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The Best Jobs Without A College Degree

By Kyle Kensing

At this time every year, many new high school graduates enter the working world with no intention of earning a four-year college degree. In fact, they make up the majority of all working-age people in the U.S.

The Census Bureau reported recently that 30.4 percent of people over age 25 nationally hold at least a bachelor’s degree, and 10.9 percent hold a graduate degree, up from 26.2 percent and 8.7 percent 10 years ago. While that's the highest college graduation level ever for American workers, it shows that almost 70% of the workforce doesn't have a degree beyond high school.

Yet the lack of a college degree doesn't mean a rewarding career isn't possible. In fact, as the job market slowly improves, opportunities for high school graduates are increasing steadily. For example, the information technology field is offering many tech-savvy high school grads a very promising future. Web developers are in high demand, for example, and job seekers are gravitating to the field each year even without a specialized degree. In fact, web developer tops our list of the best careers that don't require a four-year degree, according to the 2013 Jobs Rated report.

Of course, landing a great IT job without a college degree takes perseverance.

“I had to prove myself,” says software developer Sol Hershkowitz of New York-based, a company he founded that specializes in business process improvement and software development. Hershkowitz was working as a search engine optimizer and copywriter when he began freelancing as a web developer.

“Business owners don’t always want to pay market rate if you don’t have a degree,” Hershkowitz says. Overcoming those biases requires building a portfolio, but building a portfolio when jobs aren’t paying takes dedication. Hershkowitz says he worked pro bono on projects when getting his feet wet in web development.

It’s very much a self-made path, he explains. Self-education is the necessary foundation for a beginning developer, and Hershkowitz says he scoured books on development, but that online outlets were the most beneficial resource.

“There are a lot of smart developers out there who share tips,” he says.

Self-employment opens door to those without degrees, whether freelancing or operating one’s own business. Hershkowitz emphasized the importance of branching out individually.

“I highly recommend freelance or launching your own company [if you lack a degree],” he says. “I started out with just a few clients form freelancing…[and] slowly but surely added more clients.” Since establishing his base, he adds: “I have never had one [client] ask about my education.”

Our Jobs Rated report reveals that Web developer, electrician, skincare specialist and plumber are some of the best jobs without a college degree, especially if you own your own business. The average median salary per U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data for our top jobs without a college degree is $41,307. To be sure, the top 15 careers in the Jobs Rated report requiring a Bachelor’s degree or more average $73,771 in annual median salary, but the cost of that education can easily exceed $200,000.

Trade vocations are vital to the United States’ ongoing economic recovery, particularly with renewed emphasis on the manufacturing sector. Some of the top career paths in the 2013 Jobs Rated report fit this description, and do not require a college degree, including automobile body repairer and another new addition, glazier. Here is our list of the 14 best jobs that don't require a college degree:

Best Jobs Without A College Degree: Administrative/Executive Assistant

Jobs Rated Rank: 75
Median Salary: $34,660
Job Growth Outlook: 12%

Per the BLS, "High school graduates can get basic office, computer, and English grammar skills in various ways: through high school vocational education programs, vocational–technical schools, or community colleges."

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After working years at

After working years at minimum wage I decided to take a chance. I returned to night school and took online classes for my degree. My income did not significantly change (about 1/3 higher) but I now realize that the best job is the one you love to do. Follow your dream and listen to your heart. You may never achieve the income that you hoped for but you may become very happy

2015 version?

I have a friend who is an Admin Assistant who also does payroll that currently makes 17hr without a degree.

hey i need online job i can

hey i need online job i can do my best :)  

what what

what what

low pay job

After working years at minimum wage I decided to take a chance.  I returned to night school and took online classes for my degree.  My income did not significantly change (about 1/3 higher) but I now realize that the best job is the one you love to do.  Follow your dream and listen to your heart.  You may never achieve the income that you hoped for but you may become very happy and that is true success. 

what shall i do???? 

what shall i do???? 

Stop whinning

It's up to you. None of this came easy to anyone who was sucessful at these endevors. It takes work and commitment and alot of sacrafice to go beyond where you are. And commenting on grammer, really?


"grammer" - oh boy! 


stop "whinning"??

Sacarifice, endevors,

Sacarifice, endevors, sucessful - spell check anyone?

Get real

The truth is that both sides of the argument are valid. There are people who think that just because they don't need a degree that it's easy to get the foot in the door. You've got to realize that in any industry, it's about the people who know you and the people you know. It's not good enough to just be good, you've got to have people skills to get in. 80% of jobs are not even advertised anywhere. Hiring managers first seek references from their colleagues or professional network, and then if they can't find any leads, they place ads. Secondly, IT industry is constantly changing, which requires you to be able to assimilate large amounts of information quickly and easily. You also have to be a problem-solver.Not everyone can do that, therefore, you will have people who fail at this. You don't get big money for nothing. In my opinion, you really have to love what you're doing and not just get into a profession for the pay. There are plenty of self-taught developers who are making $$$, but they also have worked very hard to get to that level. On the other hand, you've got college kids, who's parents have given them everything, graduating and not being able to find a job. They are still dependent on mom and dad, and not ready to handle the responsibilities of the work place.  

who really has the time?

I'm 21 without a degree and went straight into banking out of high school. I don't make enough to live on my own but with my income and my boyfriends we live a semi comfortable lifestyle. As much as I would love to go back to school to pursue teaching or psychology I can't because I have no time!!! I work 8-5 everyday with an hour commute to and from work. So I consider myself lucky to even have this job. Even though my boss is a witch who makes about 3k a month while I make less than 1500 a month! So what does one in my position do?

Learn everything you can....

I worked at a bank and started at a higher salary than some of my counterparts and worked my way up. If I was in your position, I would learn as much about sales, operations, and management as I could. You may not make more, but it's free education. Listen to your customers and build relationships with them. I exceeded numbers by building relationships.So, when theyy decided to refi they came to me, kids went off to college and needed an account, they came to me...etc. If you ever decide to leave

Your crazy

This is where the hard work factors in. You must be determined. I am a truck driver who works constantly. I put in 86 hours in 7 days as well while being forced to run illegally. plus with an hour commute one way to get to work. So I put in twice as many hours but I still find time to work towards what I want. It's all about determination. Like me I have no time for school but theres so much more out there than sitting behind a desk. They just take hard work determination with less time sitting in front of the tv with your boyfriend and more time working toward your goal. If I can do it working 80 hours a week with a family of 2 kids I don't want to hear any excuses as to why anyone else can't while working a normal full time job.


DEGREE OR NO DEGREE i have a degree now making 90,000 a year so draining my spouse is fed up my kid doesnt know me and im making money for my owner's sorry bosses. Miss working in house keeping i was sharp at home time went by quick. and i wasn't so afraid to stop working a week to spend time at home because of so many bills no car note just a 30$ bus pass and me and my family could go anywhere mainly talking to each other no fancy clothes freaking out about who thinks what oh no no  raise. to heck with it america needs a work life balance law like the much talk about work no life its why people are so angry now a days

Amen brother!

Amen brother!

Bunch of bull!!

Yes you can get a high paying job without a degree, but then again its like saying you can also be a millionare because your a artist. fact is its like hitting the lotto, very few make it and most just fall in the same old pit of minimum pay and government aid off and on in throughout life.Get a degree and get your head out of your rear not unless your some idiot that revovlves around getting high and spending their money on a pair of sneakers instead of paying the rent.

Just so you know

Just so you know it's "you're", not "your" when you mean "you are"! How valuable is your much-vaunted degree when your grammer is crap? 


Your trying to correct his grammar when you can't even spell the word that emphasizes it? 

just so you know, it's

just so you know, it's grammAr, not grammEr.

Grammar lol

Yes! Lmfao

Don't Listen to "Bunch of Bull"!!!

This person missed the boat! and what's worse is that he/she is projecting their own negative experience, or perception of life on to people who are genuinely looking to make more money without a degree. I don't have a college degree and I'm not making anywhere close to minimum wage. I'm working as a legal secretary, and I'm doing alright. Realistically speaking,  Ive had to work for a long time doing the same thing to gain more experience, and higher pay. People who are looking to make decent money without a degree can do it. All you have to do is be willing to learn and gain some experience. Believe in yourself, make good decisions, and don't listen to people like this!


this is very true indeed! thanks for the insight this makes a lot of sense!


I did exactly that. I dropped out of college. I worked for a dealer for four years and got to the top of the pay scale. I saw that job as a dead end. I opened up my own garage at 25 years old. That was rewarding both financially and emotionally until 45. Since then my income has been stagnant. Physically my body is ruined. Severe arthritis in hands and knees from overuse. Fix computers instead.

At the end of it all, short

At the end of it all, short cuts never really pay off!

Experience equivalent to education is smart for recruiters.

In today's tough job market, there are no guarantees.  Recruiters who want to do a good job with candidate selection will not simply tick the degree boxes.  They will write a job posting that attracts top talent and will not eliminate a viable candidate with excellent experience simply because they don't have the paper.I have degrees. but I have interviewed self-educated superstars that blow away degreed applicants with their drive, ambition and contacts.  These days, it looks like high-tech and younger companies are looking deeper than the cap and gown.  If it takes a bit more effort in the interviewing and testing process, so be it.  The reward is the best candidate being offered the job and isn't that the point?It's not unusual to see a job posting that includes "Prior IT Sales or IT Business Development experience is a big plus and a college degree will enhance your candidacy for this role."  Or some sort of experience equivalent (B.S. Degree in Business or 5-7 years of progressive experience) is also helpful. Do non-degreed candidates have to prove themselves more than degreed candidates?  I don't think so.  Testing and performance interviews can be applied to most positions with excellent, and valid, results.

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