Are you tired of reading job ads that sound like a great match for you, only to find out that they require a college degree? You might start feeling like you’re the only one who didn’t finish college or get an honorary degree.
How you can find a job without a degree?
The truth is that you have plenty of company. Two-thirds of American adults lack a bachelor’s degree, according to the US Census Bureau. While higher education is enriching, it can also be difficult to afford. And job search is difficult more so if you don’t have a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
However, you still can have a satisfying career without a four-year degree. Learn how to continue your education or find high paying jobs with the qualifications you have now.
Finding Jobs That Don’t Require A Bachelor’s Degree
A growing number of employers are reconsidering the degree inflation that occurred in recent years. Some major companies no longer require a bachelor’s for certain positions. You can find many opportunities if you know how to look.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Be realistic. Some fields are more flexible than others. Look for jobs that don’t specify a degree or say that it’s preferred rather than required.
- Demonstrate soft skills. Job descriptions often call for a degree because it’s a convenient way to screen for candidates who may be more likely to have desirable communication skills and personality traits.
You may be able to show them that you have the qualities they’re seeking.
- Focus on experience. Use the application and interview process to explain how your background will help you to add value. Incorporate relevant keywords and describe your accomplishments. Employers only have a few seconds to review your resume.
During this time, they are looking to understand whether or not you meet the basic requirements of the position. This information is typically included in the job description they post.
Depending on the job and your experience level, you might include this information in the skills section, and work history section.
- Use your network. Personal contacts may help you to reach hiring managers. Ask family and friends for referrals. Reach out through social media.
LinkedIn is a good networking site where you can network with professionals and gain insights into the industry from the insiders themselves. You obviously don’t need a college degree to talk to people. Just good soft skills will suffice.
Don’t forget to check in with neighbors, professional organizations, past customers, and community organizations for more contacts. When it comes to referrals for employment, don’t underestimate the strength of weak ties.
After you talk to your close connections, this can be a good source of referrals for business opportunities.
- Employ yourself. Maybe you can become your own boss. Consider starting a business or doing contract work. If you exceed expectations on your first assignments, you’ll probably develop a steady stream of clients.
For example, Matt Mullenweg started WordPress, which now powers around 35% of the web, despite having dropped out of the University of Houston in favor of working at CNET Networks.
Two years later he founded Automattic, the business behind WordPress.com, Akismet, Gravatar, Tumblr, and more household internet brands. He currently manages the WordPress Foundation.
- Master technology. Employers who need specific computer skills may be less interested in your other course work. There are many high paying opportunities for webmasters, graphic designers, and other technology professionals which you can do without a college degree.
- Project confidence. Think positive and try to avoid being defensive about your background. Talk about your strengths rather than your lack of a college degree but be prepared to answer the question if it comes up.
Continuing Your Education
Of course, you may want to continue learning for your own personal and professional reasons. Additional studies look impressive on your resume and help you to lead a richer life.
Many job seekers prefer to seek a job while they continuing their education or trying to find a new course of study.
These activities will help you to continue learning:
- Earn certifications. Add to your qualifications by completing certification programs online or at local institutions. Research the skills that are in demand for your industry and find options that match your budget. Some well-respected programs are free or low cost.
- Learn independently. You can learn about most subjects on your own too. Make it a habit to read books, listen to podcasts, and watch educational videos.
- Visit your library. Find out what’s available at your local library and other community organizations. Browse online or talk with a librarian in the career center.
You’ll probably find classes on computer skills and other business subjects, as well as other resources.
- Explore financing. What if you’re still hoping to earn a degree? Community colleges and in-state universities may help you save money. Investigate other options too, like tuition benefits from your employer and any scholarships that you may qualify for, as well as student loans.
Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are just two famous examples of how to succeed without completing college. Higher education can be an excellent investment, but there are other paths to a rewarding career and a meaningful life.
Despite what most might think, a university degree doesn’t always equate to success — and not having one doesn’t mean you’re a failure either.