Let’s face it: college is expensive. And it isn’t getting any cheaper! Perhaps there was a time when a degree almost guaranteed you a rewarding and lucrative job. But today students are graduating thousands of dollars in debt, and then going out and competing for entry level jobs that barely pay a living wage.
The good news is that there are lots of opportunities for skilled and savvy people to make a comfortable living without earning a degree. Whether you want a steady job with security and benefits, or the freedom and flexibility of the entrepreneurial life, here are 10 fun and rewarding careers to consider – no college required.
1. Web Designer – the demand for web design services has never been higher. And while many companies will require a degree in order to be hired on as staff, there are even more individuals and small businesses who find it more affordable to hire freelancers to handle that work. And guess what? They don’t care whether you have a degree; they care about what you can do. If you’ve got the skills, you can make a nice living while enjoying the freedom of working from home.
2. Social Media Manager – it seems that you can’t run a successful business these days without having a strong social media presence. But many business owners don’t have the time or the desire to be active on Twitter and Facebook. Oh, and LinkedIn and Google Plus. And Instagram. And Pinterest. And… well, you get my point. If you love social media, you can make a career out of marketing and promoting on behalf of others.
3. Craftsman – this is a pretty broad category which includes carpentry, glass-blowing, pottery, clothing, jewelry and all sorts of hand-made creations. While it doesn’t require a degree, it does require a great deal of creativity and skill, and a fair amount of business sense. But one things is for sure: hand-crafted, locally produced goods will always be coveted by those with means and good taste.
4. Musician – not many musicians achieve fame and fortune, but there have been plenty of self-taught troubadours through the years who have lived off their talent alone. You can be a DJ, a songwriter, a producer, a studio musician, or a performer. Good musicians are in demand everywhere, from churches and weddings to night clubs and blues bars – and no one ever asks where you went to school. If you’ve got the soul, the talent, and the drive to succeed, then the sky’s the limit.
5. A/V or Media Technician – think about how many music venues, concert halls, radio stations and conference rooms there are in your city. Every event that’s put on in every one of those places requires someone to push the buttons, run the lights and the sound system, the camera, the projector, etc. Welcome to the wonderful world of Audio/Visual/Media Technology! With a little technical (possibly on-the-job) training, you can be getting paid to work at concerts, workshops and all kinds of presentations.
6. Beautician/Makeup Artist – do you have an eye for beauty, and a keen sense of style? You can become a beautician and/or hair stylist with very little training, and earn a living making other people look and feel good! You don’t have to end up working at Great Clips, either – you can work for yourself, out of your own home, or start your own boutique. Or take your art to another level and become a makeup artist for performers on stage or on screen.
7. Pilot – it may come as a surprise, but you do not have to be a college graduate in order to fly airplanes. There are many different types of aircraft – from helicopters and single engine planes, to large commercial jets – and there are just as many different licenses, all with their own certification requirements. Through certain schools, you can have your pilot’s license in a matter of weeks, and be on your way to an exciting job that let’s you travel the world and get paid for it.
8. Agriculture/Sustainability – changes in climate, technology and public opinion are creating a huge demand for organic food and sustainable living practices. If you have a green thumb, and love being outdoors and working with your hands, consider a career in agriculture, urban farming or edible landscaping. Or if you’re more mechanically inclined, there is great demand for solar power, energy conservation and green technology. All of these emerging industries present great opportunities for those who are driven and self-educated – opportunities to make a living while making a difference in the world.
9. Artist – sure you can get a degree in the history, theory and techniques of the arts, and learning these things can greatly improve your craft. But the truth is, you don’t need a degree to write a poem, or paint a picture. What you need is passion. If you want to be an artist more than anything else in life, then quit making excuses and do it. Work on it everyday and hone your skills until no one can deny that you’ve got it. You know, it – the impossible to define magic that makes great artists and great art. When you’ve got that, it won’t be long until you have the world eating out of your hand.
10. Writer/Blogger – forgive me for boasting, but being a freelance writer is a pretty awesome way to make a living. And sure, there are clients out there that are looking for someone with a degree in journalism or literature. But most of the clients I encounter only want to know one thing: can you write? If you have a lively style and a thorough mastery of grammar, you can work from home, set your own schedule, and pay your rent with the written word.
This list is just the beginning. The truth is, that with drive and the patience to develop your talents, and the courage to go for it, there is nothing you can’t do. You don’t have to follow the path laid out by your parents or your high school guidance counselor – you can take life in your own hands and live on your own terms.
No degree required.