Newsflash! You don’t need a college degree to make good money. A bachelor’s degree is no longer the ticket to the middle class. And being without does not mean constant service industry jobs struggling to make ends meet.
There are plenty of good positions that require skills that people already have. Other jobs seem like they need a degree, but actually the only requirement is knowledge – and knowledge can be had in a number of places.
The following is a list of positions that require no degree. They are compared to other jobs requiring a college education. You can decide which job is better.
Table of Contents
1. Criminal Investigator
Being a part of something larger than flipping burgers is always a plus. The field of criminology is one of those jobs where you can have adventure and pay that rises to $60,000 a year. Tasks include investigating the criminal world, or assisting in the recovery of evidence for a trial where somebody is in the wrong. There is also police work that could be done, such as taking part in covert operations, investigating violent crimes or getting in on forensics.
There are a myriad of responsibilities you can undertake. And potential to score a lucrative job from this one is always possible. Picture starting your own agency, working for a great law firm, or moving on to law enforcement.
Let’s compare this with a position that requires a degree, such as investigative journalist. True, you can maybe reach a $60,000 figure in this position. But it will take a while. There will likely be about 10 years of cutting it as a cub reporter at more meager earnings. Then there’s the limited supply of positions in the journalism field.
2. Gaming Manager
Did somebody say Vegas?
Well actually, a job as a gaming manager can happen across the country thanks to a growing casino culture in the United States. The person filling this $80,000 job is charged with making sure the casino floor runs smoothly. This includes providing exceptional customer service while organizing and directing the crew of other employees that have face-to-face interactions with customers. And then there’s the money aspect. A gaming manager must be trusted to handle thousands.
People in these positions are often trained from within. Securing such work can be as easy as walking into a casino and filling out an application. One of the good parts is that job experiences are often transferrable. Someone with management experience where customer interaction was the norm would fit in nicely. And, with experience, there is room for promotion.
Compare that to a bank management position, which requires some sort of degree. On average, according to Payscale.com, a bank manager can earn up to $58,000 after at least ten years in the lower ranks of the bank hierarchy.
3. Food Stall Owner
Let’s talk grub and risk.
A food stall owner will see plenty of both. But if someone longs for entrepreneurship and thrives in culinary styling this could be a high-grossing opportunity. And it’s a good time to have the food stall bug. Generating a clientele is a lot easier nowadays than it was say 20 years ago.
Just be prepared to be your own boss. Success and failure depends on the sweat and tears an owner puts into the enterprise. It also takes a lot of faith in the menu a food stall owner presents to customers. It’s got to be bold, yet not scary. It’s got to account for the clientele available at the corner of Main and Maple, preferably around noon. There are so many factors to consider.
But the rewards are astounding when all the pieces fall in to place. Making upwards of $90,000 is possible.
Compare this option with a college-educated food preparer. A head chef with an associate’s degree can expect to earn about $43,000 a year. More prominent bachelor’s degree-level food preparers may see salaries in the low $50,000s.
4. Software Developer
You’d think you need a degree for this job, but you’d be wrong.
In fact many of the software developers out there are self-taught. There are many online courses available for free that will teach the skills you needs to obtain a job in this highly lucrative field. There are thousands of coding courses that provide much the same knowledge a prospective developer would get at a university. These degrees, by the way, can cost up to $70,000 dollars a year. That’s the cost of higher-end private colleges at the time of this writing. Read this in a couple of years and that number may actually appear average.
A software engineer can earn about $100,000 a year. The job does require a high degree of knowledge of coding in at least one program and it’s a fast-paced job. Although one might think this is a solitary job, software developers don’t sits hermit-like behind a screen all day, coding constantly. This is a collaborative position where developers work as a team in a rat-race environment in ever-changing industry.
Being a team player is a big part of the job. Software development is about solving problems with technology and you need to be a good communicator not only create solutions with a team, but also to listen to clients.
It’s true, you can get a degree in computers and get a job in the field. The only problem is the student loan debt. According to U.S. News and World Report, a college graduate on average carries about $40,000. Paying this off chips away at the average software developer salary, making the profession plus degree a little less attractive.
The cousin of the software developer is the expert in cybersecurity.
This position can also be done without a degree. Basically if you know the skills, can prove it, than you are good to go. The job entails keeping up to date on digital security threats that can lead to data loss. Also, there is some person-to-person contact with managers but there is little customer interaction unlike the software developer position.
Pay can hover in the $90,000 depending on where the position is located. But it definitely beats out other jobs that require a degree, such as those in the broadcasting industry, for instance. An announcer at a sports event makes about $27,000 a year. Not only that, it has bad job security and even worse working hours.
6. Video Game Designer
And here’s yet another cousin of the software developer.
It too requires coding expertise that can be learned for free online. It’s a growing field that is the dream job for many a teenage boy. But the day-to-day reality of a video game designer is not all fun and games. The position requires a lot communication between team members, of which there could be 100s developing a title.
Still this job is much more attractive than say that of a rehabilitation counselor. This position requires a degree and pays about $36,000. And yes, this positions likely sees 100s of people, but the interactions are more about struggle than team building.
7. Real Estate Agent
The average real estate agent earns roughly $43,000 a year.
However, this a commission-driven profession can see $100,000 a year, or drop to as little as $20,000. The winners in this profession are the ones that can navigate a few skills and be in the right area at the right time. Some of the necessary skills include negotiation tactics, great organization, communication skills, a penchant for working under pressure, and an understanding of property.
This is a fantastic professional career for those looking for something more than a service industry job. And it can be done without a degree. True, you may will need a license, but getting one takes months as opposed to years.
Let’s compare this with another agent of change — the social worker. They require degrees and make you close to $40,000 at most. Not only that the position has a lot of hazards such as stress and aggravation, which are on a whole different level than those a real estate agent faces.
This is a generic term that describe anyone who sales merchandise.
It could be over the phone, door-to-door or through some other means. The salesperson can connect with others, knows how to relate what their selling to potential clients, and can handle rejection. It’s not a position for everyone but the earnings are often uncapped and earning $100,000 or more a year is not out of the question.
The skillset of a successful salesperson are perseverance and likeability. These are characteristics learned through the art of living and not from a bachelor’s of arts. Being good is more about fine tuning traits one already has in their personalities. For instance, passion is something a sales manager wants to see in a candidate. Knowing passion means knowing drive and without it, how can a salesperson effectively care about what they are selling.
There is also very little training involved, meaning it doesn’t take much to get out into field and make a dollar. Let’s compare this to another position that also requires passion – teaching. Teachers require a degree and make on average around $45,000. And it requires constant collegiate education to upgrade skills and certifications. So you’ll face years of debt that will do nothing but grow after years.
9. Harbor Pilot
In terms of jobs, this position requires skills not normal to the average wage earner.
A harbor pilot requires a lot training in things like weather patterns, navigation, handling a massive vessel, understanding its inner workings, and a good grasp on safety. It also doesn’t hurt to understand things like local underwater geography. These are the ones that make it so cruise vessel can dock in a place like Bermuda, for instance.
This is not a 9-5 position and being good means being on the seas more than on land. But, the skills don’t require a university degree and making $100,000 a year or more is a reality. Compare this with a couple’s therapist, who is kind of a harbor pilot for relationships. They navigate through the unforgiving rocks of personal turmoil and hopefully land of the soft relationship tranquility. And the position requires a degree and promises pay that reaches on average just over $40,000.
This is the average good job one thinks of for someone without a degree.
It pays well, somewhere on average of $54,000, and there is plenty of security. The cool part is there is room for growth as experts can turn into business owners. The position does require good person-to-person skills since the typical customer is probably having a very bad day. But the hours are for the most part are 9-5.
Being a plumber is a position often touted by high school science teachers, or at least by mine. That’s because the prospects of a graduate with a degree in biology are limited. In fact, a biological technician can expect to bring home just over $39,000 a year.
So, you can wait for years to make a meager salary or start making decent salary with a little training.