Five surprisingly profitable careers that DON’T require a college degree

It may surprise you that you don’t need a college degree to make a decent wage. In fact, research shows more education doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make more money. A 2021 study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found 16% of high school graduates, 23% of workers with some college and 28% of associate degree holders earn more money than half of all workers with a bachelor’s degree.

Here are a few options for those looking for additional options outside of college education or upon release.

Transportation, storage and distribution manager

In this role, you’ll coordinate transportation, storage and distribution of items or goods in accordance with laws, regulations and policies. While this role does require previous work experience, it does not require a college degree. The median salary for this position is $94,560.


With a median salary of $60,040 and more than 50,000 expected job openings by 2031, a career in the electrical field is a viable option. While electricians require licensing in Tennessee, there are apprenticeship opportunities and even technical programs to further your knowledge.

As an electrician, you’ll work to install, maintain and repair electrical power, communications, lighting and control systems in homes, businesses and other properties.


Plumbers are in high demand as their services are always needed – and with an average salary of $59,880 plus area for growth, this career can create meaningful employment opportunities. To become a plumber in Tennessee, you must complete an apprenticeship or technical program and receive local and state licensing.

As a plumber, you’ll develop blueprints to plan where pipes and fixtures should be located and connect and install said piping, facilitate water supply from pipes and fixtures like bathtubs, showers, sinks and toilets, and ensure water reaches appliances like washing machines, dishwashers and water heaters. 

Dental hygienist

While a bachelor’s degree is not required to become a dental hygienist, an associate degree is recommended. This role allows you to directly impact your patients’ lives and become a part of their wellness journey. Some dentists may even pay for your schooling! Most programs take around three years to complete.

This career has an average salary of $77,810.

At HopeWorks, we’re in the business of second chances. We offer job skills training and placement opportunities as a part of our Workforce Development services. Our ESL students are offered IET training for careers in manufacturing and as Certified Nursing Assistants.

Through Hope2Hire, we offer on-site training for our students at the Shelby County Correctional Department to option certifications in carpentry, cooking and several other fields.

If you’re interested in more information, give us a call at 901-272-3700.