These days, having a university degree isn’t the only way to launch a successful career in most industries. To get the best jobs without a degree, you need to acquire some skills, which may vary depending on the career path you want. Some of these jobs demand a high school diploma or at least a GED, while others are technical and open to anyone who has the right set of skills.
This article is your complete guide to getting the highest-paying jobs without a degree. It contains a list of the top 10 jobs you can get with no prior college education. First, you’ll need to gain applicable skills and get the minimum required education. This step-by-step guide covers techniques to get a high-paying job without a degree and lists the top companies across the globe that hire people without degrees.
What Skills Do You Need to Land a High-Paying Job Without a Degree?
The technology industry is one of the best fields to get a job without a degree. Tech companies across the globe consistently recruit tech experts across various fields irrespective of their college status. Even if you do not want to learn software development or any other skill that requires a critical understanding of computer systems, knowing your way around computers is still essential.
Project management is one of those skills you can build on your own without any formal university education. If you have natural leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills, you should master project management. It can be technical project management, non-technical project management, or both.
The data-centric world has led to a significant surge in demand for data analysts, scientists, and other data experts. If you pay attention to details and have analytical skills, you can learn data analysis. You can fill entry-level roles in this field with the right data analysis skillset, even if you don’t have a tech degree.
Computational thinking is a modern problem-solving method that involves thinking like a computer. You have to remove all illogical or emotional thoughts from your mind as far as business is concerned. Companies want people who can get the job done as logically and efficiently as possible.
Whether you are looking for a job in the tech industry or any other sector, innovative thinking will take you a long way. Employers want people with creative minds who can develop new, out-of-the-box strategies and ideas. Innovation might be a natural trait, but you can train your mind to think creatively.
What Education Do You Need to Get a Job Without a Degree?
You will need at least a high school diploma to get a job, even if you do not have a degree. If you dropped out of high school, you should get your GED so that you have something to write in the education part of your resume. A GED or high school diploma also shows that you are a dedicated person who sees things through.
Having some form of postsecondary education will also help you land a job. Places to go for non-traditional education include vocational schools, hands-on apprenticeship programs, and coding bootcamps. Just make sure that you seek specialized education in the field you intend to pursue.
Why College Is Not for Everyone
There are many benefits attached to getting a college degree right after high school. However, the fact remains that college isn’t for everyone. It is time-consuming, stressful, and costly. Many people do not see the merit in spending four years or more at college when they can go straight to work after high school.
The National Center for Education Statistics notes that the average annual cost of a university or college ranges from $18,383 for public institutions to $47,419 for private institutions. If you do not have a college fund from your family, you will be stuck with significant student loan debt when you graduate.
When you opt for a more affordable alternative to college, you can start working shortly after you complete your high school diploma. If you do decide to go to college later, you will have saved up enough money to ease the financial burden.
Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Get a Job Without a Degree?
Yes, coding bootcamps are ideal options for people without a university degree who want to dive into tech. Coding bootcamps teach you only what you need to thrive in a particular tech field. You do not need to take general education courses, electives, or anything unrelated to the program in question. Bootcamps compare favorably to degrees in that they are more affordable.
There are bootcamps for software engineering, product management, data science, data analytics, cyber security, web development, and a host of other tech disciplines. Some of the best coding bootcamps in the industry are Flatiron School, Thinkful, Nucamp, Le Wagon, Kenzie Academy, and General Assembly. Their career services all do wonders for students.
How to Get a Job with a GED
Step 1: Choose a Path
What field would you like to pursue? Do you want to dive into tech? Is your target the hospitality industry? Which career do you intend to start with, and how would it affect your long-term career goals? Getting answers to these questions will help you plan and make the right choice. Otherwise, you may be stuck doing something you hate just because you want to pay the bills.
Step 2: Get an Education
After determining which field you want to explore, choosing your specialization is next. Since college is off the table, consider online courses, apprenticeships, bootcamps, technical schools, or vocational programs that will allow you to specialize. If possible, stick to programs that offer some sort of certificate of completion or postsecondary nondegree award.
Step 3: Consider a Certification
If you are chasing a tech career, consider getting a professional certification, which is sometimes necessary even for entry-level positions. Even if you are not chasing tech, find out which certificates or licenses are available in your target field. Certifications give you an edge since they serve as proof of your skills.
Step 4: Take Advantage of Job Resources
Bulk out your resume and start exploring job resources locally and online. Dedicate one hour a day to applying for jobs in your field. Set up job alerts on the appropriate platforms to increase your chances and ensure that you do not lose out on any opportunities. This way, you will get email notifications when jobs in your field become available.
Step 5: Do Not Apply if You Don’t Meet the Criteria
To increase your chances of getting your application accepted, do not apply for jobs that demand a college degree when you only have a GED. Your applications will keep getting bounced, which can be discouraging in the long run. The GED jobs may not pay as much as others, but the experience you gather will be helpful.
High-Paying Jobs Without a College Degree
|Machine Learning Expert||$130,530||22%|
|Cyber Security Analyst||$99,815||33%|
|Real Estate Agent||$82,898||4%|
|Elevator and Escalator Installer or Repairer||$72,842||6%|
|Computer Support Specialist||$45,941||9%|
*For each occupation listed in the table, the employment growth projection comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Best Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree: A Closer Look
Machine Learning (ML) Expert
Machine learning, one of the revolutionary fields in the tech industry today, involves making algorithms and software to make machines carry out commands without explicit instructions. ML professionals aim to make all machines as self-directed and intelligent as possible to improve efficiency across industries. They get access to some of the highest-paying jobs in the tech industry.
You can become a machine learning expert without attending a university. However, you will need extensive education from an artificial intelligence or data science bootcamp. People interested in learning machine learning typically study it within the context of a course or bootcamp. Still, there are plenty of free resources online to get you started in the field.
Cyber Security Analyst
These are IT professionals who develop security measures to protect the computer networks within an organization from possible cyber attacks. They monitor threats and suggest solutions to fix potential security breaches. Depending on the job description, you can either be a cyber security consultant or a full-time employee on a company’s payroll.
Cyber security analysts are not always required to have university degrees. However, employers might demand evidence of some form of education before hiring you. So, attending a cyber security bootcamp and getting a certificate of completion may not be a bad idea.
Software engineering applies traditional engineering principles to the design, development, testing, and maintenance of computer software and electrical equipment. Software engineers develop and test the core software required for phones, laptops, and other computerized devices to function.
To become a software engineer, you must complete online courses or attend a bootcamp. These programs cover top programming languages, software testing, and technical project management. The best software engineering bootcamps have an excellent reputation in the tech industry, so landing a job afterward would be easy.
Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents are brokers who help people buy and sell real estate. It is one of those fields you can dive into with no more than a high school diploma. You need to have an enthusiastic personality since the bulk of your work would revolve around convincing people to buy and sell the property. Reading about modern property structures would also be required on an ongoing basis.
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Most real estate agents are self-employed, and they rely on the commission they get from real estate transactions to survive, meaning that there’s no limit to a real estate agent’s yearly wages. It is also possible to start working for a real estate firm and then work your way up by following company practices.
Web developers are software developers who specialize in developing and maintaining websites and web-based applications. You can work as a freelance developer independently or work as a web developer for a particular company. You could break into either one without a university degree.
Elevator and Escalator Installer or Repairer
These experts, also dubbed elevator mechanics, are responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining elevators, escalators, or similar machines. These machines could be dumb waiters, moving walkways, chairlifts, and so on. To be a repair worker, you need to understand electrical power and how to fix broken machines.
The typical education for elevator installers and escalator repairers is a high school diploma. However, you need to enroll in a four-year, paid apprenticeship program that allows you to get hands-on, on-the-job experience. If you are fortunate, you will find a paid apprenticeship program that assimilates you into the workforce after you have completed your training.
Data analysts use computational methods to collect data, analyze it, and draw meaningful insights from the data. The duties and activities they perform help companies make data-driven decisions that can potentially boost profit or shape organizational policies.
Traditionally, data scientists and analysts are required to have advanced university degrees. However, the rise of data analytics bootcamps provides a viable alternative to data analyst degrees. Prospective employers may be willing to offer you an entry-level data analytics role if you get technical training from a bootcamp.
Flight attendants provide customer services during commercial and private airline travel. They are key members of the boarding crew and are always available to answer questions or attend to the needs of passengers during a flight. While most flight attendants are female, your sex doesn’t matter if you can get the job done.
You do not need a university degree to be a flight attendant, but you need excellent interpersonal skills. You’ll have to have an in-depth understanding of the intercom systems utilized by commercial pilots, as well as meet specific health and fitness requirements. After you are employed, you will receive basic training based on your responsibilities and the airline’s formal education requirements.
Digital marketers are promoters who help businesses improve their digital presence. There are numerous forms of digital marketing, including content marketing, search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, and social media management. Whether you choose one specialty or many, you can learn the skills to become a digital marketer yourself.
Several digital marketing firms employ creative minds to manage their content across various distribution systems. You can also get your start in digital marketing as an influencer. Rather than stepping foot on campus, you can take several online classes to boost your skills.
Computer Support Specialist
A computer support specialist is a technician who assists people using computers and computer-based devices for an organization. The role could be specific to a particular product type, or it could be a more general role. In any case, you need substantial knowledge of computer systems. Simple computer literacy will not meet the entry-level education requirement.
There are numerous fast-paced training programs you can take to boost your proficiency in the field and gain in-depth knowledge of electrical systems and communications equipment. You also need to work on your listening and communication skills since you will be talking to customers all day.
Companies That Offer Entry-Level Jobs for GED Holders
- Google: Google, the global tech giant, always has job opportunities for people with GEDs at different levels. Most of these job titles are related to technology and don’t require a degree. You can also be degreeless and get a job at Google in sales, marketing, or financial services.
- Costco Wholesale: Costco Wholesale is another reputable company known for having more relaxed education requirements for entry-level roles. It isn’t just limited to the cashier, retail sales worker, and warehouse maintenance roles. There are software engineering and data analytics roles as well.
- Apple: Apple is another big name in the technology industry that gives high school diplomas and GED graduates a chance to work and earn reasonable amounts. There are roles available in different departments depending on what suits you.
- IBM: Contrary to popular opinion, IBM doesn’t limit its workforce to college graduates. Bootcamp grads, high school graduates, and GED holders can also find opportunities in the company.
- Whole Foods: Whole Foods has a range of positions that people can fill without degrees. Many of the jobs do not require any special certification or education. After employment, you will receive basic training and preparation for your hands-on position.
Where to Find High-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree
Glassdoor is one of the best places to find high-paying job openings that do not require a degree. The online job resource platform has been around for 14 years, and it has helped thousands of job seekers find work across industries. You can find job openings for almost every field you can think of on Glassdoor.
ZipRecruiter was first founded in 2010, and it has published over 500 million jobs since then. Employers post the jobs directly, so you can rest assured that all the jobs posted are from reliable sources. ZipRecruiter also has a job statistics page that shows you the average salary for each position based on location.
Indeed is another global job resource giant that posts remote and local jobs for people in the United States and beyond. The platform has been providing job listings since 2004.
Consider a College Degree Later in Your Career
People with college degrees conventionally earn more than those with high school diplomas and GEDs in the United States. So, it is not a bad idea to consider getting at least an associate degree from a community college later in your career. You can earn more money with an associate degree or bachelor’s degree, and it will also be easier to advance to a managerial position.
Once you have a four-year degree, you can decide to get a master’s degree for better job growth prospects, higher career advancement opportunities, and more financial compensation. You can get a bachelor’s or master’s degree online at an accelerated pace, thanks to online learning. So, you do not need to quit your job to meet your degree requirement later in your career.
Whether you have a college degree or not, your primary goal should be proving to prospective employers that you know how to get the job done. There are benefits and drawbacks to both options. So, weigh these factors when you are deciding on your future career.
Best Jobs Without a Degree FAQ
Choose a career path that does not require a college education, master the subject in a bootcamp or through hands-on training, and start applying for jobs. Many jobs out there pay over $60,000 to high school diploma or GED holders.
In three months, you can become a web developer, machine learning engineer, data analyst, real estate agent, or flight attendant. For any job that doesn’t require a four-year college degree, you can get an extensive technical education in three months using online programs and workshops to acquire the necessary skills.
You will need to make about $51.28 per hour and work for a minimum of 37.5 hours weekly to earn $100,000 yearly. Since most jobs have a minimum requirement of 40 working hours worth of production, your annual salary will probably work out to more than $100,000.
Machine learning, cyber security, software engineering, and web development jobs pay well without a degree. Other options include real estate, digital marketing, and data analyst jobs. Building inspectors, freight inspectors, electricians, rail inspectors, correctional officers, extraction workers, and construction equipment operators can all work without a degree.
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