Broker, gambling manager are among the best jobs you can get without a college degree

Rising tuition and student loan debt have recently caused some to call into question the value of a college degree. According to a recent survey from education nonprofit The Hechinger Report, 36% of U.S. adults today believe college is not worth the cost. And as this list of college majors that pay off the least shows, a college degree by itself is not a guarantee of high earnings and job security.
While college graduates earn more than those without a degree on average, there are a number of high-paying jobs that require little more than a high school diploma and on-the-job training. With the right skills, workers in these occupations can make more than $70,000 a year on average.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to identify the highest-paying jobs that do not require a college degree. In some occupations on this list, while a degree is not required, the majority of workers nevertheless have one.
While they do not require a college degree, many of these jobs may require a state license or additional vocational training. Real estate brokers, for example, must take state-accredited courses and earn a state broker’s license to practice. Ship engineers, makeup artists, and captains of water vessels may be required to undergo training at a vocational school.
Many of the highest-paying jobs that do not require a college degree are physically demanding and may expose workers to a high degree of occupational hazards. Electrical power-line installers, signal and track switch repairers, and ship engineers, for example, all report far more injuries per capita than the national occupational injury rate. 

25. Locomotive engineers     • Avg. annual wage: $71,570     • Total employment: 35,520     • Projected employment change (2018-2028): -1.8% The average annual wage for jobs that do not typically require a high school diploma is just $44,190. Though locomotive engineers are not required to have more than a high school education, the occupation has an average annual salary of $71,570. Though it is high paying, work for locomotive engineers may not be especially secure. According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for railroad workers is projected to decline by 1.8% from 2018 to 2028. One reason for the poor job outlook is the falling demand for rail transportation of bulk commodities due in part to rising natural gas production and pipeline construction.
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25. Locomotive engineers
• Avg. annual wage: $71,570
• Total employment: 35,520
• Projected employment change (2018-2028): -1.8%
The average annual wage for jobs that do not typically require a high school diploma is just $44,190. Though locomotive engineers are not required to have more than high school education, the occupation has an average annual salary of $71,570.
Though it is high paying, work for locomotive engineers may not be especially secure. According to projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for railroad workers is projected to decline by 1.8% from 2018 to 2028. One reason for the poor job outlook is the falling demand for rail transportation of bulk commodities due in part to rising natural gas production and pipeline construction.
24. The property, real estate, and community association managers
• Avg. annual wage: $71,720
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 220,750
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +7.3%
Though college graduates may have an edge when competing for property, real estate, and community association managers jobs, a college education is not typically required. Real estate agents who help buy and sell properties are also required to be licensed in the state in which they practice and are typically expected to have several years of professional experience.
Though the average pay for workers in the field is nearly $72,000, far higher than the typical pay for occupations with similar educational requirements, property, real estate, and community association managers often have to work long hours.
23. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $71,960
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 111,660
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +8%
The average electrical power line installer and repairer earn $71,960 a year, far more than the average salary of $53,490 for all occupations. While the typical electrical power line installer position does not require a bachelor's degree, it does typically involve long-term on-the-job training.
Lineworkers may also be exposed to dangerous hazards on the job, such as working with high-voltage electricity and at great heights. In 2018, electrical power-line installers and repairers reported 130.2 on-the-job injuries per 10,000 full-time workers, far more than the national occupational injury rate of 89.7 injuries per 10,000 full-time workers.
22. Signal and track switch repairers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $72,690
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 6,860
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +0.6%
Most signal and track switch repairer positions involve the installation, inspection, testing, and maintenance of signal equipment, track switches, and other components of a railroad system, and do not require a college degree. The typical signal and track switch repairer earns $72,690 a year, far more than the average of $53,490 for all occupations.
While the job generally requires no more than a high school diploma and moderate on-the-job training, it does come with occupational risks. According to BLS data, there were 146.9 occupational injuries reported per 10,000 full-time signal and track switch repairers in 2018, far more than the national injury rate of 89.7 per 10,000.
21. Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators, and gaugers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $73,830
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 40,370
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): -1.9%
Oil is one of the most lucrative sectors for workers without a college degree. The average annual wage of petroleum pump system operators, for example, is $73,830, far more than the average wage of $$53,490 for all occupations and nearly as much as the average wage for U.S. workers with a bachelor's degree ($88,260). The bulk of petroleum pump system operators work in oil-producing states like Texas, Louisiana, and California.
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20. Transportation inspectors
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $77,530
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 30,020
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +3.8%
Transportation inspectors are responsible for checking that equipment, goods, and cargo are safe to transport – either by rail or other vehicles. Though transportation inspectors are not required to have a college degree, depending on the field, they may be required to have certain certifications. For example, aviation inspectors have to pass exams administered by the Federal Aviation Administration. The average salary for Americans in the occupation is $77,530 – more than many other jobs, even with greater formal education requirements.
19. Postmasters and mail superintendents
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $78,220
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 13,850
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): -27.5%
Postmasters plan, direct, and coordinate the services of U.S. post offices. While mostly there are no formal educational requirements for postmasters, the average postmaster earns $78,220 a year, far more than the average wage of $53,490 for all jobs. Most post offices hire postmasters from within the organization and require up to five years of experience as a postal worker.
As communication continues to shift from physical letters to texts and emails and the number of U.S. postal offices declines – already the number declined from 32,528 locations in 2010 to 31,322 in 2019 – demand for postmasters will fall. According to the BLS, there will be a 27.5% decline in postmaster positions from 2018 to 2028, nearly the largest decline of any profession.
18. Power plant operators
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $79,370
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 33,620
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): -4.8%
The average power plant operator earns $79,370 a year, nearly twice the average wage of $39,914 for all occupations without a postsecondary degree requirement and higher than the average of $53,490 for all occupations. While most power plant operator roles require only a high school diploma, they do require extensive on-the-job training and experience in related positions. Many entry-level roles require workers to take aptitude exams from the Edison Electric Institute to determine if they have the necessary reading, spatial thinking, and mathematical abilities for the job.
As power plants become more efficient and automated over the next decade, the demand for power plant operators may decline. According to BLS projections, the number of power plant operator positions in the United States will decline by 4.8% from 2018 to 2028.
17. Ship engineers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $79,540
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 8,410
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): -3.5%
The typical ship engineer position pays $79,540 a year, far more than the average wage of $53,490 for all occupations. While most ship engineer positions do not require a postsecondary degree, ship engineers are often required to hold a mariner's license from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Ship engineers are also exposed to dangerous conditions on the job. According to BLS data, there were 222.7 occupational injuries reported in 2018 per 10,000 full-time ship engineers, more than twice the national occupational injury rate of 89.7 injuries per 10,000 full-time workers, and among the most of any occupation.
16. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $80,360
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 5,060
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): -0.9%
Agricultural managers like farmers and ranchers coordinate the day-to-day operations of farms, ranches, greenhouses, nurseries, and other establishments. While no more than a high school diploma is required to be a farmer or rancher, the average annual wage for the occupation is $80,360, far more than the $53,490 average wage for all occupations.
One of the highest paying areas for farmers and ranchers is the wine region of Napa, California, where the average annual wage for the profession is $150,430. Other areas throughout California's agricultural regions, such as Salinas, Madera, Stockton, and Fresno, also have average annual salaries above $100,000.
15. Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay     • Avg. annual wage: $81,280     • Total employment: 22,650     • Projected employment change (2018-2028): +1.7% The average annual salary for electricians who work on powerhouses and electricity generating stations is $81,280, far more than the average wage of $39,914 for all occupations without a postsecondary degree requirement. While most electricians do not need a bachelor's degree, many positions require coursework at a technical or vocational school as well as a multi-year paid apprenticeship program. Most states also require electricians to hold a state-issued license.
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15. Electrical and electronics repairers, powerhouse, substation, and relay
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $81,280
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 22,650
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +1.7%
The average annual salary for electricians who work on powerhouses and electricity generating stations is $81,280, far more than the average wage of $39,914 for all occupations without a postsecondary degree requirement.
While most electricians do not need a bachelor's degree, many positions require coursework at a technical or vocational school as well as a multi-year paid apprenticeship program. Most states also require electricians to hold a state-issued license.
14. Real estate brokers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $81,450
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 42,730
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +7.1%
Real estate brokers represent the different parties in real estate deals, such as buying, selling, and renting properties. The average real estate broker earns $81,450 a year, more than twice the $39,914 average for occupations without a postsecondary degree requirement. While real estate broker positions generally require just a high school diploma, most brokers must take state-accredited courses and earn a state-issued broker's license.
The most lucrative metro area for the profession in Boston, where the average annual salary is $121,500. Other high-paying metro areas for real estate brokers include New York, New York, Green Bay, Wisconsin, and Indianapolis, Indiana.
13. Makeup artists, theatrical and performance
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $81,600
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 3,400
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +7%
Nearly 25% of professional makeup artists do not have a high school diploma, one of the largest such shares of any occupation. But while many in the profession have not graduated high school and most positions do not require a formal college degree, the average makeup artist earns $81,600 a year – just over $27,000 more than the average wage for all occupations. Many makeup jobs do, however, require training at a cosmetology or other vocational school.
Approximately half of all theater makeup artists work in the Los Angeles metro area, where the average wage for the profession is $91,640. Other high-paying metro areas for makeup artists include New York and Washington, D.C.
12. First-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $82,010
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 69,590
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +5.3%
First-line supervisors of firefighting and prevention workers – lieutenants, captains, battalion chiefs, assistant chiefs, deputy chiefs, and station chiefs – earn an average of $82,010 a year, more than twice the average for all occupations without any postsecondary degree requirement and nearly as much as the average wage for jobs requiring a master's degree. While firefighters do not need a college degree, most must undergo training at a fire academy and hold an EMT certification. To be promoted to a supervisory role, one generally needs several years of experience working as a firefighter.
11. Elevator and escalator installers and repairers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $83,250
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 28,350
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +10.3%
The average elevator and escalator repairer earns $83,250 a year, more than twice the average wage of $39,914 for all occupations without a postsecondary degree requirement. While no college degree is required for a career in elevator installation and repair, workers typically undergo a four-year apprenticeship program and must complete a predetermined number of hours of technical instruction and paid on-the-job training.
The demand for elevator and escalator installers and repairers is likely to increase in the near future as buildings get taller and more offices and stores install escalators. According to projections from the BLS, the number of the elevator and escalator installers and repairers will rise by 10.3% from 2018 to 2028, nearly twice the projected growth rate of 5.2% for all occupations.
10. Gambling managers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $84,700
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 4,450
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +6.5%
Gambling managers coordinate floor operations in a casino. While educational requirements for gambling managers vary from casino to casino, most positions do not require a postsecondary degree. The average annual wage for gambling managers is $84,700, more than twice the average annual salary for jobs without a postsecondary degree – and even more than the average wage of $83,300 for occupations requiring a master's degree.
The metro areas with the largest numbers of gambling managers include Las Vegas, Nevada, Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Chicago, Illinois. The metro areas with the highest average salaries for gambling managers, however, are San Francisco and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
9. Detectives and criminal investigators
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $86,030
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 105,620
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +2.5%
The average annual salary for detectives and criminal investigators is $86,030, more than twice the average of $39,914 for all occupations without a postsecondary degree requirement. Detectives and criminal investigators generally learn through on-the-job training lasting between several months to a year and are required to have a private investigator's license in most states.
While most detective and criminal investigators are not required to have a college degree, most do. Some 57.8% of detectives and criminal investigators have at least a bachelor's degree, one of the largest shares of any occupation without a postsecondary degree requirement.
8. First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $86,180
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 249,090
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): -1.7%
First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers are responsible for duties such as budgeting, accounting, and personnel work, as well as direct supervision of employees. The average annual salary for these workers is $86,180, more than twice the average annual wage of $39,914 for jobs without a postsecondary educational requirement.
This occupational category covers supervisory jobs in a wide range of industries, including electronics and appliance stores, credit intermediation services, and merchant wholesalers. The highest paying industries for this occupation are securities and financial investments, pulp, paper, and paperboard mills, and electric power generation.
7. Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $87,420
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 33,370
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): -1.8%
According to BLS data, the average annual wage for all captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels employed in the U.S. is $87,420, far more than the average wage of $53,490 for all occupations and the seventh-highest of any job that does not require a bachelor's degree.
While a formal degree is not required, captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels are required to hold a license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard. Many positions also require up to five years of experience in a related occupation.
6. Power distributors and dispatchers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $88,910
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 10,770
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): -3.9%
Power distributors and dispatchers coordinate and regulate the distribution of electricity in a system. They respond to emergencies like transformer failures and power outages and may work in power plants or large factories. While power distributors and dispatchers typically do not need a college degree, the average annual salary for the occupation is $88,910 – more than twice the $39,914 average for occupations without a postsecondary degree requirement.
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5. Athletes and sports competitors
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $93,140
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 11,330
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +6.2%
The average annual wage among professional athletes is $93,140, far more than the average of $39,914 across all occupations without a postsecondary degree requirement. While no formal educational credential is required to become a professional athlete, athletes in most sports develop their skills by playing at the collegiate level. Some 61.6% of athletes and sports competitors have at least a bachelor's degree, the fourth largest share of any occupation without a postsecondary education requirement.
Professional athletes are also exposed to dangerous occupational hazards. There were 609.4 occupational injuries per 10,000 athletes and sports competitors in 2018, nearly seven times the national occupational injury rate.
4. First-line supervisors of police and detectives
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $94,950
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 121,340
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +4.8%
First-line supervisors of police and detectives are one of only five occupations that have no formal education requirements beyond high school with an average annual salary of over $90,000. Job titles in the field include chief of police, police captain, and shift supervisor – and responsibilities can include training staff, supervising investigations, ensuring legal compliance, and advising subordinates. Between 2018 and 2028, employment in the occupation is projected to grow by 4.8%, in line with overall job growth.
3. Nuclear power reactor operators
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $100,990
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 5,050
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): -15.5%
Most nuclear power reactor operator positions require just a high school diploma and extensive on-the-job training. While, on average, jobs that do not require a bachelor's degree pay less than half the wage of those that do, the average nuclear power reactor operator earns $100,990 a year – among the most of any occupation overall. Most operators must also be licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
As nuclear power reactors become more efficient and the number of nuclear plants being shut down outpaces plans for new ones, demand for operators will decline. According to the BLS, the number of nuclear power reactor operator jobs will fall by 15.5% from 2018 to 2028.
2. Commercial pilots
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $102,870
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 37,830
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +7.7%
Unlike airline pilots, who primarily work for large passenger airlines, commercial pilots operate what is known in aviation as unscheduled flights, such as charter flights and aerial tours. The average commercial pilot earns $102,870 a year, the second-highest wage of any occupation without a postsecondary degree requirement. While most commercial pilots do not need a bachelor's degree, they do need a commercial pilot's license from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Despite not being a requirement for the job, most commercial pilots have a bachelor's degree. Some 74.2% of commercial pilots 25 years and older have a bachelor's degree, the largest share of any occupation without a formal postsecondary degree requirement.
1. Transportation, storage, and distribution managers     • Avg. annual wage: $103,320     • Total employment: 132,040     • Projected employment change (2018-2028): +5.6% Most transportation, storage, and distribution manager positions require no more than a high school diploma and several years experience in a related field. The average annual wage for the occupation is $103,320, more than twice the average of $39,914 across all occupations without a postsecondary degree requirement and the most of any job you can get without a college degree. The highest-paying metro areas for the occupation include Fayetteville, Arkansas; San Jose, California; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Peoria, Illinois; and Denver, Colorado. ALSO READ: 25 Most Dangerous Jobs in America
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1. Transportation, storage, and distribution managers
•​​​​​​​ Avg. annual wage: $103,320
•​​​​​​​ Total employment: 132,040
•​​​​​​​ Projected employment change (2018-2028): +5.6%
Most transportation, storage, and distribution manager positions require no more than a high school diploma and several years of experience in a related field. The average annual wage for the occupation is $103,320, more than twice the average of $39,914 across all occupations without a postsecondary degree requirement and the most of any job you can get without a college degree.
The highest-paying metro areas for the occupation include Fayetteville, Arkansas; San Jose, California; Bridgeport, Connecticut; Peoria, Illinois; and Denver, Colorado.