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Lucrative careers that don't require a degree

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Students in high school have long been encouraged to enroll in secondary education to further their future career prospects. While a college degree is a prerequisite for many careers, it is not mandatory for every job. In fact, there are many potentially lucrative lines of work that do not require a degree, and these careers often appeal to those young people who are discouraged by the high cost of college or those who have grown tired of the classroom atmosphere.
Many lines of work that do not require a college degree do require trade school certification. The good news is that trade school typically takes less time to complete than a more traditional four-year degree and such courses of study tend to be less expensive than college degrees.
These factors may be why the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics says eight of the 10 fastest-growing occupations in 2014 do not require a bachelor's degree. The following jobs are potentially lucrative but do not require a college degree.
  • Ship captain: A captain will navigate a vessel and manage the crew. Additionally, he or she will comply with international and local laws. Captains can expect an average salary of $87,000.
  • Web developer: Many web developers are self-taught, and many more supplement their natural skills by taking a few classes here and there. Web developers earn very good salaries, with a median salary of $75,000.
  • Tradesman: Plumbers, bricklayers, marble setters, and masons have been in high demand for centuries. Depending on the business and if a tradesman is self-employed, he or she can earn a considerable salary and enjoy a good living without having to earn a college degree.
  • Home health aide supervisor: Home health aide supervisors monitor the quality of care performed by aides for home patients and help develop a care plan. Much of the training for this profession occurs on the job, and workers receive satisfaction from helping those in need.
  • Locomotive engineer: Many engineers begin as rail transportation workers and conductors before they move up to an engineer position. Driving the train requires knowledge of the mechanical operations of the locomotive and awareness of safety regulations. A locomotive engineer can earn as much as $70,000 annually if not more.
  • Air traffic controller: A lucrative position, an air traffic controller has a very demanding job and one that subjects workers to significant stress. Air traffic controllers are responsible for maintaining a safe and orderly flow of air traffic to prevent collisions or traffic buildup at airports. Many air traffic controllers complete training through aviation-related programs or military service. Salaries can reach six figures.
Although college is the next step for many high school students, it is not necessarily the only path individuals need to take. Many high-paying and rewarding careers are available to people without college degrees.