No College Try: Other paths to job success

July 12, 2015 7:15 am  • 

The statistics don’t lie: College grads earn more – as much as 84 percent more over their lifetime – than those who haven’t completed a four-year degree.

But the stats do hide another truth, says Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast:“Succeeding in the workplace without [a college degree] is far from impossible.”

Based on metrics such as income, demand for the position over the next several years and stress factors, CareerCast compiled a list of the best jobs for people who don’t have college degrees.

Some of the jobs on the list include: administrative assistant at a median salary of $35,330, appliance repairer at $43,640, electrician with median of $49,840, respiratory therapist at $55,870 and web developer at $62,500.

While a bachelor’s degree isn’t required, some positions require training for state licensing or professional certification.

The list, stresses Lee, isn’t meant to discourage college ambitions. But the reality is that “a lot of people can’t afford college, or need to work,” he notes. The list is intended to illustrate, “you are not stuck with minimum wage.”

It can be possible to work in a non-college profession or trade and earn some college credit for some of the skills you’ve acquired, adds Joel Simon, vice president of the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

Many colleges offer credit for non-academic learning, but some have broader policies than others, says Simon.

Credit is typically dependent on demonstrating proficiency by passing a test, turning in a work product or through a professional designation that is earned through a rigorous, well-recognized program.

Another route to enhancing a non-college resume is to volunteer for projects, says Lee. For instance, if a worker has performed well and believes he can successfully tackle a job, he might ask his boss, “Let me take on this project for a month,” says Lee.