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11 Jobs That Don't Require a Degree

Make the most of your career at any level of education.

It used to be that a college degree was considered your golden ticket to career success. Today, certain practical factors are widely tempering that enthusiasm. In particular, the astronomical cost of a four-year degree, the high burden of student debt, inequitable access to education, and a rapidly evolving job market have all called the value of higher education into question. Though a college degree can still undoubtedly open doors to higher wages and better job stability, experts say there are plenty of jobs that don't require a degree.

By taking an alternative route to employment—for instance, enrolling in a technical school, completing on-the-job training, or seeking out shorter certificate programs in your areas of interest—you may be able to master all the skills you need to land your dream job.

"While college degrees may have defined who was 'educated' and who had 'potential' in the past, we are seeing CEOs' priorities change—and for good reason," says David Blake, founder and CEO of the learning and upskilling platform Degreed. "Focusing on degrees or other formal education in recruitment doesn't acknowledge other ways of learning, limiting our ability to see people's potential.

"We also see that looking at formal education as a means of competency carries implicit bias and limits the 'pool' of available people," he explains. "Upskilling, or reskilling, is the great equalizer, reducing bias and providing access to education for professional development and business success."

Wondering how to get a rewarding career without a formal education beyond a high school diploma? These are the 11 best jobs that don't require a degree and what to expect from the role, according to employment experts and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

RELATED: 5 High-Income Skills to Boost Your Career Prospects.

Is It Possible to Find a Job Without A Degree?

man filling out job application on laptop
Rawpixel / Shutterstock

In the past, the highest-paying and most fulfilling careers were reserved for those with a college degree. However, college admissions peaked in 2010 and have steadily waned ever since. Numbers dropped at an even faster pace when the pandemic struck in 2020.

In response, many hiring managers are now taking a different approach to screening job candidates. In today's job market, "skills, experience, and certifications can often outweigh formal education, especially in today's evolving job market that requires digital knowledge and street smarts," says Caitlin Wehniainen, director of business development at On Cue Hire, a leading women-owned staffing agency servicing clients throughout the U.S.

"Many industries recognize the importance of practical knowledge and the ability to perform tasks effectively," Wehniainen explains. "Online courses, certifications, and hands-on experience can open doors to high-paying and fulfilling careers."

The hiring expert notes that there's an added emphasis on communicating those skills effectively, especially in the absence of more formal education credentials. Though it's certainly possible to find a good job without a bachelor's degree, you may have to put in a little more legwork to demonstrate that you're up to the task.

RELATED: How to Build a Strong LinkedIn Profile and Dazzle Future Employers.

4 High-Paying Jobs That Don't Require a Degree

There are several high-paying jobs that don't require a college degree. These exist across various fields, though tech tends to advertise some of the highest paying jobs available.

Cyber security analyst

Closeup of person coding on computer screen

Work experience required: Less than 5 years
Entry-level education required: High school diploma, Coding Bootcamp certification
Projected number of new jobs by 2032: 53,200
Median salary: $120,360

Many cyber security analysts do have college degrees, but the experts say this is one field in which a four-year degree tends to be optional if you're willing to complete more targeted certification courses.

"While this position varies widely by industry and by company, the knowledge of computers and computer systems is an essential function to this position," says Brett Shively, chief executive officer at ACI Learning. "Certifications offer focused training designed to instill skills in very specific areas that employers have a high demand for. Students are able to jump right into technology courses, each of which has a clear application and matching certification to show third-party skills verification."

Registered nurse

Nurse with mask on wearing blue scrubs and gloves

Work experience required: None
Entry-level education required: Two-year associate's degree in nursing
Projected number of new jobs by 2032: 177,400
Average salary: $86,070

Nursing roles are vital to the community and can be challenging yet fulfilling. In order to become a registered nurse, you'll need to complete a two-year associate's degree in nursing (ADN) and sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to get your nursing license. In this role, you'll serve as a frontline medical worker, performing basic patient care in a range of healthcare settings, including hospitals, doctor's offices, outpatient healthcare programs, home healthcare settings, or nursing homes.

The experts point out that this field regularly has plenty of job openings available—which can translate into major job security.

Wind turbine technician

Wind turbines
r.classen / Shutterstock

Work experience required: None
Entry-level education required: Post-secondary non-degree
Projected number of new jobs by 2032: 4,950
Median salary: $61,770

Wind turbine technicians assist engineers and ironworkers in building new wind turbines and perform routine maintenance on mechanical equipment used on wind turbine farms. This is a physically demanding job since wind turbine workers are required to climb ladders, often hundreds of feet tall, usually with tools and equipment in tow.

However, with no college degree needed and a projected 45 percent growth in the field over the coming decade, this could be a promising profession for anyone up to the task.

Sheet metal worker or manufacturer

Sheet metal manufacturer

Work experience required: Apprenticeship
Entry-level education required: High school diploma
Projected number of new jobs by 2032: 0
Median salary: $58,780

Experts say that various trades offer great career opportunities to people without a degree. Manufacturing and trades-based jobs, like sheet metal work, can flourish into a lifetime career with room for growth in both skillset and salary.

"Skilled labor careers offer the flexibility to find the type of work and industry that fits one's personality and lifestyle," says Dale Crawford, executive director at Steel Tube Institute. "One thing that most people do not realize about the trades is that you get paid to go to school through your apprenticeship. Once hired, tuition benefits at these jobs make it very feasible to rise into management roles if that direction is of interest."

RELATED: How to Ace Every Common Job Interview Question.

4 Low-Stress Jobs That Don't Require a Degree

Finding a job that feels low-stress is all about finding a position that's the right fit for you. However, there are a few common factors that tend to turn down the intensity of your workload. "Stress is relative, but for many, low-stress jobs are often those that have a singular focus with a predictable schedule," Winans tells Best Life.

Medical assistant

Shot of a male nurse wearing blue medical scrubs, giving vaccine to a woman

Work experience required: None
Entry-level education required: Post-secondary non-degree award
Projected number of new jobs by 2032: 105,900
Median salary: $42,000

Medical assistants perform duties that help medical offices run smoothly, such as interviewing patients, recording their medical history, managing medical data, and more. Many work with patients directly, assisting doctors with patient intake, checking vital signs such as weight and blood pressure, helping with patient examinations, and administering injections or medications as state laws allow, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics notes.

Food prep worker

cropped image of a chef wearing a white coat and black gloves cutting parsley on a wooden board

Work experience required: None
Entry-level education required: None
Projected number of new jobs by 2032: -44,000
Median salary: $32,420

Working in a restaurant, cafeteria, or grocery store as a food preparation worker is another low-stress job that's open to individuals without a college degree. This role is often available on a part-time basis, making it a good option for anyone with limited availability, and you'll have great opportunities to grow your skillset through on-the-job training.

Customer service representative

Call center, customer care and support with a man consultant in a headset working on a computer in his office.

Work experience required: None
Entry-level education required: High school diploma
Projected number of new jobs by 2032: -149,145
Average salary: $39,680

Customer service representatives can also make a steady salary working in a range of settings, including stores, call centers, hospitals, and more.

Lauren Winans, CEO and principal HR consultant for Next Level Benefits, says this is a great option that typically comes with a lot of flexibility. "Many companies hire remote customer service reps without requiring a degree," she tells Best Life. 

"Many customer service roles can be low-stress, especially those that are remote. They typically involve assisting customers via phone or online, with a focus on resolving issues and providing information," says Wehniainen.

Data entry or information clerk

woman smiling while working on her laptop on a table with coffee
Dean Drobot / Shutterstock

Work experience required: None
Entry-level education required: High school diploma
Projected number of new jobs by 2032: -55,304
Median salary: $40,540

If you're organized, detail-oriented, and have basic computer skills, data entry could be a great fit for you.

"Data entry jobs are often straightforward and can be done remotely. They involve inputting data into systems and ensuring accuracy, making them ideal for those looking for low-stress roles," Wehniainen says.

RELATED: 10 Resume Tips to Help Your CV Stand Out, Experts Say.

3 Remote Jobs That Don't Require a Degree

The pandemic revealed just how desirable a little flexibility is to workers—including the option to work from home. Though fewer remote jobs are available now than during the peak pandemic, many companies still offer some combination of in-person and remote work.

Digital marketer or social media specialist

Social media and Marketing virtual icons overlaid on an image of a person typing on a laptop

Work experience required: None
Entry-level education required: High school diploma
Projected number of new jobs by 2032: Unknown
Average salary: $56,770

Digital marketers and social media managers can play an important role for businesses, helping them to build brands and expand their outreach.

"Digital marketing is another lucrative field where practical skills and experience can trump a degree," says Wehniainen. "With knowledge of SEO, social media management, and content creation, digital marketers can earn substantial incomes. Various online courses and certifications can help build the necessary skills. Having knowledge of multiple social platforms, like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Threads, X, and more are critical."

Wehniainen adds that managing social media accounts for businesses can be done entirely remotely. "This role involves creating content, engaging with followers, and analyzing performance metrics, relying more on creativity and experience than formal education," she says.

IT support specialist

Freelance Female is Doing Market Analysis and Creates Report with Charts for Clients and Employer.

Work experience required: None
Entry-level education required: High school diploma, Coding Bootcamp certificate
Projected number of new jobs by 2032: 49,200
Median salary: $60,810

In recent years, the rapidly evolving IT landscape has opened up alternative routes to a successful career specializing in IT.

"The prevalence of online learning platforms, coding bootcamps, and certification programs has created accessible avenues for skill acquisition. These programs focus on teaching practical skills required in the industry, allowing individuals to swiftly gain expertise in specific domains," Shivley notes.

"With certifications like CompTIA A+ and CompTIA Network+, individuals can enter the IT field and progress to high-paying roles," agrees Wehniainen. "IT Support Specialists troubleshoot technical issues and provide solutions, often remotely… This is more than likely where individuals start their career before progressing into an engineer or administrator role in IT."

Virtual assistant

Young business man working at home with laptop and papers on desk

Work experience required: None
Entry-level education required: High school diploma
Projected number of new jobs by 2032: -332,600
Median salary: $46,010

Administrative assistant roles have always been a promising career prospect for individuals without college degrees. However, the recent shift toward remote positions as a virtual assistant has made the field more appealing to some who require added job flexibility.

"Virtual assistants provide administrative support to businesses and entrepreneurs from a remote location. Tasks can range from scheduling appointments to managing emails, and strong organizational skills are key," says Wehniainen.

RELATED: Career Expert Reveals the Top-Paying Remote Jobs for 2024.


Even if you don't have a college degree, there's no need to despair over your job prospects. There are still plenty of opportunities available for those with a high school diploma—especially if you're willing to work toward alternative certificates, complete an apprenticeship, or accept a position that provides on-the-job training.

It may also help to expand your job search to a wider range of job types. For instance, technical trades and manufacturing fields keep this country running and shouldn't be considered of lesser value to office jobs and the corporate ladder, Crawford notes. "The rising generation needs to know that there are choices beyond either going to college or joining the gig economy," he says.

Once you find a job that speaks to you—ticking all the right boxes, from salary to skill alignment and lifestyle—focus on highlighting all of your achievements, hands-on experience, and passion for the field. Once you get that call back for an interview or try out, it's time to get to work and show them what you can do.

Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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