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30 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2023

In this article, we will look at the 30 highest-paying jobs without a degree in 2023. We have also discussed the latest trends in the employment and hiring landscape around the world. If you want to skip our detailed analysis, head straight to the 10 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2023

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, the stringent requirement of a college degree for employment locked out nearly two-thirds of American workers from several opportunities, exacerbating socioeconomic disparities. This disproportionately affected Black and Latino workers, perpetuating inequality in the workforce. As of 2022, the unemployment rate for high school graduates stands at 4.5%, revealing a stark contrast with the 2.2% rate for those with a bachelor's degree.

However, recognizing the need for a more inclusive approach, companies are undergoing a transformative shift. Between 2017 and 2019, 46% of middle-skill and 31% of high-skill jobs witnessed a reduction in degree requirements, with key sectors such as finance, business management, engineering, and healthcare leading the change. Major players like International Business Machines Corp (NYSE:IBM), Accenture Plc (NYSE:ACN), Okta Inc (NASDAQ:OKTA), Dell Technologies Inc (NYSE:DELL), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), and Delta Airlines Inc (NYSE:DAL) are spearheading this shift, dropping degree prerequisites to give importance to skills as the hiring criteria. This shift not only addresses labor shortages but also opens up an estimated 1.4 million jobs. 

According to Harvard Business Review, International Business Machines Corp (NYSE:IBM) transformed its hiring practices through the SkillsFirst initiative, recognizing that traditional degree requirements limited access to a diverse talent pool. In 2012, less than 10% of US based roles at International Business Machines Corp (NYSE:IBM) were open to non-degree holders. The company revamped job descriptions, prioritizing specific skills over general credentials. For instance, a cybersecurity posting shifted from requiring degrees to highlighting skills like hypothesis development and programming proficiency. Hence, in 2023, it is not wrong to say that 6 figure jobs without college degree are no longer a far-fetched dream but highly realistic. It is also worth noting that Payscale's college salary report found the major that pays the most in 2023 is petroleum engineering.

International Business Machines Corp (NYSE:IBM) also collaborated with educational institutions, offering internships to students from the P-TECH program, which grew from a single Brooklyn high school in 2011 to over 300 schools globally in 2022. By 2020, International Business Machines Corp (NYSE:IBM)’s apprenticeship program expanded to encompass more than 20 IT roles. The transformation allowed IBM to tap into a broader talent pool, filling vacancies, increasing diversity, and achieving higher retention rates for apprentices compared to direct college hires. 

While airlines were gearing up for a hot summer travel season, United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) planned to hire an additional 8,000 workers on top of the 7,000 already hired this year. Despite having the highest workforce in 20 years, the industry still faces challenges, especially with a pilot shortage lingering from the pandemic. Increased wages amid labor shortages have led to reduced profits, with pilot compensation deals up 30% compared to pre-pandemic levels. While Delta Airlines Inc (NYSE:DAL) and Southwest Airlines Co (NYSE:LUV) indicate a slowdown in hiring. 

Speaking of Airline hirings, United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) is launching the Calibrate Technician Pathway Program to address its growing need for aircraft maintenance technicians, one of our highest paying jobs without a degree in 2023. The program targets US Army reservists and students from three aviation maintenance schools, including the National Aviation Academy, Aviation Institute of Maintenance, and Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. The initiative aligns with United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL)’s United Next growth plan, involving the delivery of 800 new aircraft by 2032. With partnerships in place, United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) aims to bring in up to 300 eligible students annually, supporting its hiring goal of thousands of technicians by 2026 to accommodate the expanding fleet.

This decision helps United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL) overcome the industry-wide challenge of a shortage in skilled maintenance technicians, ensuring the airline's ability to safely and efficiently maintain its growing fleet and facilities. The program involves maintaining high academic standards, and participants can benefit from priority screening and access to United Airlines Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UAL)’s extensive ecosystem, including mentorship opportunities.

30 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2023
30 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2023

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Methodology

To list the highest paying jobs without a degree in 2023, we identified high-paying jobs that do not require a formal bachelor’s degree and pay at least above the national average salary of $59,428 annually.  We have, however, included jobs that may traditionally require a bachelor’s degree but can still be pursued without a degree through self-taught online courses and boot camps. We identified 40 such jobs, and then the 30 highest-paying ones were selected based on annual average salaries. We obtain the average salaries from our salary database.

Note: We haven't necessarily excluded jobs that may require an associate's degree, since the focus of our piece is jobs that do not require a bachelor's degree.

30. Makeup Artist

Average Salary: $61,953

Employment of theatrical and performance make-up artists is expected to rapidly grow by 37% from 2020 to 2030, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.It is one of the jobs that don't require a degree or experience. Two iconic makeup artists from the United States are Pat McGrath and Mario Dedivanovic. 

29. Social Media Manager

Average Salary: $63,691

As highlighted by Sprout Social's insights for 2028, With over 4.9 billion global users of social media, there is a projection of $80 billion in social ad spending in the US by 2025. Hence, social media is no longer just a marketing channel; it has become the nexus of customer relationships. 

28. Plumber

Average Salary: $65,190

With a median annual wage of $60,090 as of May 2022, the profession requires a high school diploma or equivalent, and most individuals learn through on-the-job apprenticeships. Licensing is typically required in most states for practicing as a plumber. The field is projected to see a 2% job growth from 2022 to 2032.

27. Electrician

Average Salary: $65,280

With 762,600 jobs in 2022 and a faster-than-average job outlook of 6% from 2022 to 2032, approximately 49,200 new electrician positions are anticipated. It is also one of the low stress jobs that pay well

26. Truck Driver

Average Salary: $65,344

In the US trucking industry, where a worker shortage persists, less than 5% of drivers are women, despite the potential of atleast $50,000 salary. Critics argue that trucking companies should address harassment concerns with better vetting and anti-harassment programs, rather than perpetuating same-sex training policies. 

25. Occupational Therapist Assistant

Average Salary: $66,280

Becoming an occupational therapy assistant involves obtaining an associate's degree from an accredited program, typically offered in community colleges or technical schools. These programs, lasting about 2 years, cover subjects like psychology and biology, along with 16 weeks of fieldwork for practical experience.

24. Dropshipping

Average Salary: $67,418

Dropshipping is a popular business model with low startup costs and no need for inventory. Starting a dropshipping business can cost as little as $100. It is one of the low-stress jobs that pay well without a degree.

23. Graphic Designer

Average Salary: $69,231

Graphic designers can earn varying rates depending on their skill level and the project, ranging from a median hourly wage of $24, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, to as much as $145 per hour on Upwork Inc (NASDAQ:UPWK).Owing to the nature of this profession, graphic designing is one of the high-paying jobs without a degree or experience. To read more about graphic designing, see highest paying countries for graphic designers

22. Boilermakers

Average Salary: $69,780

Boilermakers are skilled craftsmen who fabricate, install, and maintain boilers, closed vats, and other large containers that hold liquids and gases. 

21. Radiologic and MRI Technologist

Average Salary: $70,240

In 2022, there were 264,100 jobs with a 6% job outlook growth for radiologic and MRI technologists from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average. About 15,700 annual openings are anticipated, driven by workforce transitions and retirements. 

20. Fitness Coach

Average Salary: $70,872

According to BLS, as of 2019, the global fitness industry was valued at $87 billion and employed approximately 373,000 fitness trainers and aerobic instructors in the United States alone. With fitness clubs experiencing growth, there were 174 million fitness club members worldwide.

19. Patrol Officer

Average Salary: $71,380

California and Texas lead in employment for Police and Sheriff's Patrol Officers as they hire the highest number. The top-paying states are California and Washington, with California having an hourly mean wage of $50.01 and Washington offering $44.35.

18. Aircraft Mechanics and Service Technicians

Average Salary: $72,640

The aviation industry faces a critical shortage of aircraft mechanics, as highlighted in a report by AAR Corp. The shortage is reaching a critical point which is affecting commercial and government operators, MROs, and OEMs. 

17. Respiratory Therapist

Average Salary: $74,310

Respiratory therapists, with a median annual pay of $70,540 and $33.91 per hour, typically hold an associate's degree. No prior work experience in a related occupation or on-the-job training is required. It is one of the highest-paying jobs in 2023

16. Data Analyst

Average Salary: $77,207

While many jobs are threatened due to automation, Generative AI won't replace human data analysts. While it can simulate text generation to a human-like standard, it lacks the nuanced understanding of human behavior, cultural nuances, and motivations that human analysts bring to data analysis. It is one of the highest-paying jobs without standard qualifications.

15. Film and Video Editor

Average Salary: $80,990

​​A video editor's median annual wage is $63,780, with freelancers earning more based on skills and networking. Essential skills for film and video editors can be creativity, attention to detail, technical proficiency, communication, and time management. 

14. Agricultural Manager

Average Salar: $83,790

For agricultural managers, percentiles reveal hourly wages ranging from $18.00 (10%) to $66.85 (90%), with an annual median wage of $75,760. Industries with the highest levels of employment for agricultural managers involve support activities for crop production and support activities for animal production.

13. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

Average Salary: $84,410

With a median pay of $78,210 per year, the role usually requires an associate's degree. With no work experience. These professionals operate specialized equipment. The field is growing rapidly, with a 10% job outlook from 2022 to 2032, creating 14,200 new jobs.

12.  Dental Hygienist

Average Salary: $84,460

The dental industry is facing a staffing shortage, impacting patient wait times and causing competition among practices for employees. Despite a 4%-6% raise for employees, 94.5% of dentists find recruiting hygienists challenging, emphasizing the need for comprehensive solutions beyond monetary incentives. It is one of the highest paying jobs in the world

11. Nuclear Medicine Technologist

Average Salary: $89,610

Nuclear medicine technologists play a crucial role in healthcare, with a median pay of $85,300 per year. The jobs in the field require an associate's degree and no prior work experience. Despite a projected 0% job outlook from 2022 to 2032, indicating little change, there  are going to be18,100 jobs available over the next decade. It is one of the highest paying healthcare jobs without a degree

Click here to see the 10 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2023.

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Disclosure: None. 30 Highest Paying Jobs Without a Degree in 2023 is originally published on Insider Monkey.