Previous Next

Photo by Thomas Hawk

You don’t need to spend four years in some university to ensure your financial security.

DID YOUR PARENTS tell you that, in order to secure a good job, you had to earn the right college degree? While this may be true for many careers, going to college isn’t always an option. It’s very expensive, time-consuming, and you may not want to wait to reap the benefits of your years of studying.

There are, however, many well paying jobs that favor experience and hard work instead of degrees. That’s not to say you can just waltz in and work. You still need some experience and training, but you won’t spend all that time and money on school.

1. Home aides supervisor

Average salary: $63,400

Responsibilities: Home aides supervisors monitor the quality of care performed by aides for home patients. They orient, train, and assign work to new health aides and document patient statuses to develop a care plan.

Experience and training: No high school diploma is even required. All training is done on the job by supervisors or registered nurses.

Qualifications: Homes aides should be responsible, compassionate, patient, emotionally stable, and cheerful. They should also be honest and discreet as they often work in private homes. The job is physically demanding and many are exposed to diseases and infections. Despite the disadvantages, many home aides supervisors still gain satisfaction from assisting those in need, in addition to personal financial security.

2. Casino gaming manager

Average salary: $67,400

Responsibilities: The casino gaming manager plans, organizes, coordinates, and controls all gaming operations in the casino. He/She is responsible for setting policies, resolving complaints with unhappy guests, and controlling the food and beverage service.

Experience and training: Many casino managers start as entry-level gaming workers with on-the-job training during the first few weeks. Experience in other gaming occupations and a broad knowledge of casino rules, regulations, procedures, and games eventually helps them advance into supervisory positions. Each casino establishes its own education, training, and experience requirements, but all gaming service workers must obtain a license from a regulatory agency, such as a state casino control board or commission.

Qualifications: Casino managers need superior customer service and communication skills, an outgoing personality, and the ability to maintain composure even when dealing with angry and demanding patrons. They can be expected to work nights, weekends, and holidays. The job is physically demanding, requiring you to stand for long periods of time.

3. Ship captain

Average salary: $87,000

Responsibilities: The ship captain’s job is to navigate the vessel, manage the crew, and ensure the ship complies with international and local laws. The captain is also in charge of the accounting on board as well as payrolls and inventory of cargo.

Experience and training: Applicants with no degree must often accumulate thousands of hours of experience as a deckhand before reaching higher levels. Some become self-employed captains after purchasing their own small boats.

Qualifications: Excellent physical condition, good vision, and balance are requirements to work aboard ships. The working conditions can be dangerous, and captains can spend a long time away from home depending on the length of voyage. However, being away for long periods helps them save a lot of money.

Photo by DragonAir

4. In-flight service manager

Average salary: $72,200

Responsibilities: Mainly found on large aircraft, the ISM is in charge of running the cabin. They ensure that flight attendants conform to personal appearance and pre-flight requirements and compile flight reports. They deliver on-board announcements and ensure the cabin is safe for takeoff and landing.

Experience and training: High school diploma is the minimum educational requirement. Flight attendants go through formal on-the-job training at a flight training center. Airlines also conduct a thorough background check, which goes back as many as 10 years.

Qualifications: In-flight service managers are tactful and resourceful people who can speak clearly and interact comfortably with strangers and remain calm under stressful conditions. Additionally, airlines usually have age, physical, and appearance requirements. The applicants must also meet height requirements for reaching overhead bins, which often contain emergency equipment. Men must have their hair cut above the collar and no beards are allowed. Free time and free/discounted airfares provide flight attendants the opportunity to travel. However, the work can be strenuous and trying. They are required to stand during much of the flight and must remain pleasant and efficient, regardless of how tired they are or how demanding passengers may be.

5. Illustrator

Average salary: $60,000

Responsibilities: Often working with advertisement agencies or as freelancers, illustrators design fonts and images for a variety of media, from websites to print campaigns and video. They study the layouts, sketch, illustrate, and prepare graphic material for websites.

Experience and training: As many illustrators are freelancers, there are no special requirements and trainings for the job. However, a strong portfolio is a must to be able to attract new clients.

Qualifications: Creativity, communication, and problem-solving skills are crucial. Illustrators must be able to communicate ideas visually, verbally, and in writing. They also must be open to new ideas and influences, and quick to react to changing trends. The abilities to work independently and under pressure are equally important traits. They are required to have self-discipline to start projects on their own, budget their time, and meet deadlines.

6. Locomotive engineer

Average salary: $70,500

Responsibilities: Locomotive engineers drive trains. They control the mechanical operations of the locomotive, the speed and handling, and make sure safety regulations and schedules are followed.

Experience and training: Many locomotive engineers start as rail transportation workers and generally begin on-the-job training to become a conductor before they may be considered for an engineer position, which also requires a federal license and a minimum of a high school diploma, but not necessarily a college degree.

Qualifications: Locomotive engineers are required to have good hearing, eyesight, and color vision, as well as good hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity, and mechanical aptitude. Applicants must be at least 21 years old. Engineers often have irregular schedules and the well paying jobs are assigned on short notice and often at odd hours. Working weekends is common in freight train transportation. Those who work on trains operating between points hundreds of miles apart may spend consecutive nights away from home.

7. Real estate broker

Average salary: $79,500

Responsibilities: A real estate broker is an intermediary between sellers and buyers of real estate. They usually run their own real estate business and assist buyers through the financial and legal aspects of the purchase process. They have a thorough knowledge of the market in their community and spend significant time hunting for properties.

Experience and training: Some brokerage firms offer formal training programs for both beginners and experienced agents. In addition, much of the training needed to learn the practical aspects of the trade happens on the job, under the direction of an experienced agent.

Qualifications: Prospective agents must be high school graduates, be at least 18 years old, and pass a written test administered by the state. Personality traits are very important. Maturity, good judgment, trustworthiness, honesty, and enthusiasm for the job are required to attract customers in this highly competitive field. Brokers should be well organized, be detail oriented, and have a good memory for names, faces, and business particulars. A good knowledge of the local area and its neighborhoods is a clear advantage.

The broker’s job is sensitive to swings in the economy, as well as interest rates. During periods of declining economic activity or rising interest rates, the volume of sales and the resulting demand fall. Most beginners also face competition from well-established and more experienced brokers. Although the hours are long and frequently irregular, most agents and brokers have the freedom to determine their own schedule, if not necessarily guaranteed financial security.

Photo by Irish TypePad

8. Air traffic controller

Average salary: $139,300

Responsibilities: By far the most lucrative of all the well paying jobs in this list, the air traffic controller’s duty is to maintain a safe and orderly flow of air traffic. They relay altitude, course, and timing information and determine the schedule to prevent traffic buildup on airport runways.

Experience and training: While a college degree is not required, many controllers learn their skills in the military or in related areas of aviation management and work their way into air traffic control as a career move. Nowadays, they are mostly required to complete a training through the FAA’s aviation related program.

Qualifications: Air controllers need to be very articulate to give directions clearly. They require an excellent memory, decisiveness, and concentration. They might enjoy financial security and a chance at early retirement, but they are often subject to high mental stress.

9. Elevator repairer

Average salary: $67,600

Responsibilities: Elevator repairers fix and maintain elevators, escalators, and dumbwaiters to meet safety regulations and building codes.

Experience and training: All the skills are learned from on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs. A high school diploma isn’t even required, but classes in math and science would help when competing for apprenticeship programs.

Qualifications: Good knowledge of electronics, electricity, and mechanical skills as well as good physical condition are important. Repairers carry heavy equipment, work in cramped spaces, and are subject to potential hazards like falls or electrical shocks. However, they are less affected by seasonality and downturns in the economy because much of the work involves maintenance and repair.

10. Web surfer

Average salary: $86,200

Responsibilities: Often working as freelancers, Web surfers are hired by companies to visit websites, collect specific data, and analyze and compare information to help understand online user behavior.

Experience and training: No experience or specific training is required.

Qualifications: Web surfers are required to have self-discipline, a keen eye for details, a logical mind, and good memory. Those who freelance generally work on a contract or job basis. They have to frequently adjust their workday to suit their clients’ schedules and deadlines. Web surfers often work under pressure to please existing clients and have to be proactive to find new ones to maintain a steady income and financial security.

Do you know of other well paying jobs that don’t require a college degree? Share them in the comments.

* This post was originally published on May 11, 2011.

Career Advice


About The Author

Daniel Nahabedian

Daniel left behind his cubicle in 2009 to start a RTW journey & follow his true passion: photography. He is currently settling down in Thailand to work on his Travel Photo Blog Canvas of Light & become a full time freelance Travel Photographer.

  • Amiee

    Hmmm so how do I get one of those web surfing jobs :)

    • Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström

      Ha! Was thinking the same thing Amiee ;)

  • Saber

    I think the best job is Freelancer^^

  • R

    It would be great if the author did not use sexist language. It is important to acknowledge that women can in fact manage casinos or captain a ship.

    Just Saying.

    • Lelouchvii

      Oh grow up!

    • Chris Heffner

      Seriously? Get over it. Can you imaging how obnoxious it would be to read articles that used “he and/or she” instead of just “he” or “she” all the time? Who know a simple pronoun usage could set off a feminist nutcase. Get a life.

      • ceph

        Actually i think you’ll find that just by using the word ‘nutcase’ to describe a feminist you clearly have no understanding about any of the issues included within the term and therefore should just hold your tongue until you have a done a little research and can speak like a decent human being.

        • fark

          shaddup you ignorant slut

    • fark


  • P

    It would be great if the commenters did not come to a website about being open-minded just to be offended by a part of speech. It is important to acknowledge that English does not have a singular gender-neutral pronoun and substitutions sound stilted and awkward.

    Just Saying.

    • Laura

      An open-minded person might be able to acknowledge that to some people, sexist pronoun usage is more irritating than that which sounds “stilted and awkward” to some other people. 

      • Alli

        Wow, this is pretentious and sad, and adds nothing to the post. I personally didn’t *need* the help of a pronoun to understand that (obviously) women can manage casinos or captain a ship. I guess there just arn’t enough reasons to bicker like children now-adays, so lets make some up…

      • Sacrifice

        So what you are saying is that the phrase “mankind” implies that women aren’t a part of it?

      • ceph

        thank goodness, someone who at least understand what is being discussed.

    • Saucy britches

      While I agree with what you are saying and the person above should be a little more lenient in grammar(like most people). I do have to differ with you that English does have a singular gender neutral pronoun and the substution does not sound stilted or awkward. The simple change below in caps, is all that was needed to make the statement gender neutral.

      “The casino gaming manager plans, organizes, coordinates and controls all gaming operations in the casino. THEY ARE responsible for setting policies, resolving complaints with unhappy guests and controlling the food & beverage servings.”

      • Copy editor

        The pronoun “they” is not singular; it’s plural. Since the subject is singular, the use of “they” would be grammatically incorrect. The way to resolve it without using “he/she” is to change the singular subject to a plural one (i.e., casino gaming managers); however, this may imply that more than one gaming manager can be hired for a single casino, which may not be accurate. Another way to resolve it is to avoid the use of pronouns (e.g., the manager is responsible…), but this does make the text sound stilted and redundant.

        My problem with this article is that it’s filled with references to freelancers. It’s pretty obvious that you don’t need a college degree to employ yourself. The listed jobs treat training and licensing as separate from the hiring process, so it doesn’t even matter what job you’re doing (as a self-employed consultant/contractor) as long as you can get the necessary training and license.

  • Frances

    I wish I had read this list four years ago XD.

  • Shona

    Just a side note, you have to be 30 or younger to go for an air traffic controller job (or at least get your training done).

  • Women158

    i can guarantee you Illustrators earn nothing near that. Unless you where inhouse at Pixar or something astounding like that. I’ve worked freelance for 8 years and know most of the UK’s upcoming and established Illustrators and making rent and paying bills etc is usually a hard task. I have worked with massive companies and you still dont earn much, plus it is a very unsecure job where you may not have ANY work for months on end. Dont think it’s an easy job that pays well the opposite is true.

  • Hugh Kimura

    I would say a college education actually gets in the way of making a good living. 

    • Chris Heffner

      Then you’re getting the wrong degree.

  • Shawnaross

    It been a really hard to find a good job because it required collage and lots of training. And this can really help me find a good job with no collage and withess experiance. Shawna Ross

    • Guest

      It’s been really hard to find a good job, because it requires college and lots of training. This could really help me find a good job with no college and worthless(?) experience. 

      I hope you aren’t serious….you really need a grammar/spelling check

  • Gjsimtitu

    Thanks Nahabedian for allerting us. With me I am gratefull that you inform us in many things. Now i need your assistance on how to get the HOME AIDE JOB since I feel like working in that field very soon as I get to know how. Keep on the good working spirit.

  • Tedidit

    Show me an illustrator that can make 60k. the creative market is so saturated with inexperience, 12 to 15 per hour is beyond commonplace

  • AveragePerson

    It was not until later in life that I appreciated the phrase “some people are too smart for their own good.”

  • WebKit

    I don’t see any job openings or job boards for web surfers. But is there really such a thing as web surfers?

  • FeZzy_RoblezZ

    how can i get a good paying job im only 16

    • FeZzy_RoblezZ

      im also a DJ by the way

      • ???????

        ey calle se!!!!

  • William

    Go invent something or be a Freight Broker!!!

  • Eduardo Villarreal58

    this are the jobs people dont wanna do!

  • playa

    for the air traffick controller what subjects or thing’s like that would you need to take or who would teach you all this information if u didn’t got to university or tafe………………..?

    very much thanks to anyone who replies ;) thankyou all

  • Insanitypresides

    I was looking for comments that approved the validity of this article not stupid grammar mistakes.

  • masterthesimulation

    Web Surfer is a terrific job. Get paid to go from page to page? Sounds good to me!

    • Aaron Lucas

      Heck, I’m already doing it for free. lol

  • Ryguy

    your all fucking annoying while you sit there trying to sound smart at someone else’s expense

  • Sitapriya

    How many of the jobs listed above could one get with no experience? Admittedly, those who get college degrees study for 4 years. Is it likely that after four years of internship or work that one could work their way into the kinds of jobs in this article?

  • Williamsam

    superb article dude ! i ll help lots of people who don’t have degrees but on their mind :)

  • kamlesh soni

    dear sir
    my name is kamlesh soni from india
    sir i have not a degree  i can do it in your any hard working
    so plese sand me e mail

  • Codybob78

    u guys are fucking idiots, hb yall just give imput on the jobs above and not give me a gramar lesson 

  • Resultstime

    Casino Gaming Manager and Web surfer is the best one.

  • James Pie

    10 well paying jobs that DON’T require a college degree its good.

  • Megsie Moo

    Mee too!

  • Catharine Chong

    Lisa Chong Check out #8!

  • Shiann P. Robinson


  • Tiziana Cacciola

    nice article!

  • Anonymous

    I am looking for a young girl/guy couple (18 to 25, girl must be slim) to perform on webcam for me. Must be willing to perform a rough and kinky show. Will pay very well. Send me a message at or drop a message on here, if you can send a clothed photo and your level of willingness and we’ll go from there. Serious responses only. Must have high quality webcam and take directions well. Btw, I’m a 28 yr old guy. Starts at $200 but can pay much more depending on how kinky you are able to get.

  • Josh Citizen Carter

    this is very educative.thanks a lot.

  • Jaydee Gotitmade Hutchinson

    this is ummm not good.

  • pramod

    iam in need of job plz help me


    hongkongese are poo.

  • CDL ?

    Cdl class A u average 45 to 50k a year starting and u travel the nation or stay local and work for a waste service company local like republic services get pay 18 an hr after 3 years get top scale 29 an hr to get your cdl it cost 3000 average if you go to full time schooling I take a month to 1 1/2 months cops get pay about the same longer training and don’t get hired right away long list


    Paki power!

  • Jamie

    I wish you would’ve been my Business Communications professor, because she took points off my grade every single time I used “they” as a singular subject. It just sounded right to me then, and still does now, which is why I refused to change and just took the points hit. Still made an A:)

Yes, you can be successful with a literary background.
If you're looking for a job surely you'll recognize at least a few of these feelings...
Nick Rowlands wanders into an employment agency woefully unprepared.
Nobody knows exactly what they want to do when they’re eighteen years old. It’s...
Are you a sucker? April Norhanian challenges your beliefs about the value of higher...
The idea of skipping college altogether is still highly controversial.
Don't forget to breathe, and other tips for a healthier workplace.
Public Relations specialist Ann Quasarano lays out ten simple PR strategies.
Sometimes it just takes awhile to figure stuff out.
Lisa Rogak explains why she loves driving a hearse, and how to go about buying one...
One in four young professionals think working for Google is their dream job.