Careers Without a College Degree

For any number of reasons, not everyone pursues a four-year college degree (or beyond), but there’s a popular belief that if you don’t have this level of education then your career options are severely limited to a small number of pursuits. This is simply not true. While it might prevent you from becoming a heart surgeon or a corporate lawyer, your options for a career are still varied and rich.

Remember: careers take on all sorts of unconventional, alternate paths. Obstacles that you think might be in place can be navigated with a bit of finesse. You can still achieve success in a family-sustaining job without a four-year degree.

Many of the jobs listed below require at least a high-school diploma or GED and a two-year associate’s degree. Some might require special certification, licensing, exams, or apprenticeships depending on the job and state laws. Brief descriptions provide insight on what the job entails.

Veterinary Technician
Vet techs take on many tasks to assist veterinarians. They frequently draw blood, give medications, assist in surgery, provide first aid, maintain patient records, and more. They work in private practice offices, zoos, hospitals, and labs.

Opticians are the people you visit after receiving a prescription from an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Opticians help ensure your glasses, contacts, and any other eyesight corrective devices fit properly. They create and design the lens your doctor prescribes.

Real estate agent

Real estate agents help people to buy and/or sell property, which typically includes houses. They frequently act as a middleman between a buyer and seller, so a large part of their role is negotiation.

Dental hygienist

Dental hygienists are the ones who clean your teeth and ask if you’ve been flossing. They can check for signs of oral diseases and often instruct patients on better oral care. You tend to spend more time with a dental hygienist when you go to the dentist than the actual dentist, depending on the procedure.

Carpenters have a vast range of job duties, depending on their exact type of carpentry. Some might work outdoors in construction, cutting materials, using saws, or other machines. Some are focused more on interior work, including, but not limited to furniture, cabinetry, window casings, and more.

Air traffic controller

Air traffic controllers make sure planes maintain safe distances between one another. They typically work in control towers.

Postal Carrier
Postal carriers, typically called mailmen, deliver the mail either by foot or truck. This is a good option for someone who enjoys being outside regardless of the elements.

Radiation therapist

A radiation therapist works with a radiation oncologist to help treat cancer patients. They usually work with CT scanners, help plan treatment, and collect patient records.

Physical therapist assistant

A physical therapist assistant works with a physical therapist to help people who have movement difficulties usually resulting from injury or illness. The assistant might work on specific activities like mobility exercises or learning to walk with a cane.

Wind turbine technician

Wind turbines convert kinetic energy into electrical energy. They’re used in many different fields, including farming. Technicians ensure that wind turbines function properly.

Do you need help figuring out a career path? You can visit a no-cost Goodwill Career Center and ask a career advisor for assistance. Call 602-535-4444 to find a center near you or visit our locations page. Good luck with your job search!

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