7 High Paying Jobs Without a Degree

Microsoft’s Bill Gates, Oracle mastermind Larry Ellison and record mogul David Geffen have at least three things in common: unfathomable wealth, world-renowned success, and no student loans. Although these gentlemen make up a very slim percentage of the population, more people in today’s business world, including a growing number of industry leaders, do not have college degrees. While a 4-year degree certainly has its advantages in the job pool, it’s not the only pathway to a successful, and lucrative, career.

Here are 7 of the highest paying jobs with no degree required. These jobs are often commission-based to get the big bucks, but even the base salaries will keep you living comfortably.

Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent does require a broker’s license, but applicants only need a high school diploma to apply. Real estate agents are usually on call and work nights, weekends, and holidays, but the commission for selling a million-dollar dream home is a nice one. And, real estate agents made our happiest jobs in America list! Depending on how hard you work at it, estimated annual incomes range from $20–73k.

Note: The housing market is not what it used to be, and although big home sales do still exist, competition to land these listings is becoming more difficult. Be prepared to have some long stretches in between sales, especially in certain parts of the country.

Executive Assistant

Executive assistants keep executive’s lives running smooth. They play a key role in carrying out the decision-making and policy setting of an executive through communication and procedures. Executive assistants also act as the temple dog; scheduling and monitoring where and with whom an executive spends their time. Although most executive assistants are at the beck and call of their boss, if you get in with the right executive, your job can be well rewarded; it’s been said that Oprah gives bonuses to her executive assistants in the form of new cars and Caribbean vacations. Typically, an executive assistant makes $40–56k a year.


Also known as legal assistants, paralegals do everything a lawyer does, except practice law; i.e. give legal advice to clients or act as counsel in the courtroom. Other than that, paralegals track down all case information and prepare documents for hearings, trials, depositions, etc. Most paralegals work in law firms and are trained in paralegal studies (some certification required). Depending on the law firm, or the case, paralegals have one of the highest ranging salaries; from $26–83k annually.

Sales Manager

Although some sales managers are other managers transferred from internal departments, the majority are born of hardworking, high-quota salespeople who got promoted. Sales managers are responsible for managing the sales floor, setting quotas, developing sales strategies, and are held accountable for profits and losses in their department. Depending on the commission structure of the company, sales managers can do quite well if the team working under them sets, and meets, high quotas. Salaries are high ranging — from $30–86k typically, but sales managers at uber-companies can reach salaries into the millions.

Systems Administrator

All office workers know their company’s system administrator. When computers crash and all hope for the future seems lost, this is the person called upon to produce a miracle. And usually, they do. System administrators are responsible for maintaining a LAN (Local-Area Network), configuring workstations, performing system-wide updates, and fixing email glitches and other system bugs. A strong programming background is required, but a degree is not. Typical annual income: $54–71k.

Social Media Manager

A social media manager manages a company’s social media marketing (SMM)–this refers to boosting website traffic and online exposure through social media sites. Social media managers tend to be comprised of a younger demographic; as millennials are often plucked by companies for their social media skills. If you’re familiar with the workings of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Delicious & Digg, and have some marketing and SEO know-how, this career could be a great fit. Salaries range from $30–87k annually.


A copywriter’s job is a varied one, and can include everything from creating web page content, email campaigns, and blog and social media posts, to more traditional print work such as catalogues, billboards, brochures and magazines — even television scripts. Copywriters can be found at advertising agencies, publishing companies and in broadcast, but are also on the rise as independent contractors working for a variety of clients. Salaries range from $37–75k.

Landing a successful career without a college degree requires determination and hard work, but the opportunities are definitely out there. Start at the ground floor and work your way up. As with any job, perseverance and a solid work ethic will rise you to the top.

Reyna Ramli is a writer for CareerBliss, an online community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. Reyna loves writing on various topics, especially those related to careers, social media, and technology.

This post was originally published on the UnCollege Blog.

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