Jobs That Don’t Require a Four-Year Degree

Although job seekers with a four-year college degree may make considerably more money than their counterparts with less education, there are many career opportunities in thriving industries for job seekers without a four-year college degree, according to a new CareerCast report.

“The Economic Policy Institute estimates that workers with a four-year college degree make about 56% more than those who don’t, based on 2015 salary figures,” says Kyle Kensing, Online Content Editor, CareerCast. “However, we have identified some great jobs that pay a high wage which don’t require four years of college.”

Of the 10 best jobs not requiring a bachelor’s degree, almost half are in healthcare: Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Medical Records Technician, Optician, and Respiratory Therapist. Other excellent opportunities for those who want to forgo a four-year degree include Electrician, Plumber, Executive Assistant, Broadcast Technician, and Web Developer.

CareerCast named Web Developer as one of the best jobs for part-time and freelance work in 2017. For the technologically proficient, there are abundant opportunities to work on a contract basis and set one’s own schedule. And, while other lucrative fields in Information Technology require a bachelor’s degree or more, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends an associate’s degree to become a Web Developer – not bad for a field that pays an annual median salary of $66,130 and has a 27% growth outlook.

Plumbing is always in-demand, and most recent BLS estimates suggest growth outlook of 12% in the next eight years. Wage opportunities are also positive, with an annual median salary of $51,540. But what might be especially appealing to a job seeker looking to begin a career as a Plumber or an Electrician is the opportunity for independent business ownership. Another best job on the list, Executive Assistant, can also be a gateway to greater opportunities in business and/or entrepreneurship.

Healthcare’s been a pillar of the American economy for years, but especially so in the past half-decade. It should come as no surprise, then, that the most abundant and best opportunities for job seekers without a four-year college degree are in the healthcare sector.

Local community colleges and technical schools typically offer the necessary training or apprentice opportunities to get started in these fields.

CareerCast’s Best Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree




Recommended Min. Education

Broadcast Technician




Diagnostic Medical Sonographer







H.S. Diploma/Equivalent

Executive Assistant



H.S. Diploma/Equivalent

Industrial Machine Repairer



H.S. Diploma/Equivalent

Medical Records Technician



Non-Degree Certification








H.S. Diploma/Equivalent

Respiratory Therapist




Web Developer




This list was compiled using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), including annual median salary, hiring outlook and the recommended level of education required to get started; as well as BLS rankings in the 2017 Jobs Rated report.

To read the full report, visit CareerCast.

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