Briefcase icon

Create a Job Alert.

Simplify your job search. Get emails of the newest jobs posted and be the first to apply.
Thank you. We'll send jobs matching these to
You already subscribed to this job alert.

18 high-paying non-desk jobs

CareerBuilder | January 11, 2022

18 high-paying non-desk jobs

Success doesn’t have to mean sitting in a chair all day. Some of us prefer non-desk jobs that get us up on our feet.

Who decided that successful careers only happen in front of computer screens? The working world doesn’t end at the walls of a cubicle. Some of us prefer to be on our feet. We want wind in our hair. We want to meet new people every day. We want a working environment that you can’t tack a cheesy motivational poster onto — no offense to the talented workspace decorators in our lives.

There are plenty of high-paying jobs that don’t involve office-based work. We’ve compiled a list of 18 non-desk gigs that are projected to grow at above average rates over the next decade, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of them are jobs that don’t require a degree, and all of them offer competitive pay. Below, we’ve included nationwide average salaries for each job, but be sure to check salaries near your location for more specific information.

If the idea of sitting all day makes you feel itchy, one of these occupations could be the perfect fit for you.

18 growing jobs that won't trap you behind a desk

Wind Turbine Service Technician

What is it?
You’ll reach new heights as a wind turbine service technician — literally. These workers keep clean-energy producing wind turbines in shape. With an eye-popping projected job growth rate of 68%, this field is expected to expand much faster than average over the next 10 years.

What’s it pay?
The average pay for wind turbine service technicians in the US is $66,500 per year.

What are the qualifications?
These workers get a lot of on-the-job training, but most wind turbine service technicians learn the ropes at a technical school.

Browse all Technician jobs


Respiratory Therapist

What is it?
Respiratory therapists are medical professionals who keep patients breathing. When someone with a disease like asthma or emphysema has trouble filling their lungs, respiratory therapists come to the rescue. This field is expected to add jobs much faster than average over the next decade, with a project growth rate of 23%.

What’s it pay?
On average, a respiratory therapist’s salary is about $73,500 per year.

What are the qualifications?
You’ll need to earn an Associate’s degree, often called a two-year degree, to become a respiratory therapist — though many respiratory therapists earn a bachelor’s degree to help grow their career. They also have to get licensed in every state except Alaska; states set their own individual guidelines and requirements for this position.

Browse Respiratory Therapist jobs


Occupational Therapy Assistant

What is it?
Occupational therapy assistants are healthcare workers who help patients regain and maintain basic life and work skills — anything from bathing and dressing to practicing hobbies. Patient care in general is in high demand, and this field is likely to expand much faster than average, with a growth rate of 34%.

What’s it pay?
The average annual salary for an occupational therapy assistant is $65,500.

What are the qualifications?
Occupational therapy assistants need to earn associate’s degrees and meet their state’s individual requirements, but workers can dive into this field right after high school as occupational therapy aides.

Browse all Therapy Assistant jobs


Bus Driver

What is it?
Exactly what it sounds like. These workers are expert drivers who transport passengers to their destinations safely and efficiently. This job is expected to grow much faster than average, at a rate of 25%.

What’s it pay?
The average pay for a bus driver is around $18 per hour.

What are the qualifications?
You’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent, plus a driver’s license. Depending on the type of vehicle you drive, you may have to get yourself a specialized license, too. You’ll get more job training after you’re hired.

Browse Driving jobs


Dental Hygienist

What is it?
Dental hygienists are often confused with dentists, but they’re not quite the same. Dentists are doctors; they can perform complex oral health care procedures. Dental hygienists, on the other hand, aren’t going to drill into your jaw. They work with dentists to check patients for oral diseases and educate them on preventative care. And the field is booming, with a faster-than-average projected growth rate of 11%.

What’s it pay?
The average salary for a dental hygienist is about $68,500 per year.

What are the qualifications?
Dental hygienists usually earn associate’s degree at specialized three-year programs, then get licensed according to their state’s requirements.

Browse all Dental jobs


Tutor

What is it?
Not every teacher works in a school. Some of them work privately or through tutoring agencies to provide students with extra help in specialized subjects and get them ready for big tests.

What’s it pay?
The average salary for tutors varies, but it’s typically about $54,500.

What are the requirements?
Most certified tutoring programs expect their workers to have a bachelor’s degree, but some are open to people with equivalent experience in a certain field of study.

Browse Tutor jobs


Photographer

What is it?
Whether working in an editorial, commercial or marketing context, photographers use their creative eye to create stunning images. Some photographers work on staff at media, production or marketing companies, but many work primarily as freelancers, capturing indelible moments for businesses and personal clients. The field is projected to expand at a much faster than average rate of 17%.

What’s it pay?
The average pay for photographers varies widely based on their professional experience and what types of projects they work on, but it’s usually about $59,500 per year.

What are the requirements?
There are no formal requirements for photographers. If you have the right equipment and the creativity to use it well, you’re qualified. That said, many photographers learn about composition, technology and other important skills at art schools, vocational programs or workshops. Others learn the trade by working with an established photographer as an assistant. As you gain work experience and build a portfolio, you’ll earn access to projects that pay more.

Browse Photographer jobs


Solar Installer

What is it?
These workers install and service solar panels on rooftops to harness clean energy. As more and more households move toward solar power, this field will add more and more jobs — it’s projected to grow at an astounding, much faster-than-average rate of 52%.

What’s it pay?
The average salary for a solar panel installer is around $52,000 per year.

What are the qualifications?
You’ll need a high school diploma or equivalent, though some solar panel installers build more skills at vocational school. Expect extensive on-the-job training.

Browse all Solar jobs


Security and Fire Alarm Systems Installer

What is it?
These workers equip homes and businesses with security systems and fire alarms that could save lives. This job is predicted to grow at the much faster than average rate of 16%.

What’s it pay?
The average pay for security and fire alarm systems installers is highly variable depending on location, but it’s typically about $35 per hour.

What are the qualifications?
This is one of the best paying jobs for workers with high school diplomas or equivalent qualifications. You’ll learn more in-demand skills on the job.

Browse all Security Systems jobs


Chef or Head Cook

What is it?
Wherever the food is, you’re in charge. You use your expert culinary skills to build appropriate menus and cook up mouthwatering dishes for restaurants or private clients. This field is likely to grow at a much faster than average rate of 25%.

What’s it pay?
The average pay for chefs with the talent to make great food is approximately $73,000 per year.

What are the qualifications?
Most chefs learn the trade by working in restaurants and studying culinary arts on their own, but some get a career jumpstart by attending culinary school.

Browse all Chef jobs


Meeting, Convention and Event Planner

What is it?
If organizing unforgettable events — and juggling all the agendas, venue demands and competing schedules that involves — this is the job for you. Meeting, convention and event planners jump from office work to on-the-scene event management, providing a good mix of desk work and field work. This job is projected to grow much faster than average, at a rate of 18%.

What’s it pay?
The average pay for meeting, convention and event planners is $72,000.

What are the qualifications?
Many workers in this field have a bacherlor’s degree, but it’s not strictly necessary if you have proven experience in throwing events, coordinating schedules and organizing people from different businesses, organizations or deparments.

Browse Meeting, Convention and Event Planner jobs


Firefighter

What is it?
Firefighters are trained to extinguish fires, of course, but also to respond to a variety of life-threatening emergencies. This job isn’t just a job — it’s a calling requiring bravery and dedication, with workers sometimes working 24-hour shifts, working, eating and sleeping at fire stations so that they are ready to go on a moment’s notice. This job is expected to grow at an average rate of 8%.

What’s it pay?
Volunteers work in some fire departments, but the average pay for firefighters working full-time is about $72,500.

What are the qualifications?
You don’t need a college degree to be a firefighter, but you will have to go through a mentally and physically rigorous training program at a fire academy. Some firefighters also maintain certifications as emergency medical technicians.

Browse all Firefighter jobs


Sound Engineer

What is it?
Sound engineering technicians operate electrical equipment anywhere involving audio — concerts, media programs, radio stations and more. This job is expected to grow at a much faster than average rate of 21%.

What’s it pay?
The pay for this role varies quite a lot based on experience, location and other factors, but nationally, the average salary for sound engineering technicians is $88,500.

What are the qualifications?
Requirements for this job range from a high school diploma to a post-secondary degree — it all depends on the individual position. Going to college won’t hurt your chances, but the most important factor in getting a job as a sound engineering technician is ability. If you can prove that you can run sound like a pro, your educational background won’t be as relevant.

Browse all Sound and Audio jobs


Physician Assistant

What is it?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, physician assistants “practice medicine on teams with physicians, surgeons, and other health care workers.” As health care demands continue to rise, this job is projected to grow at a much faster than average rate of 31%.

What’s it pay?
The average annual salary for physician assistants is $65,500.

What are the qualifications?
In addition to a master’s degree from an accredited program, physician assistants must acquire a license to practice medicine in any state in the US.

Browse Physician Assistant jobs


Forensic Science Technician

What is it?
Criminal investigations are a little more subtle than they are in TV shows, but if you’re wondering what forensic science technicians do, think about the character in the lab coat in your favorite crime procedural. These workers use their scientific expertise to analyze evidence and help solve crimes. The field is projected to grow much faster than average, at a rate of 16%.

What’s it pay?
The average annual salary for a forensic science technician is $75,000.

What are the qualifications?
Whether they’re out in the field or working in a lab, forensic science technicians will need a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences, forensic science or a related field.

Browse Forensic Science Technician jobs

Browse all Forensics jobs


Audio and Video Technician

What is it?
Much like sound engineers, these workers handle all the electrical equipment related to audio and video production. They could work for media companies, event venues or as private contractors. This job is expected to grow much faster than average, at a rate of 21%.

What’s it pay?
Nation-wide, the average salary for audio and video technicians is $68,000.

What are the qualifications?
There aren’t strict requirements for entering this field; proven expertise is the main qualification. Some audio and video technicians pursue a college education to beef up their credentials, but this isn’t always necessary.

Browse Audio and Video jobs


Athletic Trainer

What is it?
Put simply, athletic trainers help people move. They are trained to prevent and recognize muscle and bone injuries and diseases that are common to athletes, often working for school sports programs, fitness centers, hospitals or even for professional sports teams. This job is expected to grow much faster than average, at a rate of 23%.

What’s it pay?
In the US, the average salary for athletic trainers is around $59,500 per year.

What are the qualifications?
You’ll need a bachelor’s degree — majors in sports medicine or similar fields will give you a huge head start. You’ll also need to get certified in most states.

Browse Athletic and Personal Trainer jobs


Aircraft Mechanic and Service Technician

What is it?
These workers use their technical know-how to keep the miracle of flight safe and efficient, checking passenger and cargo planes and jets for mechanical issues and performing regular maintenance. Airfields are ramping up hiring efforts for this position, and it’s projected to grow faster than average, at 11%.

What’s it pay?
The average salary for aircraft mechanics and service technicians is $68,000.

What are the qualifications?
There are a few ways to get into this line of work. The first is to learn the ropes at a Federal Aviation Administration-approved technical school. Others learn about aircraft maintenance on the job or through military service.

Browse all Aircraft jobs


More advice for job seekers

Here's what New York's new salary transparency law means for you.

Check out these 20 high-paying jobs for high school grads.

Attending a university can open a lot of doors for you, but you don’t need a college degree to land a good job.

We’re helping workers job it up and get paid what they’re worth. Don’t miss our list of 25 jobs that pay $25 an hour. Not quite enough? Check out these 30 jobs that pay $30 an hour.

Not exactly the client-facing type? No problem. Here are 15 jobs for people who don’t like people.