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Top 5 Jobs That Pay Well Even Without a Degree

We’ve heard about how the paper chase for a bachelors’ degree, or even a Master’s, is necessary to secure a high-paying job. But if you’re planning to take the path less travelled, know that there are options with equal or better prospects out there! Below are just 5 examples of jobs with competitive salaries that don’t require you to have high academic qualifications.

#1: Ship Captain ($7,000 – $25,000/month)

Sailing the high seas for a high salary sound attractive to you? There are several officer roles on the typical vessel that sails in and out of Singapore’s busy (and record setting) port. For example, the Ship Captain is in charge of the whole ship and everything that goes on aboard it. This includes monitoring fare hazards, safe navigation, crew and cargo safety, compliance with international regulations regarding sea transport, and more.

Seafaring isn’t all fun and games; every individual on board has a vital role to play in ensuring smooth and safe operations while navigating through international waters. Captain Nordin talks about his ‘adventures’ with shipwrecks and pirate attacks, and even a North Korean missile launch. But with a competitive pay scheme and good opportunities for advancement, it’s a job with ironclad prospects similar to the civil service. 

Perks wise, Capt Nordin sums it up as working hard, then playing hard,”I work for eight months and rest for four months. Where do you find a job like that?” And the best part? Seafaring experience is valued highly in other industries once the officers decide to come back to dry land for good.

2. Maritime Engineer ($8,300 – $12,000/month)

Full steam ahead! Being Maritime Engineer can be challenging. To ensure that the ship is covered 24/7, they work in shifts, during which they monitor, operate, and maintain the engines and boilers that power the vessel across the ocean. Compliance to industry and company standards is also important for engine inspections.

Maritime Engineers are definitely the unsung heroes of the shipping industry. However, they are also rewarded well for this effort. On top of good pay and progression, holiday leave is usually generous, with paid leave of about 3 months between voyages. When starting out, engineers can expect to earn upwards of $3,000 and see this rise up to $12,000 when they eventually attain the rank of Chief Engineer. Furthermore, instead of paying to study for a degree, trainees are paid a stipend while undergoing their training!

“I work for eight months and rest for four months. Where do you find a job like that?”

Captain Nordin
Commercial Ship Captain

#3: Oil Rig Safety Officer ($5,000 – $9,000/month)

A job that sounds rigged for success! Jokes aside, this is not only a lucrative job opportunity, but an uncommon and exciting one. On a steel platform in the middle of the ocean, the number of things that could go wrong are plenty.

The Safety Officer has to understand the inherent risks of drilling for oil, and ensures that all workers and contractors adhere to strict safety standards and company policies. This also includes sanitation inspections of the living spaces and galley. The risks are high and and the work isn’t easy, but the pay is lucrative and the job is certainly exciting!

#4: Cruise Ship Chef ($4700 – $8000/month)

Been wanting to dive right into the F&B scene? A position on a cruise ship could be just the thing you need to get the wind in your sails! While there’s lots to do and you’ll be away from home, you’ll be paid better on average compared to a landlubber cook.

Staff on a cruise also get a dedicated galley (what maritime folks call a kitchen) for their meals; food often includes regional dishes from the staff members’ home countries. Most importantly, the experience tends to come in handy if you plan to stay in the industry after you’ve had your fill of the sea!

#5: Crane Operator ($4,000 – $7,000/month)

Heavy lifting can pay off! New entrants to the industry can expect a hefty salary, including overtime pay and other allowances up to $4,000 a month. As they rise in seniority, they can expect their salaries to rise accordingly.

Cranes come in many different types, such as mobile cranes, boom trucks, and self-erect tower cranes (the massive ones you see standing on top of new BTOs that are under construction). But while the job pays relatively well, it comes at a cost. According Jeffery Lim, director of crane manufacturer BD Cranetech, “For tower cranes, operators must eat, drink and stay up (in the operating cabin) for four to eight hours.” High winds and rains also make for a ‘thrilling’ shift if you’re perched atop a tall building. The good news? HDB is ramping up the BTO programme, so there are plenty of openings.

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