Degree Not Required: 15 Jobs You Can Land Without Going To College

By Beth Braccio Hering, Special to CareerBuilder

Not all career paths wind through a college campus. Consider these jobs for which a degree isn't a prerequisite:

1. Welder

Mean annual wage: $35,220*

Welding involves using extremely high heat to melt and fuse pieces of metal together permanently. About two-thirds of welding jobs are in manufacturing industries. Many employers report difficulty filling positions requiring knowledge of the latest technologies.

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2. Hairdresser

Mean annual wage: $26,510

Opportunities in this field are expected to grow faster than average as aging baby boomers seek coloring treatments and other advanced services. Many stylists enjoy flexible hours, and more than 40 percent are self-employed.

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3. Animal caretaker

Mean annual wage: $22,070

Bathing, grooming, feeding and exercising animals are among the tasks of workers employed by kennels, pet stores, shelters, zoos and individual households. Job prospects are promising, as the companion pet population is expected to continue growing.

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4. Tree faller

Mean annual wage: $38,660

A physically-demanding occupation, fallers cut down trees using chain saws or mobile felling machines. They use knowledge of tree characteristics and cutting techniques to control the direction of its fall and minimize tree damage. Fallers train on the job through logging companies and trade associations, with safety instruction being a top concern.

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5. Security guard

Mean annual wage: $26,870

Concerns about crime, vandalism and terrorism continue to increase the need for guards. Most states require licensure that involves a background check and some classroom training, with more stringent requirements for armed guards. Duties may include using monitoring equipment, checking identification and searching vehicles.

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6. Tile and marble setter

Mean annual wage: $41,830

Setters apply tile and marble to floors, walls, ceilings, countertops and patios. Trainees progress from carrying materials to cutting tile and applying grout. Most salaried setters are employed by contractors working on nonresidential projects, while most self-employed setters work on residential projects.

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7. Pest control worker

Mean annual wage: $32,480

Both residences and businesses rely on exterminators to rid structures of bugs, rodents and other pests. Through a combination of study and on-the-job training, pest control workers learn how to set traps, safely use pesticides and identify points of entry. Jobs are more plentiful in warmer climates and larger cities due to the greater number of pests in these areas.

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8. School bus driver

Mean annual wage: $28,660

All bus drivers must obtain a commercial driver's license with proper endorsements, which requires a skills test of operating a bus safely and a knowledge test on rules and regulations. A clean record is important, and liking children is helpful.

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9. Groundskeeper

Mean annual wage: $25,430

Groundskeepers perform a variety of tasks, including sod laying, mowing, trimming, planting, watering, fertilizing, digging, raking and sprinkler installing. They are employed by landscaping firms, educational institutions and local governments. The field is expected to grow as aging homeowners need help maintaining their yards.

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10. Telecommunications line installer

Mean annual wage: $50,080

Employed by construction contractors, utilities and telecommunications companies, installers put in new cable to provide telephone, television and Internet connections to businesses and residences. Much of the work takes place outside and can involve heights and confined spaces. Formal apprenticeships are common.

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11. Customer service representative

Mean annual wage: $32,780

Nearly every business and industry needs representatives to help with customer inquiries. Reps may provide information online, by phone or in person. Training focuses on the company and its products, the most commonly-asked questions, system operation and communication skills. Bilingual reps are particularly in demand.

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12. Coin, vending and amusement machine servicer

Mean annual wage: $31,950

Servicers install, maintain, stock and repair slot machines, food and beverage machines, jukeboxes, arcade games and other similar machines. Not surprisingly, the metropolitan area with the highest employment level in this occupation is Las Vegas.

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13. Locksmith

Mean annual wage: $37,550

Locksmiths install and repair locks and other devices to safeguard homes, businesses and property. They also make duplicate keys, generate new keys to replace lost ones and respond to emergency calls to open doors that have been locked accidentally.

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14. Bartender

Mean annual wage: $21,310

Besides filling drink orders, bartenders check the identification of customers and maintain inventory of bar supplies. With tips being a substantial part of earnings, good people skills are a plus.

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15. Plumber

Mean annual wage: $50,360

One of the largest and highest paid construction occupations, plumbers install and repair the water, waste disposal and drainage systems in residential and commercial buildings. Plumbers also install bathtubs, showers, sinks, toilets, dishwashers, waste disposers and water heaters. Licensure typically requires two to five years of experience and passing a test covering the trade and local codes.

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*All wage figures per Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010

Next:America's Youth Reconsiders Skilled Trades

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