One of the great things about getting a job straight out of high school and skipping university altogether is that you start earning straight away, potentially years before those who chose to go to college. With more and more people going to university every year – you might think that's your only option for a worthwhile career. It really isn't. The reality is – there are tons of jobs that offer good salaries and career prospects that you can start with little or no experience.
You don't need to saddle yourself with debt like your peers who went to university. Not only that – but you can start earning straight away, giving your adult life a headstart when others are still years away from starting to earn real money. You'll start earning while those at college are still racking up more and more debt. This can put you at a strong advantage as it means you could get on the housing ladder or start investing in you pension fund while others are getting in even more debt.
With many jobs that don't require a degree, you could even find yourself getting a few promotions and pay-rises within the first few years, putting you in an even better position than those who went to university. In this article, we're going to look at a number of jobs paying $50k a year that you can get without a university degree or expensive qualification. If this list isn't enough, you can check out our previous post about $40k jobs with no degree, or see what else we've posted since in the full list of no-degree jobs by salary (up to $100k).
Another factor to consider when looking for a career is how much you'll earn compared to how much the living costs are in a particular location. Many graduate jobs are in big cities or areas with much higher living costs. Many of these no degree careers can be found in all sorts of locations – those with much lower living costs. This could make them even more appealing to those who want to buy their own property and have a good quality of life.
University life isn't for everyone – but some feel pressured into attending a top college when it isn't really something that suits them. Don't feel pressured into racking up tons of debt just to keep up appearances. And remember, many university jobs don't actually pay that well after all. There are tons of wealthy people today who skipped college altogether and got a real job as soon as they could.
1. Commercial Diver
If you enjoy being underwater – becoming a commercial diver could be for you. Obviously, this career will only suit certain people but it's a great job that you can do without an expensive college degree, meaning you can start earning almost straight out of high school.
As a commercial diver, you'll mostly be required to perform underwater tasks with scuba gear such as fixing and repairing equipment and structures. You'll also be required to carry out routine maintenance. You'll need to follow strict safety procedures and communicate effectively and safety with colleagues as well as carrying out a detailed plan for each job before you go underwater.
Although you can become a commercial diver without a lengthy and expensive college degree – you will need to be experienced and competent at scuba diving, which will normally require attending a dive training school. Positives of the job include travelling to different locations, often along the coastline or far out at sea. For someone who enjoys marine life – this is a great vocation, but it's obviously not ideal for someone who doesn't.
Being a commercial diver is sometimes a dangerous job and requires a high level of physical fitness. You may also sometimes be required to dive on crime-scenes to look for bodies.
The average salary for a commercial diver is $50,740 a year. A little bit of further research in an industry specific magazine could point you in the right direction if you're looking to become a commercial diver.
As a painter, you'll be required to carry out large-scale painting jobs of buildings or other structures. It's relatively easy to get into professional painting and you won't need to spend time or money getting a university qualification.
Key duties for becoming a painter, aside from carrying out painting work, include reading blueprint and examining surfaces to evaluate the size and type of a job (and the type of paint that will be required). You'll also need to be adept at preparing the site before any painting takes place, like building scaffolding and covering fixtures or areas that don't need painting. You'll also need to remove old paint or cover relevant surfaces before carrying out the job. Other duties could include calculating costs and negotiating prices with clients, depending on the type of painting business you're employed in.
Positives for the job include flexible hours and the ability to be your own boss. You'll need to be happy spending a long time outdoors and potentially getting messy on the job. You'll also need to be good with ladders and working at heights. Career prospects could be limited unless you start your own painting firm. You might also find periods where you don't have much work and other periods where you're really busy, rather than regular day-to-day employment. This suits some people but is a negative for others.
Average salary for a painter can depend not only on experience, but also specific location. In some states, starting salary for a professional painter is around $50,000 a year – but this can vary from location to location. Getting into painting is relatively easy. Try getting in touch with local providers in your area and offer to help out for a few days – it's something you can get into without any qualifications.
You might be surprised to see this – but yes, you can become a lawyer without a degree in some instances. While most people involved in law have not only college degrees, but also further qualification, there is still a route into the profession for those who haven't been to university. However, this career route is only currently possible in 5 states – California, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming. These states allow people to become lawyers through apprenticeships in the office of a judge or practicing attorney.
As an apprentice lawyer, you'll be able to start earning and learning straight away in a practicing law firm. But you will still need to complete appropriate exams and get additional qualifications, which could take a few years. However, in contrast to expensive and time consuming law school, there are only a few small fees and you'll be earning as you learn.
Duties for an apprentice lawyer will include liasing with clients and supporting the work of the qualified lawyers in your office. The specific duties may vary depending on the type of law your practice specializes in, but they may include interviewing clients and witnesses along with general office and administration work. You may also be required to conduct regular research and make yourself familiar with a law library.
As an apprentice lawyer, you'll be on the first step towards a potentially high-paying and highly rewarding job. However, this is work that will only suit someone who has the motivation to work hard in a sometimes mentally taxing job. It's not a role you can simply get into for a few months before moving on to something else. It's also a job with long hours and not a lot of time off for the first few years, especially when you are combining study with full-time employment. In saying that, apprentice lawyers can start on around $50,000 a year and this has the potential to increase massively when you become fully qualified.
Some further research might be necessary if you're looking to become an apprentice lawyer.
4. IT Tech Support
With the growth of use of computers in the workplace over the last few decades, new careers and vocations have been created out of nothing. Almost every office and workplace has an IT network – and that network needs looking after. If you're looking for a worthwhile technical job that keeps you up-to-date with technological changes and helps you take part in a fully 21st-century role, IT tech support could be for you. It's yet another great career you can get into and excel at without the need for an expensive and time-consuming university degree.
Main duties for an IT tech support worker include looking after the IT network and computers on site. You could be employed at an office, school or any number of locations that need to use a number of computers. You'll need to trouble-shoot and help less tech-savvy employees fix their computer issues on an ad-hoc basis. As someone who will need to be good with computers, many of these issues will be easy to solve, but you might also encounter issues that need further research or lengthy repair work. You'll need to make sure your network is securely protected and kept up-to-date. You may also be required to educate staff on correct procedures and protocols so they can use their computers more efficiently and safely.
As well as fixing many software issues, you will also need to be good at installing hardware and sourcing new parts for systems.
One positive of this job is that it is generally a 9-5 role that works in normal office environments. It's a great job for someone who is already good with computers and might not require any further training. You will need to be patient and potentially have to explain things in a simple way to people with much less computer experience than you. While the salary for IT tech support can grow, you might expect to earn around $50,000 a year to start with. There are tons of IT tech support jobs on every local job site, so it's something with high demand that's easy to get into.
5. Online Course Instructor
With more and more education taking place online – there are now opportunities to become an online course instructor. Many of these roles don't need an expensive college education to get into, depending on the subject you're looking to teach.
Duties for an online course instructor are mostly based around working remotely in front of a webcam and broadcasting tutorials to people in remote locations. You will be required to communicate effectively with students and potentially follow-up classes with one-to-one tuition either over email or on webcam. You will need to plan all lessons clearly and make sure your lessons are suited to your specific students.
Obviously, this is a role that you'll need a specific talent or speciality to teach, which may or may not require a qualification. There are plenty of subjects you can get into without a lengthy degree, but you'll need to prove you're an expert in a certain field with value to give to potential students. This role is only suited for people who are great communicators and don't mind being stuck indoors working alone most of the time. You may also need to teach at inconvenient times depending on the location of your students. One benefit is that you'll have the ability to work remotely from any location, and won't have the costs associated with getting to work.
Salary for an online course instructor can be around $51,000 a year depending on experience. GetEducated has a lot of information on the next steps to take if you're interested in getting into online teaching.
6. Property Manager
With the huge growth in property investment, property management could be a worthwhile career for someone without a university degree.
Duties for a property manager will involve looking after a portfolio of properties, normally for the owner. Depending on the type of property management, you may be required to arrange bookings, advertise properties and collect rent. You'll be responsible for most of the day-to-day management of your properties, which means you'll have to fix any issues or call-out appropriate help depending on the specific issue (electricians, plumbers, etc.). You'll often be the first to respond to any issues in the building, like complaints or security calls.
You'll need to make sure all properties under your management are kept clean and secure, this may include managing cleaners and locking up at the right time. You'll be responsible for making sure your properties meet all safety requirements in the area.
Property management can sometimes be difficult in certain situations, especially if you have to deal with problematic tenants. It can sometimes be a dangerous job and does not always follow routine hours. It's a good career for someone looking to get into property. The average salary is around $54,000 and it's a career with large demand.
7. Cable/Internet/Phone Installer
If you enjoy a hands-on role that has a lot of demand and scope for growth, becoming an internet installer might be the career for you. Again, it's something that you can start earning in straight away and doesn't require you to spend years at university racking up a huge amount of debt.
Duties for an internet or phone installation worker include travelling to different (often residential) locations, liasing with clients and carrying out inspection of the property prior to work. You'll need to plan your work effectively and carry out any installation work in a safe, quick and tidy manner. Various problems may arise with any installation so you'll need to be good at troubleshooting and thinking on your feet. You'll also be responsible for talking your clients through the installation and teaching them how to use their new equipment.
It's an ideal job for someone who enjoys technical, hands-on work. You'll mostly be working in residential locations and will have the scope to travel around the local area that your firm serves. This job can have flexible working hours and good prospects for career progression. The average salary for a cable installer is around $54k a year. Career Trend has some useful information on getting into the role.
8. Social Media Manager
With the huge growth in popularity of social media in recent years – more and more potential careers are opening up. As businesses start to see the benefit of social media for them – they're starting to look for someone to manage the process. That's where you come in. It's a great role with brilliant career prospects that you can get into without any formal education or university background.
As a social media manager you'll be required to look after the social media presence of your employer. This means you'll need to be fully up to date with all relevant social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin (and more). You'll be required to communicate effectively with followers and customers on these platforms, as well as dealing with any complaints or issues they might have. You'll be responsible for posting regular updates, running competitions or contests, and notifying people of special offers or sales. You'll be responsible for growing the social media following of your business in order to gain new clients or customers and in-turn grow the business itself.
Social media is a huge growth area – so the prospects for your career progression look good. More and more businesses are starting to employ social media managers and wages are starting to grow. The salary for a social media manager could start at around $53,000 a year, but this will have potential to grow or earn bonuses, especially if you can bring in additional business and help make more money for your employer.
It's something that'll only be appropriate if you've got a genuine interest in the industry, but it could be something you're already great at and won't require any additional training. It's generally a 9-5 job but you'll need to be happy to sit at a computer for most of the day. Post Planner has tons of useful information if you'd like to look more seriously into social media management as a potential career.
As a traditional role that's been around for a while, you're probably already aware what an electrician does. If you didn't already know – it's a rewarding career that you can get into without an expensive university education.
Responsibilities for an electrician are mostly based around re-wiring and installing electrical equipment either industrially, commercially or residentially (or a combination). You'll need to carry out comprehensive plans, liase effectively with clients and customers, as well as carrying out all work safely and professionally. You'll also need to keep up to date with any technological changes and advances, as well as work to specific regulations in your area.
As an electrician, you'll learn and use skills that will stand you in good stead for your future career. You'll also be able to save money by not having to employ an electrician again. It's also a role that's in high demand and will probably always be so. It's a hands-on, technical role that will only suit certain people. Some of the work can be dangerous and can be in busy, stressful environments like building sites or industrial complexes. As a self-employed electrician, you may be able to work flexible hours or choose the work/life balance you're looking for.
Average earnings for a qualified electrician could be around $55,000 a year depending on experience and location. You could have the option of starting your own firm and earning even more further down the line.
10. Home Inspector
As a home inspector, you'll be carrying out the evaluation of properties before a sale. It's a career you can get into without any educational background.
You'll often liase with the seller of the house and the buyer, as well as any industry professionals like electricians or surveyors to carry out analyses of properties before a sale. You might also need to communicate with lawyers to check on the deeds and any other issues that might stop a sale. You'll need to carry out inspections to make sure the house meets those that are listed and agreed upon and that it won't need any work above what has been agreed upon between buyer and seller.
Home inspection gives you entry into the world of property sales and could help you become a realtor further down the line. You'll need to be a good communicator as well as someone that's happy to work in diverse locations. You might also be required to work weekends.
Average salary for a home inspector is around $55,000.
11. Personal Trainer
With more and more people joining fitness centres – becoming a personal trainer is a growth industry that's easy to get into without a university background.
As a personal trainer, you'll be responsible for getting your own clients and discussing with them what they're trying to achieve. You'll then design a bespoke workout routine that meets their specifications and will then motivate them to do it. You'll need to work safely, cleanly and professionally at all times.
As a personal trainer, you'll need to be in good shape and have a full grasp of most fitness techniques and routines. While there might not be too many career prospects, you could move into management or other similar roles. You may also be able to start your own business running bootcamps or add some other qualifications to increase your earnings, like becoming qualified to teach yoga or other classes.
You'll often be self-employed so will have to find your own clients, but this can be done by word of mouth. One other advantage is that you should get the use of a gym for yourself as well as clients. You can find the work/life balance to suit your own needs as a personal trainer, and also meet lots of different people.
Basic wage for a personal trainer could be around $53,000 depending on experience and location.
12. Flight Attendant
If you're looking for a highly desirable and rewarding role that lets you travel extensively, becoming a flight attendant could be for you. It's another role that doesn't require an expensive university education, allowing you to start earning straight away.
As a flight attendant, you'll be responsible for the safety and comfort of passengers on your flight. You'll generally be required to serve them extensively and make sure they're as comfortable as possible. This will include serving food and drinks as well as answering any questions. One of the most important aspects of a flight attendant's job is ensuring the safety of passengers at all times. You'll be expected to complete extensive (and often challenging) safety training as well as being able to communicate procedures effectively to all passengers. You'll also need to be presentable at all times.
Becoming a flight attendant is still a desirable role that a lot of people want to get into. While you don't need a university degree, you will need to go through extensive training and a course that not everyone completes. Upon qualifying, you could expect to earn around $56,000 a year. You'll also be able to travel extensively to lots of locations. This isn't a 9-5 job and you'll have to be happy to be away from home for long periods of time. The Travel Academy offers a lot of advice and training if you're looking to become a flight attendant.
If you're looking for a quiet, satisfying role that doesn't require a strong educational background – becoming a librarian could be for you.
Duties for a librarian include looking after your library and making sure it's clean, safe and often quiet. You'll need to be knowledgeable about books and have the ability to chat with visitors and make recommendations or help them find what they're looking for. You will also be responsible for taking stock and using computerized management systems to support your role. You will also need to have full knowledge of what's available in your library and know whether to find anything.
Becoming a librarian is a great role for someone who's interested in books and helping support people in their community. You will need to be ok with sitting around for long periods of time, often in a quiet environment. While you may be required to work some weekends and evening, you will also have the ability to work flexible hours or as a part-time employee if that suits you.
Librarians can earn around $57,000 a year as an average salary.
If you enjoy dance and have a strong background in choreography, becoming a choreographer could be for you.
Duties for a choreographer will involve finding new clients or organizing shows, as well as obviously choreographing dancers to perform entertaining pieces that are suited to the type of show or client you're working for.
To become a choreographer, you'll obviously need a strong background in dance and the ability to create compelling routines from scratch. You'll also be responsible for managing and directing a number of different dancers at any one time, along with potentially paying them depending on the structure of your work. This role will only suit someone who is good at dance and is probably hard for someone to get into with no prior experience.
Average salary for a choreographer is around $50,000 for a normal role, but you might have the opportunity to move into higher paid work for movies or music videos/tours. Careers in Music has some information on what to do next if you want to become a choreographer.
15. Earth driller
Earth drillers and explosive works are responsible for carrying out large-scale excavation work and strategic drilling to prepare building sites. You can get into this career without a university education, and it could lead to a high-earning career further down the line.
Duties will include evaluating a site and carrying out excavation safely and effectively. You may be required to use explosives. While a degree isn't necessary, this can be dangerous work that will require full training. You'll need to be able to communicate effectively with colleagues and will be performing work that's often physically demanding.
You could move into more highly paid work after a few years experience as an earth driller. Pay starts at around $52,000 a year. Owl Guru has more on getting into earth drilling
If you're unaware, a “taper” is someone who seals holes between cracks and boards and helps renovate properties or fix things on building sites. It's a rewarding that can be done with no prior educational background.
Duties will include evaluation of a site and liasing with clients, along with carrying out taping work cleanly and safely.
It's another physical role that will need someone who's happy working on busy, often demanding building sites. Pay can start at around $53,000 a year.
17. Food Service Manager
As a food service manager, you'll be responsible for running a restaurant or fast-food location. This is a highly demanding role that can be stressful at times, but also rewarding. It's also something you can get into without a college degree.
While you can become a restaurant manager without a degree, you'll probably need some experience in the industry to begin with. This doesn't have to be management experience, but some supervisory background could be helpful. For the right candidate, a fast-track to management is possible with little or no prior experience.
Duties for a food service manager will involve the day-to-day management of a restaurant or site. You'll need to manage all staff and be responsible for hiring and firing new chefs and front of house team members. You'll be in charge on busy shifts and will have to make sure people get their food efficiently and in a pleasant environment. You'll need to be able to think on your feet so you can solve any issues immediately in your restaurant. You may also be required to market your business and help it grow.
Pay for a food service manager can average at around $53,000. You'll also have the potential to earn more in bonuses if you meet targets and the business makes a profit for it's owners. You'll need to be a “people-person” who is good in a customer-facing role, and you'll have to be good at managing a team with a diverse background. Restaurant management is not a 9-5 job, and one negative could be that you will be required to work many weekends and evenings. It's a role that has good career prospects and could see you moving into better paid work.
Many restaurants in your local area will be looking for new staff, so it's an easy career to get into with a lot of demand. Recruiting Gourmet has tons of information if you'd like to know more.
18. Wind Turbine Technician
As a wind turbine technician, you'll be responsible for installing, maintaining and repairing wind turbine systems. If you're looking for a great career that doesn't require a costly and time-consuming university education – this one could be for you.
Wind turbine installation is a growth area as more and more businesses are getting in on renewable energy. It's a rewarding role with good career prospects and where wages are expected to grow.
Duties for a wind turbine technician will include evaluation sites and carrying out detailed planning analyses before work. You'll have to work in all weathers and communicate effectively and safely with your workmates. As a demanding role, it will be important that you follow strict safety guidelines at all times. Most of the work will be outside. You'll not only be responsible for installing new wind turbine systems, but also maintaining and repairing existing ones.
It will sometimes be a stressful role that is often physically demanding and requires good technical skill. This will only suit people who are willing to work outside and in this type of environment. You'll also be required to travel often to different sites, sometimes quite far away from your base location.
Pay for a wind turbine technician averages at $51,408. This could increase rapidly as demand for turbine technicians is expected to approximately double over the next ten years or so.
19. Hearing Aid Specialist
Finally, if you're looking for a rewarding role that helps people and can be done without an expensive degree, becoming a hearing aid specialist could be for you.
Hearing aid specialists are responsible for testing people's hearing and recommending a course of action to help them. You'll become an expert in evaluating people's hearing and explaining the best solution. This will often involve choosing the right hearing aid for them and helping them install it, along with explaining further equipment and ear care so they can continue to hear effectively.
You'll often be working with elderly people and will need to be a good communicator who enjoys helping people. While you can get into this role without a lengthy bachelors degree, you will need extensive on-the-job training or even a shorter associates degree in some instances. This can sometimes be completed while you work so you can start earning straight away and don't need to take time out from employment to get educated. It may also be paid for by your employer.
This is a growth industry as the elderly population is also growing. This means future earning prospects could improve dramatically, but average pay is currently around $49,600 a year. The Hearing Aid Academy has online courses that claim to get you qualified in only 12 weeks.
If you previously thought you needed a lengthy and expensive college degree in order to get a worthwhile career, hopefully you've now seen how many fulfilling options there are out there for you. The great thing about many of these careers is that you can start earning straight away, giving you a big advantage over those who decided to go to university. One of these careers might have been the one you've been looking for.
Thought 19 jobs was a lot to cover? There's a lot more out there too. Plus, we've organized them by potential salary so you can pick one you think fits your style and work ethic! Job availability will vary by area, so be sure to browse all of them, or add your 2 cents about pay scale. Help others by posting your own job experience and add to the list!
- Sixteen $100k Jobs
- Fourteen $90k Jobs
- Eighteen $80k Jobs
- Fifteen $70k Jobs
- Nineteen $60k Jobs
- Fifteen $40k Jobs
What do you think? Are any of these jobs an option for you?