10 High-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a Four-Year College Degree

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Are you seeking a high-paying job, but don't want to invest in a four-year or graduate degree? You don't need to have a college degree to get a good job. There is a new kind of job that emphasizes skills over education and work experience.

“New-collar jobs,” also known as “middle-skill jobs,” are those that require certain hard skills, but do not necessarily require a four-year college degree (or an extensive work history). Often, employees can get the skills they need for the job through vocational training, a certificate program, an apprenticeship, or a two-year degree program.


These skill-based jobs can be found in a variety of industries. They are particularly common in service, healthcare, transportation, information technology (IT), and manufacturing.

Hospitals, state governments, schools, manufacturers, IT companies, and other organizations have begun to search for employees with the right skills, rather than the right degree. Some companies even offer paid training programs for job candidates, which are like apprenticeships.

Key Takeaways

  • “New-collar jobs” are those that require certain hard skills, but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree.
  • Depending on the role, you may need to invest in an associate degree or certification.
  • Some new-collar jobs offer higher pay and a better occupational outlook than others.

10 High-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a Four-Year College Degree

01 of 11

Computer Programmer

Computer programmers create, write, and test code that allows computer programs and applications to function. They typically need to know a variety of computer languages, including Java and C++. They might work for a computer systems design company, or they could work for software publishers or financial companies, among others. Because this work is done on the computer, many programmers telecommute, which allows for flexibility.

While many computer programmers do have a bachelor's degree, some only need an associate degree or extensive experience in coding. Programmers can also become certified in specific programming languages, so these certificates can also help a job candidate get hired. Another option is to get the skills you need to get hired by attending a bootcamp.

02 of 11

Computer Security Analyst

A computer security analyst (also known as an information security analyst) helps protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.

Some employers want analysts with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, and sometimes they even want candidates with a master’s degree in information systems. However, some companies are emphasizing skills in computer science, programming, and IT security over a specific degree.

03 of 11

Computer Support Specialist

A computer support specialist provides help for people and companies with their computer equipment and/or software. They might help IT employees within an organization or help non-IT users with their computer problems. They help people in person, over the phone, or online.

Computer support specialists generally do not need a college degree. Instead, they need computer knowledge, as well as communication and people skills. Often, they need to have taken a couple of computer or IT courses or have an associate degree. Some companies require their computer support specialists to go through a certification program.

04 of 11

Database Manager

A database manager (also known as a database administrator) is someone who A database manager (also known as a database administrator) is someone who stores and organizes data using specialized software. He or she makes sure that data is secure and available to the people who need access to it. Database managers can work in almost any industry, but they typically work for companies in computer systems design and support.

While some database manager jobs require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in management information systems, some employers look for database managers who simply have strong knowledge of database languages, such as Structured Query Language (SQL).

05 of 11

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

Also known as an ultrasound technician, a diagnostic medical sonographer works under the direction of a physician to produce ultrasound images for patients. Medical sonographers work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, medical centers, and laboratories.

While some people have a bachelor’s degree in sonography, there are also associate degrees and one-year certificate programs.


This job is experiencing faster than average (10%) job growth, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

06 of 11

Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Network and computer systems administrators install and operate computer systems for companies. Because almost every industry has network and computer systems, these administrators work in every field, from IT to finance to education.

While some network and computer systems administrator jobs require a bachelor’s degree, more and more job openings require only a postsecondary certificate and strong computer skills.

07 of 11

Pharmacy Technician

A pharmacy technician assists pharmacists with dispensing medications to customers and/or health professionals. Most of them work in pharmacies and drug stores, but others work at hospitals or in private practices.

Because most pharmacy technicians learn through on-the-job training, a four-year degree is generally not required. Many vocational/technical schools offer programs in pharmacy technology, some of which award students with a certificate after a year or less.

08 of 11

Radiologic Technician

Also known as radiographers, radiologic technicians perform X-rays and other diagnostic imaging on patients. They work under physicians, taking images requested by physicians, and helping physicians evaluate images. They work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, laboratories, and outpatient care centers.

Most radiologic technicians have an associate degree in MRI or radiologic technology. These programs typically take 18 months to two years to complete. There are also certificate programs that take one to two years.

09 of 11

Service Delivery Analyst

A service delivery analyst ensures that clients receive high-quality service. He or she analyzes how services are being delivered, and how they can be improved. He or she typically uses software to track the quality and efficiency of the user’s experience. While the requirements of service delivery analyst jobs vary by industry, the analyst generally needs strong computer skills.

Service delivery analyst jobs require experience in the industry, as well as knowledge of the service delivery software the company uses (this can sometimes be learned on the job). However, the job generally does not require a four-year degree.

10 of 11

Tool-and-Die Maker

Tool-and-die makers are a type of machinist that sets up and operates various mechanically and machine-controlled tools used to produce tools needed for the manufacturing process.

These workers can learn through apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, technical colleges, or on-the-job training. If the job involves computer-controlled machinery, a tool-and-die maker might need more IT coursework or IT experience.

11 of 11

More New-Collar Jobs

Below is a list of job that don't require a four-year degree, including those described above. The list is organized by industry. Look through the list and see if there is a new-collar job that is right for you.

New-Collar Healthcare Jobs

  • Cardiovascular Technician
  • Cardiovascular Technologist
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
  • Medical Records and Health Information Technician
  • Occupational Health/Safety Specialist
  • Occupational Therapy Aide
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Physical Therapy Aide
  • Radiologic Technician
  • Radiologic Technologist
  • Respiratory Therapist
  • Surgical Technologist

New-Collar IT Jobs

  • Business Intelligence Analyst
  • Cloud Administrator
  • Computer Network Architect
  • Computer Programmer
  • Computer Security Analyst
  • Computer Support Specialist
  • Computer Systems Engineer
  • Cybersecurity Architect
  • Database Administrator
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Network Administrator
  • Network Support
  • Service Delivery Analyst
  • Server Technician
  • Software Developer
  • Software Engineer
  • Software Quality Assurance Analyst
  • Software Quality Assurance Tester
  • Systems Support
  • Technical Sales Assistant

New-Collar Manufacturing Jobs

  • Blender/Mixer Operator
  • CAD Drafter
  • Chemical Operator
  • CNC Operator
  • CNC Programmer
  • Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operator
  • Electrical/Electronics Repairer
  • Electromechanical and Industrial Engineering Technician
  • Grinder/Sharpener
  • Machinist
  • Manufacturing Machine Operator
  • Manufacturing Production Technician
  • Molding/Casting Worker
  • Plant Operator
  • Printing Press Operator
  • Production Supervisor
  • Quality Control Inspector
  • Security Manager
  • Tool-and-Die Maker
  • Warehouse Supervisor
  • Water Treatment Specialist
  • Manufacturing Machine Operator
  • Manufacturing Production Technician
  • Press Brake Operator
  • Water Treatment Specialist
  • Welder/Solderer

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What jobs pay the most money without requiring a bachelor’s degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, several jobs pay a median annual salary of $80,000 per year or more and do not require a bachelor's degree. Air traffic controllers, nuclear technicians, and radiation therapists can begin their careers with an associate degree. Captains, commercial pilots, electronics repairers, makeup artists, and ship engineers can get started with a postsecondary nondegree award. 

Can I make a six-figure salary without a degree?

With the right experience and training, you can earn a six-figure salary without a bachelor’s degree. However, you should be prepared to invest time and energy in an apprenticeship, associate degree, certification, or extensive on-the-job training. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, several occupations offer six-figure salaries for experienced, trained workers. These jobs include air traffic controller, commercial pilot, makeup artist, nuclear technician, and radiation therapist.

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Fast-Growing Occupations That Pay Well and Don’t Require a College Degree."

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "How to Become a Computer Programmer."

  3. The Wall Street Journal. "Cybersecurity Jobs Abound. No Experience Required." 

  4. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "How to Become a Computer Support Specialist."

  5. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians."

  6. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "How to Become a Network and Computer Systems Administrator."

  7. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "How to Become a Pharmacy Technician."

  8. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "How to Become a Radiologic or MRI Technologist."

  9. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "How to Become a Machinist or Tool and Die Maker."

  10. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Occupational Outlook Handbook." 

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