There are plenty of job opportunities in the U.S. that don’t require a four-year degree but pay well and have growth potential. Often these jobs can also lead to a career with more education or certification. Think about it: Many blue-collar jobs today require computer skills and other capabilities beyond operating machinery or installing software. Many of these roles involve thinking critically, problem-solving, and basic skills like math, reading, and writing. Where there’s a demand for skilled workers with specific experience or training, there will always be high-paying jobs without a college degree that don’t require going back to school to start them. These are America’s highest-paying non-degree jobs where you can earn $70K or more!

10 Highest-Paying Jobs Without A Degree In America

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Network Systems and Data Communication Analysts

A Network Systems and Data Communications analyst is responsible for designing, implementing, maintaining, troubleshooting, monitoring, and supporting network systems and data communications networks. This includes the design, implementation, maintenance, and troubleshooting of local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), intranets, extranets, wireless LANs, and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), and other types of communication networks. A Network Systems and Data Communications engineer may work in various settings, including but not limited to business offices, manufacturing facilities, healthcare facilities, educational institutions, government agencies, military bases, and residential homes.

The highest-paying jobs in America that don’t require a degree are mostly found in two categories: tech and business. Job titles include network systems and data communication analysts ($91,260), IT project managers ($90,310), IT trainers ($90,140) and computer support specialists ($88,090). Network systems and data communication analysts work to design or implement computer networks of large organizations. They may be responsible for selecting hardware and software needed to build an internal network or maintain an existing one. They also might help troubleshoot problems with existing systems, such as installing new software updates or replacing faulty hardware components. These workers need at least a bachelor’s degree in information technology (IT) or computer science, but many employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree.

Software Developers

1. Software Developer – Java

The software developer role requires knowledge of object-oriented programming languages like C++, Java, Python, Ruby, etc. This position requires good communication skills and a strong understanding of computer science fundamentals. A bachelor’s degree is preferred but not necessary.

2. Software Developer -.NET

A software developer works with Microsoft technologies, including ASP.NET, SQL Server, Windows Forms, WPF, Silverlight, etc. A bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or a related field is preferred but not necessary; experience developing applications using these technologies is highly desirable.

3. Software Developer – PHP/MySQL

This position requires knowledge of object-orientated programming languages like PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, CSS, HTML5, etc. A bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or equivalent work experience is preferred but not necessary, although experience developing web applications using these technologies is strongly desired.

If you have an aptitude for computers and enjoy solving problems, then a career as a software developer could be an excellent choice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be 1.4 million job openings in computer and mathematical occupations by 2020, meaning job prospects will only improve in the coming years. The average annual salary for software developers was $102,060 as of May 2016.

Computer Network Architects

1. Computer Network Architect (CNA)

A computer network architect is responsible for designing, implementing, maintaining, monitoring, troubleshooting, and optimizing networks. They are responsible for ensuring that the network meets business requirements while providing reliable service. A CNA knows networking protocols, operating systems, hardware, software, and telecommunications.

2. Computer Network Technician (CNT)

The computer technician is responsible for installing, configuring, repairing, testing, and maintaining computers and other electronic devices. They may work on various platforms, including Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac OS X, Android, iOS, etc.

3. Computer Systems Analyst (CSA)

The computer systems analyst analyses and evaluates information technology resources and services. This includes identifying problems, recommending solutions, and performing audits. CSAs often have experience working with databases, programming languages, operating systems, and applications.

Computer network architects develop and design complex information systems for organizations. They’re responsible for deciding how to set up networks, designing various software programs and evaluating new technology to keep a company’s business running smoothly. These professionals typically need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or a related field. However, certain positions may only require certification from Cisco Systems or another networking company.

Information Security Engineers

Information security engineers are responsible for designing, developing, testing, implementing, maintaining, and supporting information systems that protect sensitive data from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification, or destruction. They work closely with other IT professionals to ensure information assets’ integrity, confidentiality, and availability.

A typical day for an information security engineer might include the following tasks:

 • Analyze business requirements and design solutions to meet those needs.

 • Develop software applications and databases.

 • Implement and maintain computer hardware and network infrastructure.

 • Test and evaluate new technologies.

 • Maintain existing technology.

 • Provide technical expertise to users.

 • Perform audits and investigations.

 • Participate in team meetings.

 • Coordinate projects with other departments.

 • Manage budgets.

 • Work with vendors to provide services.

 • Other duties may vary depending on your employer’s specific needs.

The average income for an information security engineer is $100,921 per year. The primary function of an information security engineer is to safeguard data from theft and other dangers, according to Hired. Their job involves developing security measures to protect computer systems from unauthorized access and use and working with management to develop policies on how best to protect their networks and computers. Individuals with strong math and coding skills are most likely to be hired for these jobs.

Computer and Information Research Scientists

The field of computer science is the study of computation and its applications. Computation refers to any activity that a machine can perform. This includes arithmetic operations, data processing, and problem-solving. This course will focus on the theory behind programming languages and how they are used to create software programs. 

Information technology (IT) uses computers and information systems to store, retrieve, transmit, transform, analyze, and manage data. IT professionals design, develop, implement, integrate, maintain, monitor, secure, and support these technologies. They may specialize in networking, security, database management, web design, application development, project management, or desktop publishing.

Although there’s a bachelor’s degree requirement, no specific major is necessary. Entry-level job titles are often software engineers and systems analysts. Pay tends to be above average (around $77K annually), with experienced professionals earning more than $120K yearly. Most positions require extensive knowledge of programming languages such as C++, C#, Java or Python.

Computer Programmers

Earn an average of $80,620 per year. Despite having just a high school diploma, computer programmers can often make upwards of $100,000 a year. They’re also in high demand, so they have little trouble finding jobs and securing raises. But like most careers open to non-degreed professionals, it still helps to have an associate’s degree or at least some related experience.

Financial Analysts and Securities Traders

If you’re one of those who always have their nose buried in an annual report, you’ve found your calling. Financial analysts and securities traders are two of some of the highest-paid jobs without a degree in America. Analysts can earn $55,000 to $65,000 right out of college, while securities traders will average around $100,000 per year. What do they all have in common?

Marketing Research Analyst

According to Glassdoor, marketing research analysts can earn around $71,000. Their top employers include companies like Walmart and Deloitte. Other options include contracting or consulting with a firm on a freelance basis or starting your own company and looking for prospective clients on your own. ​

Actuaries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 21.6 per cent employment growth for actuaries between 2016 and 2026. These professionals assess risk in various fields, from life insurance to pension plans. According to PayScale, median salaries range from $54,149 to $115,951 per year, with a median midpoint salary of $83,932 per year as of May 2017.

Summing up

if you’re young, smart and willing to work hard, you don’t necessarily need a college degree to land a high-paying job. If you go beyond just degrees and diplomas (and, of course, resumes) to build your skills and experience, there are many ways that you can avoid student loan debt while earning a big paycheck. There are plenty of high-paying jobs out there that you can get without going to school. Over half of American jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree or even an associate’s degree.