Saving Cents: Best-paying jobs that require no college degree


by Sherry Williams / 11 News

Posted on August 25, 2010 at 6:06 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 25 at 6:06 PM

HOUSTON—With the cost of tuition skyrocketing, some high school graduates are not embarking on college careers. But that doesn’t mean they have to end up with low-paying jobs. Here are 10 professions that pay well but do NOT require a college degree.

Counting down they are:

10. City Bus Drivers: $36,000

9. Personal Trainers: $38,000

"Oh, I love it," said Oscar Valverde or Timberline Gym in the Montrose area. "I once had a job that I hated getting up for. This job, I love it. I’m here six, sometimes seven days a week and it doesn’t even feel like I’m working."

Valverde chooses to stay educated in the field. He has a variety of certifications and he is a licensed massage therapist. He said just because someone is fit doesn’t automatically make them a good trainer. They have to be able to teach the techniques, he said.

8. Commercial Fishing Supervisor: $44,000

7. Freelance Photographers: $48,000

6. Private Detectives: $51,000

5. Air Traffic Controllers: $60,000

This job does involve a high stress level and odd hours. According to the website,, it is extremely hard to land one of these jobs.

4. Elevator Mechanics $62,000

This job is not for someone who is afraid of heights and not for someone who doesn’t want to get dirty, said veteran elevator mechanic Billy McCormick. He’s been doing the job for two decades. He maintains all the elevators in Chase Tower, downtown Houston. It is the tallest building in Houston.

3. Security Directors: $62,000

2. Landscape Designers: $66,000

This profession is not to be confused with Landscape Architecture, which does indeed require a college degree, testing and licensing.

1.  Nuclear Power Plant Operator: $79,000

Yes, the job held most famously by Homer Simpson. Those in the field do need to have the capacity to understand some engineering, physics, control systems and strict safety guidelines. It is not unusual to see these positions held by workers who have worked on nuclear submarines or ships in the Navy.