Best Construction & Industrial Jobs Without a College Degree

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Several construction and other industrial trade jobs made our list of top jobs without a college degree. They are some of the highest paying and widely available jobs you can find.

Unionized trade jobs were once the definition of a “good job” for most families across the US and internationally. As more was invested to build infrastructure across the country, these are the jobs that build the way we live today.

Times have changed with the appearance of technology and robotics. More positions are being either replaced or assisted by some level of technology. Whether it’s the machines operated at a construction site or the technology used to troubleshoot issues with the equipment you’re repairing.

Due to the specialization of many industrial jobs, you will often be required to take training before beginning. This can range from online courses, classroom training, or even training in the field.

In several cases, you may need to do an apprenticeship to build your knowledge and expertise by working with those that have mastered the skills. Most companies will cover the costs associated with training and apprenticeships.

Our top recommended construction jobs without a college degree are incredibly high in demand and offer great hourly pay. Many also have high overtime wages at two or more times regular pay which is a common occurrence in construction.

1. Solar Photovoltaic / Panel Installer

What They Do: Install and maintain solar panels for residential or commercial customers.
Median salary: $39,490 ($18.98 per hour)
Expected Job Growth by 2026: 105% (extremely faster than average)
Associate’s Required? No

Solar photovoltaics, also called PV, work by converting light from the sun or other sources into energy that can be stored, distributed, and used by consumers.

Solar energy is rapidly growing in popularity as more countries, businesses, and individual households look for alternative sources of energy. As solar panels continue to come down in price, it makes them more affordable for the average person or business to install.

Taking a position as a Solar or PV Panel Installer means you are getting in early on a trend that will only increase over time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Solar Photovoltaic Installers will be the fastest growing profession with a 105% increase by 2026.

Typical responsibilities for a Solar Photovoltaic Installer include:

  • Work with customers to determine the right solar panels for their electricity consumption needs.
  • Install solar panels on the roofs of buildings or other locations that are exposed to sunlight.
  • Maintain solar panels by ensuring they are clean and functioning properly.

2. Wind Turbine Technician

What They Do: Install and maintain wind turbines for residential or commercial customers.
Median salary: $53,880 ($25.91 per hour)
Expected Job Growth by 2026: 96% (extremely faster than average)
Associate’s Required? No

Similar to Solar Panel Installers, Wind Turbine Technicians are on the forefront of the renewable energy revolution.

You may have seen Wind Farms as you drive down the highway or off a coastal shore in some locations. There are often rows upon rows of wind turbines (large fans) spinning as the wind hits the blades.

The energy made by the wind as it hits the turbine is incredible. One turbine has the ability to power on average 1,500 homes for a whole year. This power is exactly why more farmers and companies are using wind turbines to generate electricity.

Typical responsibilities for a Wind Turbine Technician include:

  • Work with customers to determine the right wind turbine size for their electricity consumption needs.
  • Install wind turbines on farms, coastal shorelines, prairies, or other open locations that are exposed to a decent amount of wind.
  • Maintain wind turbines by ensuring they are functioning properly.

3. Plumber and Pipefitter

What They Do: Install or repair pipes for household, commercial, or industrial use.
Median salary: $52,590 ($25.28 per hour)
Expected Job Growth by 2026: 16% (much faster than average)
Associate’s Required? No

Plumbing is one of the oldest professions still around. It started with the first water canals and irrigation systems that were developed by ancient civilizations. Now, it’s transformed into the installation and maintenance of pipes of all sizes for households or businesses.

You may be most familiar with plumbers, which service the pipes often inside a building.

If you are interested in working outdoors, pipefitters make great money working in ditches to install and repair pipes of all sizes. It’s a dirty job, but this is one trade that will continue to thrive well into the future.

As more houses and buildings are constructed, each one will need pipes to take liquid material (water, waste, etc.) in and out. The job of a pipefitter or plumber is to run the pipes to the correct locations based on the blueprint for construction.

Typical responsibilities for a Plumber or Pipefitter include:

  • Work with customers to identify right size pipes to be installed based on capacity needed and type of liquids to be carried.
  • Conduct service calls for residential or commercial customers to fix broken, damaged, or clogged pipes.
  • Run pipes between main lines and the locations identified for the job.
  • Maintain pipes that need cleaning or replacement to prevent future failures.

4. Construction Equipment Operator

What They Do: They often operate and maintain machines like backhoes, jack hammers, trenchers, dump trucks, bulldozers, and other equipment required to complete the construction job.
Median salary: $46,080 ($22.15 per hour)
Expected Job Growth by 2026: 12% (faster than average)
Associate’s Required? No

This job can include a range of equipment depending on your role and the assigned construction job. It can range from operating heavy machinery like bulldozers and front loaders to a simple shovel or jackhammer.

You will need to be trained in proper use of the equipment before you start using them on the job. This is often accompanied by shadowing or being an apprentice for some time. This job is often one of the most versatile since you need to have knowledge of a broad range of equipment.

Typical responsibilities for a Construction Equipment Operator include:

  • Review blueprints for assigned construction jobs.
  • Evaluate and make recommendations for the appropriate equipment required for the job.
  • Operate a range of equipment based on the job at hand.
  • Maintain and clean equipment to prevent future failures.

5. Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanic and Installer

What They Do: Install or repair HVAC (heating, ventilation, and A/C) or refrigeration appliances for household, commercial, or industrial use.
Median salary: $47,080 ($22.64 per hour)
Expected Job Growth by 2026: 15% (much faster than average)
Associate’s Required? No, but many companies and states may require a license and apprenticeship

You can find jobs for heating, ventilation, and A/C (HVAC) or refrigeration technicians in just about any city. While HVAC mechanics may not be in high demand in locations with moderate temperatures, they are in every locations with all four seasons.

You often start by being an apprentice to an experienced technician. This helps to build your knowledge and expertise on HVAC equipment before being sent into the field. Once you’ve completed an apprenticeship and obtained your license, you will be ready to take service calls.

If owning a business is something you desire, you can even start your own HVAC company once you have good experience under your belt.

Typical responsibilities for HVAC and Refrigeration Technicians include:

  • Take customer calls and visit their home to troubleshoot issues.
  • Evaluate and make recommendations for the appropriate HVAC or refrigeration equipment required for the job.
  • Install new HVAC or refrigeration units for residential customers or businesses.
  • Perform seasonal maintenance on HVAC equipment including furnaces, air conditioning, or refrigeration units.
  • Test and replace parts on equipment to resolve customer issues.

6. Surveying and Mapping Technician

What They Do: Utilize geographic mapping systems to plot land, buildings, and other structures for residential, public service, or commercial purposes.
Median salary: $43,340 ($20.84 per hour)
Expected Job Growth by 2026: 11% (faster than average)
Associate’s Required? No

If you enjoy maps, geography, data, or working outside, this is a great career for you. Surveying and mapping technicians spend much of their time outdoors using specialized equipment like digital distance measuring tools and mapping software. You’ve probably seen technicians on the side of the road with a device sitting on a tripod taking these types of measurements.

They are responsible for plotting various features on a map for building development, public services, and many other purposes. This is a critical role for developing highly accurate maps that are used for any planning that impacts land construction and maintenance.

If you think about the neighborhood where you live, every single fire hydrant, light pole, street, or building had to first be mapped out. This used to require mapping things out on paper, but most of that work has been converted into digital maps. This allows for the maps to be shared and added onto over time.

Typical responsibilities for Surveying and Mapping Technicians include:

  • Review existing maps to validate measurements and coordinates of objects.
  • Take measurements and create new maps for business, public service, or residential planning needs.
  • Collect geographic data to analyze land for planning and development.
  • Operate specialize surveying and mapping equipment to collect data for mapping.

7. Groundskeeper and Landscape Maintenance Worker

What They Do: Maintain landscapes by mowing, raking, digging, planting, trimming, and mulching around parks, homes, and businesses.
Median salary: $28,110 ($13.51 per hour)
Expected Job Growth by 2026: 11% (faster than average)
Associate’s Required? No

As a groundskeeper or landscape maintenance worker, you’ll be spending almost all of your time in the great outdoors. If you’ve got a green thumb, this is right up your alley.

The job does require a decent amount of physical work moving plants into place, shoveling mulch or dirt, and using a variety of tools. These hand and power tools include lawn mowers, rakes, shovels, wheelbarrows, and just about any tool required to maintain the lawn and landscaping.

Being a groundskeeper is a rewarding career since you get to take in the beauty of nature and how it can bring life to the environment. Landscaping that is well-kept can completely transform areas around buildings and parks. It’s often a focal point for homes and businesses since it brings about a positive atmosphere to live and work in.

Typical responsibilities for Groundskeepers and Landscape Maintenance Workers include:

  • Planting and maintaining trees, shrubs, bushes, grass, flowers, and other types of living organisms.
  • Laying down mulch and dirt to shape the land required for plants and walkways.
  • Mowing the grass and disposing of weeds where required.
  • Creating a healthy environment for plants to thrive around buildings and parks.

8. Building Cleaner and Janitor

What They Do: Provide cleaning services for businesses, schools, or other facilities including wiping furniture, mopping, emptying trash bins, and cleaning rooms.
Median salary: $24,990 ($12.02 per hour)
Expected Job Growth by 2026: 10% (faster than average)
Associate’s Required? No

This is often what many would classify as a “dirty job”, however, it’s actually the complete opposite. This job is all about making sure schools, homes, and other buildings stay clean and in safe condition.

Sure, you may need to get your hands dirty once in a while, but there is a sense of fulfillment when you see the end result. Whether it’s cleaning office buildings or clearing off tables at a school after a horde of kids devoured lunch. The job of a cleaner or janitor is not about the mess, but what you can do with some cleaning supplies and attention to detail.

Typical responsibilities for Building Cleaners and Janitors include:

  • Cleaning tables, desks, chairs, and other furniture to keep them safe for everyone to use.
  • Emptying trash and recycle bins when they get full.
  • Mopping, sweeping, or waxing floors around the building.
  • Potentially performing basic maintenance by replacing lights and servicing equipment.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a wide range of professions when it comes to construction and industrial careers. These jobs are well suited for those that enjoy working with their hands or being out in nature. Most pay very well and are easy to get into even if you don’t have a college degree.

The energy industry has some of the fastest growing careers. Wind Turbine and Solar Panel Technicians are in very high demand as everyone begins shifting to renewable energy sources.

Some of the specialized career paths like Pipefitters, Plumbers, and Construction Equipment Operators may require on-the-job training or even apprenticeships. Once you obtain the necessary training, you will earn the credentials and expertise to have a successful career with these jobs.

Do you have experience with any of these careers or have others you’re interested in? Please leave us a comment and share your thoughts with our community!

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