Traditionally, it has been believed that a four-year degree is necessary to land a high salary job. However, for many individuals, obtaining a degree may not be possible due to limited finances or other personal circumstances. The good news is that it is still possible to secure a career and earn a high, stable income, even as much as six-figure salaries, without obtaining a degree.
Karl Sandor, Chief Marketing Officer at the award-winning marketing agency The Growth Guys, believes that from his experience, “hard skills grow obsolete every 18 months, while agility, testing, and empathy drive results. A degree can’t teach you to keep pace with a perpetually evolving landscape.”
What You Need to Know
It is important to note that for many of the roles listed below, you will need to substitute the long years of pursuing a degree with studying to obtain licenses and certifications relevant to the role. It is also assumed that you will have had a basic education up to high school level to consider these roles.
Salary data for the roles listed below is compiled from salary research sites Glassdoor and Salary.com.
Possible Careers Without a Degree
Perhaps the most obvious option of all is that of an entrepreneur. This requires extensive planning, grit, research, and tenacity. With the right dedication and business tools, even with low start-up capital, it is possible to make a high income. Salaries for entrepreneurs can range from $60k to as much as $500k in some instances.
Coaching in general is a profession with unregulated entry while at the same time promising uncapped earning potential. This makes it a viable choice for those who desire to make a career pivot without needing to return to college to study for a full-length degree.
Accredited coaching certifications can also be obtained online to increase your expertise and stand out from market competition. These certifications can be obtained through widely recognized coaching bodies such as the International Coaching Federation (ICF). The average earning potential for life coaches is $60k per annum. If pursued via self-employment route, earning potential is unlimited.
Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents in the United States are required to complete pre-license training and pass the real estate license exam to obtain their state license. Setting realistic expectations, building a solid network, and deciding on your niche (commercial, luxury homes, etc.) are some ways to get your foot in the door. The average earning potential for real estate agents is $197,304 per annum.
While possessing a business degree such as an MBA will certainly provide added advantages and more job options, it is certainly possible to become a Sales Director without one. You can begin at entry-level as a sales representative and move up to account manager or account executive. Gradually gaining more experience as you hit record sales targets can lead to promotion to management and director level positions. The average earning potential for Sales Directors is $195,669 per annum.
Commercial pilots can operate in their roles without a degree provided they pass licenses and certifications such as undergoing a commercial pilot course, flight training, and passing the FAA test. The average earning potential for commercial pilots is $127,846 per annum.
Supply Chain Manager
Supply chain or logistics managers have never been in greater demand. As the supply chain industry expands, it offers unlimited potential for career progression. You can start at entry-level as a supply chain administrator and work your way up to management while undertaking professional development courses from the global leader in supply chain management, ASCM. The average earning potential for Supply Chain Managers is $108,141 per annum.
Software development has vast earning potential, with employers tempting candidates with competitive salaries to fill in-demand roles as technological development continues to accelerate. While holding a bachelor’s degree in computer science certainly wouldn’t harm, it is possible to land a well-paid role in software development through attending bootcamps, learning in-demand programming languages, obtaining certifications every year, and staying current on the latest industry trends and updates while developing a portfolio of personal projects. Technology is fast-paced, so it is necessary to evolve with it. The average earning potential for software developers is $106,098 per annum.
Project management is an extremely versatile and rewarding field, spanning across industries and sectors. Due to its hands-on nature, it offers fantastic exposure to various aspects of a business’s operations, providing an excellent foundation for progression into project director, portfolio manager, and operations director roles. The earning potential for technical project managers is significantly greater, fetching as much as $158,512 per annum. The average earning potential for project/program managers is $96,627 per annum.
Entry requirements to work in the police force vary depending on the country in which you live. In both the United States and the UK, the only requirement is a high school diploma as you will receive specialized training via a police academy or apprenticeship route. It’s also worth noting that policing encompasses more than the officers who patrol the streets and public areas; you can work your way up and explore other career paths such as senior police officer, detective/investigator, police chief, or lieutenant. The average earning potential for police officers is $62,865 per annum.
An executive assistant supports chief executives within an organization with daily tasks such as streamlining their correspondence, meetings, travel, and other arrangements. They also act as a key point of contact for stakeholders. This requires painstaking organizational skills, clear business communication, and Microsoft Office proficiency. To enter this role, you could start at entry-level as an office manager, personal assistant or other administrative personnel. Picking up certificates to improve your business, project administration and communication skills as you go along can help before applying for EA jobs. The average earning potential for executive assistants is $60,639 per annum.
Through continuous upskilling, learning on the job, landing promotions, being strategic with your career moves and even securing the help of a career coach, you can significantly increase your paycheck even without a degree. The only question that remains is: Are you ready to put in the work?