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Highest Paying Entry-Level Jobs Without a Degree

There are several well-paying jobs which do not require a college degree. Read about these high-salary careers achieved through apprenticeships, licensure, and on-the-job training.

Career Options for High-Paying Entry-Level Jobs without a Degree

High-paying careers often require a college degree, but there are a few which offer relatively high income for entry-level work even without postsecondary credentials. Some of the following jobs require a high school diploma or certification in the field, but none of them call for time spent at a college or university.

Job Title Education Required Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Commercial Pilots HS diploma, licensure $105,720 5%
Elevator Installers and Repairers HS diploma, apprenticeship, licensure (some states) $78,890 13%
Mine Shuttle Car Operators Certification (some states) $56,450 -2%
Real Estate Brokers HS diploma, licensure $56,790 2%
Sales Representatives (Wholesale & Manuf) HS diploma $60,530 7%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for High-Paying Entry-Level Jobs without a Degree

Commercial Pilots

Commercial pilots operate aircraft for private clients, as opposed to airlines which transport passengers on a schedule. Becoming a commercial pilot requires a high school diploma and a pilot license, which is earned through training with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved instructor and a minimum of 250 hours flight time. Although the median salary for commercial pilots is the highest on this list (over $100,000 per year) and can be appealing to begin a career in aviation, pilots are subject to on-the-job hazards such as physical fatigue, mental stress, and dangerous conditions.

Elevator Installers and Repairers

Elevator installers construct elevators using mechanical equipment such as electrical wiring, motors, and cables. Although no college degree is necessary, elevator installers must go through a 4-year apprenticeship program. Even though this is a long-term commitment, apprenticeships are paid positions and earnings usually increase over the course of the program. The high earning potential (just under $80,000 for the median salary) is partially due to the specialized skill set, and also because of the risk of injury from falls, burns, or other exertion-related trauma.

Mine Shuttle Car Operators

Mine shuttle car operators are responsible for transporting and distributing mined materials, which can be a dangerous job. Mine workers may deal with health issues from contaminant exposure, loud sounds, and injuries from the mining site. But if these hazards are not a deterrent, becoming a mine shuttle car operator can be quick and lucrative - certification is only required in some states, and the position earns a median income of $56,790.

Real Estate Brokers

Real estate brokers earn income by helping clients buy, sell, or rent property. Since real estate brokers are independent business people, they are responsible for all of their earning potential and must work hard to find clients and take them through the complex process of purchasing property. Long and unpredictable schedules are normal for a real estate broker, but the trade-off is a median salary of $56,790 without having to earn a college degree. State licensure is the only requirement to become a real estate broker and may be a good option for those looking for high-paying entry level jobs.

Sales Representatives (Wholesale and Manufacturing industry)

Sales representatives' primary duties involve the promotion and sale of various products and services. Although the highest paying sales representatives work in the technical and scientific products industry, these jobs often require a postsecondary degree. Becoming a sales representative in the wholesale and manufacturing industry, on the other hand, is a good choice for high-paying entry-level work - this sector provides a substantial salary and usually does not require more than a high school degree. Many companies provide training on their product and sales techniques.


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