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You Don’t Have a Degree – Will You Ever Get a Job?

CATEGORY: Find the Right Job
POSTED: February 19, 2013 at 7:40 am

by Emily K, CPRW, NCC, ResumeEdge Certified Writer – It’s no secret that an economy with high unemployment rates and increasing competition for jobs awaits us all, degree or no degree.  Millions of students steadily enroll for courses with the hopes of one day joining the workforce and landing their dream job right out of college.  However, the “golden ticket”, also known as a four-year degree, doesn’t seem quite as golden after the reality of an employment search.  Economic and job uncertainty has led to an increase in double and triple majors, and graduate school admissions over the last decade. You may be wondering if more degrees in this ever changing and complex job market mean more opportunities.  Not necessarily.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 60 percent of U.S. workers don’t even have a four-year degree! The BLS Economic and Employment Projections for 2010-2020 concludes that out of the 30 occupations with the largest projected number of total job openings, only 2 of them require a degree and 12 of the 30 occupations earn a median salary of $55,000 – $74,999 a year.  For an individual with no degree-related debt, that’s a decent starting salary compared to the average graduate’s starting salary which was $44,455 (NACE Salary Survey 2012).  Dig further and a quick search reveals there are more than 217 occupational opportunities that need no degree at all – aside from a high school diploma.

So, the answer is yes, it’s quite possible to get a good job even if you don’t have a degree!

Explore Your Non-Degree Options

Similar to the recent graduate’s job-search campaign, a considerable amount of effort and preparation is necessary.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics is an excellent resource to research occupational information including median annual wages, projected job openings, and educational requirements.  The Occupational Outlook Handbook is the government’s premier source for career guidance. Their employment projections for the 2010-2020 decade can help you navigate degree-free career options.  The publication “High wages after high school – with no bachelor’s degree” captures other degree alternatives including postsecondary non-degree awards and associate’s degrees.

Research Degree Alternatives

If you take a closer look at the 2010-2020 employment projections, you will notice many of the highest paying non-degree jobs actually require an associate’s degree or postsecondary training.  These programs are often less costly than a four-year degree and take a shorter amount of time to complete, and sometimes have higher starting salaries!  Earning an associate’s degree can be a relatively fast track to high earnings.  For example, Air Traffic Controllers earn a median annual wage of $108,040, require no previous work experience, and receive on-the-job-training.

Highest Paying Jobs for Those with a High School Diploma       

1.)    Transportation, storage, and distribution managers

  • Median annual wage: $80,210
  • Projected job openings: 33,700

2.)    First-line supervisors of police and detectives

  • Median annual wage: $78,260
  • Projected job openings: 38,700

3.)    Administrative service managers

  • Median annual wage: $77,890
  • Projected job openings: 99,8000

4.)    Nuclear power reactor operators

  • Median annual wage: $75,650
  • Projected job openings: 2,000

5.)    Elevator installers and repairers

  • Median annual wage: $70,910
  • Projected job openings: 8,200

6.)    Power distributers and dispatchers

  • Median annual wage: $68,900
  • Projected job openings: 3,600

7.)    First-line supervisors of non-retail sales workers

  • Median annual wage: $68,880
  • Projected job openings: 123,500

8.)    Detectives and criminal investigators

  • Median annual wage: $68,820
  • Projected job openings: 30,100

9.)    Fashion designers

  • Median annual wage: $64,530
  • Projected job openings: 6,700

10.) Power plant operations

  • Median annual wage: $63,080
  • Projected job openings: 14,400

Get Inspired!

The following successful professionals skipped a college degree and went straight to work:

Steve Jobs, Apple Co-founder

Steven Spielberg, Director

Bill Gates, Microsoft Co-founder

Michael Dell, Dell Computers Founder

Woody Allen, Director

Maya Angelou, Poet

John Glenn, Astronaut/Senator

Ted Turner, Media Mogul

Anne Beiler, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels Co-founder

Bobby Flay, TV Chef/Cookbook Author

John Graden, Black Belt Management Author

Joyce C. Hall, Hallmark Founder

Stan Lee, Marvel Comics Creator

Whatever your professional background or employment situation, the certified writers at ResumeEdge can help you stand out among the competition. We have helped job seekers with our services that include resume writing, resume editing, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles and interview coaching via our JobInterviewEdge service.

Emily K.

Emily is a career counselor and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with expertise in resume writing, job search strategies, and interview preparation. She has written over 100+ resumes and cover letters within six months of joining ResumeEdge.

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