Catherine's Career Corner


September 4th, 2009
9 Jobs That Don’t Require A Degree in the UK

The economy may have imploded somewhat over the course of the past 14 months, but you still have bills to pay, a mortgage/rent to take care of and a healthy drinking habit to support, which means you need money. “I’m not qualified for anything, I don’t have my degree,” you might say to yourself. In the words of Dizzee Rascal: “Fix Up, Look Sharp”. Whoever said that you need to write the letters B.A. after your name to earn good money was full of BS.

The obvious answer to your problem is “entrepreneur,” or “rock star”, but we’ve decided to leave that off the list since we haven’t seen too many postings for either of those gigs on Totaljobs or Monster lately. In other words, you can’t apply to be an entrepreneur or a chart-topping artist — you just have to do it.

Jobs (Image

Jobs(Image credit:ridgetoreef)

Here are the nine best jobs that you can apply for and build a career around without earning a degree. Plus, you might just get a parade in your honour with one of these. Try and guess which one.

1- Firefighter

Starting salary:  £20,896 (trainee); £21,766 (development);  £27,851 (competent)

Being a firefighter is pretty much the embodiment of a hero. You’re out there saving lives and property. You’re the saviour to everyone who didn’t pay attention to the level of oil required to fry a turkey and you’re first on the scene when people need rescuing from vehicles which have been involved in collisions.People even call you to rescue cats from trees. All the while, you’re keeping in top physical shape.

With a GCSEs, a little relevant experience and the ability to perform strength-draining exertions under intense pressure, you’ve got a future in firefighting.

2- Police officer

Starting salary: Between £21,534 on commencing service and £24,039

If being in close to firefighter condition when you start out is something you enjoy, but that penchant for sweet, fried pastries is a vice you just cannot control, starting out as a police officer might be more up your street.

Due to high application rates it’s long-winded process to serve as one of the boys in blue, but basic GCSEs, lack of a criminal record are a must. You might also consider becoming a Police Community Support Officer for a year.

3- Mechanic

Starting salary: Around £25,000

Want to be the envy of all your worthless liberal arts degree-having friends? Become a mechanic. Being able to fix cars around these people is like having a license to print money. Plus, it’s a damned respectable and professional career choice: everyone needs one.

Starting as a mechanic usually involves being an apprentice. You know, how useful education used to be passed along before everyone decided you should have letters after your name?

4- Appliance repairman

Starting salary: £24,000 – £40,000 (Varies widely)

Everyone has appliances that break around the house. It seems like every two months the clothes dryer decides that “blowing hot air” is no longer a part of its job description. Used to be that you’d just throw that under-performing piece of garbage out, but not in this economic maelstrom.

Working in the world of appliance repair is a lot like working in automotive repair. There are no specific education prerequisites, as most of the skill is acquired on the job. An extremely skilled repairman who isn’t strictly on salary might bring in close to £40,000.

5- Plumber / Electrician

Starting salary: £25,000 – £26,000

Again, we’re talking about learning a trade, so no matter how badly you screwed up in school, it doesn’t matter. Granted, you can’t be a moron and learn complex, potentially dangerous skills (in the case of working with live electricity) but it’s virtually guaranteed that you’ll be in high demand. Not surprisingly, men aren’t exactly lining up to work with high voltage or in sewers, so you should be able to find a niche in either, both of which are respectable trades.

Decent welfare benefits and becoming licensed are a few of the perks you have to look forward to.

6- Salesman

Starting salary: Who knows?

Earn what you’re worth, not a penny more. You don’t need a formal education to be a salesman — you need a brass personality and thick skin. Infrequent pay checks, constant rejection and an almost immediate repulsion from anyone you let know you’re in sales are just a few of the givens of the profession.

That being said, earning potential is usually unlimited and setting your own hours can be a perk. Success or failure, this one is all on you.

7- Web designer

Starting salary: £25,000 – £32,000

Half computer hacker, half unappreciated artist, the web design field is an interesting blend of left and right brain skills that doesn’t really translate into a relevant degree. If you have these seemingly opposite skills, you’re in demand. With commerce, networking and research all being done on the web in large scales, the design of a website is absolutely crucial to success.

8- Occupational therapy assistant

Starting salary: Around £15k. NHS staff working in or near London receive extra allowances.

If you genuinely enjoy helping people (and not just saying that you do), then this might be a job to consider. Learning this position can be done either on the job, via a distance learning or at a junior college. Rehabilitation can be a rewarding experience in and of itself.

9- Truck driver

Starting salary: £12,000 – £30,000
The lure of the open road can be the biggest perk of all. Not only that, but truck drivers are responsible for just about everything that happens in the economy. Sure, you can buy it online, but how are they going to get it to you? The truck isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Most truck drivers have at least their GCSEs. And of course you’ll need a car driving licence and LGV licence.

Resource: James Griffin

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Here, we’re not saying that a university degree isn’t worth getting. After all, a BA degree nets around £141,500  more than you’d otherwise receive over a lifetime. If you can get it — great. But if you haven’t gone onto higher education, there are plenty of respectable careers that don’t require it, careers that are in demand and really make society tick along. 

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Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping you to explore your career at any stage.

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