Risk Takers: How to Build a Career Without a Degree

For the kids whose parents can afford to take them to school, the path is already pretty clear. They know how they will go from kindergarten to elementary school to high school and, finally, to college. Once they’re done with that, the very wealthiest and most connected of them even have a solid career path waiting for them. But that doesn’t mean that this path is the one to be followed by everyone.

The truth is that college is getting more and more expensive with each passing year. Most students will pay for their college through expensive loans and the drop rate is also usually very high, meaning a great number of people are not even going to finish the degree they got into debt for. In such a situation, you shouldn’t be going to college if you have even a sliver of doubt or a lack of interest in it. It is possible to build a career without a college degree, and that’s what we’re going to explore today.

There are plenty of jobs out there that don’t require you to have a college degree. They also happen to exist in plenty of industries, such as insurance, healthcare, transportation, law enforcement, the government, culinary sciences and arts, and so on. Many of them actually pay well and give you more than enough balance between life and work. They also give you plenty of opportunities for career advancement and all of that comes without having to be dragged down by hefty college debt. The question is: how do you build a career without a college degree? Buckle up; we’re going to show you how.

Be sure of which career you’re best suited for:

The very first step, and probably the most important, is to know and understand yourself. That will help you figure out the right career to follow. This is called your career aptitude and you can take a career aptitude test to help you out. Such a test will tell you the types of jobs you would excel at using such things as your skills, values, style of work and interests to determine your motivations, strengths, and limitations. You might think you’re suited for one career while you’re actually suited for another. That’s how I found out I was a better writer than I was a software engineer. You can take a career aptitude test for free at any campus near where you live as well as counseling and career development centers. You can also find them online.

Get Technical Certification:

Rather than go out and get a whole university degree, you can get certified in a craft, skill, or trade. This helps you gain experience in that field as you work to increase your salary. You can get such certifications through community colleges and trade schools that offer specialized and vocational training. You don’t even have to attend classes as most of these classes can be taken online now. Just look for a curriculum that is specialized enough to help you get your first job in the field of your choice and get additional experience, training, and certification as you work to increase your salary.

Get trained on the Job:

Employers aren’t blind to the sheer number of people out there that are highly motivated to get ahead in their chosen careers but simply don’t have the time, money, or opportunity to grow their skills in the career. Many employers are now offering on the job training to help employees build their skills for their long-term career development while earning at the same time. Find out what skills are in demand in your given field today and look for companies that will train you on the job in those skills. This kind of training can take you really far in your chosen career without a degree.

Another method is career assessment practice tests, which gives an understanding of the abilities and knowledge of the candidate.

Teach yourself:

We live in the information age and the great enabler of this age is the internet, through which you can learn practically everything. You don’t have to go to class but can read blogs, watch videos on YouTube, enroll for simple courses online and so on. You are going to need plenty of discipline, perseverance, and determination. However, it is possible to use this method to eventually become an expert in your chosen field. You also don’t have to restrict yourself to the internet but can also buy books and magazines related to your interests and learn even more.

Find a Mentor:

Before the whole institutionalized education thing, apprenticeship was the way to go and people learned and found work by becoming apprentices. This was the primary way to find work in the time before the Industrial Age. If you wanted to develop a skill, you had to look for a mentor to take you under his tutelage and teach you the ropes. You can try the same today. Find someone in your field who you admire and who you would like to learn from. Reach out, take them out to coffee. Tell them about your dreams and aspirations. If they don’t say yes the first time, don’t give up. Keep taking other steps to teach yourself and also keep asking. Even if you don’t get them for a mentor, your hard work and determination will eventually attract the interest of a mentor who is willing to help.


As you go through this journey, lots of people, even those closest to you, may tell you that it’s impossible to get ahead in life without a college education. Keep your head held high and focus on silencing the negativity with your actions. Hold yourself accountable for the decision you make and be successful to prove them wrong, because we assure you that you will. You will definitely face challenges, but you will overcome them. Having a successful career without a college degree is definitely possible. In fact, many entrepreneurs and business owners didn’t go to University. So, focus on the positive, learn from the negative, and always remember why you chose the path you are now walking.

Lauren Adley

Lauren Adley has been working as a writer at a publishing agency in Boston, USA, for 3 years. She is an expert in such topics as education, motivation, blogging and social media.