Highest Paying Jobs in California without a Degree

Last Updated on August 4, 2022

Discover the highest paying jobs in California without a degree. California is one of the largest states in America, with plenty of different types of jobs and careers for you to explore. However, one thing remains the same: California is a great place to pursue higher education. And, with so many college students graduating from California schools each year, it’s no surprise that these graduates are able to get high-paying jobs in fields they studied while in school. We found 2,527 records matching your search query.

In this article, you will find the highest paying Jobs in California without a degree, and likewise, we will write on Highest Paying Job in California without a degree or experience, Highest paying jobs without a degree for female, Highest paying jobs without a degree for male, and 6 figures without college degree.

When most people think of the highest paying job in California without a degree, their mind instantly goes to celebrities. However, you don’t need to become a celebrity to take advantage of the highest paying jobs in California without a degree. There are plenty of other opportunities out there and we have identified them as well as the best entry level jobs in California that pay well.

The highest paying job in Cali is Software Engineer. It is one of the highest-paying jobs in California without a degree. For example, a software engineer can make $3000 to $5000 per month without a college degree.

The list of the Highest Paying Jobs in California without a Degree includes some work that means a different level of responsibility and qualification.

Just because you didn’t earn your bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean you can’t earn big. Not all high-paying jobs require a college degree; many look for skills, experience and background knowledge in place of a university education.

Our list of the high paying jobs without a degree or experience features the best jobs in California without a degree that yield the highest earning potential. Check out which highest paying jobs in California with high school diploma may be the right fit for you. For more information on high paying jobs from home without a degree, fun jobs that pay well without a degree, 6 figure jobs without college degree and low stress jobs that pay well without a degree, see Collegelearners.


25 highest paying jobs without a degree | WTOP
What are the highest paying jobs in California? This list of high paying jobs without a degree will provide an overview of your choices. There are many jobs that pay well without a college degree in California. If you graduate from high school, pursue a career and get some training, you could end up getting rich no matter what profession you choose. So what are the highest paying jobs in California? The list of highest paying jobs without a degree is long and contains diverse careers which require different combinations of expertise and work experience to land the job. There’s bound to be something on this list that piques your interest!


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is that workers with associate’s degrees or high school diplomas have potential careers to consider that come with a median salary of $55,000. Taking a closer look, it seems a major shift in employer priorities is occurring in certain fields, such as manufacturing and information technology (IT), where soft skills and on-the-job training are deemed more beneficial than a formal educational background.

Individuals bringing these resources to the table are now in high demand, especially since many companies now offer assistantship programs or even paid training for high-achieving candidates.

Highest Paying Jobs in California without a Degree

There are plenty of high-paying jobs that require only a two-year associate degree, postsecondary nondegree certificate, or even just a high-school diploma and a few that don’t require a formal educational credential at all. Business Insider decided to look at which jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree or higher and are also high-paying.

what jobs pay the most without a degree

Highest-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a Bachelor's Degree
  1. Transportation & Distribution ManagerEducation: High school diploma
    Median Income: $94,730
    Job Growth: 6%In this career, you will plan, direct, and coordinate a variety of activities related to the transportation, distribution, and storage of various materials and products. Basically, you’ll be in charge of making sure things get to where they need to go. This career offers a strong median salary, and the job growth is right around the national average. To work in this management position, you only need a high-school-level education. However, you also need at least five years of experience in the industry, but no on-the-job training.
  2. Power Plant OperatorsEducation: High school diploma
    Median Income: $83,020
    Job Growth: -6%These experienced professionals plan and direct the operations of a power plant, ensuring the plant not only produces power, but gets power to the appropriate locations and users. The career has a high median salary, but the obvious negative is the job reduction. Between 2018 and 2028, this career is expected to drop by 6%, meaning there will be fewer jobs. However, with only a high school degree and at least five years of experience, you could land one of these highest paying jobs without a degree.
  3. Commercial PilotEducation: High school diploma
    Median Income: $82,240
    Job Growth: 8%To pilot a plane for an airline, you will need a college degree. However, if you want to work as a commercial pilot, you can earn a high salary with only a high school degree and a commercial pilot’s license, which usually takes about six to eight weeks to complete. The job outlook for commercial pilots is also strong, as the career is expected to grow by 8%, resulting in almost 44,000 jobs by 2026. The growth in demand for commercial pilots will come from many corners, including a need for ambulance flights.
  4. Elevator TechnicianEducation: High school diploma
    Median Income: $79,780
    Job Growth: 10%Considering the significant, under-appreciated risks involved in elevators (they do, after all, lift people hundreds of feet into the air!), the demand for top-quality elevator installers and repairers is high. Even without a college education, these professionals are well paid, and there will be strong growth thanks to an increase in multi-use facilities. To become one, you need an understanding of math and mechanics. Most people will work as an apprentice for at least four years. Even after you are hired as a full-fledged technician, constant training and development will be required.
  5. Fire-Fighting SupervisorsEducation: Postsecondary non-degree award
    Median Income: $76,330
    Job Growth: 5%Firefighters are heroes, but even they need someone to manage and direct their concerted efforts. As a first-line supervisor, you direct fire fighting and fire prevention, increasing the overall safety of your community. With an above-average income and consistent job growth, this is an appealing opportunity for anyone with the right experience and training. You will need some experience, although less than five years is generally required. You will also need moderate on-the-job training to be hired in this profession.
  6. Claims AdjustorsEducation: High school diploma
    Median Income: $65,670
    Job Growth: -4%These professionals are responsible for investigating insurance claims. Insurance fraud, if left unchecked, could ruin many insurance companies, so they hire people to investigate claims and interview people involved in the insurance situation. Companies prefer to hire people with investigative experience, which means former police officers and detectives are commonly employed in this field. If you work in the automotive-claims sector, you may need a post-secondary degree. If you have a degree, you may have an advantage, but people with experience in investigation are in high demand for claims adjustors.
  7. Theater Makeup ArtistEducation: Postsecondary non-degree award
    Median Income: $64,250
    Job Growth: 7%If you have dreamed about working in theater and entertainment, but don’t think acting or directing is right for you, perhaps a career as a makeup artist would fit your goals. This career offers a strong income (actually has a better median income than actors), but you will need experience and training that helps you apply makeup to performers that is specific to the situation, setting, or the role. The growth for this career is strong, and you will only need a non-degree award. You also won’t need previous training or experience, making this the perfect entry-level option in our list of the highest paying jobs without a degree.
  8. Aircraft MechanicEducation: Certificate
    Median Income: $62,920
    Job Growth: 3%Just like our cars, aircrafts need routine maintenance and regular repairs, and these tasks fall on the shoulders of aircraft mechanics, one of the jobs that don’t require a degree. The income is excellent, but the job growth is only 3%, slightly lower than the national average of 5%. This career requires a certificate, so some post-secondary education is required. You will likely need to complete a certificate that is recognized by the FAA to work in many of the available jobs.
  9. Fire InspectorsEducation: Certificate
    Median Income: $60,200
    Job Growth: 8%These experienced professionals are like crime-scene detectives for fires; they try to determine what happened and, if required, who was responsible. Despite a higher income, these professionals do not need a degree, although experience in the field is required. You will need experience first as a fire fighter. Then you will need to complete some moderate on-the-job training. Some specific positions will require a degree, but there are many positions that can be had without a four-year college education.
  10. Electronics Installation & RepairersEducation: Postsecondary non-degree award
    Median Income: $57,890
    Job Growth: -1%If you are interested in electrical equipment, but don’t want to spend the time and money on a major degree, then you could find work as an installer or repairer of electronics. The pay is strong, but unfortunately the career is expected to shrink by 1%, driven largely by advancement in electronics that require less maintenance. To work in this career, you only need a non-degree award. However, employers often prefer job candidates who have formal education in electronics. Hands-on training and some work experience is critical so that your salary level qualifies this career as one of the highest paying jobs without a degree.
High-paying jobs you can get without a college degree


Below are nine jobs that pay well without a degree but you still get to do your job with minimal stress.

1. Massage Therapist

Massage therapists provide massage treatments to clients in need of relaxation or relief from pain. As a massage therapist, you will work in a serene environment within the relaxing, beautiful confines of spas, fitness centers, franchised clinics, physicians’ offices, or hotels. You will enjoy flexible work schedules, and if you’re self-employed you can freelance and attend to your clients from the comfort of their homes.

This profession requires one to understand the physical aspects of the human body to be able to provide the perfect healing touch. Understanding medical procedures to help relieve inflamed joints and treat patients suffering from postural ailments is important.

You need to complete a postsecondary education to get legal certifications of working as a licensed massage therapist. Apart from enjoying your job will minimal stress, you will amass loyal clients over time allowing you to enjoy a reliable stream of income.

The mean annual wage of massage therapists is $42,820 ($20.59 per hour) with the highest earners making as high as $78,280 per year ($37.64 per hour).

2. Optician

This is one of the low-stress jobs that pay well without a degree in 2021. As an optician, you will work with patients in need of contact lenses and eyeglasses after optometrists have seen them. Your job description includes taking measurements of a client’s head and eyes to make sure the contacts and glasses fit properly.

You will also design, measure, fit, and adapt frames and lenses for clients according to their respective optical prescriptions and specifications. As an optician, you will help clients insert, remove, and care for contact lenses as well as helping them select the right frames.

You will also be tasked with keeping records of a client’s prescription that will come in handy in the future in case their condition changes. As an optician, you can work in department stores or the offices of eye doctors, with an option to also work part-time.

You need a high school diploma or its equivalent and some form of on-the-job training to become an optician. Some, though, enter the occupation with a certificate from a community college or an associate degree.

Opticians’ mean annual wage is $40,730 with the highest earners earning more than $60.840 per year ($29.25 per hour).

3. Freelance Photographers

While some take photography courses for career-based reasons, passionate freelance photographers whose hobbies involve taking beautiful pictures of landscapes, people, merchandise, and other subjects will tell you how photography is such a fulfilling career.

As a photographer, you need to learn how to use editing software and lighting equipment to enhance the subject’s appearance. You can choose to be a photojournalist, scientific photographer, or commercial and industrial photographer

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of photographers is $45,440. The highest-paid photographers earn more than $79,440 per year ($38.19 per hour).

4. Fine Artist

Being a fine artist, which includes painters, sculptors, and illustrators, is one of the low-stress jobs that pay well without having to enroll in a degree program. Fine artists create original artwork using different media and techniques.

The mean annual wage of fine artists is $63,030 with the highest earners earning more than $112,970 per year ($54.31).

New Survey Discusses the Reality of Working from Home

5. Web Developers

Web developers design websites and can also work in computer systems design and closely-related industries. You can choose to be self-employed, work in publishing companies, management consulting firms, or advertising agencies.

Educational requirements for web developers vary depending on where they work and the work they do. You can become a full-time or freelance web developer with just a high school diploma but some jobs will require you to have a bachelor’s degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates web developers earn a mean annual salary of $73,760 per year ($35.46 per hour).

6. Solar Photovoltaic Installers

As a solar photovoltaic installer, your tasks will include assembling, installing, and maintaining solar photovoltaic (PV) systems or roofs or other structures. This may include measuring, cutting, assembling, and bolting solar modules and structural frames.

Most installers need a high school diploma and you can also take courses at a community college or a technical institution. You also get to receive on-the-job training for at most a year

The mean annual wage for solar photovoltaic installers is $46,850 with the highest earners earning over $63,880 per year ($30.71 per hour).

7. Travel Agents

Do you need a degree certificate to get a job as a travel agent? Not really. You need a high school diploma unless an employer is after someone with additional formal training. You should have good computer and communication skills too.

As a travel agent, your roles include planning and selling transportation and accommodations for customers. You will also determine destinations, travel dates, modes of transport, costs, and accommodations required. Other tasks could include describing, planning, and arranging itineraries and selling tour packages to travel clients.

The mean annual wage for travel agents is $44,690 with the highest earners making more than $69,420 per year ($33.37 per hour).

8. Makeup Artists (Theatrical and Performance)

Makeup artists apply makeup to performers to reflect the setting, period, and situation of the roles. You can work with motion picture and video companies, performing art companies, and personal care service providers.

Makeup artists (theatrical and performance) mean annual wage is $86,400 while the top earners make more than $145,420 per year ($69.92 per hour)..

9. Choreographers

Choreographers create new dance routines and lead the rehearsal performance of the routines. Choreographers may also direct and stage presentations. Most choreographers start as dancers and rise the ranks.

It’s worth noting that some choreographers choose to pursue post-secondary education and enroll in colleges and universities offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in dance. Currently, many dance programs include coursework in a variety of dance styles.

The mean annual wage of choreographers is $53,590 while the highest earners earn more than $101,710 per year ($48.90 per hour).


High Paying Jobs without College Degree


The cost of a 4-year college degree from a reputable intuition is now five times more than it was two decades ago. That’s a shocking statistic. Considering that most university students use student loans to facilitate the payment for their studies, it’s not surprising to learn that the national federal student debt for outstanding loans presently exceeds $1.6-trillion.

However, having a college degree behind your name does not necessarily mean you are guaranteed a job when you graduate from your studies. Many students are finding out that their B.Sc. in humanitarian studies and psychology have very little practical value in the working world.

As a result, more students than ever are graduating university with crushing debt loads that they cannot afford – nor have the capacity, to pay back. Since all student loans are essentially Federal loans made by the government, the taxpayer has to foot the bill when the student eventually defaults on the debt. Some analysts say that a mass student debt default could be the catalyst for the start of the next financial crisis.

Looking at the Statistics of Student Debt

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Taking a look at the current student debt situation provides a groom outlook for the fiscal health of the Federal government.  At the moment, there are more than 45-million loans issued to students across the United States, with a near $30-billion increase in student loans in the last quarter alone. The average student loan accounts for over $37,000, with some being for amounts of more than $100,000.

More than 10-percent of all student loans are currently delinquent or in default, with the taxpayers having to pick up the costs. Over the last 30-days, there are more than $32-billion in new delinquencies on the government’s books.

Student loan debt statistics by loan program:

Direct Loans$1.1503 trillion34.2 million borrowers
FFEL Loans$281.8 billion13.5 million borrowers
Perkins Loans$7.1 billion2.3 million borrowers
Total (All Federal)$1.4392 trillion42.9 million borrowers

Figures from Studentloanhero

When Is it a Good Idea to Go to College

If you’re entering the STEM fields, (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.) Studying will serve you well for the foundation of knowledge you need to flourish in that specific STEM career path.

In this case, education is unavoidable and necessary to achieving success in the future. The aspiring student should show natural aptitude in their chosen field, and should not be committing to college just because their parents demand they do so.

When Is it a Good Idea to Skip College

In today’s economic environment, there has never been a bigger push by parents and institutions for kids to attend college. At the same time, there have never been fewer job opportunities for qualified graduates.

This conundrum means that some potential students should look at avoiding frat parties and classrooms, and head out into the workforce after high school instead. Students that have no clear direction of their career path should avoid college – it’s surprising how many graduates never end up working in the field of their studies.

Gaining work experience is the most critical step in teaching the next generation of kids about the value and importance of finding a skill they are good at in life. Instead of spending 4-years at college, only to end up in a job that’s unrelated to their field, and with $37,000 in debt, the person could be climbing their way up the employment ladder.

Employment experience is just as valuable in today’s economy as a degree, and many jobs offer excellent starting packages for new hires fresh out of high school, with the promise of advancement up the corporate ladder.

Here are 14 examples of high-paying jobs with salaries exceeding $100,000 – that don’t require a college degree.

1. Business Owner

Small business is the lifeblood of the American economy. Entrepreneurs that choose to make a living from executing on their ideas can look forward to building a company that contributes to the country as a whole. Business owners drive employment, pay taxes, and increase GDP, and they’re valued members of any community.

Business Owner

Some business owners experience wild success, while others may only barely make a living. However, for those business owner’s that survive the first five years of operations, they can look forward to a 95-percent success rate, with the chances of earning hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of dollars every month.

2. Real Estate Broker

If you enjoy property and sales, then consider a career as a real estate broker. Selling or renting other peoples assets can earn you a decent living, with agents making average salaries of anywhere between $30,000 to $180,000 per year.

Real Estate Broker

Dealing in real estate requires a license, but anyone with a high school diploma can apply for the real estate exam, and it cost nowhere near as much as a college degree. Successful real estate agents work hard, with many choosing to be on call during weeknights and the weekends as well.

3. Sales Consultant

After executives and qualified professionals, the highest paying jobs in the workforce – are sales jobs. While working at the Verizon kiosk in the mall isn’t going to net you $100k a year, selling exotic cars or private planes could make you very wealthy in a short period.

Sales Consultant

Great salespeople understand the value of training. There are hundreds of YouTube videos from successful sales trainers available for free online, and many sales mentors to help you improve your sales skills. The only investment you need to make in sales training is your time. The more you practice – the luckier you get.

4. Air Traffic Controller

It may surprise you to learn that air traffic controllers do not need a college degree. These individuals deal with the stress of coordinating airplanes – fundamentally, giant chunks of metal transporting fragile humans, through the sky.

While candidates for air-traffic control jobs don’t need a degree, they must undergo intensive screening and psychological tests to ensure they are suitable for the job. If you make it as an air traffic controller, you can expect a salary that averages $150,000 per annum.

5. Virtual Assistant

Being a virtual assistant to an online entrepreneur is an excellent way to earn a living. You get to enjoy the benefits of working from home – at any location in the world that has an internet connection. This level of freedom is like no other personal assistant job you’ve ever had. In some cases, you may never even lay eyes on your employer, chatting with them over virtual message channels and email only.

Virtual Assistant

For the most part, VA jobs don’t pay very well, but with the right training and experience, it’s possible to land a VA position that pays more than $100,00 per year.

6. Plumber

Leaving college for a trade is a great idea. America lacks new tradespeople, with many jobs like electricians, machinists, and plumbers becoming a lost art. The world will always need plumbers – who else are you going to call when the toilet blocks up, and water is all over the floor?


Qualified plumbers can easily make more than $100,000 a year after they finish with their apprenticeship.

7. Firefighter or Police Officer

If you feel like giving back to your community after high school, then why not sign up to be part of the local fire or police services? These community services offer free training to cadets, and a guaranteed spot on the team if you pass the tests.

Police Officer & Firefighter

While the starting salary for a rookie police officer or firefighter is not outstanding, should you choose to make it your career path and end up in an executive position, you can expect to make more than 6-figures a year.

8. Site Manager

Many high school graduates entering the workforce to make some cash for the summer choose to try construction. This vocation is plenty of hard work in the beginning. However, most contractors don’t require you to have a civil engineering degree to tear down walls.

Site Manager

While construction is hard work, it teaches you the skills you need to be a successful contractor. Most students that start in construction after high school finds that they own as contracting business by the time they’re in their late twenties.

Along the way, you can expect to get involved with site management as part of your journey. Site managers earn anywhere between $40,000 to $130,000 per year.

9. Information Technology Manager

Tech offers some of the highest paying jobs in the American economy. Tech giants like Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google are always searching for new talent. Many coders don’t go to college to hone their craft, and some of the best coders in the world are under the age of 25-years old.

Information Technology Manager

IT departments need technicians to handle their network problems, and most IT technicians only receive training on the job. Should you end up running a corporate IT department, then you can expect an annual salary of anywhere between $50,000 to $125,000 per year.

10. Radiologist

Considering that radiologists work in the field of medicine, it’s surprising to learn that they only need an associate’s degree to start a career in radiology. Radiotherapists receive a pay grade that’s relevant to their knowledge and experience, and senior radiologists can expect to earn as much as $116,000 per year.


Considering that cancer was responsible for more than 600,000 American deaths in 2018, and doctors expect to make a further 1.7-million cancer diagnosis in 2019 – radiology therapy is set to become a growing industry.

11. Head Chef

Do you have a talent for cooking? Becoming a qualified souses chef or head chef at a trendy, up-market restaurant can earn you a salary of up to $150,000 per year. However, students of the culinary arts may have to attend hotel school where they learn the nuances of the service industry, including the regulations around handling food.

Head Chef

Once these students enter the workforce, they may find that it takes may long hours in the kitchen to receive a sizeable pay package. However, since aspiring chefs are passionate about their career choice, many don’t mind working long hours necessary to be successful in the industry.

12. Freelance Writer

If you did well with English classes in high-school, and you have a natural command of the English language, going for a career in writing after you graduate, is an excellent way to earn a living. While most writers may start with minimal salaries, they can increase their pay as they improve their skills.

Freelance Writer

Should the writer be persistent with their career path, they may come across an opportunity to start their own writing company, blog, or service that nets them an annual; salary of $100,000 or more.

13. Professional Athletes

Some talented individuals may choose to pursue a career in professional sports after high-school. Should you do well in the NFL combine, or show promise on the basketball court – you could end up with a college scholarship that allows you to get an education for free.

Professional Athlete

Many pro sports teams hire athletes straight out of high school, paying them outrageous sums of money to play for their side.

14. Digital Nomad

Some high school leavers may try to find their fortune on the internet. Setting up an e-commerce business, such as FBA – fulfillment by Amazon, allows you to create an online income selling other manufacturers products online.

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