College graduates tend to earn much higher wages than workers with no more than a high school diploma. The median wage for workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher was over $74,000 in the first quarter of 2021, compared to a median of $41,184 for workers who are high school graduates with no college.
Yet there are dozens of jobs in the U.S. with average annual wages of over $70,000 that do not typically require a college degree as a prerequisite for employment — including a handful that average over $100,000 in wages.
To identify the highest paying jobs that do not require a college degree, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on annual wage and typical entry-level education requirements from the May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Though the jobs on this list do not require a college degree, prospective workers do generally need some type of certification, related work experience, or on-the-job training from candidates for most of these occupations.
The highest paying jobs that do not require a college degree are so highly paid, in many cases, because they are essential — transporting people, goods, or services; providing power; or helping to keep people safe. Though these jobs are important, they are often stressful and sometimes very dangerous. These are the most dangerous jobs in America.
To identify the highest paying jobs that do not require a college degree, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on annual wage and typical entry-level education requirements from the May 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupations that do not typically require a college degree for an entry level position were ranked based on annual mean wage in 2020. Occupations classified as “miscellaneous” and “all other” were not considered.
We only considered occupations that the BLS OEWS listed entry level education requirements as a high school diploma or equivalent, no formal education credential, a postsecondary nondegree award, or some college but no degree.
Supplemental data on total employment also came from the OEWS. We considered all government level and private sector employees, part- and full-time.
Supplemental data on projected employment growth from 2019 to 2029 came from the 2019 Employment Projections program of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Data on educational attainment by detailed occupation also came from the BLS EP.
The Employment Projections program includes self-employed workers. The OEWS excludes self-employed workers. Employment growth projections, therefore, include self-employed workers.