College is often touted as the pathway to a brighter financial future. But this is not always the case. The cost of tuition, books, lodging, and more can be expensive, and it drives many into tens of thousands of dollars in debt. While college grads certainly earn higher wages on average, some make relatively little. These are the college majors that pay off the least.
On the other hand, there are jobs that require little to no secondary education yet pay very well. The median annual wage for all jobs in the United States is $38,640. There are a handful of jobs that require only a high school diploma or an equivalent education that pay more than double that.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the highest paying jobs you can get without a college degree.
While salary is always a major factor when choosing a job or career field, there are other considerations that need to be taken into account — like whether the job will still be in demand in the future. Some low-skill jobs are already being phased out by automation, but by 2026, employment is projected to decline for only three of the 20 highest paying jobs you can get without a college degree, according to the BLS. Only two of the 20 jobs listed here, however, are projected to have employment growth beyond the projected overall U.S. job growth rate of 7.4% by 2026.
There are many jobs that keep society running — by providing power, security, transportation, and many other valuable services. Such jobs can command higher pay without requiring a degree and account for many of the jobs on this list.
Though these jobs pay well, they certainly have drawbacks. Many of the careers on this list are in the transportation sector, which often requires employees to work long and irregular hours. Other jobs on this list can be dangerous, particularly those in law enforcement. These are the most dangerous jobs in America.