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The Nation's Best Jobs If You Don't Have A College Degree


Navigating an unconventional career path can require some equally unconventional methods to succeed. For instance, not having a four-year college degree is a roadblock to landing many jobs, but there are proven alternative routes for moving beyond those obstacles and finding a successful career.

Americans have a combined $1.2 trillion in student loan debt - only home loan debt is higher. However, the rule of the workforce clearly states that the alternative to accruing that debt typically is worse: workers with a college degree will make 84% more in her or his lifetime than their counterparts without a degree, reports a Georgetown University study.

So what’s a job seeker without a university degree to do? The answer is to play by different rules, which Theodor Tonca did as the owner of his own business. “With the large tuition cost of post-secondary education what it is today, I feel very strongly about people just starting out in life exploring different opportunities,” says Tonca, the 27-year-old CEO of Graham Theodor & Co. in Vancouver, B.C., a real estate marketing consulting firm. Tonca hires prospective agents in his current role, and said that he doesn't place too much emphasis on a college degree, especially since he doesn't have one.

“I had a mentor once tell me, ‘give me someone who is young, hungry and smart,’” he says. He’s since adopted that philosophy.

An entrepreneurial spirit can compensate for a lack of a degree, says Tonca, who got his start in marketing as a teenager by pooling limited resources together with a friend to host events. An initial $400 investment yielded $1,500, and Tonca discovered a knack for event promotion and marketing that turned into a career. What he and other independent business owners offer to potential employers and clients is their understanding of business using tangible work experience instead of a higher education.

Working pro bono can be another way to compensate for not having a degree.

Brandon Seymour, the CEO of Boca Raton, Fla.-based online marketing firm Beymour Consulting, says he initially sought contract opportunities to build a portfolio. “I definitely went against the grain with that decision,” says Seymour, whose firm helps dozens of businesses oversee their online identities through website maintenance, social media outreach and reputation management.

A willingness to get outside of their comfort zone is definitely an asset for those seeking a great job without a college degree. Both Tonca and Seymour did so by starting their own businesses and establishing networks when first getting started.

Technological advances make building a network easier than just a decade ago. Tapping into social media and targeted job sites, such as the CareerCast Part-Time Network, offer contract opportunities to connect with potential clients.

Technology plays another key role in the marketplace for job seekers without a degree: the rising demand for IT professionals means more opportunities, including for those with just a high-school diploma.

Some of the other great jobs available to those without a degree require some specialized education, but not for a full four years. Some states require certification to become a skincare specialist or personal trainer, for example, while trade crafts such as electrician and carpenter demand either advanced training or apprenticeships.

Dental hygienists, respiratory therapists and registered nurses, the best healthcare careers for those without a four-year bachelor’s degree or more, require associate’s degree completion at the minimum, according to BLS recommendations.

Unofficial apprenticeships also are invaluable for job seekers without a college degree. Erik Angra, a videographer and multimedia artist in Boston, attributes his success in the workplace to “having some great mentors along the way.” Those mentors functioned as surrogate professors, giving Angra the knowledge necessary to excel in his career. Angra says he now pays forward the lessons his mentors gave to him as he serves as the mentor for five aspiring videographers.

Starting a career without a degree may be unconventional, but succeeding in the workplace without one is far from impossible. Below are our best jobs without a college degree in 2015.

The Best Jobs Without A 4-Year Degree for 2015: Administrative Assistant

Annual Median Salary: $35,330
Projected Hiring Outlook by 2022: 12%

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends at least a high school diploma or equivalent for those pursuing positions as an administrative assistant, though such careers in specialized fields may require industry-specific training.

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Finding a Job without MS degree

Hi , Already one year into Master's program , I sudenly feel that this isn't going anywhere and want to quit the program .I would like to know will I be able to get good job ? if yes , then how  and where to find a good job ? Also I have 5 years of work experience in technical field in my home country and I am currently US permanent resident . I would be glad if someone can guide me . Thanks .

I make more money than that a

I make more money than that a year and im only 13 lol

what do you do? If you are

what do you do? If you are honest. I really would like to know.

Corrections overseas

ive been in corrections for 6 years now. the job i have now is a prisos in venus tx. It's a Private company that doesn't pay as much for the job we do. Want a nice paying job doing corrections overseas. Can anyone help?

Reg jobs

Dear Sir /Mam, I am international student and want job my education . Can anyone help me with thus?I.have completed Masters in my home country and have 5 years of working experience. RegardsGrishma 

A Great Option for Hands On people

Hi Everyone, I'm very surprised to not see NDT technician on this list. Based on the 2014 salary survey (found Here: ) on average a level II tech makes about $95,137 per year at $32.34 per hour. You do not need a degree to do this job. In fact you can get you entire education for around 7-9 grand and in about 6 months. There are even online schools so you don't have to change your whole life around to get your required education.

Most people start around $20.00 per hour and get into the mid 20's to 30's per hour after several months. I personally know several people who got their full education within 6 months and got starting wages in the 30 dollar per hour range at their first job out of school. I don't understand why is this such an under represented industry on job lists such as this. It is extremely important work. NDT Technicians do inspections on the vital infrastructure of our country; from Bridges and railways to oil/gas pipeline, brake pads, landing gear and plane wings. Our daily safety is dependent on these technicians. If you want to learn more about how to become a Non-Destructive Technician try googling "NDT online school" and check out what's available. We need high quality people in this high demand high paying career field.

Visit for more information about a career in Non-destructive testing.

no degree

 I have 25 years’ experience with administrative duties, accounting, cost control, people building skills and training. I have gained all of these experiences working in upper management for the fast food industry. Unfortunately when applying for any other type of position that isn't fast food, companies over look your resume as soon as they see fast food. They never look past the place of employment to see the skills you have gained while working there. I am currently in this position; I keep getting told "we went with someone with experience". I have 25 years’ experience in all of the above fields what else are they looking for. I just want to find a company who will look past the employer name and look at my skills and training. I live in a small town and jobs are limited, I have a family to support and can't afford to go to school and work full time. Any thoughts I am open to comments. 

No degree

Have you thought about going into " fast casual" Panera, Au Bon Pan etc... with your years you can climb to a District Manager Fast. Great money. Good luck!

RE: no degree

Try using a targeted resume, where you list your skills in a separate section before listing employment history. That way, by the time they see your employer, they will have seen your skills without bias. You could also do some volunteer work in your community and list that as well, especially for a respected group in your area. Finding a job in a small town is difficult, so hang in there. You'll find someone who is willing to look at you, not your employer.

It's tough finding a job now

It's tough finding a job now days everyone is too picky

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