25 Low-Stress Jobs That Pay Well Without a Degree

Landing a high-paying job without a college degree may seem daunting, but there are plenty of opportunities available if you know where to look. As a small business consultant who has helped countless entrepreneurs evaluate careers and training programs, I‘ve discovered many lucrative fields that offer stability and decent wages without four years of higher education.

In this article, we‘ll explore 25 of the top low-stress jobs that pay well without a degree, along with typical salaries, growth projections, day-to-day responsibilities, and tips to get started. Continue reading to discover the best options whether you prefer working with people, numbers, or your hands.

Table of Contents

  • Medical and Healthcare Fields
  • Skilled Trades
  • Business, Sales and Office Support
  • Transportation and Equipment Operation
  • Tech and Computer Science
  • Creative Arts and Design

Medical and Healthcare Fields

1. Dental Hygienist

  • Typical Salary: $76,000
  • Job Growth: 11% (Much faster than average)

Dental hygienists clean teeth, examine patients for signs of oral disease, and provide preventive dental care services like sealants and fluoride treatments. This fast-growing field only requires an associate‘s degree and licensure. As a consultant, I often recommend this career because of its competitive wages, low stress, and flexible scheduling options.

Daily activities include:

  • Performing oral exams on patients and assessing their dental hygiene needs
  • Removing soft and hard deposits from teeth using scaling and polishing equipment
  • Applying preventive materials like fluorides and sealants to protect teeth
  • Educating patients on proper dental hygiene techniques for optimal oral health

To become a dental hygienist, you‘ll need an associate‘s or bachelor‘s degree in dental hygiene and pass national and state licensing exams. Programs typically take 3 years and cost $20,000-$35,000 in total.

With further education, dental hygienists can advance to teaching roles, office management, or sales. Part-time opportunities allow balancing family responsibilities. Overall, this career provides excellent work-life balance.

2. Diagnostic Medical Sonographer

  • Typical Salary: $75,000
  • Job Growth: 10% (Faster than average)

Diagnostic medical sonographers operate specialized equipment to create images and conduct tests using sound waves. An associate‘s degree and professional certification provide entry into the field. I often suggest this career because technology allows flexible scheduling and the job involves lots of activity (not stuck at a desk all day).

Daily work includes:

  • Preparing patients for procedures by describing the process and answering questions
  • Using equipment to capture images of internal organs, masses, fetal development, and blood flow
  • Identifying abnormalities and documenting diagnostic information for physicians
  • Maintaining equipment and ordering supplies

Formal education options include 1-year certificate programs, 2-year associate‘s degrees, and 4-year bachelor‘s degrees. Overall costs range from $5,000-$30,000. Sources like the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) provide program listings.

With experience, sonographers may move into management, teaching, sales, or research roles. Overall, this career offers work-life balance, strong pay without extensive education, and increasing demand.

3. Pharmacy Technician

  • Typical Salary: $36,000
  • Job Growth: 4% (Faster than average)

Pharmacy techs assist licensed pharmacists by measuring medication, filling prescriptions, taking inventory, and handling customer transactions. While some have bachelor‘s degrees, many pharmacy techs learn through on-the-job training or 1-year certificate programs costing $1,000-$2,000. Strong attention to detail is essential. I often recommend this field to entrepreneurs who enjoy fast-paced healthcare environments with lots of person-to-person contact.

Daily tasks include:

  • Counting tablets, measuring medication, and compounding drugs
  • Entering prescription information into the computer system
  • Verifying insurance and patient information for prescriptions
  • Answering phone calls, questions, and requests from patients
  • Maintaining proper storage and security protocols

With suitable training and certification, pharmacy techs can progress to lead tech roles. Other advancement opportunities include teaching assistant jobs or pursuing additional education to become a pharmacist. The low educational requirements paired with solid job prospects make this a strong low-stress career choice.

Skilled Trades

4. Plumber

  • Typical Salary: $55,000
  • Job Growth: 4% (As fast as average)

Plumbers install, repair, and maintain water systems, pipes, drainage, and more for commercial and residential buildings. Most plumbers learn through 4-5 year paid apprenticeship programs after high school. I often suggest exploring this career to entrepreneurs who like hands-on work, physical activity, and travel between job sites. The growing construction industry and need for maintenance ensure plumbers are always in demand.

Daily work may involve:

  • Consulting with clients about repair options and costs
  • Locating and marking pipe systems
  • Cutting, fitting, assembling, and installing pipes and fixtures
  • Testing systems using air and water pressure readings
  • Repairing and unclogging drains, toilets, sinks, and tubs

With experience, plumbers can become self-employed contractors, focus on specialized systems, or pursue management roles. The career offers stability and wages without extensive formal education.

5. Electrician

  • Typical Salary: $56,000
  • Job Growth: 9% (Faster than average)

Electricians install, connect, test, and maintain electrical systems for homes, businesses, and infrastructure. Apprenticeships are the most common training method. I regularly encourage entrepreneurs with mechanical skills to explore this career path because the continuous need for qualified electricians leads to job stability.

Daily work activities include:

  • Planning and following wiring layouts for circuits, systems, and equipment
  • Installing conduits, wiring, breaker panels, lighting, and control systems
  • Performing preventive maintenance and testing for safety
  • Diagnosing power failures or malfunctions and making repairs
  • Providing estimates to clients for new installations or upgrades

With licensure and experience, electricians can become master electricians or electrical contractors. Many work flexible hours via part-time side jobs in addition to their full-time role. Overall, this career offers good wages with a clear path to advancement.

Business, Sales and Office Support

6. Insurance Sales Agent

  • Typical Salary: $50,000
  • Job Growth: 8% (As fast as average)

Insurance sales agents contact potential customers, assess their insurance needs, explain policy options, and sell plans that suit their budgets and lifestyles. While a high school diploma is technically enough, most employers prefer candidates with proven sales abilities or some college coursework. Certification is essential. I frequently suggest this stable, lucrative career to outgoing entrepreneurs who enjoy advising and assisting customers.

Daily work activities include:

  • Building rapport with potential and existing clients
  • Assessing clients‘ financial situations, risks, budgets, and insurance needs
  • Matching customers with suitable insurance plans
  • Explaining policy terms, provisions, exclusions, and claims processes
  • Maintaining customer accounts and suggesting appropriate coverage revisions over time

With suitable performance, insurance agents can take on managerial roles, open independent brokerages, or transition into other financial service positions. Strong sales and communication skills are vital for steady income in this field.

7. Medical Secretary

  • Typical Salary: $36,000
  • Job Growth: 15% (Much faster than average)

Medical secretaries perform administrative duties in healthcare settings like hospitals, clinics, and private practices. While no formal degree is required, postsecondary medical secretary programs provide beneficial training. I regularly suggest this career for entrepreneurs who thrive in fast-paced environments and enjoy variety in their workdays.

Daily tasks include:

  • Greeting patients, answering phones, scheduling appointments
  • Updating and managing patient medical records
  • Communicating with insurance companies on patient behalf
  • Compiling billing information and submitting claims
  • Ordering supplies and coordinating repairs for the healthcare facility

With experience, secretaries can specialize in areas like medical coding and billing or advance into office management roles. Strong organization and communication abilities are essential. Overall, this career offers low stress and job security.

8. Bookkeeper

  • Typical Salary: $42,000
  • Job Growth: -2% (Declining)

Bookkeepers handle accounting duties like recording financial transactions, categorizing income and expenses, processing payroll, reconciling accounts, and preparing financial statements. Most positions require some college coursework or bookkeeping certification. Attention to detail is a must. I often suggest this role for methodical entrepreneurs looking for stable office-based work.

Daily tasks include:

  • Producing invoices and bank deposits
  • Maintaining ledgers, budgets, balance sheets, profit/loss statements
  • Reviewing and reconciling accounts for accuracy
  • Preparing taxes, licenses, contracts, and other paperwork
  • Providing recommendations for cost reductions and revenue growth

Over time, bookkeepers can advance to supervisory roles or expand their services as independent contractors and consultants. Adaptability to new accounting software allows bookkeepers to stay relevant despite declining job growth.

Transportation and Equipment Operation

9. Commercial Driver

  • Typical Salary: $47,000
  • Job Growth: 4% (As fast as average)

Commercial drivers safely operate large vehicles to transport materials over long distances. A high school diploma combined with a postsecondary certificate program and commercial driver‘s license (CDL) provide entry into the field. I frequently recommend this career to entrepreneurs who prefer lots of time on the open road over a typical office job.

Daily work includes:

  • Planning routes and meeting delivery schedules
  • Driving trucks, buses, tankers, company vehicles, or other large transports
  • Navigating traffic, road hazards, and weather conditions
  • Inspecting vehicles and reporting maintenance issues
  • Maintaining driver logs and other paperwork

Drivers can advance by earning specialized certifications to transport hazardous materials, work for fire/EMT departments, or shuttle passengers instead of freight. Careful attention and safety are imperative.

10. Crane Operator

  • Typical Salary: $57,000
  • Job Growth: 10% (Faster than average)

Crane operators control stationary or mobile cranes to lift, move, and lower materials on construction sites and industrial settings. Becoming a crane operator takes 1-3 years through paid apprenticeship programs and obtaining a commercial driver‘s license (CDL). I regularly suggest exploring this career to entrepreneurs who like machinery and being part of an active team.

Daily responsibilities include:

  • Reading plans to determine load sizes and specifications
  • Performing safety inspections on cranes and cables
  • Controlling crane movements based on hand signals and experience
  • Lifting and placing steel, concrete, lumber and equipment precisely
  • Reporting any malfunctions or maintenance issues

With experience, crane operators can join a union for increased wages and benefits or advance to supervisor roles. Mechanical aptitude and spatial skills provide benefits.

Tech and Computer Science

11. Computer Support Specialist

  • Typical Salary: $55,000
  • Job Growth: 8% (As fast as average)

Computer support specialists provide technical assistance to organizations and individuals experiencing issues with hardware, software, networks, or other technologies. While many hold bachelor‘s degrees, these roles are accessible if you have strong computer skills, programming knowledge, and some relevant certifications. I often suggest this career to tech-savvy entrepreneurs who enjoy solving problems.

Daily activities include:

  • Fielding inquiries from users and troubleshooting problems
  • Walking clients through solutions over the phone, email, remote access, and in person
  • Setting up equipment and installing/upgrading software
  • Maintaining systems, applying security patches, and monitoring performance
  • Escalating complex issues to specialized IT teams

With further certifications (A+, Network+, Security+), support specialists can qualify for more advanced IT positions over time. Continual learning is key to stay current.

12. Web Developer

  • Typical Salary: $77,000
  • Job Growth: 15% (Much faster than average)

Web developers design, build, and improve websites for organizations using programming languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. While many hold bachelor‘s degrees, you can break into the field with coding bootcamps, certifications, and a stellar portfolio of work. Strong technology skills are essential. I regularly encourage entrepreneurial thinkers to explore this career path.

Daily work may include:

  • Building site layout/user interface by coding web pages and applications
  • Integrating graphics, content, databases, servers, user authorization, e-commerce, and other features
  • Testing sites across browsers and mobile devices to identify bugs
  • Collecting user feedback and optimizing sites to enhance the customer experience
  • Maintaining and updating sites as needed for security and functionality

Developers can advance by gaining expertise in back-end languages like Java and .Net to transition into software engineering. This field rewards driven self-learners.

Creative Arts and Design

13. Makeup Artist

  • Typical Salary: $70,000
  • Job Growth: 19% (Much faster than average)

Makeup artists apply cosmetics to clients for film, theater, television, weddings, photoshoots, and other special events. While freelance work dominates, salon jobs provide useful experience. Excellent fine motor skills are a must. I regularly suggest exploring this creative career to entrepreneurs with artistic talents.

Daily tasks include:

  • Consulting with clients on desired looks and assessing facial features
  • Selecting and applying makeup products like foundation, eyeliner, lipstick, etc.
  • Styling and coloring hair pieces, wigs, and extensions
  • Keeping makeup kits clean, organized, and stocked
  • Following proper sanitation practices for brushes and tools

Building a strong portfolio and professional network is critical for freelance success. With experience, makeup artists can become directors overseeing teams or open retail cosmetics lines.

14. Graphic Designer

  • Typical Salary: $50,000
  • Job Growth: 3% (As fast as average)

Graphic designers create visual concepts to communicate ideas that inform, educate, or captivate consumers. Most have bachelor‘s degrees, but you can break in via internships and a strong portfolio of work. Creativity and visual style are essential skills. I regularly encourage artistic entrepreneurs to consider this career.

Daily work can involve:

  • Meeting with clients to determine design goals
  • Developing concepts and layouts for logos, publications, ads, websites, and more
  • Selecting colors, images, text, and other visual elements
  • Hand-drawing sketches and digitally designing graphics/layouts
  • Preparing designs and artwork for production

With experience, designers can obtain senior or director roles, supervisor positions, or choose to freelance. Adaptability is important as trends and technology constantly evolve.

I hope these 25 careers provide insight into the many high-paying, low-stress jobs available without four-year degrees. Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to share my knowledge as a business consultant and entrepreneurship advisor.