The Highest-Paying Jobs You Can Get Without a Bachelor's Degree

Business Insider

When the economy started to show troubling signs, many decided to skip college and join the workforce earlier.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 60 percent of U.S. workers don't have a bachelor's degree, but if you have an associate’s degree, a postsecondary non-degree award, or a high school diploma, you can still get a high-paying job.

The BLS provided a list of 80 high-paying occupations that don't require a college degree. The median annual wages listed include hourly, weekly, annual pay, sales commissions, and production bonuses. Overtime wages are not included in the data.

We also included the expected job openings through 2020 and what kind of work experience or on-the-job training are needed for a particular job.

1. Air traffic controllers

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Photo: BLS

Median annual wage (May 2010): $108,040
Degree required: Associate's degree
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 10,200
Work experience: None
Description: Monitor and direct the movement of aircraft. Median annual wages of air traffic controllers are the highest of any occupation in which workers typically do not need a bachelor’s degree.
On-the-job training: Long-term or on-the-job training

2. General and operations managers


Median annual wage (May 2010): $94,400
Degree required: Associate's degree
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 410,100
Work experience: 1-5 years
Description: Coordinating an organization’s daily activities, these managers might develop policies, oversee budget activities, or review sales reports.
On-the-job training: None

3. Construction manager


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Photo: BLS

Median annual wage (May 2010): $83,860
Degree required: Associate's degree
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 120,400
Work experience: More than 5 years
Description: Oversee a construction project from start to finish. They set timelines, prepare contracts, and manage budgets.
On-the-job training: None

4. Transportation, storage, and distribution managers

Median annual wage (May 2010): $80,210
Degree required: High school diploma
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 33,700
Work experience: More than 5 years
Description: In charge of operations that range from railroads to shipping facilities. They manage budgets, set policies and standards, and direct procurement.
On-the-job training: None

5. First-line supervisors of police and detectives

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Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

Median annual wage (May 2010): $78,260
Degree required: High school diploma
Projected job openings (Through -2020): 38,700
Work experience: 1 to 5 years
Description: Coordinate activities of members of police force.
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



6. Radiation therapist


Median annual wage (May 2010): $74,980
Degree required: Associate's degree
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 6,700
Work experience: None
Description: Check equipment, observe patients’ reactions to treatment, and document the session.
On-the-job training: None

7. Administrative services managers

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Photo: BLS

Median annual wage (May 2010): $77,890
Degree required: High school diploma
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 99,800
Work experience: 1 to 5 years
Description: Plan, direct, and coordinate supportive services of an organization.
On-the-job training: None

8. Nuclear power reactor operators

Median annual wage (May 2010): $75,650
Degree required: High school diploma
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 2,000
Work experience: None
Description: Move control rods, start and stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls, and record data in logs.
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training

9. Elevator installers and repairers


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Photo: BLS

Median annual wage (May 2010): $70,910
Degree required: High school diploma
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 8,200
Work experience: None
Description: Fix, and maintain elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and other lifts.
On-the-job training: Apprenticeship

10. Power distributors and dispatchers

Median annual wage (May 2010): $68,900
Degree required: High school diploma
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 3,600
Work experience: None
Description: Coordinate, regulate, or distribute electricity or steam.
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training

11. First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers


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Photo: Daniel Goodman / Business Insider

Median annual wage (May 2010): $68,880
Degree required: High school diploma
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 123,500
Work experience: More than 5 years
Description: Coordinate activities of sales workers other than retail sales workers.
On-the-job training: None


12. Detectives and criminal investigators


Median annual wage (May 2010): $68,820
Degree required: High school diploma
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 30,100
Work experience: 1 to 5 years
Description: Conduct investigations related to suspected violations of Federal, State, or local laws to prevent or solve crimes.
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training

13. Nuclear medicine technologists

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Photo: BLS

Median annual wage (May 2010): $68,560
Degree required: Associate's degree
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 7,500
Work experience: None
Description: Use a scanner to create images of various areas of a patient’s body. They prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to patients undergoing the scans.
On-the-job training: None

14. Dental hygienists

Median annual wage (May 2010): $68,250
Degree required: Associate's degree
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 104,900
Work experience: None
Description: Clean teeth, examine patients for oral diseases such as gingivitis, and provide other preventative dental care.
On-the-job training: None

15. First-line supervisors of fire fighting and prevention workers

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Median annual wage (May 2010): $68,250
Degree required: Postsecondary non-degree award
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 33,100
Work experience: 1 to 5 years
Description: Coordinate activities of workers engaged in fire fighting and fire prevention and control.
On-the-job training: None

16. Commercial pilots


Median annual wage (May 2010): $67,500
Degree required: Postsecondary non-degree award
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 19,300
Work experience: None
Description: Fly and navigate airplanes or helicopters.
On-the-job training: None

17. Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay

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Median annual wage (May 2010): $65,230
Degree required: Postsecondary non-degree award
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 6,900
Work experience: None
Description: Inspect, test, repair, or maintain electrical equipment in generating stations, substations, and in-service relays.
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training

18. Registered nurses

Median annual wage (May 2010): $64,690
Degree required: Associate's degree
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 1,207,400
Work experience: None
Description: Provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions.
On-the-job training: None

19. Fashion designers

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Photo: BLS

Median annual wage (May 2010): $64,530
Degree required: High school diploma
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 6,700
Work experience: None
Description: Sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and give instructions on how to make the products they designed.
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training

20. Diagnostic medical sonographers

Median annual wage (May 2010): $64,380
Degree required: Associate's degree
Projected job openings (Through 2020): 31,700
Work experience: None
Description: Use special imaging equipment that directs sound waves into a patient’s body to assess and diagnose various medical conditions.
On-the-job training: None

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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