degree.
AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer: Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info. Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.
AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:
Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.
Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.