Best Paying Jobs in Australia Without A Degree

Job Vacancies: The Best Paying Jobs in Australia Without A Degree in 2020.

I’ve long asserted that you can earn a good income in Australia without a degree.

As most of you know, I didn’t finish school, let alone go to university.  Despite this, I earned a healthy income ($75,000 on average) as a storeman/forklift operator.

And this was enough that I could save a good portion of my pay, leading to lots of investing and a fairly short 10 year full-time working career.

But maybe you’re struggling to earn a decent wage right now.  Or maybe you’re fresh out of school, have no interest in study, and just want to earn a solid income as soon as possible.

Well, this article will help with that.  While I usually focus on saving and frugality, earning more is definitely useful.  There are many ways to earn a high income in Australia.  So if you find yourself on the low end of the income scale, you don’t need to stay there!

(By the way, if you’re a lower income earner, you’ll definitely want to read the following article:  Can You Achieve Financial Independence on a Low Income?

For reference, the minimum wage in Australia in 2020 is about $20 per hour, or around $40,000 per year full-time.  This is actually the highest minimum wage in the world.

Let’s agree that $30 per hour and above ($60,000+ per year) without a degree is a very healthy wage.  You can often earn more in the jobs I’m about to share, but we’ll use this as our benchmark.

The following is a list of the best paying jobs in Australia without a degree.  Here are 60 jobs that pay $60,000 per year and above ($30 per hour)…

 

Trades

Some of the better paid people in Australia.  Might seem like humble jobs, but you can definitely earn a strong income! 

Having an ABN and contracting yourself out at your chosen rate could be the way to go for maximum flexibility.  But I’ll be using widely available salary data from places like Indeed, which underestimates what you can earn being self-employed.

Yes, a mature-age apprenticeship starts on low pay.  But at least you’re getting paid to learn.  And when considered over 10-15 years, the income earned later should more than make up for the first few years.

Electrician.  Qualified sparkies can comfortably earn $50 per hour or more, and it’s possibly the least physically demanding of the traditional trades.

Builder or Carpenter.  Carpenters will generally earn a lower hourly rate than builders due to the scope of knowledge required, but both can earn $40 per hour or more.  In fact, the average builder’s salary is around $100,000, according to Indeed.

Bricklayer.  I always thought bricklaying would be an enjoyable job.  Not something you’d want to do for 40 years, but not super complex, giving you freedom to think or just enjoy some background music.  Wages here average around $65,000 and higher for experienced workers.

Plumber.  (credit to reader Damien).  Deal with all manner of pipes, drainage, water and gas systems.  Plumbers are well paid tradespeople and will often earn hourly rates of $50 or more.  Start as an assistant and/or complete an apprenticeship.

Painter.  Again, an apprenticeship (Cert III) is typically required here to work as a painter.  The hourly rate for painters is around $30-$40 per hour.

Tile Setter.  Tiling seems like hard work to me, but it can still pay reasonably well.  While it is on the lower end of the pay scale in the trades industry, you can still earn $35 per hour on average.  

Mechanic.  Until we’re flying around in Futurama-like tubes, there’ll still be demand for car mechanics.  I know of people who do this from home which cuts out the massive overhead of renting a workshop.  You can expect to earn at least $35 per hour.

Mining (anything mining-related!).  Being in Perth, I’ve seen and heard countless stories of people making a fortune doing relatively simple work like cleaning, cooking, or general on-site labour.  Within about 3 seconds of searching, I found an ‘entry-level, no experience required labourer’ job paying over $100,000.  If you can tolerate the roster and working away, the income potential in mining is huge.

 

Other Outdoors/Physical Jobs

Property Maintenance/Handyman/woman.  If you’re good with fixing things and enjoy doing odd-jobs that don’t warrant calling a tradie, you can make a healthy income as a handyman.  Do a good job, build a pool of clients who trust you and you’ll get a stream of well-paid recurring work, earning $30 per hour and above.

Lawn Mowing/Garden Care/Landscaping.  Getting your lawn mowed is pretty expensive on a ‘per-hour’ basis.  On the flip side of that, you can earn a surprisingly high income (around $30+ per hour) mowing lawns and doing yard work for people who don’t have the time or interest in doing it themselves.  Sure there is time between jobs, but you’ll still earn a good income while also getting a healthy amount of daily activity.

Cleaning.  If you’re a trustworthy person and good with people, you could start your own little house-cleaning enterprise.  Businesses usually use commercial cleaning companies to clean offices, but people regularly pay $30 per hour for house cleaning.  This is something nearly all of us know how to do already. 

Baker.  I’d almost forgotten about this lost art.  Bakers can earn upwards of $30 per hour working for the right company.  And you could easily supplement that with taking home leftovers.  There’s a real danger of getting fat from all the delicious bread though… imagine the smell!

Security.  Whether you’re a traditional security guard, or you do surveillance, it’s possible to earn attractive hourly rates ($25 to $40), partly thanks to the requirement of nights and weekend work.  Barrier to entry is relatively low with only a Cert II being required to get in the door.

Forklift Operator/Warehousing.  My old job which served me well over the years.  Day-shift forklift work isn’t huge pay.  So, if you’re open to doing afternoon/night or weekend work, you’ll easily hit $70,000 in annual income.  And if you’re with a large company, you’ll typically be paid better.  

Crane Operator.  High Risk Work License needed here too, but more tickets involved than above.  A bit of extra training, but you can also earn a higher wage for day work: $40 per hour and above is definitely achievable. 

Traffic Management.  Yes you’re standing around a lot, outside in the elements.  But the pay is pretty good, coming in at around $30 per hour and above for something that isn’t too strenuous or technical.

Park Ranger.  Another job that I wouldn’t mind doing.  Looking after natural areas and monitoring land, habitat and wildlife.  On the job training provided, although certificates in land management or environmental science would be helpful.  Salary averages $70,000 and above.

Council Worker/Parks & Gardens Maintenance.  Fancy mowing the grass on a bigger scale or looking after your local parks?  Truck license and horticulture tickets preferred but not essential.  There’s a job in my area right now going for $30-$35 per hour.

Factory Hand/Labourer.  My first job in Perth was in a sheetmetal factory.  The pay wasn’t amazing, but with some overtime you can easily rack up a solid annual income, and there are often opportunities to advance (see below).  An on-site labourer in construction can also earn $60,000 with experience.

Machine Operator.  This is a broad class of job found in factories and manufacturing firms around the country.  Most places offer on the job training if you’ve already been working as a labourer (as above) for some time, and the pay is often quite lucrative at the right company – in the region of $30-$40 per hour.

Farmhand.  Help out farmers growing crops and raising livestock.  Maintain fences, pest control, harvesting and day-to-day farm work.  Hard physical work (but plenty of fresh air and sunshine) with a common salary of around $60,000. 

 

Office/Retail/Indoor Work

Sales.  Whether it’s physical or digital products, insurance, cars, real estate – having the ability to generate sales is one of the most well-paid skills someone can have.  You can learn most of it on the job, but you’ll need to study to get your real estate license, for example.  Selling isn’t for everyone (definitely not for me!), but if you’re talented, there’s almost no limit on what you can earn.

Receptionist/Office Assistant.  This is at the lower end of our benchmark.  But at the right workplace, especially for government departments, you’ll be able to earn $60,000 in income.  If you can prove yourself and work up to Executive Assistant, you can pull in $75,000 to $85,000.

Data Entry.  Similar to above.  Pretty well-paid work from the comfort of an air-conditioned office and plenty of coffee breaks.  Not well suited to creative types though.  This is similar to what Mrs SMA does and she’s paid over $35 per hour (no qualifications).  A lot of government roles fit this description.

Project Manager.  (credit to reader Nat) You can study this online while working in other well-paid office roles.  The best qualification is Cert IV in Project Management Practice (according to Nat) but many others can do the job.  Much of this work is organisation and delegating tasks.  Project Managers are well paid, earning $100,000 or more in most cases.

Trainer.  (credit to reader Cindy).  Working as a corporate trainer, either software or soft skills will generally start at $60,000 but quickly get to $90,000 or even $120,000 as a contractor in Sydney or Melbourne.  Cert IV is handy but not essential, most of the learning is on the job and there are tons of online resources.

Property Manager.  You can often get in the door as an assistant while you complete your study qualification.  If you enjoy the work and become qualified, salaries tend to average between $60,000 and $80,000.

Bookkeeper.  Another job I’ve thought of investigating in the past.  Sometimes you can learn on the job while studying, and it’s clearly better if you’re already familiar with the software.  Otherwise it’s possible to run the books for your friends businesses if they trust you and you know what you’re doing.  Average wage is over $60,000.

Mortgage Broker.  If you’re interested in loans and mortgages, you could easily join a mortgage broking firm as a reasonably-paid office assistant, then study for your broker’s license (which takes about 6 months or so I believe).  From here you can work under the wing of a seasoned broker for a couple of years, then either branch off on your own or stick with the company.  Potential earnings: $100,000+.

Retail.  Many shops pay poorly, but not all of them.  In fact, many pay close to $30 per hour as a casual, as seen from this page.  And if you want a little more responsibility of being a store manager, the annual salary will be more like $70,000.

Customer Service/Call Centre/Tech Support.  Whether it’s in person or on the phone, customer service is not a bad paying gig.  Of course, you need to be patient and enjoy on-the-spot problem solving too.  But if you work for a government department or a large company, you can earn $60,000 to $70,000 per year.

Travel Agent.  Obviously not a great industry to be in right now, but when things open up there’s a decent chance travel will boom.  Recent events might have scared off some people, so there could be a potential opportunity here.  If you do well with commissions or go out on your own, it’s possible to earn $70,000 to $100,000 without any formal qualifications.

HR/Personnel Management.  A diploma isn’t strictly necessary here.  As this page shows, a portion of HR managers didn’t even finish school.  You can get in the door here as an admin assistant while you study and work your way into a HR manager.  The admin wage will be a decent starting point, but could later turn into a six-figure income if you climb the HR ladder.

Manager.  This can be everything from office, factory or on-site work.  I’ve known numerous well-paid managers who simply climbed the ranks from the bottom and learned along the way (with a good dose of brown-nosing in some cases I’m sure!).  Start as a regular worker, then move to Team leader, then Supervisor, and finally Manager.  It’s a time-tested path towards a six-figure income.  

 

On The Move/In the Driver’s Seat

Driver/Courier.  Yep, taking goods from one place to another as a delivery driver pays relatively well.  Around $30 per hour or more is achievable.

Bus/Train Driver.  Special licenses required here.  If you can safely transport passengers from one place to another, you can consistently pull in around $65,000 to $80,000.

Truck Driver.  Similar to courier, as well as long-haul driving, dangerous goods transport and a higher level of licensing required.  You’ve often got to enjoy sitting in solitude for extended periods!  Truckies can make anywhere from $60,000 to $100,000, depending on the company, hours, etc.

Flight Attendant.  Not many vacancies available right now, but if you enjoy flying, hotels and customer service, this might be for you.  Senior First Aid is essential.  Lots of variety and re-location options in this role too.  Average full-time salary is around $60,000.

 

Defence & Community Safety

Police Officer.  Get paid to train as a cadet if you pass the application/testing phase.  Take down the bad guys and keep the streets safe for the benefit of the community!  Entry level officers earn over $60,000 and you can climb the ranks over time if you wish.  Not an easy job, but it would be rewarding at times.

Firefighter.  An incredibly intense field of work and physically demanding.  Requires the ability to remain calm in the face of danger.  Recruits earn around $60,000 which rises over time towards $90,000 with experience and further training.

Correctional Officer.  Ensure the security of inmates, staff and facilities in a prison setting.  May also include the supervision of offenders on worksites outside the prison – that’s quite a bit of responsibility.  Training course is provided by the states upon successful application.  Salaries average $70,000 and above.

Defence (Navy, Army, Air Force, etc.).  Keeping our country, air space, borders and freedom safe into the future.  The pay doesn’t seem high until you move up the ranks, but from all reports, you learn plenty of valuable traits and skills for building a traditional career also.  Salary varies from $50,000 to $100,000.

 

Online/Computer-based.

Writer.  Playing writer certainly requires no training (clearly!).  If you can string a few interesting sentences together, you can create a career in writing or journalism.  Get paid a salary, or anywhere from $40-$100 per article.  Pump out a few daily articles and you’re good to go.

IT or Web-Based Work.  Depending on the specific work, many people in this space are often self-taught (like designers and programmers) and manage to rustle up web-based work after building up a reputation, connections, or climbing the ladder at work while studying in their spare time.  Annual salary is often $60,000+.

Blogger/Youtuber.  Okay, this one won’t be so easy to make a living from.  A lot of luck is required to strike it big here!  But if you can provide lots of value to lots of people (whether it’s entertainment or informative content), your income potential is high.  Earnings: anywhere from $0… to $1 million per year.

Ebay/Amazon/Online seller.  If you can find demand for products and items that aren’t being catered for (and you can line up suppliers), you can potentially earn a lucrative income selling online.  The problem is, competition will come in and your margins will shrink, so you have to constantly look for new opportunities.  There is potential for a six-figure income, but relentless research and pivoting is required.

 

Health & Fitness, Personal Services

Beauty Therapist.  A 6-month TAFE course is required, and you’ll ideally gain hands-on experience as an assistant in a beauty salon.  Once qualified, you can even choose to specialise in a certain area and charge your own rate, but beauticians can make $30 to $70 per hour.

Personal Trainer.  Help people achieve their fitness and health goals.  Whether it’s losing fat, building muscle and so on..  Earn your Certificate IV in Fitness (training online and in-person takes 6-12 months), or become a gym instructor with a Cert III.  If you love health and fitness, you can earn earn $30 to $40 per hour or more.

Massage Therapist.  Learn how to treat and relieve pain, muscular aches and certain injuries with massage therapy.  A Cert IV is required to become fully qualified.  Not only that, but this skill will ensure your spouse never leaves you!  Earn $80,000 per year and above.

Hairdresser.  This should really be in Trades I suppose!  Complete an apprenticeship or work in a salon (perhaps as an assistant) while studying to get your Cert III in Hairdressing.  Branch off and become a stylist or start your own salon.  Talented hairdressers and stylists can earn $30-$40 per hour.

Chef.  Does this belong in the Health category?  Depends where you’re cooking I suppose!  There are actually no qualifications required to be a chef, though an apprenticeship is the most common way to learn.  Chef’s typically earn around $60,000 per year or more.  Alternatively, if you’re a brilliant self-taught cook, you may look at opening your own cafe, catering or restaurant business.

Pharmacy Assistant.  Help customers find the medicines, creams, and other goods they need.  No formal training required, although you can study Cert II or III in Community Pharmacy to increase your value further.  Experience, along with evenings and weekend work will bump up your average hourly rate towards $30 per hour. 

Dental Assistant.  Help the dentist by assisting with the treatment of patients, organising and sterilising equipment, etc.  On the job training is provided, but studying Cert III in Dental Assisting is a good idea too, for better knowledge and job prospects.  Salary averages around $60,000.

Assistant Nurse.  (credit to reader Aussie Doc).  Work with qualified nurses delivering care to patients across a broad range of activities, including personal care, careful monitoring and record-keeping.  Training provided, but Cert III is desired, which your employer may even pay for.  Weekend and night work will see you earn a solid wage of $60,000 or more. 

Support Worker.  With the ageing population, this is a growing industry.  Provide practical everyday help to vulnerable people in the community, helping them with daily tasks, medication and personal care.  Technically, no qualifications are needed, but Cert III in Individual Support is desired.  Average hourly rate is around $30 to $40. 

 
Other

Teacher’s Aide.  Support the teacher with general classroom tasks and administrative duties, including helping kids who need extra attention, such as those with learning difficulties and disabilities.  Certificate III in Education Support is preferred, but not essential.  Wages vary, but earning $30 per hour is achievable. 

Legal Assistant/Secretary.   Help prepare contracts and all manner of legal documents, liaising with lawyers as well as clients.  You can get started without any qualifications and learn on the job, but you’ll probably want to study Cert III in Business Administration (Legal).  Salaries average around $60,000 to $70,000 per year.

Pilot.  No degree required, but you’ll need a ton of study, expensive training and flying time before getting your license and eventually becoming a commercial pilot.  So whether you want to fly planes or helicopters, you’ll need to be passionate to see it through.  If you can, you’ll likely earn an annual income of $80,000 to $120,000.

Air Traffic Controller.  (credit to readers Grant & Patrick).  No degree required.  If you pass the online application and interviews (which are pretty tough), then you’ll get paid to train at the college of air traffic control. Starting salary for a student controller once they pass their college exams is $50,000 to $90,000.  Salaries rise well into the six-figures for senior controllers.  

Interior Decorator.  If you have a flair for design, you might enjoy being an interior decorator.  Help people and companies choose colour schemes, layout and lighting for their homes and businesses.  Employers prefer qualifications, but it’s possible to work as an interior decorator without it.  Once you’ve proven yourself, salaries are often at least $70,000 per year. 

 

Comments…

There we go… 60 jobs that pay $60,000 or more!  None of which require a fancy degree!  And while many of them require some type of study or training, you can often do this while working in other decent-paying roles. 

Since I don’t research the job market much these days (at all!), income estimates have mostly come from job sites like Indeed based on job data.  As you’ll see by looking at their ‘Salary Estimates’, the distribution of pay for similar roles is wide.  

So not every employer will pay the rates above.  Many will pay less, and some will pay even more.  It’s your job to seek out the ones which reward their staff better.

Hopefully this list is useful!  I encourage you to check out the full job descriptions on places like Seek if any catch your interest.  You’ll also find reviews and ratings for each job, as well as more info on training.

Did I miss anything?  What do you think are the best paying jobs in Australia without a degree?

Let me know in the comments and I’ll add to this list!

 


*Additional content*

  Earlier this week, I was interviewed by Sarah & Laura over at their blog – Keepin’ It Frugal – check out the interview here.

  In other exciting FI community news, an epic collaboration featuring 20 bloggers has resulted in a meaty and comprehensive Ebook titled Aussie FIRE which is now finished!  I wrote the foreword and a chapter on building your ideal life once you no longer need a job 🙂

Well done to Pearler and Michelle from Frugality & Freedom for organising it!  You can get the Ebook below, sent straight to your inbox (you’ll also join my mailing list if you aren’t already on there).

29 comments

  1. Missed out Air Traffic Controller. If you pass the online application and interviews(which are pretty tough), then you’ll get paid to train the the college of air traffic control. Starting salary for a student controller once they pass their college exams is around 90k. Salaries rise to $230k for senior controllers. 6 weeks rec leave per year and 13.5% employer contribution to superannuation. No degree required.

  2. Air Traffic Controller. I think you missed the of the best job of them all.

    Once you are accepted the training is provided while being paid.

    Starting around $50-60k as a trainee.

    1. If you think 60-80K per annum is a good salary with the high cost of living in Australia, you’ve got to be kidding.
      I’m very glad I went to Uni.

      1. Interesting comment. $60k-$80k is not an amazing income but it IS a good base to work from. Certainly enough for most of your fellow Aussies to lead a great middle class life. And certainly enough for many readers of this blog to live well, build wealth and retire early (including myself obviously).

        Also, I have great news! The ‘high cost of living’ in Australia is optional, and in most cases, self inflicted.

      2. I went to uni but only managed to find jobs that paid me around 40k, way below the average for the field. 60-80k is high enough in my eyes, I would love to be earning that much. Sometimes it’s about who you know and your personality/communication skills more than the degree you have on paper. I regret going to uni because it put me in debt and didn’t pay off for me.

        1. Hi Lana, which field are you working in? I’m interested in HR and considering a 3 year university degree, I can’t decide if it’s worthwhile or not!

  3. I work in mining, which you did touch on, as Mobile Plant Operator/Machine Operator & made of $200k last year. This doesn’t include the benefits which can be many also such as matched SUPER, ESPP, paid/cheap housing, free power bills, free water bills, free food, free flights, subsidised holidays & overtime available. That was only working half the year & not including the sick leave and holidays that was taken through the year. So more like 4 1/2 months of work. Long hours in extreme conditions & toxic work environments though. Not for the faint of heart.

    1. Man that is an extreme level of compensation! Certainly demanding in its own way, but worth considering for a super-fast path to FI. Could probably go from zero to mostly retired in 5 years in many cases.

  4. I’ve got one – Assistant in nursing. I did this while in medical school and earned far more than any of my student mates. Bonuses for weekend/out of hours work make a big difference to pay. A friend in the UK (years ago) started work as an assistant in nursing and was then sponsored by employer to complete registered nursing – a pretty good deal! Not sure assistants in nursing are so heavily utilized in Australia yet, so I’m unsure whether there are any sponsor ships.

  5. I have to say that the pay as a travel agent surprised us. We work in the industry and have met some agents earning 100k and over! So many ways to make some good coin without a formal degree!

    1. Is it generally a split of salary and commissions or does it vary between employer? Can definitely be lucrative. Our incomes stack up very well here in Oz! Cue the complaints about ‘cost of living’… lol.

  6. I work in IT and I do some recruitment as part of my role.

    I recommend anyone in a White Colar job to study Project Management. There are heaps of the courses and some basic qualifications in this area you can get easily online. The best one is a PMP qualification but many other ones can do the job. The qualifications are not hard and I have seen heaps of people I know simply add Project Manager to their skillset/title and the rate goes up heaps. When you are doing any sort of project management you are just delegating to others and running meetings to check-in.

    Anything can be considered a project and employers love this, so be creative. When being interviewed just talk you the last role being a project instead of a day to day job. Say what you accomplished in your time but use terms like stakeholder communications, lessons learnt, robust procedures, risk mitigation, compliance and deliverables. You will learn the buzz words during the course.

    To give you an example. I will be Dave, Instead of saying I was a storeman/forklift driver when going for a job, I will frame it as being a project manager.

    I was brought on board by my last employer to utilise my project management background for a warehouse role. During my time I worked with key stakeholders holders to develop a framework encompassing efficiency around warehousing operations. I had regular meetings with key stakeholders to implement positive and lasting changes to processes, compliance and mitigation of key risks. The major highlight of my time was delivering the key outcomes desired by the business in terms of profitability and process improvement.

    I know this sounds like BS but trust me! I have seen this done by many people, including myself with great results.

    1. Appreciate the detailed comment Nat! I wasn’t sure about Project Manager so I left it out. Thanks for the suggestion, will re-visit and pop it in the list!

    2. Hi Nat, I was just looking into this and to get your PMP qualification, they want you to have completed a four year degree or have quite a few hours of actual project management experience. I work in a white collar job and it doesn’t quite appear that I can just slot in a PMP qualification.

  7. Hi Dave, great article again! Another job to add to your list is a trainer. Working as a corporate trainer, either software or softskills will generally start at $60k but quickly get to $90k or as high as $120k as a contractor or in Syd/Melb. A Cert IV is handy but not essential, most of the learning is on the job and there are tons of online resources.

  8. You may not need a degree to become a pilot but to be a commercial pilot will put you out of pocket $100K plus. You will only make a decent wage working for a reputable company and there is no job security. Yearly ongoing costs to maintain your medical certificate and licence qualifications, failure of which will render you unemployed as a pilor immediately.

    1. That’s a good point on cost Chris, thanks for that. I wasn’t aware of the exact figure but I knew it wasn’t cheap. Pilot made the list since it met the criteria, while realising it would be of interest to only a very tiny fraction of people.

  9. Truck Drivers MC not payed (overtime) penalties, a flat rate of $28 /$32 p/h expected to do up to 84 hours per week, average of 14 hrs a day 6 days a week, every week, no overnight allowance, cost of roadhouse living $ 100 a day , forget about Driving unless the Government put pressure on companies to have Drivers on overtime rates

  10. Insurance is another forgotten about industry for careers. You can earn well over 6 figures without a degree whether as a broker or underwrite (and other general areas such as claims, IT etc) There is a lot of on the job training and it is a relatively secure industry. If you think about it, pretty much everything you can see around you is insured. It is a huge global industry.

    1. Good suggestion Ralph, thanks! I did mention insurance briefly under sales, but you’re right it’s quite a big industry. Perhaps it deserves its own section?

  11. Surely plumbers should be on this list. Mine charged 9k for 3 (long) days work. Sure that included 1k of materials, but thats around $250 per hour. I know there are overheads like certifications and insurance but fuck. He was the cheapest on my list too. Electricians are far better value

    1. Oh man I can’t believe I missed that one! Good pickup Damien! I’ll add it in there today, and that gives us 60 jobs that pay $60k or more 🙂

  12. Just an FYI that a senior firefighter in WA is on $103,000. That’s after you complete your first 5 years and associated exams. One thing to consider is the roster as well…2 days 2 nights 4 days off, so a lot of people work a second job/pay less day care etc.

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