Skip main navigation

13 highest-paying jobs without a degree

Wondering how to land your dream career? Turns out you don’t necessarily need university. Here are 13 of the highest-paying jobs you can get without a degree.

Highest Paid Jobs Smaller Image

Everyone wants a job that they feel passionate about but let’s not beat around the bush too much, how much we’re paid is also a big factor. While a degree is certainly one way to help increase our chances of a high salary, it’s not essential. Specialist online courses and good old-fashioned experience in your industry can be just as valuable as a degree to many employers.

According to the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personal Development), around 57% of employers look for candidates with a degree. While that is a large share of the job market, it does leave at least 43% of the job market open for those without a degree, including many high-paying roles. 

To give you the lowdown on what’s out there, we’ve put together the 13 highest-paying jobs with no degree.

1. Risk manager 

Average salary (UK): £66,933 

A job in risk management could be one of the best job options for people without university qualifications. 

The role is pretty self-explanatory – your job is to identify risks for organisations and come up with solutions to avoid them in future. These risks could be financial, reputational or anything in between. 

While you don’t need a degree, you do need to have good business acumen, so an online business course could be a good way to kickstart a career in risk management.

2. Sales manager

Average salary (UK): £60,386

The great thing about a career in sales is that you can work in any industry you like – the skills are totally transferable. If you’re good with people and enjoy tough negotiations, you could make plenty of money as a sales manager. 

With a good base average salary and the option for commission on sales too – this is one career where a lack of qualifications has no impact on your ability to earn! If you want a good foundation though, try our Sales Skills for Today course.

You can learn about a range of topics related to crime and criminology on our site. These might get you excited about working on the police force or inspire you to learn more.

3. Air traffic controller

Average salary (UK): £59,515

Air traffic control is a serious job with a lot of pressure. It’s either your kind of job, or it’s really not. It requires you to be alert and communicate with pilots to arrange landings and departures, as well as give permission for planes to change altitude. 

The overall aim is to keep passengers and crew safe. While you’ll have to have a rigorous training schedule before you’re let loose on the control desk, you don’t actually need a degree to become one – result!

4. Project manager 

Average salary (UK): £56,632

A project manager is a great option for anyone looking for a well-paid job without higher-level qualifications. 

Effectively, you’ll be working for a business or with clients to help manage a project successfully, from start to finish. You can take an apprenticeship in project management straight out of school, or you may be lucky enough to jump straight into a role. 

If you’re confident, organised and have an eye for detail, it could be the job for you, whatever your educational background.

5. Ethical hacker

Average salary (UK): £55,869

Cybercrime costs the global economy billions every year. While an illegal hacker steals data and commits crimes by breaking into websites, an ethical hacker will also try to breach website cybersecurity – but they do this to expose flaws and fix them. 

A degree can be helpful, however, some of the best ethical hackers are actually self-trained. According to a 2018 survey, 81% of hackers said they learned most of their skills from blogs and self-directed educational materials. Online cybersecurity courses are a great place to start if you’re interested in of the most well-paid jobs without a degree.

6. Game developer

Average salary (UK): £51,285

If you like playing games or browsing apps, have you ever thought about the people who make them? Well, you could be one of them even if you don’t have a degree. 

Many online courses can teach you how to become a game or app developer as long as you’re willing to put the hours in outside the classroom too. These game developer courses are often much cheaper than a university degree, quicker to complete, and are recognised to get you straight into the industry. Many of them are even available online and created by respected UK universities.

7. Waste manager

Average salary (UK): £50,933

It may not sound the most glamorous, but a career in waste management can be fulfilling and well-paid. As a manager, you may not even have to get your hands dirty, as you help make sure the waste from businesses and homes is appropriately collected, sorted and managed. 

With governments and councils more determined than ever to increase sustainability and improve things like access to proper recycling – there’s sure to be an increase in these roles in future.

8. Digital marketer

Average salary (UK): £47,082

Although slightly less specialised than an SEO role, there are still great opportunities for well-paid jobs in digital marketing without a degree. 

Lots of marketing professionals do have a degree, but it’s certainly not a requirement. They either learned on the job, came from other related paths or got the skills they needed through online digital marketing courses

9. SEO manager

Average salary (UK): £43,339

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. As an SEO manager, your aim is to get a business’s website onto the first page of Google so they can attract more customers. They also help with the technical aspects of a website. 

You don’t need any formal qualifications to get started, You will however need to sign up for SEO courses and do your own research. You’ll then be able to get a job with an SEO or marketing agency and increase earnings as a freelancer when you have some experience.

10. Off-shore energy jobs

Average salary (Cable Jointer): £42,393

Offshore jobs based at sea are well-known to pay big money because you have to be willing to give up some time with families and home comforts. But this makes it perfect for younger people without any commitments. 

You can get an apprenticeship for a role like a cable jointer, which involves the installation and maintenance of underground cables. Find the right organisation and you could end up with a well-paid job without a degree straight after your training. With more and more opportunities in renewable energy, these jobs are ones to watch for the future.

11. Police officer 

Average salary (UK): £42,281

Working for the police can be a challenging but satisfying job, especially when you see the difference you make in the local community. It can get even more exciting if you progress up the ranks and make it to become an inspector, work for a special crime unit or join counter-terrorism teams. 

12. Translator

Average salary (UK): £38,749

Translator jobs can bring good money with them, and they’re in demand because of globalisation and the way modern businesses trade. 

Many organisations need translators to be able to help with international negotiations, marketing and much more. 

Learning a language can take time and effort but if you’re determined, you can start with an online language course, building up your confidence and vocabulary over time.

13. Journalist

Average salary (UK): £36,474

If you’ve got a talent for telling stories, journalism could be a way to put that creativity into a long-term career. While jobs in print journalism aren’t as common these days, talented writers can still find their way in the online world. 

Some journalists will study at journalism school, where you’re judged by most employers on the merit of your writing. 

If you want to get a grasp of key aspects of the industry, we offer a range of online journalism courses to get you started.

Related stories on FutureLearn

FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now