10 High-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a College Degree

Are you seeking a high-paying job, but don't want to invest in a four-year or graduate degree? You don't need to have a college degree to get a good job. There is a new kind of job that emphasizes skills over education and work experience.

“New-collar jobs,” also known as “middle-skill jobs,” are those that require certain hard skills, but do not necessarily require a four-year college degree (or an extensive work history). Often, employees can get the skills they need for the job through vocational training, a certificate program, an apprenticeship, or a two-year degree program.

These skill-based jobs can be found in a variety of industries. They are particularly common in service, healthcare, information technology (IT), and manufacturing.

Hospitals, state governments, schools, manufacturers, IT companies, and other organizations have begun to search for employees with the right skills, rather than the right degree. Some companies even offer paid training programs for job candidates, which are similar to apprenticeships.

Here is a list of 10 of the top new-collar jobs. These are jobs that do not require a four-year degree, offer good salaries, and are in high demand. Read the descriptions of each job, as well as a list of more opportunities, and see which new-collar job is right for you.

Computer Security Analyst

Two men working on computer
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A computer security analyst (also known as an information security analyst) helps protect an organization’s computer networks and systems.

Some employers want analysts with a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field, and sometimes they even want candidates with a master’s degree in information systems. However, some companies are emphasizing skills in computer science, programming, and IT security over a specific degree.

This job is experiencing a much faster than average (32%) growth rate. A computer security analyst earns an average of $99,730 (2019), according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Database Manager

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A database manager (also known as a database administrator) is someone who stores and organizes data using specialized software. He or she makes sure that data is secure and available to the people who need access to it. Database managers can work in almost any industry, but they typically work for companies in computer systems design and support.

While some database manager jobs require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in management information systems, some employers look for database managers who simply have strong knowledge of database languages, such as Structures Query Language (SQL).

This job is experiencing a faster than average growth rate, with the average salary at $93,750 (2019) per year, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Computer Programmer

Young computer programmer taking a coffee break in the office.
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Computer programmers create, write, and test code that allows computer programs and applications to function. They typically need to know a variety of computer languages, including Java and C++. They might work for a computer systems design company, or they could work for software publishers or financial companies, among others. Because this work is done on the computer, many programmers telecommute, which allows for flexibility.

While many computer programmers do have a bachelor’s degree, some only need an associate degree, or extensive experience in coding. Programmers can also become certified in specific programming languages, so these certificates can also help a job candidate get hired. Another option is to get the skills you need to get hired by attending a bootcamp.

The median pay for a computer programmer is $86,550 (2019), according to the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Network and Computer Systems Administrator

Computer workers
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Network and computer systems administrators install and operate computer systems for companies. Because almost every industry has network and computer systems, these administrators work in every field, from IT to finance to education.

While some network and computer systems administrator jobs require a bachelor’s degree, more and more job openings require only a postsecondary certificate and strong computer skills.

The average salary for this position is $83,510 (2019) per year, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

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Also known as an ultrasound technician, a diagnostic medical sonographer works under the direction of a physician to produce ultrasound images for patients. Medical sonographers work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, medical centers, and laboratories.

While some people have a bachelor’s degree in sonography, there are also associate degrees and one-year certificate programs.

This job is experiencing much faster than average (14%) job growth. Medical sonographers earn, on average, $68,750 (2019) per year, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Radiologic Technician

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Also known as radiographers, radiologic technicians perform X-rays and other diagnostic imaging on patients. They work under physicians, taking images requested by physicians, and helping physicians evaluate images. They work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, laboratories, and outpatient care centers.

Most radiologic technicians have an associate degree in MRI or radiologic technology. These programs typically take 18 months to two years to complete. There are also certificate programs that take one to two years.

This job is experiencing faster than average job growth. Radiologic technicians earn, on average, $62,280 (2019) per year, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Service Delivery Analyst

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A service delivery analyst ensures that clients receive high-quality service. He or she analyzes how services are being delivered, and how they can be improved. He or she typically uses software to track the quality and efficiency of the user’s experience. While the requirements of service delivery analyst jobs vary by industry, the analyst generally needs strong computer skills.

Service delivery analyst jobs require experience (generally at least three years) in the industry, as well as knowledge of the service delivery software the company uses (this can sometimes be learned on the job). However, the job generally does not require a four-year degree.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a Service Delivery Analyst is $56,433.

Computer Support Specialist

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A computer support specialist provides help for people and companies with their computer equipment and/or software. They might help IT employees within an organization, or help non-IT users with their computer problems. They help people in person, over the phone, or online.

Computer support specialists generally do not need a college degree. Instead, they need computer knowledge, as well as communication and people skills. Often, they need to have taken a couple of computer or IT courses, or have an associate degree. Some companies require their computer support specialists to go through a certification program.

This job is experiencing a faster than average growth rate. A computer support specialist earns an average of $54,760 (2019) per year, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Tool-and-Die Maker

Skilled machine worker
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Tool-and-die makers are a type of machinist that sets up and operates various mechanically and machine-controlled tools used to produce tools needed for the manufacturing process.

These workers can learn through apprenticeship programs, vocational schools, technical colleges, or through on-the-job training. If the job involves computer-controlled machinery, a tool-and-die maker might need more IT coursework or IT experience.

Tool-and-die maker positions are among the higher paying manufacturing employee positions. The median pay for this position is $45,750 (2019) per year, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy technician helping customer
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pharmacy technician assists pharmacists with dispensing medications to customers and/or health professionals. Most of them work in pharmacies and drug stores, but others work at hospitals or in private practices.

Because most pharmacy technicians learn through on-the-job training, a four-year degree is generally not required. Many vocational/technical schools offer programs in pharmacy technology, some of which award students with a certificate after a year or less.

This job is experiencing a faster than average growth rate, with the average salary at $33,950 (2019) per year, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

More New Collar Jobs

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Below is a list of new-collar jobs, including those described above. The list is organized by industry. Look through the list and see if there is a new-collar job that is right for you.

New-Collar Healthcare Jobs

  • Cardiovascular Technician
  • Cardiovascular Technologist
  • Dental Hygienist
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
  • Medical Records and Health Information Technician
  • Occupational Health/Safety Specialist
  • Occupational Therapy Aide
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Physical Therapy Aide
  • Radiologic Technician
  • Radiologic Technologists
  • Respiratory Therapists
  • Surgical Technologist

New-Collar IT Jobs

  • Business Intelligence Analyst
  • Cloud Administrator
  • Computer Network Architect
  • Computer Programmer
  • Computer Security Analyst
  • Computer Support Specialist
  • Computer Systems Engineer
  • Cybersecurity Architect
  • Database Administrators
  • Information Security Analyst
  • Network Administrator
  • Network Support
  • Service Delivery Analyst
  • Server Technician
  • Software Developer
  • Software Engineer
  • Software Quality Assurance Analyst
  • Software Quality Assurance Tester
  • Systems Support
  • Technical Sales Assistant

New-Collar Manufacturing Jobs

  • Blender/Mixer Operator
  • CAD Drafter
  • Chemical Operator
  • CNC Operator
  • CNC Programmer
  • Computer-Controlled Machine Tool Operator
  • Electrical/Electronics Repairer
  • Electromechanical and Industrial Engineering Technician
  • Grinder/Sharpener
  • Machinist
  • Manufacturing Machine Operator
  • Manufacturing Production Technician
  • Molding/Casting Worker
  • Plant Operator
  • Printing Press Operator
  • Production Supervisor
  • Quality Control Inspector
  • Security Manager
  • Tool-and-Die Maker
  • Warehouse Supervisor
  • Water Treatment Specialist
  • Manufacturing Machine Operator
  • Manufacturing Production Technician
  • Press Brake Operator
  • Water Treatment Specialist
  • Welder/Solderer

Key Takeaways

You Don’t Necessarily Need a Four-Year Degree to Land a High-Paying Job: “New-collar jobs” are those that require certain hard skills, but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree.

Many New-Collar Jobs Require Some Training and Education: Depending on the role, you may need to invest in an associate degree or certification.

Pay and Growth Rates Vary: Research an occupation before committing. Some new-collar jobs offer higher pay and a better occupational outlook than others.

Article Sources

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Information Security Analysts," Accessed May 10, 2020.

  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Database Administrators," Accessed May 10, 2020.

  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Computer Programmers," Accessed May 10, 2020.

  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Network and Computer Systems Administrators," Accessed Dec. 18, 2019.

  5. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Diagnostic Medical Sonographers," Accessed Dec. 18, 2019.

  6. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Radiologic and MRI Technologists," Accessed Dec. 18, 2019.

  7. Glassdoor. "Service Delivery Analyst Salaries." Accessed May 10, 2020.

  8. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Computer Support Specialists," Accessed Dec. 18, 2019.

  9. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Tool-and-Die Makers," Accessed May 10, 2020.

  10. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Pharmacy Technicians," Accessed May 10, 2020.