As higher education costs soar out of reach, more individuals are finding jobs in these fields.

Updated on: January 29th, 2018

This post was updated for 2018

Ask a recent college grad if getting their degree was worth it, and they might complain about their monthly student loan payments or say that they can’t find a job because their degree isn’t worth anything.

Eventually it works out — college grads still tend to earn more over the lifetime of their degree. But there are plenty of jobs out there with high earning potential that don’t require any degree at all, which is great news for Americans who don’t believe that higher education is affordable. A recent Gallup poll found that while 61 percent of Americans believe college is available to anyone who needs it, only 21 percent believe it’s affordable to anyone who needs it.

CareerBuilder recently released a study of the highest-paying, fastest-growing jobs that don’t require a degree but do “offer workers a direct path to the middle class.” Making these jobs even more desirable to some is the fact that, on average, workers in these non-desk jobs were two times less likely to complain about their work environment, and were “significantly less likely” to report being overweight.

Here are the top paying jobs that don’t require a college degree, ranked from highest-paying to lowest-paying. All salaries are hourly and based on CareerBuilder’s data. States listed are those that have the highest concentration of that particular job according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2014.

All careers have seen a six percent job growth from 2010-2014.

1. Elevator installers and repairers

Install and maintain elevators, escalators, and other lifts.

Pay: $37.81
A high school diploma and apprenticeship
Where to find a job: Maryland, New York, Hawaii, Illinois, and Minnesota

2. Dental hygienist

A dental hygienist cleans teeth, examines patients for oral diseases, and assists dentists in anesthesia or dental radiography if needed.

Pay: $34.19
Associate’s degree (two-year) and licensed by the state
Where to find a job: Connecticut, Oregon, Michigan, Rhode Island, Washington

3. Diagnostic medical sonographer

Sonographers assist doctors and surgeons by operating special imaging equipment, like ultrasounds. Some assist physicians during surgery.

Pay: $31.93
Associate’s degree 
Where to find a job: Rhode Island, South Dakota, Connecticut, Tennessee

4. Electrical power-line installers and repairers

Electric power-line installers repair electric wires and fiber optic cables.

Pay: $30.85
Where to find a job: North Dakota, Kansas, Mississippi, Wyoming, South Dakota

5. Boilermakers

Boilermakers assemble and install steam boilers, which are large tanks or vessels that produce heat and hot water for office buildings, hotels, hospitals, restaurants, schools, and government buildings. They inspect and repair boiler furnaces as well.

Pay: $27.74
Usually requires an apprenticeship, and previous welding certification is a plus
Where to find a job: Wyoming, North Dakota, Indiana, Louisiana, and Montana


6. Avionics technician

Avionics technicians inspect and repair airplane parts, including radar, radio, and navigation systems.

Pay: $26.92
Must be certified as an aircraft electronics technician 
Where to find a jobKansas, Washington, Alabama, Georgia, Alaska

7. Signal and track switch repairers

Install, test, and inspect all electric equipment on railroad tracks, including gate crossings, electric signals, and “intercommunications systems within a railroad system,” according to the BLS.

Pay: $26.75
Associate’s degree or certificate 
Where to find a job: Nebraska, North Dakota, Kansas, Idaho, Illinois

8.  Occupational therapy assistants

Assistants help patients recover from surgery or athletic injuries. They also assist disabled patients with stretching and other exercises.

Pay: $26.57
Need an associate’s degree from an accretted occupational therapy program. Must also be licensed by the state
Where to find a jobOhio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Missouri, Indiana

9.  Mechanical engineering technician

Technicians design and develop tools, engines, and machines. This includes everything from sketching blueprints and designing the product to assisting with manufacturing in a factory or development lab.

Pay: $25.19
Associate’s degree 
Where to find a job: Michigan, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Minnesota

10. Industrial engineering technician

Industrial engineering technicians prepare diagrams and maps to show how equipment and materials are handled and used. They help industrial engineers implement designs in factories, stores, and offices.

Pay: $25.01
Associate’s degree
Where to find a job: Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, South Carolina, Washington

11. Electro-mechanical technicians

They’re similar to the industrial engineer technicians listed above, but electro-mechanical technicians work on computers, electronics, and robotic assembly machines.

Pay: $24.68
Associate’s degree
Where to find a job: Louisiana, New Mexico, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Massachusetts 

12. Wind turbine service technicians

Inspect and repair wind turbines. Service technicians must know how to resolve electrical, mechanical, and hydraulic malfunctions.

Pay: $23.79
Associate’s degree
Where to find a job: Wyoming, North Dakota, Iowa, Texas, Minnesota

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Meet the Author

Jess Miller

Jess Miller


Miller is the former assistant editor of

Career and Business, College

college savings, economy, income

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Article last modified on January 29, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: The 12 Top Paying Jobs Right Now That Don't Require A Four-Year Degree - AMP.