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10 Jobs You Can Get Without a College Degree

By Edited Oct 3, 2016 5 6

Help for High School Graduates 

With the cost of education on the rise, it is becoming more difficult to obtain a college degree. Unfortunately, most people without degrees tend to earn much less than their counterparts. However, don’t be dismayed if you don't have a degree because there are plenty of good jobs out there for people who lack the benefit of a higher education. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, two out of every three jobs require only on-the-job training. The following is a list of jobs you can get, even though you don't have that college degree. 

10 Jobs You Can Get Without a College Degree




Cooks are required to prepare a variety of foods and they generally work in restaurants, schools, hospitals, private households, and other places where food is served. A cook must often work early or late in the evening, holidays, and weekends. Most cooks work full-time. 

The most common way of becoming a cook is to obtain on-the-job training and/or work related experience. While no formal education is required, a majority of cooks prefer to attend a cooking school prior to seeking appointment. 

The employment growth projection is estimated to be 8% from 2010 to 2020.

Cosmetologist/Hair Stylist 

Individuals entering the cosmetology field provide beauty services, including hairstyling. All states require a license, however, one exception would be a shampooer. To qualify for a license in cosmetology, individuals must graduate from a state approved cosmetology program. 

The field of cosmetology is expected to grow 14% from 2010 to 2020.The high growth rate is anticipated to be from job openings resulting from the need to replace workers who leave the industry. 

Dental Assistant 

A dental assistant has many tasks in a dental office, from patient care to record keeping, their duties vary by state and by the dentists’ offices where they work.

There are several possible paths to becoming a dental assistant. Some states require assistants to graduate from an accredited program and possibly pass a state exam, while other states require no formal educational. Dental assistants who do not have formal education in dental assisting may learn their duties through on-the-job training. Most states regulate what dental assistants may do, but that varies by state.

The growth rate for a dental assistant is expected to grow by 31% in 2010 through 2020. The research indicates this field will continue grow rapidly due to the demand for preventative dental services.

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Delivery Truck Drivers 

Delivery Truck Drivers pick up, transport, and drop off items. Generally the work is physically demanding, usually requiring the driver to load and unload cargo, lift heavy objects and a lot of walking. Drivers must have a valid driver’s license for the state in which they work and the majority of truck drivers begin their careers with a high school diploma or equivalent and then receive some on-the-job training. 

The employment growth projection for truck drivers is estimated to be 13% from 2010 to 2020. 

Heating / Refrigeration Mechanic 

A heating/refrigeration mechanic maintains and repairs heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the air quality in many types of buildings. These mechanics work in residential areas, office buildings, factories, schools and/or hospitals. They often work in cramped spaces and in very hot or cold conditions. The majority of these mechanics work full time. Heating/refrigeration mechanics are required to go through and complete a formal apprenticeship program and some states require them to be licensed. 

The growth rate in the heating/refrigeration mechanic industry is expected to grow by 34% in 2010 through 2020.

Insurance Sales Agent 

An insurance sales agent assists insurance companies by generating new business. An agent contacts potential customers and attempts to sell one or several types of insurance policies. The agent will explain to the potential buyer the various insurance policies and help them select the plan(s) that is best for their specific needs. 

A majority of insurance sales agents work for an insurance brokerage, however, some work directly for a single insurance company. Sales agents typically work in an office or from home and many are required to travel. 

Although many agents do have a bachelor’s degree, it is not required and a majority can begin work with a high school diploma, obtaining on-the-job training and/or continued education. At insurance sales agent is required to be licensed the states they work. 

The rate of growth for insurance sales agents is projected at 22% from 2010 to 2020. Research indicates an increased demand for agents in the health and long-term care and insurance industries, due to changes in federal regulations and an aging population. 

Paralegal/ Legal Assistant 

Paralegal/legal assistants are responsible for a number of tasks to aid and support lawyers. Some of the job duties may require maintaining and organizing files, legal research, dealing with clients, drafting documents, and even making an appearance at court on behalf of the client. 

The majority of paralegal and legal assistants work for law firms, corporate legal departments, or governmental agencies and most work full time. While a college degree is not required, some paralegals have an associate’s degree. Many paralegals with a high school education obtain a certificate in paralegal studies and receive on-the-job training. 

The expected rate of growth in the paralegal field is expected to grow by 18% from 2010 to 2020.

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Sales Representatives 

Sales representatives sell goods for wholesalers or manufacturers to businesses, government agencies, and other organizations. A sales representative is required to contact customers, explain product features, answer questions and negotiate prices. The majority of sales representatives work on commission and some are required to meet a sales quota. Many representatives are required to travel. 

A high school diploma is all that is typically required for this occupation. 

The rate of growth for sales representatives is projected at 16% from 2010 to 2020 and is expected to follow the economy as a whole. 

Secretaries and Administrative Assistants 

Secretaries and administrative assistants are required to perform routine clerical and organizational duties. Some of their job duties require file organization, answering phones and taking messages, scheduling appointments, and assisting other staff members. 

There is a need for secretaries and administrative assistants in almost every industry. The majority are employed in offices, schools, hospitals, and governmental agencies. The majority work indoors in an office environment, however, some may also work from home. 

A high school diploma and basic computer skills are usually sufficient for entry-level positions. 

The expected rate of growth for secretaries and administrative assistants is 12% from 2010 to 2020. Medical secretaries are the only occupation that is anticipated to have a faster employment growth, driven by the rapid growth of the healthcare industry. 

Stenographer/Court Reporter 

A stenographer/court reporter attends legal proceedings and public speaking events to create word-for-word transcriptions. In addition, some provide captioning for television and at public events. 

The majority of stenographers/court reporters work for the government in courts, but some work in broadcast captioning from either their home or a central office. 

Certificate programs for court reporters are available at most community colleges and technical institutes. Some states require court reporters who work in legal settings to be licensed. 

The rate of growth for court reporters is projected at 14% from 2010 to 2020. Stenographers with experience and training in techniques for helping deaf and hard-of-hearing people, such as real-time captioning and Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART), will have the best job prospects.


The preceding information was obtained through the United States Government, Bureau of Labor Statistics website. It is not meant to be any type of promise or guarantee of employment and is subject to change. 

Source - The Bureau of Labor Statistics: Copyright Information: “The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is a Federal government agency and everything that we publish, both in hard copy and electronically, is in the public domain, except for previously copyrighted photographs and illustrations. You are free to use our public domain material without specific permission, although we do ask that you cite the Bureau of Labor Statistics as the source." 

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Nov 26, 2012 4:27pm
What a great article for those who have decided not to go to college. Thumbs Up!
Nov 28, 2012 9:31am
Hi SG, thanks so much for the comment and the thumbs-up!
Dec 3, 2012 4:21pm
Great article! I find that even though I have a degree (BA in History), I am qualified to do very little. As college degrees have become more widely attainable due to federal aid, etc, the value of said degrees has actually decreased. As an aside, dental hygienists almost always need an associates degree to get licensed, and the new trend is a bachelors degree.
Dec 4, 2012 1:57pm
Thant should have been "Dental Assistant." Thanks for reading!!
Dec 10, 2012 11:31am
Useful stuff for those who might be disheartened about their prospects without a degree. I don't know about the USA but in places like Britain and New Zealand politics is a good option - you could actually become Prime Minister without a degree!
Dec 10, 2012 5:52pm
Dave!! Good to hear from you, hope all is well. Prime Minister? Very interesting, thanks for the comment and it's nice to see you back on IB!
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