3 high-paying in-demand jobs that don’t require a degree

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3 high-paying in-demand jobs that don’t require a degree

If you’re looking for a career that pays well, doesn’t require a college degree and offers strong job security, you might want to consider a trade job. 

The U.S. skilled labor market is facing “record-high pressure,” according to new research from McKinsey & Co., as more workers age out and fewer young people train to fill their jobs as construction workers, plumbers, welders and more. 

Labor shortages — amplified by disruptions to in-person work and material shortages during the Covid-19 pandemic — have created more competition for talent, and, as a result, wages for skilled trade jobs have risen by more than 20% since the first quarter of 2020, McKinsey & Co. reports.

Demand for skilled tradespeople is expected to increase over the next decade and remain high in the U.S. due to infrastructure needs, a surge in real estate redevelopment and investments in renewable energy.

The most in-demand jobs companies are hiring for right now — that don’t require a degree — are in construction, manufacturing and plumbing, according to data from Payscale and ZipRecruiter exclusively shared with CNBC Make It

1. Construction superintendent

Median salary: $84,600

2. Manufacturing production manager

Median salary: $71,800

3. Journeyman plumber

Median salary: $61,500

It’s important to note that there are different levels of certification for some trade jobs including plumbers and electricians. For plumbers, there are three levels: Apprentice, journeyman and master. 

If you want to work as a journeyman plumber, you’ll need to work as an apprentice under a licensed master plumber for at least 2 years, depending on your state’s requirements, according to Indeed.

To compile the list, Payscale analyzed 85,715 salary profiles from U.S. workers with no education higher than a high school diploma. The salary data was collected between April 2022 and April 2024. From that sample, Payscale identified a list of jobs and ranked them by median pay for workers without degrees.

Then, to determine which high-paying jobs are seeing the most demand, ZipRecruiter looked at hiring trends for these roles over the last six months to see which jobs saw the biggest increase in openings. 

All of these jobs saw at least a 16% increase in openings on ZipRecruiter between October 2023 and March 2024. Construction superintendents have seen the largest uptick in demand, with openings surging more than 128%.

Other high-paying trade jobs that have seen slightly less demand, but are still hiring at a good clip, include fleet managers, who oversee drivers and vehicles, like delivery trucks, owned or leased by their companies, and journeyman electricians. The median pay for fleet managers without degrees is $64,600 while journeyman electricians make $62,600 on average, according to Payscale. 

Careers in construction, manufacturing and home services, which have historically prioritized skills over degrees in hiring, still present some of the best opportunities for people to earn up to six figures without going to college, says Ruth Thomas, a pay equity strategist with Payscale. 

Although more companies are dropping degree requirements for jobs, skills-based hiring is still a newer trend that “hasn’t become common practice” across all industries just yet, Thomas adds. 

Want to land your dream job in 2024? Take CNBC’s new online course How to Ace Your Job Interview to learn what hiring managers are really looking for, body language techniques, what to say and not to say, and the best way to talk about pay.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

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