The 10 Highest Paying Jobs That Don’t Require A 4-Year College Degree

As America moves further and further away from the industrialized, assembly line work force that thrived during the early and mid-20th century, the wage gap between those with a 4-year college degree and those without has continued to rise. According to Economic Policy Institute, working adults with a college degree made roughly 56.6% more than those that only had a high school diploma in 2016.

However, despite the increasing pay gap, many occupations that don’t require a 4-year degree still pay well over $37,040 – the median wage for all education levels in 2016. Additionally, with the rising costs of a college education, these occupations may be more appealing than ever since they don’t require taking on significant student debt.

To see which of these occupations pay top dollar, don’t require a college degree, and are expected to grow in size over the next decade, the business research firm LimeLeads combed through the most recent BLS data to curate the below list of jobs.

Here are the highest paying jobs that don’t require a college degree.

Methodology:

The information in this article is based on data released by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, specifically their Occupational Employment Statistics and Employment Projections reports. The data was pulled on October 4th, 2017 and reports data for the year 2016. All occupations where the “typical entry-level education” was an Associate’s degree or lower was included. The list below has been ranked by the reported 2016 median wages. Occupations with a projected negative growth outlook over the next decade have been excluded.

Photo courtesy of: Wikimedia

10. Dental Hygienist
2016 Median Salary: $72,910
Level of Education Required: Associate’s degree
2016 Employment Numbers: 204,990

Dental hygienists are responsible for inspecting, cleaning, and evaluating the health of your teeth before the dentist comes in for a more formal diagnosis. As the dentist’s right hand man or woman, a dental hygienist brings in a median annual income of $72,910, more than double the median income of all professions. Considering that this occupation only requires two years of postsecondary education, a career in dental hygiene can be a great choice.

Photo courtesy of: albany.marines.mil

9. First-Line Supervisors of Non-Retail Sales Workers
2016 Median Salary: $73,150
Level of Education Required: High school diploma or equivalent
2016 Employment Numbers: 252,670

In addition to managing the sales team, many of these individuals perform budgeting, accounting, and personnel work. This responsibility is well rewarded with an annual median income of $73,150. With minimum educational requirements, first line supervisors can be an attractive career choice.

Photo courtesy of: Wikimedia

8. Funeral Service Managers
2016 Median Salary: $73,830
Level of Education Required: Associate’s degree
2016 Employment Numbers: 8,370

Funeral service managers play an important role in our society, assisting grieving families as they say goodbye to their deceased loved ones. That said, this particular line of work may not be for everyone. With only 8,370 employed funeral service managers, the employment numbers are quite low compared to the rest of this list. Though, those that do get into the field of funeral service management can expect a high annual income of $73,830.

Photo courtesy of: Wikimedia

7. Nuclear Medicine Technologists
2016 Median Salary: $74,350
Level of Education Required: Associate’s degree
2016 Employment Numbers: 19,650

Nuclear medicine has far reaching applications and can be an enticing occupation for those looking to forgo a 4-year degree. Requiring just an associate’s degree, nuclear medicine technologists earn a median income of $74,350. Though with 2016 employment numbers at just 19,650, it’s still a relatively niche field.

Photo courtesy of: defense.gov

6. First-Line Supervisors of Fire Fighting and Prevention Workers
2016 Median Salary: $74,540
Level of Education Required: Postsecondary non-degree award
2016 Employment Numbers: 57,170

Though one of the more physically dangerous careers on the list, the first line supervisors to firemen and other prevention workers can earn a great living. With a median salary of $74,540 and minimal postsecondary education required, it’s no surprise this is a highly sought after position.

Photo courtesy of: Wikimedia

5. Commercial Pilots
2016 Median Salary: $77,200
Level of Education Required: High school diploma or equivalent
2016 Employment Numbers: 38,980

Surprisingly enough, airline pilots are not included in this group. Though commercial pilots still fly airplanes or helicopters, they commonly do so for chartered flights, air ambulances, or air tours. Individuals in this exciting occupation earn a median income of $77,200 and while they don’t need a college degree, they do need to have their pilot’s license and a Commercial Pilot certificate.

Photo courtesy of: Wikimedia

4. Elevator Installers and Repairers
2016 Median Salary: $78,890
Level of Education Required: High school diploma or equivalent
2016 Employment Numbers: 22,240

These individuals assemble, install, repair, and maintain a wide range of every-day equipment such as elevators, escalators, and even dumbwaiters. Though only requiring a high school diploma, these individuals are well paid – earning a median annual income of $78,890.

Photo courtesy of: travis.af.mil

3. Radiation Therapists
2016 Median Salary: $80,160
Level of Education Required: Associate’s degree
2016 Employment Numbers: 17,450

Responsible for eradicating cancer cells through the skillful use of radiation, radiation therapists serve a harrowing role in the health and wellness industry. Though the occupation typically requires an associate’s degree, those possessing this life saving skill are rewarded handsomely to the tune of $80,160 a year on average.

Photo courtesy of: Wikimedia

2. First-Line Supervisors of Police and Detectives
2016 Median Salary: $84,840
Level of Education Required: High school diploma or equivalent
2016 Employment Numbers: 100,200

These individuals directly supervise and coordinate activities of the police force. While many likely served time on the front line as officers or detectives, once promoted, these individuals are well paid. The supervisor position offers an annual median income of $84,840 while requiring little to no postsecondary education.

Photo courtesy of: media.defense.gov

1. Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Managers
2016 Median Salary: $89,190
Level of Education Required: High school diploma or equivalent
2016 Employment Numbers: 113,270

Topping the list of highest-paid occupations that don’t require a college degree are transportation, storage, and distribution managers. These men and women deal with the logistics of shipping, deliveries, inventory, and everything in between. These managers earn an annual median salary of $89,190.