Special Report

The Highest Paying Jobs You Can Get Without A College Degree

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25. Gas plant operators
> Avg. annual wage: $73,290
> Total employment: 14,990
> Projected employment change (2019-2029): -5.4%

Gas plant operators are in charge of regulating the facilities that pump gas for utility companies and ensuring pipelines are at the proper pressure to keep operations running smoothly and safely.

These workers are typically required to have a high school diploma (as well as long-term on-the-job training) to get the job. Workers have an average annual wage of $73,290, one of the highest-paying jobs you can get without a college degree. Nationwide, the average annual wage for all jobs is $56,310.

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24. Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing
> Avg. annual wage: $73,500
> Total employment: 1,278,670
> Projected employment change (2019-2029): +0.9%

Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives reach out to businesses or people to try to sell the wares of the company they represent. One of the most commonly held jobs in the country, there were nearly 1.3 million such sales reps in the country in 2020.

Wholesale and manufacturing sales reps have an average annual wage of $73,500 with just a high school diploma generally required to get the job. Though, many do need some moderate training to get acquainted with the items they will be selling.

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23. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
> Avg. annual wage: $74,410
> Total employment: 114,930
> Projected employment change (2019-2029): +1.7%

Electrical power-line installers and repairers have an average annual wage of $74,410, which is over $18,000 higher than the average annual wage for all jobs in the U.S. Of all the jobs on this list, this one has the lowest share of workers with a college degree, at 7.9%. Nationwide, 38.9% of all workers hold at least a bachelor’s degree.

Though there is generally no related occupational experience needed, electrical power-line installers and repairers generally need long-term on-the-job training to attain competency. There are nearly 115,000 such workers nationwide.

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22. Signal and track switch repairers
> Avg. annual wage: $75,970
> Total employment: 7,250
> Projected employment change (2019-2029): -1.5%

Signal and track switch repairers are responsible for testing, maintaining, and repairing the communication equipment and switches needed to keep railroad systems running. These workers earn an average of nearly $76,000 per year, one of several transportation-related fields that rank among the highest paying jobs that do not require a college degree.

Though a high school diploma is often a prerequisite for those hoping to be a signal and track switch repairer, a relatively large share of these workers, 13.2%, do not have a high school diploma. Comparatively, 7.9% of all U.S. workers did not finish high school or an equivalent program.

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21. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
> Avg. annual wage: $76,810
> Total employment: 5,670
> Projected employment change (2019-2029): -6.5%

Agricultural managers oversee operations at farms, ranches, greenhouses, and other similar businesses. These workers have an average annual wage of $76,810. Typically, agricultural managers need five years or more of experience with the type of operation they will oversee before they can become a manager.

There are less than 6,000 agricultural managers in the U.S., and that number is projected to decline significantly over the next decade. This projected 6.5% decrease is due to the increasing efficiency with which crops can be produced as well as more sophisticated technologies, so fewer farms and ranches would be needed to produce a similar amount, and therefore fewer managers would be needed as well.