Careers You Can Start Without a College Degree

Although a college degree can give a student advantages and create more options for a career path, it is not necessary. Every year, high school juniors and seniors feel the pressure of the college admissions process with the promise of landing their dream careers or just finding financial stability. The pressure is often validated by statistics. On average, employees with bachelor’s degrees make two-thirds more than their non-degree counterparts. However, there is the student loan debt crisis to consider. A recent report showed that more than half of the students who graduated from college graduated with an average student debt of approximately $30,100. An argument could be made that starting a career before investing in higher education is more financially responsible. The cost of a degree, the time involved, and the unlikely nature of the employment sector make many wonder if a college degree is necessary. In many cases, it is not. The following is a list of several careers that do not require college degrees.

Elevator Installer

In any major city with rapid development, elevators are necessary. From commercial high-rises to luxury condos and hotels, elevator installment and operations are expected, but often overlooked by the general population. Yet, the average salary for elevator installers falls between $43,233 and $80,870, due to the demand and economic increase. All that is initially required is a high school diploma or an equivalent. After that, potential installers learn the trade through a five-year paid apprenticeship offered by unions or independent contractors. Both should eventually lead to acquiring a license, depending on the state.

Multimedia Artist

For those who need a creative outlet, but also demonstrate computer tech savviness, beginning a career as a multimedia artist can alleviate that creative itch, and provide a stable income. The average baseline salary is $63,970. Although most multimedia artists have bachelor’s degrees, they are not required. The internet and social media have changed the way business is done. Most, if not all, companies need an online presence to engage with and accommodate consumers. Whether commercials, video games, graphic design for marketing or movie special effects, the multimedia industry covers a broad canvas of mediums and technologies from which to choose.


Plumbing is another one of those common jobs that is often overlooked and underrated. However, a plumber’s job is the backbone of every construction development, and one of the most reliable for job security. When plumbing fails, it can clog up a home or a city’s entire day. This is not a job that can be outsourced. The demand will always be there, so long as modern societies function the way they do. With a baseline of about $49,574, plumbers can start earning a comfortable living. Those who make above the national average are able to start their own businesses. An apprenticeship, vocational training and a license are what this skill requires to get started.

Personal Caregivers

The projected job growth for personal caregivers from 2016 to 2026 is 35.4 percent. As the elderly population in this country increases, so does the demand for personal caregivers. Until science can alter or reverse our biology’s course, a society will always need the willing and able-bodied citizens to care for its aging counterparts. The job requires performing daily personal tasks that include bathing, basic housekeeping, running errands and assistance with medication. Many find that personal caregiving is a rewarding career that requires little training, encourages empathy and is accessible without a college degree.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Perhaps a step above personal caregiving in health care is the License Practitioner Nurse (LPN), which does require certified training. However, certification or postsecondary degrees can be achieved in two years or under. LPNs are among the best jobs for the future, due to the low amount of time required for training, and the cost to acquire the training. Compared to registered nurses, who can earn an average of $98,288, LPNs still earn good salaries, with a median of $67,418. In addition, they get to reap the benefits of providing basic healthcare to the increasing elderly population through advancing technologies and career advancement opportunities.

Self-Enrichment Education Teachers

With a compelling expertise and desire to share knowledge about self-improvement or a specific skill, students and adults can make reasonable careers out of teaching. Tutoring, yoga instruction, computer program training, music lessons, or even offering basic, personal finance consulting can lead to careers earning an average salary of $36, 872. The need and desire for a causal approach to instructing allows about 26.7 percent of those self-enrichment educators to run their own business. Some subjects may still require certification or formal training, but more often than expected, having a competent grasp of material or a mastered skillset will suffice.

Dental Assistant

Aside from the studies linking oral care to general healthcare, the value of an attractive smile is almost impossible to overlook. Whether pursuing a full-time professional career as a dentist or seeking a job for financial reliability, prospective dental assistants will find the dental industry to be a sure bet for job security and an average earning of $36,788. Community colleges offer one-year programs to gain certifications for routine tasks that include updating patient records and sterilizing equipment. Although some states might require that certification, other states allow dental assistants to begin right out of high school.