Finding Your Direction

10 Jobs You DON’T Need a College Degree For!

16 March 2023

It’s a message thrown around for decades: You want a good job? You need a college degree!

But how true is this today?

Unfortunately, many jobs associated with not needing a degree are also seen as low-paid and without many progression opportunities. Which couldn’t be further from the truth!

A college degree is only one pathway you could follow to find a long-term, financially stable career. If college isn’t for you, there are plenty of opportunities to find success!

Here are ten key industries and jobs for which you don’t need a college degree:

1. Maintenance and Repair Worker

Maintenance and repair workers work across a wide range of private and public workplaces to ensure they run smoothly and take care of minor day-to-day repairs and maintenance. They tend to learn skills on the job – usually starting with a traineeship or apprenticeship – and grow from there. Most job roles in this area require a high school diploma or GED to get started, but it’s a highly accessible role with lots of opportunities to learn and grow as you go.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects around 117,000 new jobs in the industry over the next decade. General maintenance workers earn an average of about $44,000 per year.

2. Flight Attendant

While it can be a demanding job and there’s lots of pre-requisite job-specific training, you don’t need a college degree to be a flight attendant. These customer service superheroes work hard to provide a safe, friendly, and positive experience for everyone onboard. You’ll usually need your high school diploma or GED and certification from theFederal Aviation Administration as part of your on-the-job training to get started.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 30% growth over the next decade. Flight attendants earn an average of $80,503 per year along with some great benefits such as discounted flights!

3. Electrician

Electrician roles are always in high demand – and there are so many ways to explore a career in the industry. From working as a sole tradesman to joining a global construction company or electrical firm – the world’s your oyster. Many train via an apprenticeship straight out of high school, with support to boost your literacy if you need it. The wages can be varied, but there’s certainly scope for progress.

You can demand high earnings depending on your experience and specialist skill set. Entry-level roles tend to start around $49,100.

4. Sales Advisor

A college degree can help in sales – but it’s definitely not essential. You’ll often find some of the most experienced and successful salespeople don’t have a college degree. Sales can be in anything from car dealerships to financial and insurance services, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, and anything in between! It’s often quite competitive, but if you’ve got a confident skillset and a natural ability to connect with people and help them solve problems, sales could be for you.

The salary structure in sales is unusual as there’s usually a commission structure that significantly boosts your take-home pay based on the business you bring in. Base salaries tend to be around the $60,696 mark.

5. Makeup Artist

This highly creative field could also take you into a wide variety of industry sectors. From department stores to dedicated make-up brands, bridal specialties, fashion shows or theatre, and special effects make-up for TV or film. Many make-up artists have vocational qualifications, but no college degree is required. Many learn their trade and hone their skills via online masterclasses and even YouTube.

Average starting salaries can be low in this industry, but as you gain experience and specialize your services, there are plenty of ways to boost your income.

6. Carpenter or Woodworker

Like electricians, carpenters or woodworkers use their technical skills to provide a service and trade across different industries. Some might make furniture or home furnishings, while others specialize in timber frame housing, window frames, or other wood-related projects. Like other trades, these roles do not require a college degree as the work is very hands-on, and many get started via apprenticeships.

Average starting salaries are around $36,710, but this often goes up with experience and skill development.

7. Chef

Some chefs start their careers in post-school vocational training – but many start in the kitchen, working their way and learning the skills they need for success as they go. There’s a real notion of ‘earning your stripes’ in this industry, and it’s a great idea to have experience in all kitchen roles before taking the lead. For this reason, a college degree is not considered an essential requirement.

Chefs can specialize in various fields, from pastries and desserts to different types of cooking, and build on their skillset as they develop as a professional. The average salary is around $50,062 per year, but this also depends heavily on the type of kitchen/culinary industry you work in.

8. Real Estate Agent

Similar to a sales advisor, a college degree can benefit real estate agents, but it’s definitely not essential. Real estate is quite similar to sales, with a few differences in that you work specifically with customers to find their best new property. Real estate brokers and agents must pass a licensing exam that varies from state to state, and you’ll need your high school diploma or GED to get started.

Also similar to sales, real estate agents work on a commission structure, and depending on the sub-sector of the market you work within, it can be highly lucrative.

9. Early Years Childcare

If you love working with young children and all the fun they bring, you’ll be happy to know a college degree isn’t needed to become an early years educator. You will need your high school diploma or GED, and there are often qualifications and training you’ll need to do while working on the job – but it’s all geared around being hands-on in your role.

Average salaries start around $30,101, with opportunities to progress into senior positions.

10.  Retail Advisor or Manager

If you want a career where experience counts more than a college degree, look no further than the retail sector! It’s estimated that 50% of all adults currently work or have worked in some form of retail at some point in their careers. The industry exhibits great diversity in the business size, region, retail format, sectors, and the nature of goods sold.

It’s a great team environment, and many companies offer on-the-job training and other ways to gain highly relevant qualifications. Salaries can be varied, with average entry roles costing around $27,550 per year.

Find Out More

There are plenty more careers out there that you can start on, but we thought these would be an excellent place to start!

If any of them have caught your interest, our Industry Profiles are great for exploring them in more depth – and then don’t forget to check out our employer partners to find your next role in the sector.


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