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4 Surprising Jobs You Can Do Without a College Degree

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For many people, going to college is one of the most important decisions they’ll ever make. How you study, what you study, and where you study will have a huge impact on your future (both personally and professionally). But with student loan debt at an all-time high, it’s understandable that some high schoolers are wondering whether college is the right decision for them.

If you’re considering finding work instead of going to college, read on. This post will explore four top careers that you can pursue without a graduate degree. With these careers, you can kick-start your life as soon as you leave school.

1) Architect or Contractor

Although an architecture degree is probably the most direct route to entering the industry, it’s not the only way. According to the Architecture Career Guide, fifteen states allow practitioners to substitute a college qualification with an appropriate period of work experience. Some of these include:

  • Arizona
  • Illinois
  • Hawaii
  • Colorado
  • New York
  • Vermont
  • Oklahoma

You’ll still have to pass architecture exams, but you won’t need a degree under your belt first.

Alternatively, getting your contractor’s license as a builder or tradesman will enable you to work as a certified contractor in up to 16 states at once! Depending on your contracts, you’ll be able to oversee:

  • Construction sites
  • Remodeling projects
  • Architectural design

2) Criminal Investigator

Criminal investigators can be employed by local, state or federal law enforcement services. Their job is to help solve crimes by questioning suspects, examining crime scenes, conducting inquiries, and preparing reports on criminal activity.

In 2019, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the median salary for detectives and investigators is over $80,000 – so it’s a valuable career in more ways than one!

The qualifications you need to become a criminal investigator will vary depending on your employer. If you want to become a federal agent, you’ll almost certainly need a degree in criminal justice, law enforcement or even a foreign language. But for entry-level jobs at local or state level, you usually just need:

  • High school diploma
  • Good health
  • Willingness to work hard

3) Nuclear Power Reactor Operators

Nuclear power reactor operators oversee nuclear power plants, from maintaining equipment to controlling disasters. With an impressive median annual salary of $94,350, this role requires thorough training and often irregular shift patterns. After all, nuclear power plants are always up and running, but this career is lucrative and accessible.

You can become a licensed reactor operator with a high school diploma and a minimum of three years’ work experience. From there, you’ll have to pass a plant operation exam every year, and a physical exam every two years, to keep your license.

4) Medical Assistant

Want to work in healthcare but don’t want to train as a doctor? Becoming a medical assistant is an excellent way to fulfill your passion for helping people without having to spend years at medical school. As well as maintaining records and scheduling appointments, medical assistants also take patients’ blood pressure and help doctors with examinations. This means the role spans both administrative and clinical duties.

Once you’ve obtained your high school diploma, you can train on the job or enroll in a medical assistant program. Thanks in part to our aging population, demand for medical assistants is expected to rise by 23% until 2028 – so this is a career that is as reliable as it is worthwhile!

If you’re not sure that going to college is the best choice for you, why not discover more about the roles above? There are plenty of options out there!

For more great education & career tips, check out the other blogs on College Basics.