The highest-paying in-demand jobs that don’t require a degree, according to new research

If you're seeking a well-paying career that doesn't necessitate a college degree and offers strong job security, exploring a trade job might be a lucrative option. Recent research from McKinsey & Co. indicates that the skilled labor market in the U.S. is experiencing "record-high pressure" due to an aging workforce and fewer young individuals pursuing trade professions such as construction, plumbing, welding, and more.

##### Market Dynamics

The labor shortages, compounded by disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have led to increased competition for talent, subsequently resulting in a significant rise in wages for skilled trade jobs. According to McKinsey & Co., these wages have surged by over 20% since the first quarter of 2020. Furthermore, the demand for skilled tradespeople is projected to rise in the coming decade, as the U.S. focuses on infrastructure development, real estate redevelopment, and investments in renewable energy.

##### Most In-Demand Jobs

According to data from Payscale and ZipRecruiter, the most sought-after trade jobs at present, which do not require a degree, are in construction, manufacturing, and plumbing. The top three include:

1. Construction Superintendent - Median salary: $84,600

2. Manufacturing Production Manager - Median salary: $71,800

3. Journeyman Plumber - Median salary: $61,500

##### Skill Levels and Certification

It's important to note that some trade jobs, such as plumbing and electricians, have different levels of certification. For instance, to work as a journeyman plumber, one needs to serve as an apprentice under a licensed master plumber for at least two years, depending on the state's requirements.

##### Salary Data and Hiring Trends

Payscale analyzed 85,715 salary profiles from U.S. workers with no education beyond a high school diploma, collected between April 2022 and April 2024. This analysis identified high-paying jobs that don't require degrees. Moreover, ZipRecruiter observed hiring trends for these roles over the last six months and found considerable increases in openings for these positions, with construction superintendents witnessing the largest surge in demand.

##### Additional Opportunities

Other high-paying trade jobs that are hiring at a good pace include fleet managers and journeyman electricians. Fleet managers, who oversee drivers and vehicles, earn a median pay of $64,600 without a degree, while journeyman electricians make an average of $62,600.

##### Employment Trends

Industries such as construction, manufacturing, and home services, which historically prioritize skills over degrees in hiring, continue to offer some of the best opportunities for individuals to earn substantial incomes without pursuing a college education. Notably, more companies are beginning to drop degree requirements for jobs, although skills-based hiring has not yet become common practice across all industries.

In conclusion, trade jobs present a promising avenue for individuals to secure well-paid and stable careers without the need for a college degree, particularly in industries that value skills and experience in hiring practices.  

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