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No 4-Year Degree? These $80k Dream Jobs Don’t Need It!

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Some of the hottest jobs in the U.S. right now don’t require a 4-year degree. Below are some job areas you may not have considered before, each with a potential annual salary of more than $80,000.

Most Electrifying: Powerhouse and Relay Technician Jobs

Energy jobs right now are, well, hot. Powerhouse and relay technicians—who specialize in inspecting, maintaining, and repairing electrical equipment used in power generating stations, substations, and in-service relays—are great examples. While many of these specialized technicians start their careers as electricians, it’s not always necessary. According to CNBC Make It, the median annual wage is about $80,000 and projected job growth through 2026 is at 4%.

Other lucrative jobs “on the grid” that don’t require a college degree include power plant operators, power dispatchers/systems operators, and nuclear power reactor operators.

Highest Flying: Commercial Pilot Jobs

If you want to soar, consider getting a commercial pilot’s license. The median pay is about $82,000 for pilots who spend their days flying charter or corporate flights, aerial tours, and surveying operations. An air traffic controller job is even more lucrative (with a median annual wage of more than $124,500) and doesn’t necessarily require a bachelor’s degree, although it does require serious training.

Prefer to keep your feet on the ground? Up-and-coming careers in the field of flight are drone pilots and technicians. Dozens of industries are using drones for precision agriculture, oil and gas exploration, television coverage and movie making, delivery services, and more. According to Drone Training HQ, the average salary of a drone pilot is just above $100,000 per year. 

For Wannabe Sleuths: Cybersecurity Jobs and Detectives

There’s a global cybersecurity workforce shortage, with at least 1.8 million fewer professionals than there are jobs. The  Information Systems Security Association (ISSA) reports the biggest shortages are in security analysis and investigations, application security, and cloud computing security. The good news is that many employers will hire the right self-taught IT pros but will look for certain certifications including the basics like CIAC Information Security Fundamentals (GISF), CompTIA Security+, or Microsoft Technology Association (MTA) Security Fundamentals.

If you’re not particularly tech-savvy but love a great mystery, you’re in luck. Detectives and criminal investigators are in-demand right now. While a degree in criminal justice or a similar field might help you snag such a job, it’s not necessary. The median annual salary for a detective is more than $80,000.

From software development to warehouse logistics to nuclear medicine, there are dozens of other job fields right now that reward workers handsomely, whether they have a four-year degree or not. Don’t let your lack of a college degree stop you from grabbing the job of your dreams.


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