13 Highest Paying Jobs Of 2015 You Don’t Need A Degree For

Recently, President Obama addressed America with the annual State Of The Union speech. The verdict? The State Of The Union, while still struggling, continues to get stronger with a job market that is growing faster than it has since 1999. It sounds good. And there is even evidence and statistics to prove that it’s true. But, tell someone who has been out of work for the past 18 months, just how strong the job market is and see how far that gets you. The truth is, it can be rough out there. Many have taken any job that can get, even if that means stocking shelves at Walmart, while having a Master’s degree hanging at home. Others have decided to go back to school in hopes of gaining an edge in an incredibly competitive market. We've been led to believe that without a college degree, you won’t ever be able to find real success. But is that true?

If you break it down on paper, yes. It’s true. The median salary for people with a high school degree as their highest level of education, is just under $30,000 a year. Meanwhile, the median income of someone with a bachelor’s degree is just over $50,000. It’s also worth noting that jobs that do not require a college degree have salaries that top off on average of $79,000, while a college grad can be looking at $130,000 salary in the top levels of their field. But, remember it’s a bell curve. There are plenty of low paying jobs out there. But there are some jobs that are shelling out big bucks with no college degree required and minimal to no training. You don’t have that monthly student loan check to shell out each month on top, either. These are the 13 best prospects of 2015 and what you could be earning.

13 Plumber


Annual salary range: $37,530 to $67,150 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 351,380

Education needed: High School Diploma 

It might not be the most glamorous of all jobs, but it is one of the most consistently high paying and in-demand jobs out there. And the stereotype of the guy plunging out your toilet (with his crack hanging out) is about as accurate as saying that all cooks flip burgers. Pipes always need fixing, replacing and new construction, meaning that it needs to be run in the first place. Regular maintenance and remodeling projects also have plumbers working all year long. After you put in your four or five year apprenticeship, you will see your paychecks continue to grow every year. Salaries will depend on which part of the country you're in, how long you've been in your career, and additional vocational training and certifications can bump you up even higher.

12 Construction Supervisor


Annual salary range: $46,970 to $76,700 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 467,130

Education needed: High school diploma or equivalent

You might not need a degree to become a construction supervisory, but you will need to pay your dues for a few years. At least five or more years of old fashioned hard labor out in the field will be needed, though, before being able to take on a position as a construction supervisor. But considering that you can be running the show of your job while you're friends who graduated college are still handing out resumes and running around on job interviews, it doesn't seem like such a bad gig. This one can be higher stress than some of the other jobs on this list, of course. Being in charge of a crew of plumbers, electricians and carpenters, rarely comes without a few hurdles. But, for the right person, this is a position that can bulk up your wallet mighty fast.

11 Brick Mason


Annual salary range: $35,860 to $62,810 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 58,730

Education needed: High school diploma or equivalent

Is there a more old-fashioned honest day of hard work out there than a day of laying bricks for a living? Probably not. Brick masons begin their careers with a three to four year paid apprenticeship, in which they learn all the "bricks" to the trade. There are also one and two year masonry programs that can be attained independently, in order to obtain more of an edge. But, all-in-all, brick masonry is a solid job that can land you in the area of the average annual income within just a few short years.

That might include a one- or two-year masonry program, offered by many technical schools, which may also be taken independently

10 Gas Plant Operators


Average annual salary: $63,680 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 13,890

Educated needed: High school diploma or equivalent, with training 

Power plant jobs are harder to come by these days, especially in fields that are dying out in the modern age. But if you can land a job dealing with natural resources like gas, chances are you'll be in demand for years to come. Gas plant operators are responsible for processing and distributing gas for utility companies and cannot be replaced by artificial machinery. The work itself, however, can be stressful due to its dangerous nature. But that's why the median salary hovered around $63,000 in 2012, and still remains one of the most lucrative jobs you can get without a college degree.

9 Electrical Power-Line Installers/Repairers


Average annual salary: $64,170 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 111,350

Education needed: Typically high school diploma

Our homes might be becoming increasingly wireless as technology advances, but more electrical lines go up every single day to make that a possibility. Once empty skies and horizons, are now frequently filled with electrical towers and power lines running grids throughout our cities and suburbs, to keep this era of communications rolling forward. And 111,000 workers might seem like a lot, but when you consider how many power lines there are and how fast they are expected to repair damaged lines, that number starts to shrink in comparison. Areas that are frequently hit by natural disasters like hurricanes, are much more in demand. And the increase of severe storms in general in recent years, has experts in the industry predicting a 9 percent demand increase between 2012 and 2022.

8 Mail Carriers and Superintendents


Average annual income: $65,150 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 307,000

Education needed: High school diploma or equivalent 

Email might have changed the way that we communicate with each other. But snail mail isn't dead yet. And chances are, it never will be, although postal service jobs are on the decline. So, if you can get one, don't take it for granted. The top 10 percent of mail carriers saw annual salaries starting at over $84,000 in 2013. It's a great way to keep from being a stagnant person and keeps you on your toes - literally. Of course, having to brave all of the elements year-round means that being a mail carrier isn't exactly the easiest job there is out there, but it definitely pays well.

7 Transportation Inspectors


Average salary: $65,950 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 23,970

Education needed: High school diploma or equivalent 

You see them every day without even realizing it. The guy who is checking taxi meters to make sure customers aren't getting ripped off? The woman making sure the wheelchair ramps on buses are up to regulation and working properly? The person inspecting and double checking all of the cargo that is about to get shipped on the train? They're all transportation inspectors. Believe it or not, there is no formal education for this position. Put in your dues and on-the-job training is all you need to be on your way to shipping out cargo and collecting your hefty salary, which can reach higher than the national average. Between 2013 and 2022, the demand for this position is predicted to continue to increase by over 11 percent.

6 Gaming managers


Median annual income: $66,200 (USD)

Total number employed: 4,460

Education needed: High school diploma or equivalent 

Although the gaming industry has continued to grow, it hasn't grown as much as you might think in recent years. However, what makes the gaming industry a career you might want to look into is the fact that it keeps expanding. What used to be reserved for areas like Las Vegas and Atlantic City, has spread across the country with casinos opening up in nearly all major cities and the surrounding suburbs. Each one of those casinos needs someone in charge to oversee operations inside the casino. You can't just walk in the door and expect to get this position, obviously. You'll need a few years of experience working inside the casinos or with slots, but no education beyond high school is required for this position, if you're willing to shell out some cards for a few years and work your way up the chain of command.

5 Power Plant Operators


Average salary: $68,100 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 39,810

Education needed: High school diploma or equivalent, with training 

Almost everything we do in our daily lives involves some kind of power. Just the process it took to read this required quite a bit of electricity to be distributed. And you can thank a power plant operator for that, as they're the ones who are responsible for overseeing the generation and distribution of electric power across an area. Vocational training is preferred in these positions, but not traditionally required and enough on-the-job training is often considered just as good. This position does come with the burdens of shift work, which some people love and other people can't manage. But for the right person, this position can rake in good money.

4 Detectives and Criminal Investigators


Average salary: $76,730 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 109,960

Education needed: High school diploma or equivalent, with training

If you're willing to put in the leg work and climb your way up through a respectable career of good pay that increases the higher you get, you could be detective or criminal investigator without a degree higher than a high school diploma. First, you'll need to pass the physical exams along with written and drug tests. Then, you're going to have to get through training at the police academy. And after putting your time as a police officer, you could be looking at a career as a detective, which can come with a pretty sizable income. The median income for detectives was $76,000 in 2013, with the top-earning 10 percent raking in over $125,000 annually. So, what are you waiting for?

3 Transportation, Storage and Distribution Managers


Average salary: $83,890 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 102,610

Education needed: High school diploma or equivalent

Shipping, storage and distribution is a pretty big business that only continues to get bigger. We're a society who likes their stuff, both nationally and globally, and that stuff needs to get shipped somehow. It's the job of a transportation manager to plan out and direct the logistics involved around the warehousing and shipping aspects. Many people who hold this title do have at least an Associate's degree, but it's not typically required. If you have a background in the industry or are willing to put a few years in, you could be looking at one of the highest paying jobs in the market, with some of the top earners bringing in $140,000.

2 Sales Representative


Average salary range: $35,00 - $113,000 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 385,789

Education needed: High school diploma or equivalent

A job as a sales representative is one of the easiest, well-paying jobs you can land without college or vocational education. What you do need is above-average interpersonal skills and the motivation to work. Sales reps are needed in almost every industry, from pharmaceuticals to warehousing. There are countless stories of people going from a lower position like a cashier or shelf stocker, all the way up the chain of command to store manager, general managers and even vice presidents and presidents, which just goes to prove that you should never underestimate the power of a good smile and hard work.

1 Purchasing Manager


Average salary:  $91,431 (USD)

Number employed in the US: 72,351

Education needed: High school diploma or equivalent

Say what? You can make close to six figures from buying stuff all day? Well, yes and no. Most people think that all purchasing managers, agents and buyers do, is buy stuff for stores and sellers. But that's like saying all that cops do is arrest the bad guys. There are many facets to working as a purchasing manager, including interviewing vendors, negotiate contracts, evaluate demand and costs, review product quality, and much more. Many purchasing managers work a minimum of 40 hours a week. But it's hard to complain about the extra hours when you're collecting your paycheck every week.

More in Job & Salaries