The good news is that you are not doomed to a lifetime of dead-end jobs if you haven’t attended college. There are plenty of high-paying, rewarding careers for non-college graduates, and the job market for trade workers has never been better. Use our tips to help launch your forever career without attending a four-year college.
Consider Your Interests, Talents, and Temperament
Before you embark on your career hunt, take stock of your passions and hobbies. Also, think about jobs you have held in the past: what were you good at, what did you struggle with, and what did you enjoy doing? By taking an inventory of your life and work experiences, you can develop an idea of your best real-world career direction.
Also, consider taking a scientifically-backed personality test, such as the Five Factor Model Personality Test or the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment. The Myers-Briggs and the Five Factor Model can help you choose a great career that fits your personality type.
For example, if you are outgoing and compassionate, you may enjoy a customer service-related field like health care, or if you are open to new experiences and already have a personal blog, working in social media might be a great choice. For those with an aptitude for technology, a career in the IT field may be a good fit.
By understanding yourself better, you can find a job that pays the bills while keeping you emotionally satisfied.
Decide What You are Looking for in a Job
For some, salary trumps all other considerations. These individuals choose the career path with the highest potential earnings and the greatest possibility of advancement within their abilities.
For others, work-life balance and flexibility are the primary considerations when choosing a career.
Some aspects you should consider before starting down a career path include:
Your hourly or yearly wages will vary depending on your career choice. If you have expenses such as a mortgage, rent, car payment, or a family, determine the minimum salary you can earn to live comfortably.
If you are just starting your career, set a salary target and time frame and determine how to achieve it. For example, taking classes or relocating for a promotion and pay increase may be worth the effort if it helps you meet your financial goals.
Also, consider your full benefits package, which can add monetary value to your position. This might include health insurance, pension, stock options, or a company vehicle.
A good work-life balance has numerous benefits, including less stress, a lower risk of burnout, and a greater sense of well-being. When determining your career path, think about the best way to achieve balance in your personal life and at work.
However, once you accept that there is no perfect work-life balance and that balance is achieved over time, not daily, you can choose a job that combines your career and personal goals.
Opportunity for Advancement
In some careers, the highest levels of the profession are gatekept by advanced degrees. For example, you can work as a clerk in a law office without a college degree, but working up to a higher position, such as a paralegal or lawyer, may only be possible by attending college.
Boost your prospects for advancement by considering career paths that offer on-the-job training and paid certifications. You can also demonstrate your value and showcase your experience with adult internships, volunteer opportunities, and online classes.
Aside from the scope of work, the work environment can influence how you feel about a job. This can include relationships with other employees, company culture, and room for personal development. Assessing the work environment is critical for job seekers because a positive environment makes employees feel good about coming to work and provides the motivation to get through the day.
Top Non-College Career Paths
There are plenty of careers that can be lucrative and rewarding without a degree. Some popular career paths that do not require a college education include:
Police officers help keep communities safe by enforcing laws. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports over 800,000 police officer jobs in the United States, with a median yearly salary of $66,020. The only education requirement beyond on-the-job training is a high school diploma, and there are many opportunities for advancement.
Commercial pilots fly airplanes or helicopters for various companies or private clients. While some airlines may require their pilots to get a college degree, many commercial pilot roles only require flight training.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects nearly 20,000 commercial pilot job listings annually. The median yearly salary for a commercial pilot is $134,630.
Administrative assistants help businesses run smoothly by handling clerical and organizational tasks. As an entry-level job, no college education is required, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there are nearly 3.5 million administrative assistant positions in the United States.
The median salary for a full-time administrative assistant is $39,680 per year.
Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents assist clients as they buy or sell a property. There is no educational requirement for real estate agent job seekers, but they must be licensed.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the median yearly salary for real estate agents at $48,770, though top earners can make several times that number.
Nearly every business employs sales agents, and the overall earning capacity varies based on the product or service being sold. Most sales agents earn commission on top of their base salary.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median yearly income for manufacturing or wholesale sales agents is $62,890. Top performers can earn significantly more than the median wage.
Find a Career with JobsFuel
Finding a job you love can improve your quality of life. If you know the position you are looking for, JobsFuel’s interactive job search tool can help you find a job in your area, so you can begin your forever career.