The 10 highest paying jobs you don’t need a degree for

Air traffic controllers:

Up to £91,000 per year

Could you help aeroplanes to land safely? Air traffic controllers make sure that planes travelling through the UK take off, land safely and are a safe distance apart. They also respond to any emergencies that arise – they’re the traffic wardens of the skies.

What’s it worth?

Qualified air traffic controllers take home up to £50,000 a year and senior controllers can make up to £91,000. While you’re a sponsored trainee controller at college you usually earn about £10,000 a year. During on-the-job training, this goes up to between £15,000 and £19,000.

How do I become an air traffic controller?

To become a fully qualified controller, you will need an air traffic control licence, which you can gain by completing an approved training course.

Project manager:

Up to £80,000+ per year

Could you lead a construction team and make sure everything gets finished on time? Project managers plan and manage all kinds of business projects. They make sure work is finished on time, as agreed, and within budget. You can find them in almost every type of industry – from looking after building projects to introducing new departments to big businesses.

What’s it worth? It depends on experience, the industry and the size and type of project, but you can expect between £25,000 and £50,000 a year as a project manager. Top project managers can take home £80,000 or more.

How do I become a project manager? You can start by working in a project support team and work your way up, or manage smaller projects as part of another job. It will help if you understand PRINCE2 (projects in controlled environments) methods or specialist software such as MS Project or Workbench.

Marketing and sales managers:

Up to £100,000 per year

Could you sell sand in the desert? Sales managers lead teams of people who sell products and services. You might work for a record label, selling music into record shops, or for a telesales company that sells insurance. The list is endless – if there’s something that can be sold, a company will need a sales manager.

What’s it worth?

Salaries vary, starting at about £18,000 and reaching up to £70,000 and beyond. You will often earn commission (extra payment depending on how much you sell) on top of what is called your ‘basic’ salary.

How do I become a sales manager?

You’ll need experience in sales – and have a good record of achieving targets. You won’t necessarily need specific qualifications (aside from a grade C or above in English and maths), because it’s more about your personality – how outgoing, persuasive and likeable you are. Personality counts for a lot in the world of sales and marketing.

Personnel and training managers:

Up to £50,000 per year

Could you help someone shine at work? Training officers help people get better at their jobs by organising and running training sessions. They look at the skills employees are lacking and the kind of things they need to know to do their jobs well.

What’s it worth?

If you start as a training assistant, you can earn between £16,000 and £18,000 a year. Full training officers earn between £20,000 and around £30,000, while for training managers this can reach £50,000.

How do I become a training officer?

You can work your way up from a training officer or personnel position by gaining experience and a professional qualification such as those offered by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Train drivers:

Up to £40,000+ per year

Think driving trains sounds like fun? It’s also well paid! Train drivers carry passengers and cargo around the county on local and national rail networks.

What’s it worth?

Trainee train drivers earn about £17,500 a year. Newly qualified drivers can earn more than £30,000 a year and this rises to £40,000 with experience. You’ll also get free or reduced price rail travel!

**How do I become a train driver? **

Good news! You don’t need any specific qualifications to become a train driver – although C grades or above in GCSE maths and English will help. Train companies often recruit from within their workforce, so a good way to get your foot in the door is by finding a job working in another role, such as rail maintenance, and applying for train driver jobs as they come up.

Customer service managers

Up to £40,000 per year

Got a big, friendly smile and positive attitude to match? Put them to good use as a customer services manager! In this role, you’ll make sure that a company’s customers feel happy and well treated. You’ll deal with clients or shoppers, lead the customer services team, and might even develop rules and regulations for employees to follow when dealing with the public.

What’s it worth?

At entry-level, customer services assistants earn up to £18,000 a year. When you become a customer services manager this increases to about £25,000 and can go up to £40,000 with experience.

**How do I become a customer services manager? **

You’ll need to start as a customer services assistant and work your way up. People with good customer service skills are always in demand, so there are lots of career opportunities down the line. You don’t need formal qualifications – good people skills, a positive attitude and experience are more important.

Supply chain manager:

Up to £60,000 per year

Great at organising people and coming up with clever plans? Supply chain managers – also called logistics or distribution managers – make sure that goods and materials from manufacturers and suppliers reach shops and businesses as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s an important job – get it wrong and customers can’t buy the products they need and a business will lose sales.

**What’s it worth? **

Starting salaries range from £18,000 to £22,000 a year. With experience and promotion to manager level, you can earn between £25,000 and £40,000 – while for senior supply chain managers this can rise to £60,000.

**How do I become a supply chain manager? **

You can start out as a transport clerk – arranging times for the delivery of goods – and work your way up in the company. Alternatively, take a logistics qualification in supply chain or transport management and start applying for jobs.

Police constable:

Up to £50,000 per year

Would you like to save lives and fight crime? A police constable helps to keep our streets and communities safe. They look out for suspicious behaviour and investigate any criminal activity, with the aim of preventing it before it’s happened or catching the people responsible. As a PC, you could work in a police station, behind a desk, or out on the streets.

What’s it worth?

The starting salary for a police constable is roughly £20,000. This increases to nearly £36,500 over the years. If you get a promotion to inspector or above, your pay packet will grow considerably.

How do I become a police constable?

All police officers need good literary and communication skills, but having a willingness to learn on the job is most important. You’ll also need to be in good health, free of any offensive tattoos and be at least 18 years old.


The sky’s the limit!

Got the drive and know-how to bring your business ideas to life? Entrepreneurs are brilliant businessmen and women who set up innovative companies and come up with concepts for new products.

**What’s it worth? **

That depends on how successful your business is – it could be millions of pounds!

**How do I become an entrepreneur? **

You don’t need any specific qualifications to become an entrepreneur, but you’ll definitely need a bagful of good ideas that you think you can turn into a business venture. A GCSE or A-level in business studies might help as well.

If you have an idea for your business, get as much help and advice as possible to make it happen. You need to research your target market, identify your competitors and work on making sure you know your product or service inside out.


Up to £40,000+ per year

Want to be the hero who saves someone’s life? Firefighters protect people in the community from fire and other dangers. They rescue people from burning buildings, extinguish fires and, yes, sometimes get cats down from trees when needed!

What’s it worth?

Firefighters earn between £21,000 and £28,200 a year. If you get promoted to crew manager you can earn around £31,300, while station managers can make between £36,000 and £40,100.

**How do I become a firefighter? **

You usually need to be at least 18 years old to become a firefighter but if you are under this age you might still be able to get involved by joining a Young Firefighters Scheme in your local area.

You will need to contact the chief fire officer at the fire station you want to join for details of their requirements. Typically, you will need a good standard of education (GCSEs or equivalent) and a reasonable level of fitness.

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