No degree? These 8 jobs are high paying and you don’t need to study for them.

Money isn’t everything, but when you consider the time you spend working, it’s definitely preferable to be nicely remunerated. 

You’d be forgiven for thinking the only way to do that is to go to university. When I was Year 12 (long ago), our cohort’s collective focus was getting into the uni courses of our choice – or finding tolerable alternatives. If you weren't academic, or weren't doing a trade apprenticeship... you were on your own.

It seems not much has changed when it comes to education, with increasing calls for schools to provide students with more guidance around potential careers that don’t require university degrees.

For adults looking for a change in career, the same barriers apply, with many believing their options are limited if they don't have any formal qualifications. 

The reality is a little different though, according to the CEO of Canberra Labour Hire, George Barbas. 

“We are seeing an increase in the number of employers who are looking for staff with attributes, skills and capabilities outside of university degrees,” says Barbas.

“Many employers are looking for people who have a very good work ethic, who are eager to learn and are fast learners, and have the desire and potential to stay with the business long term. 

“They are also looking for leadership qualities in people. University degrees do not provide many of these learnings and so these must be taught on the job through role immersion and organisational culture.”


And you don't have to sacrifice your lifestyle either. For those of you who aren’t cut out for the hands-on world of trades, there are several other high-paying jobs up for grabs, even if you don’t have that piece of paper. 

Real estate agent.

Selling real estate is one job that’s unlikely to be phased out by technology. Not only that, it doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age or gender. And, it seems, there can never be too many.

These days, a short online course is recommended, easily completed through the state’s respective Real Estate Institutes and other outlets.

Whether you're straight out of school or looking for a change in your 50s, a successful real estate career is possible. In fact, many agencies prefer hiring agents without experience, so they can train you up to suit their business model.

There are plenty of options, too, from retainer-based employment to commission only, independent agents, or even a franchise owner.

According to, real estate agents earn around $100k on average, but because their pay is based on commission, their earning potential is pretty much endless.

Sales director.

Most sales directors got to where they are through experience and demonstrative sales success. And most people who get into sales don’t have a degree.

Sales reps and consultants are required in myriad industries, allowing new entrants to follow their interests and prove their abilities through hard work and determination. 


With sales professionals often being paid through commissions and bonuses, and success easily measurable, if you’re good at what you do, you’ll earn decent cash. 

You’ll also be able to climb the ranks, meaning a junior sales assistant could realistically lead to a management or director’s role. Both demand big salaries, starting at around $150k, according to 

Executive assistant.

Executive assistants traditionally work directly for the company CEO or another c-suite executive, commanding wages of more than $100k. 

An executive assistant’s main duties are providing administrative, business and personal support to an executive level professional. In most cases, how well you do the job will determine your salary.

To nab an executive assistant role, you’ll need to demonstrate your ability to do it well – something that can often be achieved via previous administrative positions, and even junior roles.

“I’ve been earning six figures since my early 30s and worked my way up from receptionist to office manager to c-suite executive assistant,” says Samantha.

Social media manager.

While there are degrees in social media, scoring a job in this rapidly evolving industry doesn’t necessarily require one. 

In fact, some of the most savvy social media users are self-taught, and young people are in the perfect position to show off their advanced skills to hiring managers – often Millennials or Gen Xers – who may be less astute in this arm of marketing.


As social media becomes increasingly entrenched in the way organisations do business, and with many marketing professionals finishing their degrees prior to its dominance, creative and tech-savvy individuals will continue to be in high-demand.

Potential social media managers can also demonstrate their abilities via their own channels, which is a huge advantage. The pay’s not bad either, starting at around $75k per year and going up from there.

AI consultant.

Artificial intelligence is fast becoming an integral business element of a growing number of industries. The problem for many businesses, especially smaller companies and start-ups, is they don’t quite know how to approach it.

That’s where AI consultants come in. And, as with any emerging industry, many are self-taught. Plus, being in such high demand, they can earn well into the six figures.

Hospitality managers.

While hospitality management degrees exist, in the world of hotels, restaurants and other hospitality venues, experience in the industry is highly valued.

That means you can work your way up from entry-level positions, or pivot from other management roles.

The hospitality industry is expected to continue to skyrocket in a post-COVID world as people embrace getting out and about – something they weren't able to do for so long. While lower-level hospitality positions are often linked to lower wages, hospitality managers make a decent living, earning an average salary of $95k.



Recruitment is a booming industry that offers incredible opportunities for working your way up the ranks.

Many entry-level positions, such as human resources coordinators or assistants, require no qualifications at all. Once you’ve got your foot in the door, you can work your way up to HR Manager or Director.

Many non-recruitment roles require transferable skills that may score you a more senior HR job, without the industry experience. 

Experience in administration, communications, problem-solving and critical thinking go a long way towards demonstrating your ability to find the right person for the job – including yourself. And the average salary for an HR Manager is $150k – not bad.

Website developer.

Being a relatively new industry, website developers are more likely to score a job based on their portfolio of work than their education. Many are self-taught, and employers routinely hire developers with no formal qualifications.

With the emergence of AI and other technologies, it’s safe to say demand for website developers isn’t going away anytime soon, as businesses become increasingly dependent on their online presence.

Once you’ve got a good portfolio under your belt, you can expect to earn upwards of $200k. 

Feature image: Getty.

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