Top 10 Jobs Paying $80K a Year That Don’t Require a Degree
College degrees are no longer the only path toward jobs that pay $80,000 a year. While higher education remains valuable and respectable, there are also plenty of opportunities for non-degree holders to secure high-paying jobs. From tech-oriented roles to creative positions and more, we’ll show you how you can find jobs that pay $80k a year without a degree.
Our top 10 jobs that pay $80k a year are accessible to most people, as long as they have the right skills and strong determination to succeed. Let’s take a closer look at exciting job avenues that can net you $80k a year, with no degree required. We’ll also discuss some crucial tips that can help you unlock high-income careers in tech and elsewhere.
Jobs That Pay $80K Without College Requirement: How Common Are They?
Jobs that pay $80k a year without needing a degree might not come easily. However, such opportunities do exist if you know where to look. Typically, jobs that pay $80k a year and more are commonly found in the tech industry. As companies race to stay ahead in the digital race, they need skilled experts to help them achieve their business goals. That’s why they sometimes skip the whole degree requirement and focus on your real-life skills and experience instead.
Top 10 Jobs With an $80K Salary That Don’t Require a Degree
|Job Title||Average Salary||Minimum Requirements|
|UI Designer||$106,351||College education is not required. Experience in user-centric design and relevant certifications are recommended.|
|Software Developer||$105,047||College education is not required. Experience in software development and relevant certifications are recommended.|
|Project Manager||$98,788||College education is not required. Experience in project management and relevant certifications are recommended.|
|Information Security Analyst||$94,839||College education is not required. Experience in cyber security and relevant certifications are recommended.|
|Data Analyst||$80,429||College education is not always needed. Experience in data science and relevant certifications are recommended.|
|Technical Sales Representative||$77,679||College education is not required. Experience in sales and marketing and relevant certifications are recommended.|
|Transport Manager||$76,701||College education is not always needed. Experience in operations, transportation, and logistics is recommended.|
|Escalator/Elevator Mechanic||$73,501||College education is not required. Experience in escalator/elevator repair and relevant certifications are recommended.|
|Casino Manager||$68,906||College education is not required. Experience in the gaming, hospitality, or entertainment industry is recommended.|
|Detective and Criminal Investigator||$65,778||College education is not required. Experience in criminal justice is recommended. Accredited training is almost always mandatory.|
The Best Jobs With an $80K Salary That Don’t Require a Degree: A Closer Look
- Average salary: $106,351
- 90th percentile salary: $138,500
- Top-paying companies: Google, Apple, Zynga, Blizzard Entertainment, Thomson Reuters
UI designers are responsible for creating the visual elements that users see and interact with when using a website, app, or software. They design the layout, colors, buttons, and icons to make the user’s experience enjoyable, intuitive, and efficient. Ultimately, a good UI designer ensures that the interface looks good and is easy to navigate.
- Average salary: $105,047
- 90th percentile salary: $146,500
- Top-paying companies: Meta, Google, Dropbox, Airbnb, and X
Software developers are the people in charge of making your favorite software, app, or website come to life. They use programming languages such as Java, Python, C#, and more to tell computers how to perform specific tasks. Their common responsibilities include writing, testing, and debugging code to ensure that the software is working correctly and efficiently.
Software engineering is one of the most popular jobs paying $80k that don’t require a degree. While some employers may still have a degree requirement, a lot of companies are moving away from the traditional hiring process and focusing instead on a candidate’s skills and experiences. It is recommended that you build a robust portfolio to demonstrate your expertise.
- Average salary: $98,788
- 90th percentile salary: $142,500
- Top-paying companies: Google, Meta, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft
Project managers are responsible for planning, organizing, and overseeing an entire project from start to finish. Their main job is to make sure everything stays on track and that a project is completed on time and within budget. Some of their day-to-day tasks include setting goals, assigning tasks, and managing resources.
As a project manager, you also act as the main point of contact between the team working on the project and the organization that the project is for. As such, you need strong communication and interpersonal skills. Even without a degree, you can boost your chances of breaking into the field by enrolling in a project management coding bootcamp or getting relevant certifications.
Information Security Analyst
- Average salary: $94,839
- 90th percentile salary: $136,500
- Top-paying companies: Cisco Systems, Google, Amazon, Apple, Wells Fargo
If you are interested in cyber security, this job paying $80k salary might just be the right fit for you. Information security analysts are in charge of protecting an organization’s computer systems, networks, and data from threats and unauthorized access. When a breach occurs, they investigate to determine the cause and impact, before taking steps to rectify the incident.
Traditionally, a computer science degree is needed to become an information security analyst. However, you now have a lot of alternatives that can teach you crucial skills at a fraction of the time and cost of attending a college. Take cyber security coding bootcamps, for example. Most offer intensive cyber security training programs that can get you job-ready in just months.
- Average salary: $80,429
- 90th percentile salary: $123,500
- Top-paying companies: Nike, Amazon, Intel, Google, Bloomberg
Data analysts are experts at gathering, processing, and analyzing data to provide valuable insights to an organization. In a data-driven world, companies need experts who can help them make sense of the vast amounts of data they generate and collect. Data analysts help guide a company in the decision-making process, allowing the latter to improve its operations and perform better.
You don’t necessarily need a degree to become a data analyst, provided you have the right skills and experience. Knowledge of Python, Tableau, and Power BI, for example, can help you go the extra mile. However, if you’re looking to work for larger or more established companies, you may need a college degree in a related field like data science or computer science.
Technical Sales Representative
- Average salary: $77,679
- 90th percentile salary: $105,500
- Top-paying companies: Dell Technologies, Weatherford, AkzoNobel, Lincoln Electric, Anton Paar USA
Technical sales is a great job that pays $80k a year with no degree requirements. All you need to do well in this job is excellent product knowledge and great communication skills. As a technical sales representative, your job goes beyond making the sales. You are the company’s spokesperson who is also well-versed in a product’s features and specifications.
A huge part of this job is to understand your client’s needs and determine how your product or service can best meet those needs. Other key responsibilities include identifying potential customers, performing product demonstrations, and doing market research. This job also generally offers a commission-based pay structure, which can further boost your financial prospects.
- Average salary: $76,701
- 90th percentile salary: $124,000
- Top-paying companies: Amazon, Union Pacific, PepsiCo, UPS, Walmart
Transport management is a great choice for those looking for a non-tech job that pays $80k a year with no degree. As a transport manager, you ensure that the transportation runs efficiently, safely, and within the rules. Core responsibilities include planning routes, managing fleets of vehicles, and implementing safety policies and practices.
To unlock this role, you would typically need a degree in business, logistics, or supply chain management. However, you can also start with an entry-level position in transportation and gradually work your way up. The most important thing you need is a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Relevant certifications can also improve your chances of becoming a transport manager.
- Average salary: $73,501
- 90th percentile salary: $106,000
- Top-paying companies: Oracle Elevator, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Noveau Elevators
Escalator/elevator mechanics are responsible for installing new escalators and elevators in buildings and performing routine maintenance to ensure maximum safety. In the case of an emergency, escalator/elevator mechanics would typically be the first to respond. They are also required to conduct safety inspections in accordance with safety codes and regulations.
The basic requirement for an escalator/elevator mechanic is a high school diploma. Most aspiring mechanics sign up for an apprenticeship program where they get paid to learn on the job, refining their technical skills as they go. Some states in the US may also require a mechanic license, so do your research before getting your gears running.
- Average salary: $68,906
- 90th percentile salary: $117,500
- Top-paying companies: MGM Resorts International, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Carnival Cruise, Caesars Entertainment, Royal Caribbean Group
Casino managers are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of a casino. Their main role is to ensure the casino runs efficiently while providing a positive customer experience. Other common responsibilities of a casino manager include training new employees, handling customer complaints, and performing surveillance.
To become a casino manager, you need strong leadership and communication skills. Note that this is a managerial position, so you’ll have to start with an entry-level role. In some cases, employers may seek a degree in tourism management or a related field, but this is not always true. Experience in the field is more highly valued.
Detective and Criminal Investigator
- Average salary: $65,778
- 90th percentile salary: $101,500
- Top-paying companies: US Department of Homeland Security, US Secret Service, US Marine Corps, IRS, Amazon
Criminal investigators, also referred to as detectives, play a crucial role in criminal justice. They are experts at investigating and solving crimes using hard evidence. Most criminal investigators work with the government, but some also do it independently. Depending on the state, you may be required to pass an investigator competency test to become a self-employed detective.
While a degree is not required, you need to attend and graduate from a police academy to become a criminal investigator. From then on, you can start building your law enforcement experience and make your way up to become a detective or a law officer of a higher ranking. With more experience in the field, this job can pay $80k a year with no degree requirements.
How to Unlock High-Paying Careers Without a Degree: 3 Paths Toward Jobs That Make $80K a Year
Getting jobs that pay $80k a year without a degree is a real possibility. Beyond technical abilities, most of these $80k salary jobs require strong communication, leadership, and collaboration skills. Be sure to work on your interpersonal skills so you can impress the hiring manager, even without a degree in hand. Below, we outline some of the steps you can take to further increase your chances of landing a job that pays $80k a year.
Acquire Relevant Skills
The most important step in your journey is to learn the skills required to perform well in your desired role. This can be done through various resources, such as online learning platforms and coding bootcamps. Research all options that are available to you and choose the ones that fit your schedule, needs, and budget best.
Gain On-the-Job Experience
Once you have chosen a desired path, look into apprenticeship or internship opportunities that are accessible to you. On-the-job training is a great way to learn, as it exposes you to real-world scenarios. This can provide a glimpse into what your actual responsibilities would be. At the same time, you get to refine your skills and prepare to become job-ready as soon as the training ends.
Build a Portfolio
Depending on your area of interest, you should start building a portfolio of projects that you can show potential employers. For example, if you are interested in UI design, you can offer your freelance services through popular job sites. Not only is this a great way to make money on the side, but you also get to showcase actual deliverables in your portfolio. This can validate your experience and convince a recruiter that you are a right fit for their organization.
Can You Land a Job That Pays Over $80K Without a Degree?
It is possible to land a job that pays $80k a year without a degree. Some industries value skills, experience, certifications, and specialized training over formal degrees, making it more accessible to non-degree holders. As seen in the list above, jobs that pay $80k a year can be found in sectors such as tech, hospitality, and criminal justice, among others.
However, it is important to research specific job requirements, which can tell you more about the skills you need to excel in these roles. From then on, you can formulate a game plan to acquire these skills, whether through self-study, coding bootcamps, or certification programs. It also helps to build a strong professional network to maximize your chances of securing a job that pays $80k a year without a degree.
Best 10 Jobs That Pay Over $80K Without a Degree FAQ
You can make $80k a year without a degree by exploring a career path that doesn’t hinge solely on a four-year degree. More and more tech companies, for example, are open to adopting skill-based hiring. This means they value your skills over your credentials. If you are interested in this career path, the next step is to learn the relevant skills and build a robust portfolio.
An annual salary of $80,000 can be considered good depending on factors like your location, lifestyle, and financial goals. In some areas with lower living costs, jobs with an $80k salary may provide a comfortable life, while in high-cost areas, it might be considered modest. Consider your personal circumstances and financial needs to determine if $80k is a good salary for you.
You can find jobs paying $80k a year across various industries, including technology, communications, hospitality and tourism, criminal justice, and healthcare. Most job seekers prefer using online job sites to look for job opportunities while others use their professional networks to connect them with new opportunities. You can also visit the careers page of your desired company for more information on open roles.
You can find a job that pays $80,000 a year with an associate degree, but it often depends on the specific job market and your experience. Some fields value skills and experience over a four-year degree, providing a lower barrier to entry for job seekers of all backgrounds. Some of the best $80k salary jobs you can find include software engineering and data analysis. Note that these roles may require specialized training obtainable through self-study or coding bootcamps.