Top 10 Exciting Jobs to Pursue Without a Degree
Are you seeking a high-paying job, but don’t want to invest in a four-year or graduate degree? You don’t need to have a college degree to get a good job. There is a new kind of job that emphasizes skills over education and work experience.
“New-collar jobs,” also known as “middle-skill jobs,” are those that require certain hard skills, but do not necessarily require a four-year college degree (or an extensive work history). Often, employees can get the skills they need for the job through vocational training, a certificate program, an apprenticeship, or a two-year degree program.
These skill-based jobs can be found in a variety of industries. They are particularly common in service, healthcare, information technology (IT), and manufacturing.
Hospitals, state governments, schools, manufacturers, IT companies, and other organizations have begun to search for employees with the right skills, rather than the right degree. Some companies even offer paid training programs for job candidates, which are similar to apprenticeships.
Here is a list of the top 10 exciting careers to pursue without a degree. These are jobs that do not require a four-year degree, offer good salaries and are in high demand. Read the descriptions of each job, as well as a list of more opportunities, and see which new-collar job is right for you.
Many types of sales jobs can pay six figures, and not all of these jobs require a four-year degree. These jobs vary… for example, you can be a car salesman, or you can work in an office selling software to other businesses (this is known as B2B sales, or business-to-business. Whereas selling cars is B2C, or business-to-consumer).
B2B typically has the potential to earn more but will have more employers requiring a four-year college degree. Not all though!
Each employer will have its own requirements in terms of educational background. And sales jobs have the potential to pay very well because you often earn commission along with a base salary, which means the employer pays you a portion of each sale you bring in.
(The percentage varies depending on the profit margin of what you’re selling. I’d recommend looking to sell something that’s very high margin like software subscriptions if you want to earn $100K+)
Also, this is a type of role where many companies look for entry-level job candidates. So, if you need to get a job with no experience, sales is one of your best options.
Once hired into an entry-level sales role, the employer will provide you with job training which includes observing and listening to experienced salespeople.
I think that sales is one of the best careers to start right now, period. (Among all careers, not just among careers that don’t require college).
2. Software Developer
Software developers can also earn six figures, and there are many developers who skipped college and are self-taught or went to coding bootcamps instead of pursuing a college degree. (Coding bootcamps are accelerated programs offered online or in-person that usually last approximately 12 weeks and teach you the fundamentals of software development).
Like with sales, each employer will have its own educational requirements when hiring software developers, but more and more companies are dropping the need for a college education.
CNBC recently reported that Google, Apple, and 12 other notable technology companies no longer require a four-year degree to land a job!
This makes software engineering one of the best high paying jobs without degree requirements. If you’re interested in getting started as a software developer, here are 18 of the best coding bootcamps to choose from.
3. Digital Marketer
Many top-earning digital marketers have nothing but a high school diploma. They’re either self-taught or enrolled in digital marketing courses rather than spending four years to obtain a general college degree.
Digital marketing is a high-paying field that leads to great job opportunities, whether you freelance or seek full-time, permanent employment.
You can also specialize in a variety of fields, like social media marketing, content marketing, paid advertising, and more.
4. Real Estate Agent
Many successful real estate professionals don’t have a college degree. Instead, they obtain a high school diploma and then proceed to get their real estate license and begin working.
This allows them to jump into the real estate industry at a relatively young age since jobs in this field often don’t require any more formal education.
Like salespeople (mentioned earlier) real estate agents and brokers earn a commission or percentage of the deals they close, so your earnings can be very high (hundreds of thousands of dollars) if you are successful in this business.
Because this job is typically centered around one city or location and requires you to build a network, it’s best to choose this path if you plan on staying in your city or region for a long time. However, it’s possible to relocate and build up a network again if you need to.
5. Network Specialist
A Network Specialist works within a company’s IT department to ensure communication networks and systems remain functional without any downtime. They analyze network performance statistics, monitor and maintain network security, and more. This is an important job since practically every company communicates digitally now and requires constant up-time for their phones, internet, and more.
This job does require a specific set of technical knowledge, but most employers don’t require a four-year college degree in order to obtain this position. They’re often more concerned with your specific, job-related skills. Network specialists earn a median annual salary of $56,708 according to PayScale.
6. Power Plant Operator
Power plant operators watch over and maintain power plant equipment to ensure that everything is functioning properly to generate power safely and reliably. The median annual pay for this career is $85,950, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and operators typically only need to obtain a high school diploma or equivalent to qualify for the job. Of course, plenty of on-the-job training will be required to learn about the equipment you’ll be working with, safety regulations, and more.
If you choose this career, you can expect a mix of classroom job training and hands-on instruction with the equipment and control panels that you need to use.
7. Skilled Trades
Jobs in the skilled trades (plumber, electrician, locksmith, etc.) are often overlooked by people considering college or traditional office jobs, but the fact is: Skilled trades jobs often pay very well and almost never require a college degree (in fact, many don’t even require a high school diploma, although your job search will certainly be easier if you have one).
If you master your craft and specialize in a certain area (for example, commercial plumbing), you can earn six figures.
There are very few higher-paying jobs without a degree, especially if you don’t want to work in an office! (We mentioned sales and software development earlier, as well as real estate. Those can potentially pay more, but you’d be in an office setting).
8. Automotive Technician
This profession is another excellent option if you want to earn a high salary with no degree and without having to sit in an office!
Instead of requiring a degree, employers in the auto repair industry look for job-related knowledge, and often provide job training, too. So, if you’re mechanically-inclined, this is a career worth considering.
Salary.com reports that the median annual salary for an Automotive Mechanic III is $58,628, so it’s possible to earn very good money after progressing in this field.
You can earn more if you specialize and become an expert at a certain type/brand of vehicle, too. (Each brand is slightly different, and the whole auto repair industry is becoming more computerized/digital – so a true specialist is required to diagnose and repair modern car engines).
9. Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists earn a median annual salary of $75,574 and can make up to $95,000, according to Salary.com.
To get started in this job, you’ll just need an associate’s degree and the required licenses/certifications in dental hygiene, which are faster and cheaper to obtain than a four-year college degree!
Note that there are also bachelor’s degrees available in dental hygiene, so you should compare and consider both options when planning your career.
10. Respiratory Therapist
There are a variety of medical jobs that make good careers and don’t require a college degree, and respiratory therapist is one of them.
However, some education and training is required. To become a respiratory therapist, you will need to complete an associate’s degree in respiratory therapy.
However, this two-year commitment certainly beats four years of college. Associate’s degrees are relatively inexpensive because they’re offered by community colleges.
Recommended Video: How To Be Successful Without A University Degree
Alternative Forms of Education
Certification can both accompany a degree and stand on its own as a valuable career asset. The world of certification is more diverse than that of academic degrees. Most are designed for specific career goals, some are organization-endorsed certifications, many certificates carry academic credits, some could lead to licensure, and most can take less than one or two years to complete.
- Postsecondary Non-Degree Awards
Postsecondary non-degree awards are another diverse category of certification without a degree. These awards are presented once postsecondary education/training has been completed, which can take anywhere from two weeks to two years. Many non-degree awards can be utilized in the field of healthcare and other highly lucrative industries.
- Technical Education
Career and technical education is designed to impart vocational training applicable in a variety of industries. This could lead to a diploma or certification in a specific area of interest. These programs can be earned through technical and vocational schools or two- to four-year colleges and universities.
Apprenticeship programs provide industry-recognized credentialing through combined components of paid employment and education. Today, an industry-recognized apprenticeship program (IRAP) or registered apprenticeship programs (RAPs) are high-quality opportunities for individuals interested in nationally recognized credentials in a wide range of fields.
Licensure varies from state to state, as a state-granted, mandatory certification. Several careers require licensure for clinical practice or areas of counselling, professional electrical work, and more. Licensed practitioners will have completed required examinations and are professionally bound to ethical codes in their fields. An educational certificate can lead to licensure, providing academic hours or credits required for state exams, though earning a certificate is not a mandatory part of the licensure process.
Finally, we’ve now looked at some of the highest paid jobs without degree requirements. If you want a job that makes the most money with the least education, this list is where to start. As a next step, narrow down the list to a few options that interest you most and then do more research into the requirements.
Also, think about what type of job you’d enjoy. Do you want to work in an office or outside? Do you prefer working with technology/information or with people? There are good careers without a degree for both of those types of jobs. Consider your previous skills and experience. It’s easier to get hired for a job if you have some relevant skills or training already.