Top 10 industries for high-paying jobs without a degree

If you think you’re worthless on the job market without a Bachelor’s degree, think again.

True, the picture can seem bleak, with a decline in manufacturing jobs brought on by automation and offshoring, and with the increasing – and frankly ridiculous – emphasis being placed on university education in job postings. Why so many entry level jobs suddenly require a Master’s Degree is beyond most of us. But don’t despair.

For what it’s worth, I believe that this increasing demand for higher and higher education is unsustainable and will soon implode, in part because of the now wide availability of self teaching tools we all have at our fingertips these days.

In the meantime, some new research finds that there are still many well-paying jobs available to people without a degree. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (Georgetown Center) in collaboration with JPMorgan Chase & Co. has found that there are currently 30 million good jobs in the U.S. that pay well without a Bachelor’s degree. The number of good jobs for non-degree holders has increased, says the report, while their share of those jobs has declined.

Note that, while the study is American, the Canadian market is usually comparable, if, of course, smaller. The jobs have a median salary of $55,000 USD which is $69,000 CAD.

According to the 2011 census, 64% of Canadian adults aged 25-64 had some kind of postsecondary education, but only 25% had a Bachelor’s degree. This number is probably somewhat higher now.

The new report says that the market for workers without a degree is shifting from traditional blue-collar industries to skilled-services industries. Industries, such as financial services and health services are offsetting the manufacturing job losses, though manufacturing is still providing the most jobs.

 The top 10 sectors where these good jobs were found are as follows:

  • Manufacturing
  • Financial and consulting/business services
  • Transportation and utilities
  • Wholesale and retail trade
  • Construction
  • Leisure and hospitality, and personal services
  • Government services
  • Education services
  • Natural resources

Other Key Findings of the study:

  • Whites still have the largest share of good jobs, but that share has declined.
  • Men dominate good jobs that pay without a B.A., with 70 percent of the share
  • Women have not been able to attain good jobs in any greater numbers, even with the shift in employment toward healthcare and other skilled-services industries.

Business Insider also has a list of the 27 highest-paying jobs one can get without a degree. Here are the top 10 from that list:

  1. Air traffic controllers

Median annual wage (2012): $122,530

Education required: Associate’s degree

  1. Radiation therapists

Median annual wage (2012): $77,560

Education required: Associate’s degree

  1. Elevator installers and repairers

Median annual wage (2012): $76,650

Education required: High school diploma or equivalent

  1. Nuclear power reactor operators

Median annual wage (2012): $74,990

Education required: High school diploma or equivalent

  1. Detectives and criminal investigators

Median annual wage (2012): $74,300

Education required: High school diploma or equivalent

  1. Commercial pilots

Median annual wage (2012): $73,280

Education required: High school diploma or equivalent

  1. Power distributors and dispatchers

Median annual wage (2012): $71,690

Education required: High school diploma or equivalent

  1. Dental hygienists

Median annual wage (2012): $70,210

Education required: Associate’s degree

  1. Nuclear medicine technologists

Median annual wage (2012): $70,180

Education required: Associate’s degree

  1. First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers

Median annual wage (2012): $70,060

Education required: High school diploma or equivalent

The reality is that not having a degree can make your job search much more difficult. But you can mitigate some of the difficulty by being creative, actively networking, self educating, and developing as many marketable skills as possible.

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