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21 Great Job Choices That Don’t Require Going Back to School

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Despite dedicating considerable time and resources to obtaining a degree, many find themselves discontent with their chosen career path or discouraged by limited financial opportunities in their field—a situation that is regrettably common.

After putting so much effort and money into a certain career choice, people often feel stuck and unable to pivot. However, going to a job you hate daily isn’t doing anyone any favors. Thankfully, there are more options that you may realize.

Whether you’ve just graduated from high school or have been working for 25 years, if you’re looking for a unique and fulfilling job, consider these 21 fun jobs that pay well (or decently, at least) without needing a new degree.

1. Hairstylist

Hairstylist fixing woman's hair
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Stylists and barbers offer various services, from cutting hair to coloring and styling. You’ll need a license to practice, but most don’t require a college degree. Plus, you can make decent money with tips and commissions. Additionally, some evidence shows that hair stylists are some of the least likely to burn out, probably because they set their own hours.

Annual salary: Around $27,000 per year (according to salary.com), which is quite low considering the current cost of living. Yet, those who work in this field seem to be quite happy and fulfilled thanks to being their own boss.

2. Jeweler

Jeweler working in workshop
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Jewelers create jewelry designs with precious metals and gemstones. Most have a strong artistic vision and excellent hand-eye coordination.

While there are certification courses you can take to learn the basics, this is another career that doesn’t typically require a college degree. People love this career choice and are less likely to get burned out.

Annual salary: $43,000 per year.

3. Personal trainer

Personal trainer helping woman at gym
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Personal trainers help people reach their fitness goals. They create customized workout plans and offer advice on lifestyle changes. To become a personal trainer, you must get certified (taking a few months rather than years).

This is a great career choice for anyone who wants to be geared toward health without needing a degree.

Annual salary: $65,000 per year.

4. Sleep consultant

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Sleep consultants help people get better sleep, with many specializing in pediatric sleep (because kids and sleep can be a disaster). They can advise on lifestyle changes, like adhering to a strict sleep schedule and avoiding blue light before bedtime.

You don’t need a degree to become a sleep consultant; however, specialized training and certification are recommended.

Annual salary: $65,000.

5. Health coach

Personal trainer with woman in fitness studio
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Health coaches help people make healthy changes in their lives, from eating healthier to exercising more. You don’t need a degree to become a health coach, but you should understand nutrition and exercise principles.

Great certification programs can boost success rates in various niches, such as general health, weight loss, nutrition, and more.

Annual salary: $63,000 per year.

6. Freelance writer

An attractive middle aged woman using her laptop while relaxing at home
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Freelance writing is an excellent way to make money without a degree (my personal favorite). You can write on any topic you choose, from sports to finance to health and fitness.

The great thing about freelance writing is that it’s flexible. You can work whenever you want, and you don’t have to worry about commuting or dealing with office politics.

Annual salary: $60,000 per year.

7. Audiology technician

woman with doctor
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com.

This job involves testing hearing and assisting people when using hearing aid technologies. You don’t need a degree to become an audiology technician, but you do need specialized training.

Annual salary: $75,000 for an audiology technician.

8. Pet sitter

Professional man dog walker or pet sitter walking a pack of cute different breed
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Pet sitting is a great job for animal lovers who want to start their own businesses. It can involve anything from walking dogs to visiting cats and other animals while their owners are away.

You don’t need a degree or certification, but you should have some experience with pets and pet sitting. Plus, it’s always helpful to be insured and bonded.

Average salary: $30,00 per year.

9. Doula

Doula massaging pregnant woman at home
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Doulas are professional birth attendants who provide emotional and physical support to mothers during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum. You don’t need a college degree, but you do need specialized training and certification.

This is a very fulfilling career choice as long as you don’t mind the odd hours that come with labor.

Average salary: $30,000 per year.

10. Real estate agent

Real estate agent and young couple making business deals
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Real estate agents are responsible for helping people buy and sell property. You don’t need a degree but must pass a licensing exam to become an agent.

Like many jobs, the income opportunities depend on your client base, availability, and where you live. With the right hustle, it can be quite lucrative.

Average salary: Over $90,000 per year.

11. Trade Jobs

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Many great hands-on jobs require on-the-job training (or sometimes vocational school) and pay exceptionally well. Examples include plumbing, electrical work, and various repair specialties. This allows you to find a niche you enjoy.

Annual salary: This will vary widely with each niche but generally range from $60,000 to $100,000 to start.

12. Welder

Welder in mask using torch to cut iron at his workplace in workshop
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Welding is another great trade option, especially for anyone who likes to work with their hands and fire. Welding involves joining metals by applying heat and using various techniques.

Specialized welding, such as for oil rigs or underwater, can offer addition income and perks as well.

Annual Salary: $30,000 – $65,000+

13. Carpenter

handsome man carpenter
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

This is yet another trade with which you can use your hands. Carpenters are building and repairing structures made of wood or related materials.

You can open a custom studio or work at a repair shop, depending on your client base and experience level.

Annual Salary: $30,000 – $70,000+

14. HVAC Technician

Repairman repairing ceiling air conditioning unit
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

HVAC technicians are in high demand. It seems like someone’s heating or cooling system is broken.

This career involves installing and maintaining heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems—for a company or yourself as a small business owner.

Annual Salary: $40,000 – $80,000+

15. Graphic Designer

Man Graphic Designer
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

With the rise of AI graphic design, this can be a difficult field to enter—but it isn’t impossible. Offering unique and personalized designs for companies can give you the upper hand.

Graphic designers make visual designs for print and digital platforms, including logos, flyers, newsletters, ebook formatting, and more.

Annual Salary: $35,000 – $70,000+

16. Medical Coder

Woman medical coder
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The need for healthcare is always on the rise. The people in the background helping doctors, hospitals, and clinics get paid are an integral part. Coders ensure that insurance companies are billed correctly to maximize reimbursement potential.

You can learn to assign codes to diagnoses and procedures for billing and record-keeping in healthcare on the job or with specialized certification training.

Annual Salary: $35,000 – $65,000+

17. Insurance agent

Old woman and man talking to attorney
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

An insurance agent is primarily responsible for selling and negotiating various types of insurance policies to meet clients’ specific needs- from individuals to businesses.

They assess clients’ coverage requirements, recommend suitable and affordable policies from insurance carriers they represent, and assist clients in understanding their insurance options. They can also act as intermediaries when making a claim or upgrading their plans.

Annual salary: From around $50,000 to $80,000 or more, depending on experience and location.

18. Commercial Truck Driving

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Truck drivers transport goods over long distances, ensuring timely delivery and adherence to safety regulations. They play a crucial role in the logistics industry by navigating various routes, managing cargo, and maintaining their vehicles to uphold the efficiency of supply chains.

Annual salary: Starting at $50k, leading potentially to 6 figures with experience and specific routes.

19. Administrative Assistant

Woman wearing business suit working on laptop computer at office
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An administrative assistant supports office staff, managers, and executives by performing various clerical and administrative tasks. If you want total flexibility, you can also work online as a virtual assistant, vastly opening the opportunity for a big client base.

Annual salary: Starting at $50k, depending on location and experience.

20. Social Media Manager

Young woman working with laptop at desk in work from home
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A social media manager is responsible for creating and managing an organization’s online presence on social media platforms. This is a competitive and lucrative job in a world where everyone is fighting for marketing space on social media.

You can simply work behind the scenes with other companies. Or, if you have a large following yourself, you can use this to leverage affiliates and other marketing techniques with companies.

Annual salary: $50,000 to $70,000, varying widely based on the company and location.

21. Delivery Truck Driver

Delivery driver man with clipboard in delivery service van
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Delivery truck drivers transport goods and products over shorter distances, often for local delivery services. Companies like UPS, FedEx, and Amazon are always looking for drivers.

Annual salary: Varies, but it’s typically in the range of $30,000 to $45,000, depending on the employer and location. UPS drivers are particularly known for making good money thanks to their union regulations.

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