Have you ever heard the Willie Nelson song, “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys?” The reasons for this are pretty clear. Being a cowboy is a hard job and the pay is poor. The one thing that can be said for it is that you certainly don’t need a college degree to herd cattle. Fortunately, there are jobs that also don’t require a college degree but that pay very well. In fact, you could get most of these jobs with nothing more than a high school diploma
Air Traffic Controller
If you would like to make the maximum amount of money, have only a high school education and can handle stress, you might want to become an air traffic controller (ATC). While many controllers come from a military background, you might be able to snag one of these best paying jobs without it and the median annual wage for an ATC is, are you ready for this, $108,040. That’s more than many college graduates and even college professors earn.
Like air traffic controllers, many commercial airline pilots come from a military background. However, also like ATCs, that’s not necessary. You would need to have non-degree, post-secondary education (think flight school) but once you’re hired you’d be looking at a median annual salary of $92,060.
Administrative Services Manager
This job requires only a high school education or the equivalent and has a median annual salary of $77,890. If you’re wondering what an administrative services manager does it’s plan, direct and coordinate the supportive services of an organization. While the duties of an administrative services manager tend to vary from company to company, they can include keeping records, planning and maintaining facilities and distributing mail. You could get one of these jobs with just a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Nuclear Power Reactor Operator
If you’ve ever watched The Simpsons, you’d know that this is probably what Homer Simpson does although he hardly ever actually works so it’s hard to know for sure. In any event, a Nuclear Power Reactor Operator controls or operates nuclear reactors, which means moving control rods, starting and stopping equipment, monitoring and adjusting controls and recording data in logs. The job’s annual media wage is $75,650 and it requires just a high school degree or equivalent.
Elevator Installer and Repairer
This may not sound like a terribly glamorous job but the pay is pretty sweet as its median annual wage is $70,910. As you might guess this job includes installing, fixing and maintaining escalators, elevators, moving walkways and other lifts. Once again, the only educational requirement for this job is a high school diploma or the equivalent.
Power Distributor and Dispatcher
If you think you’d enjoy controlling the systems that generate and distribute electrical power, you might want to be a power distributor or dispatcher. The median annual salary for this job is $68,900 and it requires just a high school diploma or the equivalent (think GED).
Detective or Criminal Investigator
If you watch any TV at all, you know what a detective or criminal investigator does. But did you know its median annual wage is $68,820? That’s pretty good for a job that theoretically requires just a high school education. However, in real life, you’d have to first be a patrolman and many police officers now actually have college degrees in areas like criminology.
As you might guess, you don’t start as a casino manager. This is a job you’d work up to, maybe beginning as a dealer or croupier. It has a median annual wage of $66, 960, which isn’t a lot when you consider the fact that this job can be very demanding and requires extraordinary customer service skills, the ability to be a leader, an aptitude for math, and the ability to handle a lot of different responsibilities. It does require some college but no degree.
Power Plant Operator
This job means controlling, operating or maintaining the machinery required to generate electrical power. It requires just a high school diploma or equivalent and has a median annual wage of $65,360.
Electrical Powerhouse Repairer
This job consists of testing, repairing or maintaining electrical equipment in substations, generating stations and in-service relays. Its median annual wage is $65.230. While you could get one of these jobs without a college degree you would need a postsecondary non-degree award.
Jobs in healthcare
If none of these jobs appeal to you, consider a career in healthcare. It’s far and away the fastest-growing industry in America, thanks to the baby boomers, many of who are now entering their golden years or those years that require a lot of healthcare. Most healthcare jobs do require either certification or a two-year associate’s degree. Eight of the better-paying of these jobs include:
Cardiovascular technologists and technicians have a mean average wage of $47,000 a year. This job requires two years of training. Cardiovascular techs use imaging technology to help doctors diagnose cardiac (heart) and peripheral vascular problems in patients.
The median average wage for a registered nurse is $67,720. They coordinate and provide patient care and provide emotional support and advice to patients and their family members. To become a registered nurse requires an associate’s degree in nursing, a diploma from an approved nursing program or a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
These therapists work with patients who have a problem breathing because of a chronic respiratory disease such as emphysema or asthma. They also offer emergency care to people who have had a heart attack, stroke, drowned or that have been shocked. The median annual wage for a respiratory therapist is $54,280 per year. This job generally requires at least an associate’s degree but it’s common for respiratory therapists to have both associate’s and bachelor’s degrees.
Physical Therapist Assistant
The median average wage of a physical therapist is $37,710. They work under the direction of physical therapists and help patients who are recovering from illnesses, injuries and surgeries to regain movement and alleviate pain. The job typically requires a high school diploma and on-the-job training.
Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Diagnostic medical sonographers have a median average salary of $64,380. A sonographer uses specialized imaging equipment (commonly called sonogram, ultrasound or echocardiogram) to diagnose and evaluate several types of medical conditions. An associate’s degree is usually required for this job or a postsecondary certificate.
This occupation has a median average wage of $68,250 per year. To become a dental hygienist generally requires an associate’s degree in dental hygiene. Dental hygienists must also be licensed by their states. As you may know, dental hygienists examine patients for oral diseases, clean teeth and provide other preventative dental care
Medical Records and Health Information Technician
These are the people that manage and organize health information data in both paper and electronic systems. In addition, they use various classification systems to categorize and code patient information for reimbursement from the insurance companies. The median annual wage for this job is $32,350. You would typically need a postsecondary certificate to get a job as a medical records and health information technician. You could also have an associate’s degree and many employers require professional certification.
Surgical techs are often called operating room technicians. They assist in surgical operations, arrange equipment, prepare operating rooms and assist doctors and nurses during surgeries. Surgical technicians have a median annual wage of $39,920. An associate’s degree or a post-secondary certificate is generally required for this job.
Median income by state
If you’ve ever wondered about median incomes by state, here’s an infographic that answers this question. As you might guess, the states with the highest median income are pincipally in the northeast while those with the lowest median incomes can be found in the south. So if you live in Mississippi or Arkansas and would like to earn more money, you might consider moving north.