How to Embark on a Successful Career Without College
Here’s a perspective many job seekers may find encouraging: you don’t need a college degree to have a great career. Even though consensus holds in some quarters that you need a college degree to succeed in the workforce, that’s not always the case.
You can enjoy a rewarding, successful career without a college education.
To be clear, research continues to show that “the more you learn, the more you earn,” according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In measuring the value of education, the agency’s research showed that people with more education were less likely to be unemployed.
However, if you’re job searching without a college degree, take heart. There are many jobs that don’t require a degree; in many cases, employers give considerable weight to equivalent experience, offer on-the-job training, or place a high value on outside training and certifications.
Tips for Getting a Job Without a College Degree
Consider vocational or other specialized training at a trade school, through a training program, or perhaps at your local community college to boost your prospects. Depending on the fields in which you’re interested, researching these credentials can help put you ahead of the pack. And, depending on the field, may be just as valuable as a degree.
Understanding Your Career Aptitude
FlexJobs offers its members access to more than 170 skills tests designed to help gauge professional strengths and aptitudes, and to guide job seekers to opportunities that are a good fit. Know your strengths and pursue careers that your innate abilities can propel you.
Getting On-the-Job Training
Consider searching for a flexible job that might help you learn new in-demand skills, or sharpen existing ones. An entry-level job can offer a great way to “learn as you go” in your career. That said, simply landing a job doesn’t guarantee growth. You’ll have to proactively pursue training and learning opportunities.
Finding Internships and Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteering and taking on adult internships can offer ways to gain valuable experience, whether you have a college degree or not. In some fields, experience is the most important. A matter of fact, being able to show samples from your portfolio that demonstrate your value and showcase your experience can be invaluable.
Taking Online Courses
Getting a few online courses under your belt can only help your job search without a college degree. Many universities offer free classes, and you can find a variety of options on learning platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning. And, if you’re a FlexJobs member, you have access to our Learning Center with free video courses.
Finding a Mentor
Career mentors can provide invaluable advice and even connect you to others professionally. Mentors can point out areas where you need improvement and help you determine your career path.
When it comes to finding a job, who you know can be a game changer. Getting a recommendation or reference from someone who works at the company you’re applying to can move you to the top of the list, degree or no degree. Utilize your network to find and make connections. Don’t be afraid to schedule informational interviews to learn more about a career path and to get honest feedback.
Opportunities for Flexible Careers Without College
Finding a job on FlexJobs that doesn’t require a college degree is easy when you use our advanced search options. Use the keyword field to search words like “diploma,” “entry-level,” “some college,” or whatever keyword may apply to your situation. Here’s a sampling of jobs you can find in our database that typically don’t include college requirements.
- Administrative Assistant. Administrative assistant roles often hire candidates with a high school diploma. Assisting a team or individual with answering correspondence, maintaining digital files, organizing meetings and travel, and preparing reports/memos are some common duties.
- Data Entry. If you have fast typing skills and are tech-savvy, a data entry role can be a good career choice. Data entry professionals can often work remotely to evaluate and enter data into computer systems.
- Bookkeeper. Bookkeepers handle an organization’s general ledger by recording transactions, producing financial statements, and checking financial records for accuracy.
- Accounting Clerk. Typically requiring at least a year of experience, an accounting clerk will process accounts payable and receivable, compile reports, and reconcile bank deposits.
- Tech Support Specialist. An aptitude for computers and networking can qualify you for a tech support role. Duties include troubleshooting, creating work orders, updating computers, etc.
- IT Project Coordinator. Project coordinators work to monitor project progress, provide tech support, collaborate with technology teams, and more.
- Claims Representative. A claims representative will analyze and investigate claims, determine fair compensation to customers, negotiate settlements, and authorize payments.
- Insurance Sales Agent. Insurance agents find leads, offer quotes, follow up with prospects, answer questions, and help with enrollment.
- Medical Coder. Medical coders input data and determine coding issues and discrepancies. AAPC or AHIMA certification is typically required. Due to its projected growth, this one of the leading jobs that don’t require a degree.
- Pharmacy Technician. A pharmacy tech/coordinator will review and fill prescription requests, interact with members, review authorizations, and more. A pharmacy license may be needed.
- Property Claims Adjuster. This job involves onsite and virtual inspection of damages and documentation of claims. A diploma and experience can qualify you for this type of role.
- Mortgage Underwriter. Underwriters typically analyze and evaluate all aspects of borrower’s credit, underwrite mortgage loans, and process customer information.
- Sales Representative. Sales reps need the ability to develop leads, build relationships, make sales, and meet sales goals. This is one of the leading careers without college due to its upward mobility.
- Sales Director. Sales professionals with 5-10 years of experience can find a director-level role that typically develops account plans, sustains clients, converts sales, and manages a sales team.
- Travel Agent. Travel agents work with clients to book airfare, hotels, rental cars, and vacation packages, and make schedule changes as needed.
- Ticketing Consultant. Ticketing consultants process tickets, provide instructions to travelers, stay on top of updates, and more.
Finding a Job with FlexJobs
Getting a job without a degree is possible in many different career fields. No matter what stage you’re at in your career, or what your level of education is, FlexJobs has real and legitimate flexible jobs that are updated daily. Our advanced search function can narrow down your results to help you find just the right job for your circumstances.
And, our database is updated daily across more than 50 career categories.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
A previous version of this article was published on February 13, 2017.
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