Fast-growing occupations that pay well and don’t require a college degree

By Ryan Farrell and William Lawhorn
Economists in the Office of Occupational Outlook and Employment Projections, BLS

Occupations that require a college degree get lots of attention for offering strong job outlook and wages. But there are also fast-growing, well-paying careers that you can enter with a high school diploma or other non-degree options. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) can help you identify and explore careers that interest you.

Between 2020 and 2030, BLS projects that about 60 percent of new jobs in the economy will be in occupations that don’t typically require an associate’s, bachelor’s, or graduate degree. This article highlights some of those occupations in which employment is projected to grow faster than the 7.7 percent average over the decade and that had median annual wages higher than the $45,760 median wage for all occupations in 2021. (A median wage is the wage at which half of workers in the occupation earned more than that amount, and half earned less.)

No degree? No problem

According to BLS data, more than two-thirds of jobs are in occupations that don’t typically require a college degree. Most of the occupations typically require at least a high school diploma to enter; specific outlook and wages vary.

Opportunities created by employment growth are only part of the outlook picture. In addition to expected openings from new jobs (those resulting from growth), occupational openings arise from the need to replace workers who retire or leave permanently for other reasons.

Note, however, that occupations with small employment may have relatively few openings each year despite projected fast growth over the decade. Fewer openings may limit opportunity, so you may want to consider an occupation’s size when exploring careers.

Construction and installation

Workers in occupations related to construction and installation make structures safe and attractive, or they set up a variety of equipment.

Among the occupations shown in Table 1, wind turbine service technicians had the highest wage in 2021. Wind turbine service technicians and solar photovoltaic installers, both of which involve renewable energy, are two of the five occupations expected to have the fastest employment growth from 2020 to 2030. Security and fire alarm installers is projected to have the largest number of openings each year, on average, for the occupations shown in Table 1. Most of these occupations typically require on-the-job training to attain competency.

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