Over the course of a lifetime, those with a bachelor's degree will earn over a million dollars more than those with a high school diploma, according the Bureau of Labor Statistic's "Occupational Outlook Quarterly". However, this doesn't mean that those without a degree can't find a high-paying job. There are a number of fields that offer high-paying employment opportunities for people without a college degree.
The wages earned by plumbers, carpenters, masons and others working in various related trades are often above the national average. While some of these positions require training above the high school level, the length and cost of training is less than that of attaining a bachelor's degree. In fact, many people in these positions learn their skills through on-the-job training. If you begin as an apprentice with a large employer or labor union, it's possible to develop a well-paying career.
The demand for skilled auto repair technicians and mechanics is higher in most areas than the number of available workers. This means that employers must pay well to attract qualified employees. Auto repair technicians and mechanics can learn the skills needed for the position through on-the-job training, or through courses taken at trade schools or community colleges. Many employers in this field provide ongoing auto repair training to their employees.
In many industries, employers hire managers from within the company. This means that a worker may start in an entry-level position that doesn't require a degree, such as a cashier, and work up through the organization. This is a common practice at many retailers, manufacturers, financial institutions and service professions. Some employers will also pay for a promising employee to attend school to build the skills needed for advancement within the organization. The manufacturing and construction fields are two especially high-paying areas for managers.
Most sales positions pay employees on commission -- or, based on a percentage of the sales that the employee generates. This means that successful salespeople can generate a high income. The ability to sell products is also easily transferable between many industries. For many employers, a prospective salesperson with a successful record is more attractive than a prospective salesperson with a high level of education and no experience. Industries where sales professionals can make a high income include real estate, insurance and medical instruments.
- "Occupational Outlook Quarterly"; Job Outlook By Education: Measuring Demand For High School and College Graduates; Winter 2004-5
- "Forbes"; Great Six-Figure Jobs You Don't Need A Degree For; Matthew Kirdahy; November 5, 2007
- "Occupational Outlook Quarterly"; More Education Means Higher Earnings -- For Life; Fall 2002
- Aol Jobs; 25 Highest Paying Jobs -- No Bachelor's Degree Required; Anthony Balderrama; June 26, 2009
- Career Builder; 20 Big-Salary Jobs, No Degree Required; Rachel Zupek; March 4, 2009
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