Getting Into an In-Demand Career without a Degree
There’s a cost-benefit analysis involved when you’re deciding whether to earn a college degree. Going to college will likely land you tens of thousands of dollars in debt for many years. Also, all that time you spent in classrooms could have been spent in the workforce gaining real-world, hands-on experience. Also, consider the opportunity cost regarding the money you could be earning if you weren’t a full-time student. An important factor is what fields you’re interested in and what sort of career you want. You may be able to get into an in-demand medical and healthcare career without the time and expense of a college degree.
Great Careers without a Degree
Some jobs like software engineering involve skills that can be self-taught, making formal degrees less important. Careers that may not require a four-year degree include:
- Web developer
- Computer user support specialist
- Nursing assistant
- Junior data analyst
- Digital marketer
- Dental assistant programs online
- Cyber security analyst
- Pharmacy technician
- Mobile app developer
How to Get Hired Without a College Degree
Preparation. Do your research and get organized. Some jobs will always require degrees. But there are other careers for which a degree isn’t mandatory. For example, customer service, writing, technology, administration, and medical assistant may only require a high school diploma, certificates, and/or experience. You likely won’t get a top salary for the position without a degree, but you can still make good money. Narrow your choices to a few fields and learn as much as you can about the employers, jobs, requirements, salaries, necessary skills and experience, and job duties. Here’s a good read about the difference between Degrees and Certifications for you.
- Perseverance. Even if you had multiple degrees, landing a great job is hard work, stress, and tenacity. Getting a good job without a degree takes a lot of perseverance. It’s a full-time job. Commit to putting in the time and work to research the industries, employers, and careers, revise your resume and cover letters, practice interviewing, and apply to lots of openings. Prepare for rejection. It can take applying to dozens of positions before you get one interview.
- Revamp Your Resume. Build a portfolio of impressive work or a resume of relevant or adjacent part-time jobs, internships, volunteering, apprenticeships, and freelancing.
- Vigilantly pay attention to details when revising resumes and cover letters and applying to job postings. HR managers often want to see that you properly follow directions, quickly complete tasks, write well, and reduce errors.
- Focus on Transferrable Skills. You may not have a degree, but you may have skills and experience from previous jobs that may be applicable to this new, in-demand career. Some skills are useful across many industries and careers, such as management experience, problem-solving, time management, handling conflict, interpersonal communication, and mastery of software and applications.
- Network. Keep in regular contact with friends, family, and colleagues and let them know about your career interests. You never know where help may come from. A friend form school might hear about an opening in your field, or your dad’s golf buddy might recommend you for an entry-level job in his company. Develop relationships with a variety of people across multiple industries. The resumes of applicants without degrees may get weeded out when applying online, but diligent networking could be a short cut to an interview.
- Use Career Resources. Take advantage of the programs and resources that help people with career development and training. There’re programs helping unemployed or underemployed people, dislocated workers, and veterans and their spouses with tuition and job search assistance; examples include the Workforce Investment Act program, state worker retraining programs, and Post-9/11 GI Bill training programs.
- Training. While a four-year degree may not be mandatory, some secondary training will increase your chances of getting hired. You still have to keep learning and developing your skills. You can learn a lot with a library card and an internet connection. Look for free courses and tutorials online.
Landing a great job is not all about having the right degrees. There are other things that can inspire calls for interviews where you can really impress. Experience, even unpaid or volunteer, in a relevant field should be emphasized in cover letters, resumes, and interviews. Also, no degree does not mean any education or training. There’re a wealth of shorter, affordable training programs in a variety of fields at community colleges and online.