50 Jobs That Pay Well… No College Necessary!

by Christian Kaylor

January 18, 2022

Generally speaking, high-wage jobs typically require a college degree. Statistics bear this out. The average Oregon worker with just a high school diploma earns $31,451 a year, while the average worker with a bachelor’s degree earns $52,498.

Looking past the generalizations, there are several jobs that pay high wages without requiring a college degree. Among the 800 occupations that the Oregon Employment Department tracks, at least 50 of them do not require a college degree and pay more than $50,000 a year to full-time workers. That’s significantly more income than the median Oregon salary for full-time workers of $43,000 a year.

These occupations generally fall into one of six occupational categories. This article will examine these occupations and what is required to qualify for these jobs. These jobs may not require a college degree, but that doesn’t mean that they’re easy to get. To learn more about any of the jobs mentioned here, including average pay and typical training requirements, check out our occupation profiles tool at: www.QualityInfo.org/jc-oprof.

Managers and Supervisors

About 110,000 Oregonians work in a management or supervisory occupation that doesn’t require a college degree. For all of these positions, the requirement is typically years of specific industry experience leading to supervising line workers. Supervisors of office and administrative workers earn about $61,800 annually. Similarly, supervisors of: sales workers, construction workers, production workers and mechanical workers all earn an average annual salary of between $45,500 and $77,800 a year.

Public Safety

About 14,000 public safety workers are employed in a field related to public safety that typically pays between $60,000 and $94,000 a year. These occupations include: police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers; police officers; and correctional officers. At the higher end of the wage scale, supervisors of correctional officers and police earn an average of $96,000 to $108,000 a year, though a four-year degree may be necessary for applicants to get a supervisory position.

Construction Trades

There are at least eight occupations in the construction trades that pay more than $50,000 a year. These occupations include: electricians ($77,600 a year), plumbers ($77,400 a year), and building inspectors ($74,600 a year). For these occupations, a lengthy apprenticeship and state certification is typically a requirement for employment.


There are over 110,000 production jobs in Oregon, and the vast majority of these occupations do not require a college degree. Several manufacturing and power plant jobs pay well above average without requiring a college degree. However, for many of these jobs, a technical college may significantly help with training, apprenticeship, and job placement. These positions include: CNC machine programmers ($47,000 a year), lathe operators ($53,400 a year), and tool and die makers ($68,500 a year).

Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers

More than 40,000 Oregonians work in positions related to mechanical installation and repair. The most common occupation in this category, industrial machinery mechanics, earn an average of $68,500 a year. Like every job in this article, a college degree is not necessary for this job, however many community colleges offer certification programs that may help job applicants appeal to employers. Related occupations include: HVAC mechanics ($55,400), electrical power-line installers and repairers ($101,500 a year), and precision instrument and equipment repairers ($59,100 a year).

Postal and Transportation

When it comes to moving packages, or people, there are a handful of jobs that pay above average wages. About 5,000 Oregonians work as postal carriers, sorters, and clerks. These postal workers enjoy an average income of about $52,600 a year. These occupations do not require a college degree.

Another 2,000 Oregonians are employed in transportation related occupations that do not require a college degree. These occupations include: commercial pilots, railroad conductors and yardmasters, transportation inspectors, and crane operators. These occupations all pay at least $60,000 a year on average. None of them require a college degree. In the case of commercial pilots, however, extensive training and certification are required. Many community colleges offer classes to get you started.

Occupations That Require Some College, But Not That Much

The preceding occupations do not require even an associate degree for an entry level position. However, if you are willing to spend a couple of years in college, there are dozens of occupations that require an associate’s degree that also pay well above average wages. These occupations generally fall into two categories: health care diagnosis, technicians, and therapists; and drafters and engineering technicians.

Half a dozen health care occupations require an associate’s degree and employ about 10,000 Oregonians. There are 3,400 dental hygienists in Oregon earning an average of $88,200 a year; radiologic technologists earn an average of $78,000 a year, while physical therapy assistants take home $63,600 a year.

There are 10 occupations in the field of drafting and engineering technicians employing about 13,000 Oregonians. All of them pay above average wages and typically require an associate’s degree. These occupations include: engineering technicians, civil engineering technicians, and architectural drafters. These occupations all pay an average salary of around $65,000 a year.


Latest Items

Subscription Service

You can sign up to receive email notifications when publications have been updated or new articles are added for any geographic area you are interested in. You can receive new articles on a daily, weekly, or monthly schedule – whichever is most convenient for you.

Visit the subscription order form to sign up. It allows you to choose your preferences, and you can change those preferences – or unsubscribe – at any time.