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Best-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree

CareerBuilder | April 8, 2020

Jobs for High School Diploma

Despite what you may believe, not all high-paying jobs require a college degree.

For many, a college education represents a path to a high-paying job in their chosen field. However, higher education isn't the only path – and for some, it's not necessarily the best one either.

According to data collected by Economic Modeling Specialists Intl., there are 136 occupations requiring a high school diploma or equivalent that pay $20 per hour or more. Of those, 62 percent require moderate to long-term on-the-job training. Eleven percent require short-term on-the-job training, 10 percent require apprenticeships and 18 percent don't require any on-the-job training.

Short-term or no training
Just because an occupation doesn't require a college degree doesn't necessarily mean it's an entry-level job. Many will still require several years of experience and on-the-job training.

So where can you get your start? The following are the 10 highest-paying jobs that require a high school diploma for minimum entry and require short-term or no on-the-job training:

1. Transportation, storage and distribution managers

  • Median hourly earnings – $52.00
  • On-the-job training – None

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

  • Median hourly earnings – $27.00
  • On-the-job training – None

3. Business operations specialists

  • Median hourly earnings – $34.00
  • On-the-job training – None

4. Gaming managers

  • Median hourly earnings – $36.00
  • On-the-job training – None

5. Media and communication equipment workers

  • Median hourly earnings – $28.00
  • On-the-job training – Short-term

6. Real estate brokers

  • Median hourly earnings – $35.00
  • On-the-job training – None

7. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers and repairers

  • Median hourly earnings – $15.00
  • On-the-job training – None

8. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers

  • Median hourly earnings – $47.00
  • On-the-job training – None

9. Legal support workers

  • Median hourly earnings – $24.00
  • On-the-job training – Short-term

10. Property, real estate and community association managers

  • Median hourly earnings – $32.00
  • On-the-job training – None

Moderate or long-term training

Not all technically advanced occupations require a college degree – although some do require a good deal of on-the-job training. In some cases, such as aspiring elevator installers and repairers, workers must complete an apprenticeship before entering the professional field.

Here are 10 of the highest-paying occupations that require a high school diploma and moderate to long-term on-the-job training:

1. Nuclear power reactor operators

  • Median hourly earnings – $51.00
  • On-the-job training – Long-term

2. First-line supervisors of police and detectives

  • Median hourly earnings – $21.00
  • On-the-job training – Moderate-term

3. Detectives and criminal investigators

  • Median hourly earnings – $28.00
  • On-the-job training – Moderate-term

4. Power distributors and dispatchers

  • Median hourly earnings – $57.00
  • On-the-job training – Long-term

5. Elevator installers and repairers

  • Median annual earnings – $110,000
  • On-the-job training - Apprenticeship

6. Commercial pilots

  • Median hourly earnings – $50.00
  • On-the-job training – Moderate-term

7. Transportation inspectors

  • Median hourly earnings – $23.00
  • On-the-job training – Moderate-term

8. Electrical power-line installers and repairers

  • Median hourly earnings – $21.00
  • On-the-job training – Long-term

9. Gas plant operators

  • Median hourly earnings – $31.00
  • On-the-job training – Long-term

10. Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators and gaugers

  • Median annual earnings – $73,500
  • On-the-job training – Long-term