15 Best Jobs You Can Get Without a College Degree

The highest-paying jobs typically require a big investment in education.

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The highest-paying jobs typically require a big investment in education. But you can still follow plenty of good career paths straight out of high school, saving yourself the time and money you’d spend on college and getting yourself paid starting young. Indeed, according to a 2018 report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW), there are about 13 million good jobs available for people treading the high school pathway to work, which equates to 20% of all good jobs in the U.S. (Georgetown’s CEW defines a "good job" as paying a minimum median of $35,000 a year for workers between ages 25 and 44 and $45,000 for those age 45 to 64.)

To help you pinpoint all those good job opportunities, we got to work on crunching the numbers for you. Focusing on fields that are collecting generous paychecks now and are projected to expand greatly over the next decade, we ranked 773 popular occupations to see which ones offer the most promising futures. These 15 are the top jobs in our rankings that you can score without a college degree.


Unless otherwise noted, all employment data was provided by Emsi, a labor-market research firm owned by Strada Education. Emsi collects data from dozens of federal, state and private sources, including reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and surveys from the U.S. Census Bureau. The total number of jobs listed for each occupation is for 2017. Projected 10-year job growth figures represent the percentage change in the total number of jobs in an occupation between 2017 and 2027. Annual earnings were calculated by multiplying median hourly earnings by 2,080, the standard number of hours worked in a year by a full-time employee. Jobs are ordered, based on our scoring methodology, from first to 15th.

Stacy Rapacon
Online Editor, Kiplinger.com

Rapacon joined Kiplinger in October 2007 as a reporter with Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine and became an online editor for Kiplinger.com in June 2010. She previously served as editor of the "Starting Out" column, focusing on personal finance advice for people in their twenties and thirties.

Before joining Kiplinger, Rapacon worked as a senior research associate at b2b publishing house Judy Diamond Associates. She holds a B.A. degree in English from the George Washington University.