Conventional wisdom says that you need a college degree to get a good-paying job and make enough money to support yourself or a family. Don’t go to (or finish) college, and you limit your earning potential, the experts say. But the deep recession of 2008 and beyond shook up the perceptions of many young millennials, who did finish college only to find that jobs in their chosen fields were scarce to non-existent. Few companies were hiring, and many college graduates ended up working at the same kinds of minimum wage jobs they worked part-time while they were in school until their skills were out of date and they had little hope of a job in their original field of study.
Despite most people thinking a college degree is the only way to get a good job, there are a few lone voices of dissent that say otherwise. Mike Rowe, the host of the reality show “Dirty Jobs,” has long argued that college is not for everyone, and that the high costs of college tuition may not be worthwhile in many fields of study. Rowe points out that 75 percent of the jobs currently available in the U.S. do not require a 4-year college degree.
Time and Jobs wait for none. Get a Job NOW!
Rent it out
List your spare room & get in the groove
Drive. Earn. Repeat.
Drive around & Earn in your free time
Play. Read. Shop. Surf. Share
Earn money while you’re fooling around
More you teach, more you earn
Share your skills around the world
Rowe is a big advocate of vocational training that teaches skills like plumbing, electrical installations, mechanics, and other skills needed for many jobs in society. Indeed, many trained plumbers can make far more with only vocational training during high school than many jobs that do require a college degree, particularly in fields like social services, education and others in the humanities sector.
While many jobs do require special skills and training, there are jobs available in today’s marketplace that don’t require college degrees or any experience or special skills. Here are some jobs that fall into that category, and even though experience or a college degree is not required, these jobs still pay better than the hourly wages paid by the likes of Walmart or fast food establishments.
1. Home Care Aide.
Home care aides take care of the elderly and disabled in their homes, offering non-medical services like preparing food for them, cleaning their homes, and driving them to doctor’s appointments. This job requires nothing more than a high school degree and is in high demand, with a projected 70 percent increase in positions and salaries expected to average over $32,000 a year by 2020.
2. Truck Driver.
The main way goods get from the place of manufacture or warehousing to stores is by truck, meaning that truck drivers are always in demand. No college degree is needed for this job, just a commercial driver’s license and good driving record along with the stamina to make it on long drives and physical strength to unload the truck when it gets to its destination. Salaries for these positions are projected to reach more than $47,000 a year by 2020.
3. Office Clerk/Administrative Assistant.
While no college degree is needed for a job as an office clerk or administrative assistant, it is helpful to have skills like typing at a reasonable speed, grammatical skills, and an ability to be fairly efficient in getting things done. Most offices could not run without the office clerk or administrative assistant, which is why their salaries are expected to reach nearly $38,000 a year by 2020.
Many administrative assistants work in offices next to the lawyers, doctors, government officials or administrators they assist, but there is a growing need for virtual assistants that work from home to assist professionals as well.
Not everyone is cut out to be a salesperson, but those who find they have a talent for sales also find that there isn’t much colleges can teach them about it. If you graduate high school with a decent vocabulary and an ability to figure out people, you may be able to earn an average of nearly six figures as a successful salesperson, since they usually work on a low base salary with generous commissions to keep them motivated to succeed at selling.
5. Veterinary Technician.
If you love animals but don’t want to perform surgery on them or spend 10 years in veterinary school, you can still have a hand in taking care of them by being a veterinary technician who assists the vet with surgeries, takes care of animals when they are under veterinary care, and sometimes handles lab work for them. The median salary for a vet tech is now nearly $32,000 a year.
6. Pharmacy Technician.
These pharmacy workers can learn needed skills on the job in order to assist pharmacists in dispensing medications to patients. These positions earn a median salary of over $30,000 a year and are experiencing a high growth rate, possibly because of aging baby boomers who need more medications because of declining health as they age.
While you don’t need a college degree to answer phones and welcome visitors to a company office, you do need people skills like making people feel comfortable, diffusing potential conflicts, and maintaining your composure no matter how chaotic or unusual a situation may be. Receptionists are expected to have median salaries of almost $37,000 a year in 2020, which is far beyond the $11 most Walmart greeters now make for a position that also puts them in the public eye.
8. Construction Worker.
New building projects are continually being constructed, which makes the need for construction workers constant. This is another job where most learn as they go, with new and inexperienced workers doing more manual tasks like transporting materials and assisting the more experienced workers until they learn how to do what is needed. Construction workers earn about $30,000 a year, though many move up to higher positions once they learn the ropes and earn higher salaries as a result.
9. Customer Service and Support.
No college or experience is typically needed to work in a call center providing customer service. Training in using the company’s particular system is provided, and each company usually has its own requirements that should be followed. These positions earn a median salary of almost $28,000 a year, though some can earn up to $43,000 a year, according to Payscale.
10. Real Estate.
The requirements for licensed real estate agents vary from state to state, but in most states, you just study for the licensing exam and maybe shadow another agent for a number of hours in order to be able to sell houses and earn commissions. It usually takes time to become successful at real estate, and there is lots of competition, but you can get a start without a degree or experience. Real estate agents earn a commission on each house they sell, so the earning potential is high if you can successfully do so.
Even without a real estate license, you can earn money in real estate in other ways. A number of people have made a comfortable living buying fixer-upper homes, living in them for a few months or years while they fix them up, then selling them for a profit and buying another house. Flipping houses requires no degree, and if you can stand to live in a construction zone pretty much constantly, you can make a decent income when housing markets are good.
Bakers are responsible for making bread, pastries, cakes and other baked goods for restaurants, grocery stores, and other retailers. Not all baking jobs pay well, with some earning just slightly above a Walmart associate’s pay, but larger companies like Panera Bread and Whole Foods pay higher salaries, up to about $30,000 a year.
Firefighters are trained on the job by those who have experience, so if you are physically fit enough to wear heavy gear and carry hoses, you can work in a job that serves and helps people through some difficult situations. The hiring process for this job can be lengthy and firefighting may be riskier than many other jobs that don’t require a degree or experience, but the median pay is over $46,000 a year, which is more than teachers get paid in many states.
Some of the wealthiest entrepreneurs in the country dropped out of college to start their own wildly successful businesses. Steve Jobs of Apple, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook all left school well before their graduations to pursue the companies that would later make them billionaires. Many skills are necessary to be a successful entrepreneur, but they can be either self-taught or hired out if you have the knack for business and can produce something people want to buy.
Payscale says that the median salary of a small business operator is over $59,000 a year, and owning your own business is generally regarded as one of the most satisfying jobs to have because of the ability to be your own boss and make decisions for yourself rather than follow someone else’s rules.
These jobs and others provide opportunities for many people who could not afford to go to college or just didn’t want to spend four years or more in school learning a profession. Rather than resigning yourself to low pay or working a no-skills job for the rest of your life, you can find something that will give you satisfaction and enough to live on without the expense or time involved in a four-year college education.