Finding any job can be quite daunting, especially if you are just entering the workforce or if you are shifting careers. An entry-level job would be the best place to begin and, thankfully, there are entry-level jobs that pay well without a degree that you can take advantage of.
The best high-paying entry-level jobs without a degree require different types of training and experience, so selecting one that will jumpstart your career is highly dependent on your skills, career goals, willingness to learn, and how much you are willing to be paid. In this article, you will discover the best entry-level jobs you can get without a degree.
What Is an Entry-Level Job?
An entry-level job is a lower-level position that requires less responsibility and experience. Some may require minimal training and education. Many entry-level positions offer on-the-job training either through internal apprenticeship programs or external training.
The best entry-level jobs without a degree requirement, or with only a GED requirement, can be found in almost every industry. Even though these jobs require no experience, you’ll still require some specialized skills, knowledge, or training. After working for a few years at a job with no experience requirement, you will have the experience needed for more senior-level roles.
The Best Entry-Level Jobs Without a Degree: Overview
|Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Manager
|Elevator and Escalator Installer and Repairer
|Petroleum Pump System Operator
|Occupational Health and Safety Technician
|Line Installer and Repairer
|Industrial Machinery Mechanic
*Information can be found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics page for data on occupations not covered in detail
Best Entry-Level Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree: A Closer Look
Transportation, Storage, and Distribution Manager
These managers supervise the shipping, testing, receiving, and storing of goods. They are also responsible for establishing and implementing warehouse safety protocols according to company practices or organizational policies. The entry-level education requirement for this job is a high school diploma or a GED.
To land this entry-level job that pays well with no degree, you will need to get a certification through formal training or complete an apprenticeship program. There are also some necessary technical skills, such as accounting and knowing how to use inventory management software.
Elevator and Escalator Installer and Repairer
These professionals install, maintain, and repair elevators, escalators, lifts, and other similar electronic equipment. This type of position requires a working knowledge of hydraulics, electricity, or mechanics, but the only required education is a high school diploma or a GED.
This is one of the best entry-level jobs you can get without a degree because you train for the job through a four-year paid apprenticeship program, which is usually sponsored by the company hiring you. You can also join an apprenticeship program through a union or another industry association.
Petroleum Pump System Operator
This is a high-paying entry-level job that requires no college education. Professionals in this job operate petroleum refining or processing units by regulating the flow of oil in and out of pipelines. There are on-the-job training programs and apprenticeships. To progress in this career, you will need to earn a professional certification. Some states also require you to get an occupational license to practice.
Occupational Health and Safety Technician
This is one of the best-paying entry-level jobs without a degree for people who like working with data. In this role, technicians collect data from various organizations and analyze the data to ensure that safety protocols are being followed. They also design health and safety procedures specifically geared toward avoiding workplace hazards.
Some employers require a degree in occupational health or a safety-related course. To compete with applicants that have college degrees, you may need a certificate from a vocational school in addition to a high school diploma or GED.
Line Installer and Repairer
Line installers and repairers can get the training they need for this role through an apprenticeship or a one-year certificate program through community college. This is one of the best entry-level jobs without a degree for people who prefer physical work. Line installing and repairing involves climbing utility poles and removing obstructions from power and telecommunication lines.
These workers usually work normal business hours, but they will get called into work nights and weekends to repair lines after a storm. Companies sometimes send crews across the country to the location of a natural disaster, like a hurricane or blizzard.
Railroad workers ensure the safety of both freight and passenger trains. They include rail yard engineers, conductors, yardmasters, locomotive engineers, and brake and signal operators. They work closely with rail inspectors and rail transportation inspectors.
Most rail companies require a high school diploma or GED, but a certificate or postsecondary education will increase your chances of landing an entry-level position. You will also have the opportunity to receive up to 12 months of on-the-job training.
Stationary engineers manage engines, boilers, and other mechanical equipment such as heating, refrigerators, generators, and air conditioning in buildings. They make sure these utilities are well maintained.
You will need at least a high school diploma or a GED. However, you can join an apprenticeship program on top of the on-the-job training you will receive which is usually under the supervision of an experienced engineer.
Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power systems, electrical equipment, surveillance systems, and electrical control systems in homes and commercial buildings. They are the go-to people for anything that involves electrical systems and electric power.
The entry-level education requirements for electricians are a high school diploma or GED and a certificate from a vocational school. You will have the opportunity to learn either on the job or through an apprenticeship program that can last up to five years. You can also join a technical school where upon completion you will receive a credit towards your apprenticeship.
Plumbers install and repair pipes that carry water and gas. They can work in residential, commercial, or industrial settings. To land an entry-level plumbing job, you need a high school diploma or GED and a four or five-year apprenticeship. Apprenticeships are paid positions where plumbers learn the required skills they need to pass the professional license exam.
Industrial Machinery Mechanic
The list of day-to-day tasks for machinery mechanics includes managing and maintaining factory and industrial machinery and equipment. The entry-level job education requirements are a high school diploma or a GED. You must also complete one year of on-the-job training for industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers.
What Do Entry-Level Jobs Pay?
The average pay for an entry-level job is $33,186 per year, according to ZipRecruiter, with the range spanning $16,500 to $51,500. Where you fall on the spectrum depends on your level of education and the industry you work in.
Understanding the range that entry-level jobs pay gives you an idea of what to expect as you search for employment. Entry-level high-paying jobs pay more than the average entry-level job, but they will still pay less than jobs that require work experience.
What Skills Do You Need to Land an Entry-Level Job Without a Degree?
Transferable skills are professional skills for any work environment, and they are especially helpful skills for getting entry-level jobs. Chances are you already possess some of these skills. They include written and verbal communication, active listening, dependability, teamwork, decision-making, adaptability, and leadership skills.
In recent years, it has become evident that mastering one type of skill is no longer enough in the workforce. Hybrid skills for entry-level jobs require a combination of skills that might not have been connected before. For example, as a software engineer, you will not only need technical skills like programming but also soft skills such as critical thinking and teamwork.
When applying for an entry-level job without a degree, you’ll still find some job-specific skills in the job description for the best first jobs. They can be either hard skills, soft skills, or hybrid skills. You can get these skills through formal training or they can be offered as on-the-job training.
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The easiest jobs to get will only have a few specific skills or no required skills at all. For instance, a job description for a retail sales associate might require skills in customer service and multi-tasking, and an entry-level landscaping job description could say that plant care skills are preferred but not required.
What Education Do You Need to Get an Entry-Level Job?
The best entry-level jobs without a degree only require a high school diploma or its equivalent, the GED. However, for some professions, you’ll need some additional formal education or training, through an apprenticeship, on-the-job training, college degree, or a coding bootcamp.
While there are some entry-level jobs that pay well with no degree, the average salary for a worker with a bachelor’s degree is $23,000 more per year than a high school graduate. A job that requires a master’s degree or PhD isn’t considered an entry-level job.
Can a Coding Bootcamp Help Me Get an Entry-Level Job?
A coding bootcamp can help you get an entry-level tech job. Coding bootcamps teach their students the technical skills they need to jumpstart a career in a tech-related profession.
Most coding bootcamps have job placement services to help students land their first job after graduation. Some bootcamps even have a job guarantee or built-in apprenticeship opportunity. For a detailed rundown of these programs’ career-oriented pedagogical innovations, see our 2023 Bootcamp Market Report.
How to Get an Entry-Level Job with a GED
Step 1: Choose a Career Path
Research jobs you can get with a GED and think about whether those options align or conflict with your passions, values, and career goals. This will help you narrow down the options you have out there and steer you in choosing the right career path for you. A GED is almost always an acceptable substitute for a high school diploma.
Step 2: Consider Getting a Certificate
Find out if a certificate would help you qualify for the entry-level job you want. You can get a job with a GED, but a certificate can make it easier. You can usually find inexpensive certificate programs at community colleges or online education platforms like edX or Coursera. Keep in mind that a certificate is different from a certification, which is something you’ll need later in your career.
Step 3: Update Your Resume and Cover Letter
If your only education credential is a GED, you can upgrade your resume and cover letter by highlighting your soft skills. Adding these to your credentials may actually boost your chances of landing an entry-level job without a degree. You can also use a resume builder to give your resume and cover letter an extra boost.
Step 4: Apply for Internships
Internships are a great way to get an entry-level job. Most internships offer on-the-job training, which will definitely boost your resume and give you access to better positions that have more responsibility and higher pay. Some internships are a direct pathway to working at that company as a full employee.
Step 5: Find a Mentor
A mentor is someone who guides you by offering advice. Professionally, they should be a good fit for you and exhibit the characteristics you are looking for in your career. Having the right mentor can be a great way to get recommendations and network for other opportunities in the future. A good mentor will have advice on what jobs you can get with a GED.
Companies That Offer Entry-Level Jobs
- Aerotek: Aerotek is a recruitment and staffing agency that offers entry-level positions in aviation and airport operations, construction, distribution and logistics, facilities, and maintenance as well as manufacturing and production. The company has offices in different cities.
- General Motors (GM): GM’s main focus is designing, manufacturing, and reselling cars and automobile parts. The General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program (GM-ASEP) training program prepares students for a career as automotive technicians. This company has many entry-level jobs available across different departments.
- IBM: This company sells IT services, enterprise systems, and software. They have branches in locations all over the world. IBM is a great place to start a career in IT because this company has entry-level jobs in different IT roles. IBM SkillsBuild offers training programs for students, job seekers, educators, and organizations.
- AECOM: This is an infrastructure firm that offers professional services in both the public and private sectors. They also offer entry-level positions which you can find in their job listings.
- Boeing: This is one of the largest aerospace companies, and it focuses on the manufacturing of jetliners, spacecraft, and security systems. Boeing has career opportunities in business, cyber security, data science and analytics, engineering, IT, and manufacturing. They also have internships and an accelerated program for students.
Where to Find Entry-Level Jobs That Don’t Require a Degree
One of the best places to find an entry-level job without a degree is by going directly to company websites. On these career pages, you can tailor your search based on your interests and the type of role you are looking for. Most companies also have the option of applying for roles directly through their websites, so it’s easy to apply for any role you feel qualified for.
A great way to find entry-level jobs without a degree are to use job boards such as Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Indeed, Monster, and NoDegree. These are well-known websites with thousands of jobs where you can tailor your job search to fit your education level and skills.
Job boards also give you the option to filter your search by salary and work experience, so you can search for high-paying entry-level jobs with no experience requirement. You can go a step further and sign up for daily job alerts and get new job postings sent to your email.
Social Networking Sites
This may seem like an unconventional way to get an entry-level job, but most companies have social media pages where they also post their job openings. In addition, different industries have created online professional community groups on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn which regularly post job opportunities and are also a great way to network and learn about your chosen career.
Consider a Degree Later in Your Career
You can get an entry-level job without a degree. There are even jobs that pay well without a degree. However, as you plan to progress in your career, you should consider getting a bachelor’s degree, associate degree, or professional certification. These credentials can help you grow into more senior-level roles.
Another way to find the best entry-level jobs without a degree is to attend a bootcamp. These short, intensive courses usually include job search resources and can lead to a high-paying tech job. Further education will help you in your career further on, but you can get an entry-level job now with a high school diploma or GED.
Entry-Level Jobs Without a Degree FAQ
You can get an entry-level tech job without a degree as long as you have the required skillset. However, if you want to advance to more senior roles in your field, you might want to consider further education. You can enroll in a coding bootcamp, look into online degree options, or go back to school for a traditional bachelor’s degree.
Can I get an entry-level job through an apprenticeship program?
Apprenticeship programs are a common pathway to the best entry-level jobs without a degree. An apprenticeship program teaches you the skills you need to do a job well through paid, on-the-job training. Instead of learning in a classroom, you’ll work alongside an experienced professional to learn the tricks of the trade.
How can I apply for an apprenticeship program?
You can apply for an apprenticeship program either through a company’s website where you want to work or through the US government’s apprenticeship program. Another place to look for apprenticeship programs is the trade union for your field. Before you apply, you should check the requirements for entry to see if you qualify.
Is college for everyone?
College can be expensive, and it takes two to four years to earn a degree. A college degree can help you jumpstart some careers, but you can still get an entry-level job that pays well with no degree. College isn’t for everyone because some jobs don’t require a degree. If you want to land your dream job in one of those professions, college is an unnecessary expense.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.