There’s plenty of talk these days about how you need a college degree to get anywhere in life. And, while it’s estimated that those with a degree make about one million more over the course of their lifetime, that doesn’t mean you can’t be happy and satisfied without a degree. There are post-secondary programs and plenty of certification programs that can still get you into competitive fields without the need to spend 2-6 years earning a degree.
Some jobs even pay college-degree-level wages without requiring one. If college isn’t for you, is too expensive, or just isn’t on your list of life goals, that’s ok—let’s take a look at five jobs you can get without a degree.
1. Medical Coder/Biller
When you think of the medical field, the first thing that comes to mind is probably medical school and the 8+ years that most physicians and medical professionals spend there. Well, you’re in luck, because this career doesn’t require medical school or even a bachelor’s degree, for that matter. Medical billing and coding is an important part of the industry, but also one of the easiest career paths as far as training goes.
You’ll need a certification, but you can do your medical coding training entirely online in some cases. That means you won’t have to change your schedule or make any hard time commitments to the coursework, though you’ll want to set aside enough time to fully understand what you’re studying.
Billers and coders help ensure a smooth billing process by translating doctor’s orders, prescriptions, and other medical documents into standardized codes for billing. Without medical billers and coders, the billing system in healthcare would be a mess!
2. Solar Photovoltaic Installer
This is a job you may not have heard of or ever considered, but it’s a rewarding career that allows you to work with some of the most advanced energy technology of today: solar panels. Solar panels, in short, turn the sun’s light into a renewable energy source, and are a crucial part of the movement away from fossil fuels. Every year, fossil fuel consumption causes untold damage to the planet and the ozone layer, but there are other ways to generate the same amount of energy.
As a solar photovoltaic installer, you’ll be responsible for installing and maintaining solar panels on commercial and residential structures. With an average salary of about $42,000 per year, you can make a comfortable living while doing hands-on work outside. This is the perfect option for someone who doesn’t want the monotony of an office job and likes to work with their hands.
While most plumbing companies aren’t unionized anymore, you can still find viable work as a plumber and make a decent living maintaining plumbing systems. We’ve all had to call a plumber at some point, and we’re certainly grateful when they arrive. Plumbers are much more important than we think, and the career offers good benefits (in most cases), and an average salary of about $53,000 per year.
Plumbing is another job that’s great for people who don’t want to sit at a desk and who like working with their hands. You’ll maintain and repair plumbing systems, certain appliances, and even commercial plumbing systems. You’ll get to meet new people, do something different each day, and even travel for your job.
Plumbers are always in demand, and as of last year, there were about 490,000 jobs in the US, with a projected growth rate of about 4% through 2029.
Electricians are also essential workers in our society. They repair, install, and maintain electrical systems in the home, office, or commercial settings. When something goes wrong with your electrical system, you need an experienced and knowledgeable electrician to set things straight.
Electricians can make anywhere from $30,000-$80,000 per year, depending on their level of experience, where they’re employed, and whether or not they specialize in certain systems. The average salary is about $55,000 per year, and that’s a comfortable living for most people. You’ll need to complete post-secondary training to become an electrician, but you don’t necessarily need a college degree.
5. Wind Turbine Technician
Green energy is making waves across the globe, and though the US might be on the slow side when it comes to adopting green technology, we’re slowly catching up to the rest of the world. Wind turbines generate energy with a spinning turbine that is turned by wind currents. As a wind turbine technician, you’ll get to climb these monoliths of energy and install, repair, and maintain them.
Becoming a wind turbine technician requires very specific training, and there are only a few thousand of these jobs available. We’re likely to see growth here, however, as we move closer to a more sustainable energy future.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of jobs you can obtain without a college degree that will help you make a comfortable living doing fulfilling work. Whether you’re interested in the trades, the medical field, or something else, you don’t necessarily need a college degree to excel in life.