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The 40 highest-paying jobs you can get without a bachelor's degree

nuclear technician
  • Not all jobs require a four-year college degree or higher to earn a large salary.
  • We found the highest-paying jobs where the typical education requirement is not a bachelor's or graduate degree. 
  • On the top of the list was air traffic controllers who made a median annual salary of $122,990 in May 2019.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Don't have the time or money to get a bachelor's degree?
Don't fret.
There are plenty of high-paying jobs that require only a two-year associate degree, postsecondary nondegree certificate, or even just a high-school diploma — and a few that don't require a formal educational credential at all.
Business Insider decided to look at which jobs do not require a bachelor's degree or higher and are also high-paying. To do this, we used the latest educational data and salary figures from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Of the top 40 jobs on our list, each occupation had a median annual salary of at least $63,000 in May 2019, the latest year of available data.
Some occupations from the 40 highest-paying are part of the transportation sector. This includes railroad conductors and locomotive engineers. Other jobs also include technicians and repairers, such as avionics technicians and electrical power-line installers and repairers.
The following are the 40 highest-paying jobs where you don't need a four-year degree to pursue, along with their minimum educational requirement, work experience, and on-the-job training. We also included median annual salary and employment figures from May 2019, employment projections for 2018 to 2028, and their job description from BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook.
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40. Computer network support specialists



They perform network maintenance to ensure networks operate correctly with minimal interruption.
Median annual wage in 2019: $63,460
Number of people employed in 2019: 185,430
Education required: Associate's degree
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 17,400
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: None



39. First-line supervisors of correctional officers



They directly supervise and coordinate activities of correctional officers and jailers.
Median annual wage in 2019: $63,730
Number of people employed in 2019: 46,430
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 2,800
Work experience: Less than 5 years
On-the-job training: None



38. Aircraft mechanics and service technicians



They repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft.
Median annual wage in 2019: $64,090
Number of people employed in 2019: 133,310
Education required: Postsecondary nondegree award
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 11,800
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: None



37. All other artists and related workers



They use a variety of materials and techniques to create art for sale and exhibition.
Median annual wage in 2019: $64,490
Number of people employed in 2019: 7,550
Education required: No formal educational credential
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 1,300
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training



36. Wood patternmakers



Plan, lay out, and construct wooden unit or sectional patterns used in forming sand molds for castings.
Median annual wage in 2019: $64,880
Number of people employed in 2019: 370
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 200
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: N/A



35. Avionics technicians



Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft.
Median annual wage in 2019: $65,700
Number of people employed in 2019: 21,750
Education required: Associate's degree
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 1,500
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: None



34. Railroad conductors and yardmasters



They coordinate activities of switch-engine crew within railroad yard, industrial plant, or similar location.
Median annual wage in 2019: $65,990
Number of people employed in 2019: 45,710
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 3,700
Work experience: N/A
On-the-job training: N/A



33. Gas compressor and gas pumping station operators



They operate steam, gas, electric motor, or internal combustion engine driven compressors.
Median annual wage in 2019: $66,160
Number of people employed in 2019: 3,440
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 400
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



32. First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers



They directly supervise and coordinate activities of construction or extraction workers.
Median annual wage in 2019: $62,980
Number of people employed in 2019: 626,180
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 79,400
Work experience: Five years or more
On-the-job training: None



31. Claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators



They review settled claims to determine that payments and settlements are made in accordance with company practices and procedures.
Median annual wage in 2019: $66,790
Number of people employed in 2019: 287,960
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 25,800
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training



30. Locomotive engineers



They drive electric, diesel-electric, steam, or gas-turbine-electric locomotives to transport passengers or freight.
Median annual wage in 2019: $67,090
Number of people employed in 2019: 35,520
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 2,900
Work experience: Usually first work as a conductor for several years
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



29. First-line supervisors of mechanics, installers, and repairers



They directly supervise and coordinate the activities of mechanics, installers, and repairers.
Median annual wage in 2019: $67,460
Number of people employed in 2019: 485,700
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 47,500
Work experience: Less than five years
On-the-job training: None



28. Subway and streetcar operators



They operate subway or elevated suburban trains with no separate locomotive, or electric-powered streetcar, to transport passengers.
Median annual wage in 2019: $67,880
Number of people employed in 2019: 10,730
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 1,000
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



27. Gas plant operators



They distribute or process gas for utility companies and others by controlling compressors to maintain specified pressures on main pipelines.
Median annual wage in 2019: $70,710
Number of people employed in 2019: 14,410
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 1,500
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training



26. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers



They plan, direct, or coordinate the management or operation of farms, ranches, greenhouses, aquacultural operations, nurseries, timber tracts, or other agricultural establishments.
Median annual wage in 2019: $71,160
Number of people employed in 2019: 5,060
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 95,600
Work experience: Five years or more
On-the-job training: None



25. Transit and railroad police



They protect and police railroad and transit property, employees, or passengers.
Median annual wage in 2019: $71,820
Number of people employed in 2019: 4,690
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 300
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



24. Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels



They command or supervise operations of ships and water vessels, such as tugboats and ferryboats.
Median annual wage in 2019: $72,340
Number of people employed in 2019: 33,370
Education required: Postsecondary nondegree award
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 3,600
Work experience: Less than five years
On-the-job training: None



23. Electrical power-line installers and repairers



They install or repair cables or wires used in electrical power or distribution systems.
Median annual wage in 2019: $72,520
Number of people employed in 2019: 111,660
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 11,400
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training



22. Magnetic resonance imaging technologists



They monitor patient safety and comfort and view images of area being scanned to ensure quality of pictures.
Median annual wage in 2019: $73,410
Number of people employed in 2019: 37,900
Education required: Associate's degree
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 2,700
Work experience: Less than five years
On-the-job training: None



21. Signal and track switch repairers



They install, inspect, test, maintain, or repair electric gate crossings, signals, signal equipment, track switches, section lines, or intercommunication systems within a railroad system.
Median annual wage in 2019: $73,890
Number of people employed in 2019: 6,860
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 900
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



20. Petroleum pump system operators, refinery operators, and gaugers



They operate or control petroleum refining or processing units.
Median annual wage in 2019: $74,180
Number of people employed in 2019: 40,370
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 4,300
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



19. Diagnostic medical sonographers



They use special imaging equipment that directs sound waves into a patient's body to assess and diagnose various medical conditions.
Median annual wage in 2019: $74,320
Number of people employed in 2019: 72,790
Education required: Associate's degree
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 5,800
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: None



18. Ship engineers



They supervise and coordinate activities of crew engaged in operating and maintaining engines, boilers, deck machinery, and electrical, sanitary, and refrigeration equipment aboard ship.
Median annual wage in 2019: $74,610
Number of people employed in 2019: 8,410
Education required: Postsecondary nondegree award
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 1,100
Work experience: Less than five years
On-the-job training: None



17. First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers



They directly supervise and coordinate activities of sales workers other than retail sales workers.
Median annual wage in 2019: $74,760
Number of people employed in 2019: 249,090
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 37,000
Work experience: Less than five years
On-the-job training: None



16. Theatrical and performance makeup artists



They apply makeup to performers to reflect period, setting, and situation of their role.
Median annual wage in 2019: $75,730
Number of people employed in 2019: 3,400
Education required: Postsecondary nondegree award
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 600
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



15. Transportation inspectors



They inspect equipment or goods in connection with the safe transport of cargo or people.
Median annual wage in 2019: $75,820
Number of people employed in 2019: 30,020
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 3,300
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



14. Dental hygienists



They clean teeth, examine patients for oral diseases like gingivitis, and provide other preventative dental care.
Median annual wage in 2019: $76,220
Number of people employed in 2019: 221,560
Education required: Associate's degree
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 17,900
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: None



13. Postmasters and mail superintendents



They plan, direct, or coordinate operational, administrative, management, and supportive services of a US post office, or coordinate activities of workers engaged in postal and related work in assigned post office.
Median annual wage in 2019: $76,900
Number of people employed in 2019: 13,850
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 500
Work experience: Less than five years
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



12. Nuclear medicine technologists



They use a scanner to create images of various areas of a patient's body. They prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to patients undergoing the scans.
Median annual wage in 2019: $77,950
Number of people employed in 2019: 18,110
Education required: Associate's degree
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 1,200
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: None



11. Power plant operators



They control, operate, or maintain machinery to generate electric power. Includes auxiliary equipment operators.
Median annual wage in 2019: $81,990
Number of people employed in 2019: 33,620
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 3,000
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training



10. Nuclear technicians



They assist physicists, engineers, and other professionals in nuclear research and nuclear production.
Median annual wage in 2019: $82,080
Number of people employed in 2019: 6,420
Education required: Associate's degree
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 900
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



9. Powerhouse, substation, and relay electrical and electronics repairers



They inspect, test, repair, or maintain electrical equipment in generating stations, substations, and in-service relays.
Median annual wage in 2019: $82,780
Number of people employed in 2019: 22,650
Education required: Postsecondary nondegree award
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 2,100
Work experience: Less than five years
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



8. Detectives and criminal investigators



They conduct investigations related to suspected violations of federal, state, or local laws to prevent or solve crimes.
Median annual wage in 2019: $83,170
Number of people employed in 2019: 105,620
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 7,500
Work experience: Less than five years
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



7. Radiation therapists



They check equipment, observe patients' reactions to treatment, and document sessions.
Median annual wage in 2019: $85,560
Number of people employed in 2019: 17,860
Education required: Associate's degree
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 1,100
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: None



6. Commercial pilots



They pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing aircraft on nonscheduled air-carrier routes, or helicopters. Requires commercial-pilot certificate.
Median annual wage in 2019: $86,080
Number of people employed in 2019: 37,830
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 4,600
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



5. Power distributors and dispatchers



They coordinate, regulate, or distribute electricity or steam.
Median annual wage in 2019: $90,700
Number of people employed in 2019: 10,770
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 1,000
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training



4. First-line supervisors of police and detectives



They directly supervise and coordinate activities of members of a police force.
Median annual wage in 2019: $91,090
Number of people employed in 2019: 121,340
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 8,300
Work experience: Less than five years
On-the-job training: Moderate-term on-the-job training



3. Transportation, storage, and distribution managers



They coordinate transportation, storage, or distribution activities in accordance with organizational policies and applicable government laws or regulations.
Median annual wage in 2019: $94,560
Number of people employed in 2019: 132,040
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 11,400
Work experience: Five years or more
On-the-job training: None



2. Nuclear power reactor operators



They operate or control nuclear reactors, move control rods, start and stop equipment, monitor and adjust controls, record data in logs, and implement emergency procedures when needed.
Median annual wage in 2019: $100,530
Employment in 2019: 5,050
Education required: High-school diploma or equivalent
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 500
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training



1. Air traffic controllers



They monitor and direct the movement of aircraft. Median annual wages of air-traffic controllers are the highest of any occupation in which workers typically do not need a bachelor's degree.
Median annual wage in 2019: $122,990
Number of people employed in 2019: 22,090
Education required: Associate's degree
Projected average annual openings from 2018-2028: 2,300
Work experience: None
On-the-job training: Long-term on-the-job training





* This article was originally published here 
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