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Build Your Career Get the Job

The 15 Best Jobs That Don't Require a College Degree

The 15 Best Jobs That Don't Require a College Degree
Credit: Trueffelpix/Shutterstock

While earning a four-year college degree might be the quickest path to professional success, its not the only way.

"Starting a career without a degree may be unconventional, but succeeding in the workplace without one is far from impossible," Tony Lee, CareerCast publisher, said in a statement. "An entrepreneurial spirit and specialized training can help overcome the lack of a four-year degree."

Rather than needing a four-year degree, many of the positions on this year's rankings from CareerCast of the best jobs for those without a college degree only require some specialized training. Specifically, you only need a certificate to become a skin care specialist, dental hygienist or personal trainer, while trade crafts such as electrician and carpenter demand either advanced training or apprenticeships.

CareerCast based its rankings on annual median salary and projected hiring outlook by 2022. This year's best 15 jobs for those without a college diploma are:

  • Administrative assistant: The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recommends at least a high school diploma or equivalent for those pursuing these positions. The annual median salary is $35,330.
  • Appliance repairer: Many community colleges and vocational trade schools offer courses for those wanting to enter this field, which has high growth potential, according to CareerCast. The annual median salary is $43,640.
  • Bookkeeper: To become a bookkeeper, the BLS says only a high school diploma or equivalent is necessary. The annual median salary is $35,170.
  • Carpenter: Apprenticeships, which include144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training, are required to become a carpenter, according to the BLS. The annual median salary is $39,940.
  • Computer service technician: The requirements for this position vary, depending on the nature of the work. The BLS reports thata high school diploma and applicable experience will suffice in some cases. The annual median salary is $48,900.
  • Dental hygienist: Associate degrees in dental hygiene and state certification are minimum requirements. The annual median salary is $70,210.
  • Electrician: Vocational schools and community colleges offer the courses needed to become an electrician. The annual median salary is $49,840.
  • Medical records technician: To launch a career as a medical records technician, a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree is required. The annual median salary is $34,160.
  • Multimedia artist: Some trade schools offer programs specializing in multimedia art. The annual median salary is $61,370.
  • Paralegal assistant: An associate's degree from an accredited program is required to become an entry-level paralegal. The annual median salary is $46,990.
  • Personal trainer: Those wishing to become personal trainers can earn certification from a variety of specialty programs. The annual median salary is $31,720.
  • Registered nurse: There are two ways registered nurses can start their careers without a four-year degree, according to the BLS. They can earn an associate's degree in nursing or a diploma from an approved nursing program. The annual median salary is $65,470.
  • Respiratory therapist: To become a respiratory therapist, you need certification from the National Board for Respiratory Care. The annual median salary is $55,870.
  • Skin care specialist: In order to be a skin care specialist, you are required to earn state certification, which includes completion of an esthetician program and passing a board exam. The annual median salary is $28,640.
  • Web developer: To become a Web developer, training is required in such Web-building disciplines as HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The annual median salary is $62,500.

To boost the chances of landing one of these jobs, or any others, CareerCast recommends that those without a college degree work pro bono and take on contract work to build up their portfolio. Additionally, unofficial apprenticeships are invaluable for job seekers without a college degree.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.