About 30 percent of American adults hold a bachelors degree, but the way you hear people talk about it, you would think everyone in the workforce does. Although many jobs do require a bachelor’s degree, there are also fairly decent jobs out there that don’t, prompting us to do our own search for decent (like not fast food, hospitality, or retail service) jobs that don’t require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

Based on our own search, these are our ten favorite, non-degree-requiring occupations:

1. Automotive Service Technician

automotive service technician

Annual median salary: $35,790
Some people love working on cars. For those who do, the road to a full-time career doing just that is pretty short. Starting with a high school diploma or GED, auto service technicians can complete a technical program and then jump right into their chosen career. They might be required to get certified after they begin working, but it’s nothing like the two- and four-year programs their peers undergo in college.

2. Truck Driver

Annual median salary: $37,770
Love long road trips, truck stop food, and country music? With a high school diploma, two years of trucking experience, and a commercial drivers license (CDL), you can be making pretty good money pulling trailers full of goods back and forth across the U.S. of A. And you get all that without setting foot on a college campus.

3. Cosmetologist


Annual median salary: $22,500
Or how about a career helping people look fabulous? In many states, all you need to start a career as a cosmetologist is a state license. Just to be clear, however, many states do require that students earn an associate’s degree or obtain a certain level of experience before they will grant a cosmetology license.

4. Plumber

Annual median salary: $46,660
Other than the occasional, overused quip about saggy pants, plumbers enjoy a higher median salary than most skilled laborers. Education for plumbers doesn’t happen in the classroom, but on the job, usually as an apprentice to a full-fledged plumber, although some plumbers do learn their skills at a technical school. On top of that, plumbers are required to have a state license to operate.

5. Chef

chef career

Annual median salary: $40,630
Turning your inner foodie into a full-time job isn’t as far away as you might think. Working chefs gain their expertise in a variety of ways. Some get it purely from on-the-job training and experience. Some go on campus to gain their skills at a community college, technical school, culinary arts school, or four-year college. In short, chefs often find their own path to their career according to their own situation.

6. Construction Manager

Annual median salary: $83,860
Construction worker jobs require very little by way of education or work experience, but construction managers need a little extra. Usually, to become a construction requires that you have some construction experience under your belt and you have earned the proper certification. A degree isn’t required but more and more construction employers are favoring construction managers who have bachelor’s degree.

7. Massage Therapist

massage therapist

Annual median salary: $34,900
Getting into a career making others feel better doesn’t require a degree, but it does often require some kind of postsecondary education or experience, depending on which state you’re in. Aspiring massage therapists are often required to accumulate 500 hours or more of study and experience. In addition, your state might require that you have a license or certificate before you open up shop.

8. Firefighter

Annual median salary: $45,250
That’s right. You don’t need a degree to enter one of the most respected public service jobs in the U.S. Firefighters need a high school diploma or GED. They need to pass the required written and physical test. As far as certifications, they also need an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification. In addition to the postsecondary award that they usually earn prior to starting their career, firefighters also earn a ton of training after they start.

9. Welder

welder careers

Annual median salary: $35,450
Considering how little formal education is required to become a welder, the median salary for this job makes it a very attractive job. Becoming a welder might take as little as a few weeks of training or experience to get started. Of course, to move up the welder ladder, you will be required to gain more experience and/or educational courses.

10. Police Officer

Annual median salary: $55,010
At many modest-sized police departments, a high school diploma and graduation from the police academy is enough to get into the field. Other departments will require that hopefuls have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. At any rate, police officers must be a minimum of 21 years of age, be U.S. citizens, and, like their firefighting counterparts, pass physical qualifications and background checks.


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