Best Jobs in London Without a Degree

by | Jun 28, 2022

The cost of living in London might make you believe that anyone without a university degree can’t afford even the cheapest flat. However, many well-paying jobs in the UK only require a training program, apprenticeship, or relevant experience. 


Whether you’re just stepping into the workforce or have decades of experience, knowing which industries to job-search in can help you find a high-paying position that matches your qualifications. Explore the best jobs in London that you can apply to and advance in without having a traditional degree. 




Train or Tram Operator


If you have ever dreamed of driving a train or being a Tube driver, you might be thrilled to know that university isn’t required for train and tram drivers. Instead, you’ll receive job training through an apprenticeship or training program.


Train or tram driving is among the highest-paying jobs for those without university degrees. In 2021, train and tram operators earned an average of £59,198, with some of the most experienced drivers earning £65,000




What’s Required


Potential train and tram operators must have passed the English and Maths GSCE with at least a 4 (equivalent to a C*). You must also be at least 20 years old and pass a background check and a health check.


If you opt for this career, ensure you live close to a train depot; any depot over an hour away is too far.




Production Manager


Londoners working in manufacturing industries might take an interest in production management. In 2021, production managers could expect to earn between £45,000 and £48,260 per year, depending on their industry. 


Most production managers have university degrees. It’s possible to gain the role without university experience, but you’ll need significant experience in the industry. This career is an excellent option for those working in the manufacturing field who have a few years of experience and can move up within their current career path. 




What’s Required


To start working as a production manager, you must be skilled in manufacturing processes and machinery. This includes not only using the machines but ensuring they’re working correctly and knowing how to fix malfunctions. 


Like all types of managers, production managers must be strong leaders, excellent communicators, and be organised and detail-oriented.




Air Traffic Controller


Air Traffic Controllers don’t need a degree to help air traffic run smoothly. The National Air Traffic Services offers a trainee program that does not require a university education. You can earn up to £43,469 annually once your career gets off the ground.




What’s Required


Trainees must be at least 18 and have passed 5 GSCEs with a 4 (equivalent to a C*) or higher. The work also requires you to undergo a security check and medical examination.


You’ll need to be good with technology, a strong communicator, detail-oriented, and able to make decisions on the fly. 


ATCs are trained in Fareham, so you’ll need to move for the duration of your training. However, you can be employed anywhere after completing the program, including London.




Police Officer


Joining the police force allows you to serve your community without obtaining a degree. To become a police officer, you must complete an apprenticeship or training program. The average police officer earned £42,234 in 2021, making policing a reasonably well-paid career.


The City of London Police and Metropolitan Police offer a three-year apprenticeship program. Some departments provide trainee programs as an alternative to apprenticeships, although this is less common.




What’s Required


Requirements for apprenticeship programs vary between police departments. Most ask that you earn a 4 (or C*) or higher on your English and Maths GSCEs. They also typically want some prior volunteering or academic experience. For example, the Metropolitan Police requires that you have 60 UCAS credits or a year of experience in a related field.




Construction Management


Construction may not be glamorous, but the pay for construction management rewards you for the hard work. In 2021, construction managers made an average of £38,952, with experienced workers earning up to £65,000.


While there are several construction career paths, many offer promotions based on your experience and abilities rather than education certifications, so you don’t always need a degree to enter construction management.




What’s Required


Construction managers must understand the ins and outs of building and construction, have strong maths skills, and be familiar with business management. Interpersonal skills are also necessary; you’ll need to display team leadership, communicate well with others, and know how to work well with a team.


Becoming a construction manager also requires a full driver’s licence.






Programming careers, like web or software development, may seem to require a degree, but that’s not always the case. If you have programming knowledge, you can pick up various jobs that utilise your skills, such as app development or information security. As an IT analyst, you will perform ethical hacker tasks, such as testing infrastructure and security, to help businesses keep their information secure. 


Earnings depend on your field. For example, software developers earn an average of £44,024 per year, while web developers average £33,490 per year




What’s Required


All developers, regardless of field, must have strong programming skills, extensive knowledge of computers, and the ability to work well with maths. You also must keep up-to-date on relevant technology and programming changes.


When job-searching, have samples of your code that you can present to potential bosses or clients. They’ll need it to see what your work looks like to assess your fitness for the job.






Perhaps the most well-known public safety service, firefighting, doesn’t require university experience. Instead, you can apply directly for the position. 2021 saw fire service officers averaging £36,808 yearly.




What’s Required


Every fire brigade has its own entry requirements, but there are a few standard ones. Firefighters must have passed their English and Maths GSCEs with a 4 or higher (C* or higher) and a set of skills tests. You must clear an enhanced background check, pass a medical screening, and have a full driver’s licence.


You’ll also need to communicate well with others, stay level-headed in tense or chaotic situations, and show sensitivity and empathy.






If you’re proficient in more than one language, consider putting that to use with a career in translation. In 2021, translators earned an average salary of £30,934 per year. You’ll use your language skills to translate and edit written material, ensuring accuracy.




What’s Required


The specific requirements of each translation job vary depending on your employer. At their core, translation jobs require fluency, strong language communication skills, and a solid understanding of the audience’s culture.


An increasing amount of translation jobs require university degrees. However, earning the CIOL’s Diploma in Translation is considered equivalent to a degree.




Digital Marketing


Digital marketing is a broad term for online advertising that encompasses many different careers. While some fields of digital marketing (like data analysis) require university degrees, others require that you simply have the skills needed for the job. For instance, copywriters earn between £20,000 and £80,000 yearly and don’t always need a degree.




What’s Required


A good digital marketer must be familiar with marketing tactics and web tools like Google Analytics and SEMrush. You’ll also need to be skilled with popular online platforms, including email providers and social media. 


In a digital marketing role, you’ll be served well by creativity, strong communication skills, and an eye for detail. 


It’s a good idea to have a robust selection of work to present to potential employers, so keep a blog or portfolio to display what you’re capable of producing.




Estate Agent


Being an estate agent might pique your interest if you’re fascinated by renting or selling property. There are multiple pathways to becoming an estate agent, like undertaking an intermediate apprenticeship or training as a sales negotiator.


The average base salary of an estate agent is £25,411. However, that doesn’t count commissions earned, which can significantly increase your earnings. Your salary also improves with experience. Some of the most experienced estate agents make up to £40,000 a year.




What’s Required


Potential estate agents must have taken some GSCEs and have a full driving licence. Soft skills are also a big part of this role. Estate agents must have a strong sales ability, good communication skills, and provide exceptional customer service.




Sales Manager


Sales managers are a critical point in the sales process. Their job is to help sales representatives achieve sales and track how well a product is selling.


The starting salaries for sales managers are as low as £22,000 a year. With time and experience, however, sales managers can make up to £70,000 a year.


More often than not, sales managers have degrees; however, with enough experience and business skills, you may be able to make your way into the role without a degree.




What’s Required


Becoming a sales manager requires prior work experience in sales and management and a long track record of meeting sales goals. You’ll also need to demonstrate leadership, business management, customer service, and communication abilities.


If you helped create the types of product you’re selling (whether you designed it or manufactured it), it will give you an advantage in gaining a sales management role. 



Business Project Manager


Those who are good at managing logistics, people, and resources could find their way into a project management role. Pay averages around £51,009 per year, but experienced professionals can make up to £75,000.


It’s challenging to become a project manager without a degree. However, having extensive working experience may be enough to get you into the role.




What’s Required


Since you’ll be managing business projects, you must be able to utilise business strategies, lead a team efficiently, and communicate well. You’ll also need to be good with maths, detail-oriented, and computer-savvy.




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