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4 Great Paying Careers that Do Not Require a College Degree

For as long as you can remember, you have been told that in order to get a decent job someday, you have to get a college degree. Maybe your parents gave you this advice or your teachers in school—either way, for years you have assumed that unless you have that piece of paper in your hand that proves you graduated from college, you will be doomed to a low-paying job.

Here is some great news for people who have, for whatever reason, not gone to college: there are a number of jobs that pay very well and do not require a four-year college degree. In many cases, employees can learn the skills they need on the job, or through a certificate program. For example, the following careers pay well and typically require zero college:

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

This job, which is also known as an ultrasound technician, involves working under the direction of a physician to obtain ultrasound images of patients. A common example is working with expectant mothers to get images of their unborn babies through ultrasound. One-year certificate programs are available in this field, which means you do not have to attend four years of college to start working in this career. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical sonographers earn an average of just over $67K a year.


If you have always dreamed of opening your own company, you might have assumed that you need to have an MBA or similar degree. But if you Google “Successful entrepreneurs who didn’t go to college,” you will probably be pleasantly surprised to see a number of very familiar and highly successful people. For instance, Apple mastermind Steve Jobs dropped out of college after one semester, and Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen also did not finish school. Bill Gates, Rachael Ray and Mark Zuckerberg are also extremely accomplished and wealthy entrepreneurial people without a college degree

If you have an idea for a product or service and are not afraid of hard work, you can launch your own company, or you can get your feet wet in the entrepreneurial department by working for an established business. For example, you can become an Independent Business Owner through Amway, and experience the power of direct sales and how you can earn decent money in this field. For people who would like more information about this option, the company created a YouTube video that discusses what the Amway business is about and how to get started.

Postmaster at the Post Office

Postmasters are in charge of the daily operations of the United States Post Office; in addition to hiring and training others, they also manage mail distribution and supervise their team of postal employees. If you like the idea of government work, you will be pleased to know that it is a lucrative position that requires a high school diploma. The annual median wage is close to $75,000 and you will take part in a moderate amount of on-the-job training, according to PayScale.

Cosmetologist or Beautician

If the cosmetology field sounds appealing, you can get started in a well-paying career without a college degree. In most cases, you will need a high school diploma and to complete a state-approved cosmetology training program and also get a license, but you do not need anything close to a four-year university degree. Hard-working beauticians can make a decent salary — many close to $50K a year. Tips can also add another 15 to 20 percent to this amount.

It’s OK if College is Not in the Cards

It is reassuring to know that you can pursue a number of well-paying and fulfilling careers without having to shell out a significant amount of money for a college degree. From being your own boss and working for the government to careers in the medical industry and more, the old advice about needing a college degree to succeed is certainly no longer true.