7 High Paying Trade Jobs. P.S. No Degree Needed

While college is definitely necessary for a number of careers out there, not every job requires a degree. Many will hire individuals straight out of high school or trade school. And many of them pay well, too! Here are just seven examples of high paying trade jobs where you don’t need a degree.


1. Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers

  • Percentage with a High School Diploma: 41.7%
  • Median Pay: $97,860
  • Expected Job Growth between 2018 and 2028: 10%

Elevator and escalator installers and repairers do exactly what the title describes! They are responsible for installing and maintaining elevators and escalators. They can also conduct safety assessments, equipment testing, and more to ensure these m

odes of transportation are working properly and safely.

While a high school diploma is enough to get started in the field, elevator and escalator installers and repairers will have to first complete an apprenticeship. These take about four years to complete. And depending on the state, the individual may also have to have a valid license to work.


2. Electrician

  • Percentage with a High School Diploma: 37.3%
  • Median Pay: $60,040
  • Expected Job Growth between 2018 and 2028: 10%

Electricians are responsible for installing, maintaining, repairing, and diagnosing electrical work. Depending on where they work this can include equipment, service lights, intercoms, and more.

A high school diploma is generally enough to become an apprentice. The apprenticeship itself takes about 4 to 5 years to complete, unless the individual attends trade school. Electricians may also be required to pass a test and have a license to work.

3. Aircraft Mechanic and Service Technicians

  • Percentage with a High School Diploma: 25.9%
  • Median Pay: $65,380
  • Expected Job Growth between 2018 and 2028: 14%

Aircraft mechanics and service technicians diagnose problems, inspect, and maintain aircraft. They need to know how to use equipment to help them diagnose and fix issues.

While a degree isn’t required to become an aircraft mechanic, most do attend trade school and some do at least earn an associate’s degree.

4. Police and Sheriff’s Patrol Officers

  • Percentage with a High School Diploma: 12.4%
  • Median Pay: $64,610
  • Expected Job Growth between 2018 and 2028: 8% 

Police officers work to uphold the law and duties can range from writing speeding tickets to investigating accidents to arresting suspects. After some experience, individuals in this position could be able to become detectives, too.

Education requirements vary quite a bit from state to state and city to city. Some will require you to have a bachelor’s degree, but over 12% have only graduated high school. Over 30% only have some college, but no degree. If you’re curious about becoming a police officer, make sure to do your research into your area’s expectations.


5. Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

  • Percentage with a High School Diploma: 46.7%
  • Median Pay: $59,880
  • Expected Job Growth between 2018 and 2028: 13% 

Plumbers work to repair pipes, plumbing systems, and sprinklers in homes as well as businesses. They can assist with leaks, maintenance, and installation. Some also work with HVAC systems and water heaters. 

Nearly half of those in plumbing have no college experience and about 25% have some college experience but no degree. Depending on the state however, you may be required to get a plumbing license. Every state has different requirements as well as fees and forms.

6. Mobile Heavy Equipment Mechanics 

  • Percentage with a High School Diploma: 47.3%
  • Median Pay: $58,030
  • Expected Job Growth between 2018 and 2028: 1.8%

Heavy equipment mechanics are responsible for diagnosing and repairing equipment used in construction, mining, logging, farming, and other similar industries. The equipment can include everything from cranes to graders. This position requires individuals who can focus on the details and use computerized diagnosis tools.

There is no set education path to becoming a heavy equipment mechanic. Some positions will simply train you on the job. However, trade schools do often offer classes on the subject which could help you enter these high paying trade jobs.

7. Construction and Building Inspectors

  • Percentage with a High School Diploma: 26.4%
  • Median Pay: $61,640
  • Expected Job Growth between 2018 and 2028: 10%

Those in construction and building inspection work to make sure projects and existing builds are up to code and meeting regulations. Everything from bridges to HVAC can be inspected and reported upon. They will also issue notices for problems and could have a hand in approving or denying construction projects. Construction and building inspectors will focus generally on specific areas – some may inspect homes, for example, while others will work for the government to check corporations.

Trade programs generally cover everything construction and building inspectors need to learn for their career. Licenses, certifications, and other documentation may be needed to work in this field, though, and the requirements vary from state to state. And while you don’t necessarily need college to enter this career, you may want to think about returning to school at a later date to go after promotions.

These are just 7 examples of high paying trade jobs that don’t require any college. While there are plenty of careers you can enter straight out of high school, further opportunities such as promotions, including in these fields, may only be reachable if you do go to college. It’s important to research job outlooks, promotion requirements, and more to understand what will be required of you, especially after you get some experience under your belt!

Are you curious about other jobs that only require a high school diploma? Or maybe you want to learn about promotion opportunities? Use our Career Finder to uncover the facts about positions including responsibilities, job outlook, median salaries, and more.