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10 Highest-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a College Education

College isn’t for everyone - and that’s ok! If you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, you’ll have to give in and start filling out applications. But if you’re looking for a career that will make decent money, there’s plenty of jobs that pay well and don’t require a college degree. While some require apprenticeship or job-specific training, the company will often pay for it. For those that don’t, it’s generally much faster and less expensive to get certified than to attend a four-year school. Check out this list of top-paying jobs.

  1. Commercial Pilot
    While most airlines require a degree, there are often smaller companies, like charter businesses or those that show tourists around who are only concerned with a pilot license. Through a private instructor or flight school, potential pilots are required to complete training with a total of 40 hours. While the median income for commercial pilots is around $74,000 a year, some pilots raked in a whopping $136,000. The industry is expected to continue growing, meaning more and more pilots will be needed each year.

  2. Detective
    Most detectives start off as police officers, which requires physical and written exams, followed by attending police academy for a few months. While officers don’t make an insane amount of money, if you get promoted to a detective or criminal investigator position, you’re looking at a median salary of $76,000 a year. Some even make closer to $125,000, depending on your abilities, specialty, and the area you live in.

  3. Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Manager
    These folks are in charge of all of the shipping and storing of all the goods that businesses rely on to make their money. Managers often have a bachelor's degree, but a high school diploma is the only requirement. If you land the job, you’re looking at a median salary of over $83,000 -- even $140,000 on the high end of the job.

  4. Elevator Technician
    While there’s no “elevator school,” there is a required period of apprenticeship and on-the-job training, which takes around five years to complete. On the bright side, you get paid while you’re doing it, which gives it a huge advantage over going to a college that you have to pay for. And in the end, elevator installers and repairmen make anywhere from $78,000 to $100,000. The need for these particular technicians has increased, while similar jobs are decreasing.

  5. Transportation Inspector
    Planes, trains, and automobiles - transportation inspectors can deal with them all. They make sure vehicles are in compliance with government regulations, not only as far as safety is concerned; they also make sure passengers are being handled properly and that the cargo aspect of things is up-to-snuff. The hours can be irregular and inspectors often have to go from place to place. For all of that, they bring home anywhere from $65,000 to over $100,000.

  6. Gaming Manager
    These are the people who make sure it’s all just fun and games in a casino. If you love the atmosphere (and can resist the call of the slot machine), keeping a gambling den in order can pay out big with no risks required. Managers usually have to start out working in lower tier jobs at a casino, and there is a licensing process, but annual pay ranges from about $54,000 to $84,000.

  7. Power Plant Operator, Distributors, and Dispatchers
    Power plant operators do exactly what you would expect: they maintain and manage the systems that generate our power. It takes a lot of on-the-job training to become one, and workers are often on rotating shifts, so it can be exhausting. But the payout isn’t too shabby: they make more than $30 an hour, which racks up to over $68,000 a year.

  8. Postmaster/Mail Superintendent
    The postmaster is the head of the post office. They’re in charge of the mail and the workers for an individual distribution center. This includes office work, hiring, firing, training, and supervising. While it comes with the perks of a government job, it also comes with the stress of dealing with a lot of mail. On average, they make about $65,000 a year, although some make as much as $85,000. The downside is that the need for post office jobs is expected to drop by almost 30% in the coming years.

  9. Restaurant Manager
    Keep in mind this is for fancy restaurants, not fast food. Most restaurants have no requirements for being a general manager beyond previous management experience, and GMs can bring in some big bucks. Since they usually work on salary, managers often work more than forty hours a week, including weekends and late nights. They supervise employees, take care of paperwork and payroll, and manage customer relations. While the average GM makes around $50,000-$60,000 a year, some nicer restaurants will pay closer to $100,000 a year. On top of that, they are often offered a profit share in their company or the opportunity to franchise their own business.

  10. Electrical Power Line Installers and Repairers
    These electricians are out in all kinds of weather, climbing ladders, trimming trees, and putting their lives on the line (pun intended) to keep service areas in electricity. They may get called out in the middle of the night and be instructed to go to nearby areas that have been hit by a natural disaster and don’t have the manpower to get everything back in working order. They make around $60,000 a year and generally get their training through on-the-job apprenticeships and technical instruction.

Last Updated: May 22, 2017