The 15 Best States to Find a Job if You Don’t Have a Bachelor’s Degree

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree but would like a job that earns more than $55,000 per year, there’s good news: Thirty million well-paying jobs exist in the U.S. which do not require a four-year degree. In fact, good jobs that pay without a B.A. make up about a quarter of the American labor market. These jobs pay at least $35,000 per year for people under age 45, according to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. If you’re older than 45, a good job is one where you earn at least $45,000 per year.

Two types of jobs fall under the “good jobs” umbrella which do not typically require a four-year degree: blue collar jobs (manufacturing and construction) and skilled services jobs (financial activities, real estate, and healthcare).

The Georgetown study covered data between 1991 and 2015 and found that good jobs have median annual income of $55,000. A total of 34 states (mostly in the South and West) added good jobs for workers without bachelor’s degrees during the study’s time frame. States in the South and West saw the greatest percentage of growth of such jobs.

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree and are looking for a job paying $55,000 a year or more, some states are better than others. These are the 15 states where the highest share of good jobs is held by workers who do not have a bachelor’s degree.

15. Arizona

Mesa, Arizona

Workers without a college degree can still find good jobs in Arizona. | RobertSilberblatt/iStock/Getty Images

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 52%

Arizona gained 70,000 blue collar jobs and 223,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 51% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Arizona are in these occupations:

  1. Management: 81,000 jobs
  2. Office and administrative support: 76,000 jobs
  3. Sales: 65,000 jobs
  4. Construction and extraction: 46,000 jobs
  5. Installation, maintenance, and repair: 42,000 jobs

Next: 52% of good jobs in this state are filled by workers without a B.A.

14. Alabama

Welcome to Alabama road sign on US-84 near Gordon

More than half of good jobs in Alabama are held by workers without a bachelor’s degree. | iStock.com/miroslav_1

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 53%

Alabama lost 19,000 blue collar jobs and gained 64,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 51% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Alabama are in these occupations:

  1. Production: 58,000 jobs
  2. Management: 45,000 jobs
  3. Office and administrative support: 40,000 jobs
  4. Transportation and material moving: 36,000 jobs
  5. Installation, maintenance, and repair: 34,000 jobs

Next: 221,000 workers without a B.A. have a good job in this state.

13. Arkansas

A welcome sign marks the state line between Arkansas and Oklahoma

Manufacturing jobs can still be found in Arkansas. | wellesenterprises/iStock/Getty Images

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 53%

Arkansas gained 32,000 blue collar jobs and 51,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 48% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Arkansas are in these occupations:

  1. Production: 29,000 jobs
  2. Management: 26,000 jobs
  3. Office and administrative support: 24,000 jobs
  4. Transportation and material moving: 22,000 jobs
  5. Sales: 21,000 jobs

Next: Half of the good jobs in this state are filled by workers without a B.A.

12. Maine

lubec, maine

Maine added 17,000 blue-collar jobs between 1991 and 2015.| Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 53%

Maine gained 17,000 blue collar jobs and 15,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 49% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Maine are in these occupations:

  1. Management: 16,000 jobs
  2. Office and administrative support: 14,000 jobs
  3. Sales: 11,000 jobs
  4. Production: 11,000 jobs
  5. Construction and extraction: 10,000 jobs

Next: A non-B.A. worker with a good job here earns a median $56,000 income.

11. Utah

Provo, Utah

Utah workers with good jobs who didn’t go to college earn an median income of $56,000. | iStock/Getty Images

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 53%

Utah gained 92,000 blue collar jobs and 81,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 52% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Utah are in these occupations:

  1. Management: 40,000 jobs
  2. Sales: 32,000 jobs
  3. Office and administrative support: 32,000 jobs
  4. Construction and extraction: 27,000 jobs
  5. Production: 27,000 jobs

Next: Non-B.A. workers hold 53% of the good jobs in this state.

10. Wisconsin

Wisconsin Welcome sign at Marinette WI

Wisconsin has lost blue-collar jobs but gained skilled services jobs in recent years. | csfotoimages/iStock/Getty Images

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 53%

Wisconsin lost 56,000 blue collar jobs and gained 44,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 49% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Wisconsin are in these occupations:

  1. Production: 102,000 jobs
  2. Management: 68,000 jobs
  3. Office and administrative support: 67,000 jobs
  4. Construction and extraction: 55,000 jobs
  5. Transportation and material moving: 52,000 jobs

Next: This state added 71,000 on non-B.A. good jobs from 1991 to 2015.

9. Idaho

Welcome sign on the boarder to Idaho State

Workers in Idaho without a B.A. have a variety of opportunities.| oscity/iStock/Getty Images

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 54%

Idaho gained 34,000 blue collar jobs and 37,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 47% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Idaho are in theses occupations:

  1. Management: 16,000 jobs
  2. Sales: 14,000 jobs
  3. Transportation and material moving: 14,000 jobs
  4. Office and administrative support: 13,000 jobs
  5. Construction and extraction: 13,000 jobs

Next: 31% of non-B.A. workers have a good job in this state.

8. New Mexico

New Mexico Landscape

More than half of good jobs for people without a college degree in New Mexico pay more than $55,000 a year. | muha04/iStock/Getty Images

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 54%

New Mexico gained 2,000 blue collar jobs and 36,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 56% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in New Mexico are in these occupations:

  1. Management: 20,000 jobs
  2. Construction and extraction: 20,000 jobs
  3. Office and administrative support: 19,000 jobs
  4. Installation, maintenance, and repair: 13,000 jobs
  5. Sales: 12,000 jobs

Next: Non-B.A. workers in this state earned a $60,000 median wage in 2015.

7. Louisiana

oil refinery

An oil refinery in Louisiana | Mario Tama/Getty Images)

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 55%

Louisiana gained 43,000 blue collar jobs and 111,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 57% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Louisiana are in these occupations:

  1. Construction and extraction: 63,000 jobs
  2. Production: 51,000 jobs
  3. Management: 50,000 jobs
  4. Office and administrative support: 45,000 jobs
  5. Transportation and material moving: 42,000 jobs

Next: This state has lost blue collar jobs but has gained skilled-service jobs.

6. Indiana

Evansville, Indiana

Indiana gained more than 100,000 skilled services jobs in recent years. | Mayor Lloyd Winnecke/Facebook

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 55%

Indiana lost 31,000 blue collar jobs and gained 128,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 51% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Indiana are in these occupations:

  1. Production: 117,000 jobs
  2. Management: 70,000 jobs
  3. Transportation and material moving: 68,000 jobs
  4. Office and administrative support: 61,000
  5. Construction and extraction: 56,000

Next: 347,000 non-B.A. workers have good jobs in this state.

5. Oklahoma

Oklahoma City area on a map

The number of blue-collar jobs is shrinking, but there are opportunities in other areas. | iStock.com/Manakin

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 56%

Oklahoma lost 3,000 blue collar jobs and gained 97,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 51% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Oklahoma are in these occupations:

  1. Management: 45,000 jobs
  2. Production: 42,000 jobs
  3. Office and administrative support: 38,000 jobs
  4. Construction and extraction: 37,000 jobs
  5. Installation, maintenance, and repair: 32,000 jobs

Next: High school graduates hold more than half the good jobs in this state.

4. West Virginia

Sunset at the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia

The number of production and manufacturing jobs in West Virginia is shrinking. | BackyardProduction/iStock/Getty Images

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 56%

West Virginia lost 46,000 blue collar jobs and gained 24,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 56% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in West Virginia are in these occupations:

  1. Construction and extraction: 28,000 jobs
  2. Production: 17,000 jobs
  3. Transportation and material moving: 16,000 jobs
  4. Management: 14,000 jobs
  5. Office and administrative support: 14,000 jobs

Next: This state added 121,000 non-B.A. good jobs between 1991 and 2015.

3. Nevada

Reno, Nevada downtown

Nevada has opportunities in food service, retail, and construction. | ddub3429/iStock/Getty Images

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 57%

Nevada gained 38,000 blue collar jobs and 83,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 51% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Nevada are in these occupations:

  1. Office and administrative support: 37,000 jobs
  2. Management: 35,000 jobs
  3. Sales: 32,000 jobs
  4. Construction and extraction: 27,000 jobs
  5. Transportation and material moving: 21,000 jobs

Next: In this state, non-B.A. workers hold more than 3 out of every 5 good jobs.

2. Mississippi

Welcome to Mississippi

People without a B.A. in Mississippi often work in manufacturing and health services. | Meinzahn/iStock/Getty Images

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 61%

Mississippi gained 20,000 blue collar jobs and 45,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 2015. A total of 47% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Mississippi are in these occupations:

  1. Production: 29,000 jobs
  2. Management: 25,000 jobs
  3. Construction and extraction: 25,000 jobs
  4. Transportation and material moving: 23,000 jobs
  5. Office and administrative support: 22,000 jobs

Next: This state has the highest share of good jobs held by non-B.A. workers.

1. Wyoming

wyoming cowboys fans at a game

Wyoming is the best state for workers without a bachelor’s degree.| David Becker/Getty Images

  • Share of good jobs held by workers without a bachelor’s degree: 62%

Wyoming gained 12,000 blue collar jobs and 15,000 skilled services jobs between 1991 and 20015. A total of 62% of these jobs pay $55,000 or more per year.

The largest number of good jobs in Wyoming are in these occupations:

  1. Construction and extraction: 15,000 jobs
  2. Transportation and material moving: 9,000 jobs
  3. Management: 8,000 jobs
  4. Office and administrative support: 8,000 jobs
  5. Installation, maintenance, and repair: 8,000 jobs

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