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The 6 Best Careers That You Can Join With No Degree

If you’ve ever listened to your parents or grandparents reminiscing about the good old days, you’ll probably heard of how much easier it seemed to be to get a job before the Millennium.

The stories often have one shared similarity – the idea that 30 years ago, you didn’t need a university degree to get a rewarding, secure job.

Whilst the issue might be a little more complicated in reality, there’s no denying that finding a well-paid job (with good progression prospects) that you don’t need a degree to do can seem really difficult sometimes.

You’ll be pleased to hear that there are some really fulfilling careers that you can do without having to spend three or fours years studying a degree beforehand – and we’ve rooted them out for you!

University and degree study isn’t for everyone

Before we delve into the details, it’s probably worth pointing out even though 3% of the UK’s entire population is currently studying at university, degree-study is not for everyone. It might not even be the most practical career option for a lot of people. And there’s no shame in that. In fact, not going to university might actually work out better for you in the long-term.

In fact, a recent survey found that 58% of employers rated work experience as the most important qualification that they look for when hiring, suggesting that degrees aren’t quite as essential as they were for some roles a few years ago.

A typical full-time, three-year degree course at a university in England will set you back around £50,000 on average, which obviously puts off a lot of people from applying – particularly if you have a job or young family to support. With few people having £50,000 to put forward upfront to pay for tuition costs and living costs, the vast majority of students can find themselves saddled with a significant amount of debt before they even reach 30.

It’s no surprise then that a lot of people choose to pursue careers that don’t require a degree to enter at all.

Here’s our guide to 6 of the best careers that you can join with no degree.


1. Accounts Assistant

Average starting salary: £19,000

Average final salary: £22,000

Accountancy is one of those industries that you think might be dominated by people with degrees, but you’d be wrong. In fact, you don’t normally need a specific degree to work in a lot of really exciting roles in the sector. 

If you’re looking to start a career in accountancy, getting an Accounts Assistant role is a great way to develop the skills and knowledge that you’ll need in more senior roles. To become one, you’ll need to have a GCSE at A* to C level, in Maths and some interest in the industry.

Instead of a degree, you'll normally just need what's known as an AAT qualification. 

The AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians), one of the world’s leading professional bodies for those in the accountancy industry, provides internationally-recognised accountancy qualifications that can allow you to work in a variety of roles in the sector. They’re a good option for developing your experience and knowledge.

AAT qualifications are organised by three different difficulties:

  • Foundation Certificate: Designed for beginners and those with no experience or knowledge of accountancy
  • Advanced Diploma: This is an intermediate role that’s equal to an undergraduate degree
  • Professional Diploma: The most advanced qualification that you’ll be able to study, this equivalent to a postgraduate degree

As long as you prove that you can keep a cool head around numbers and that you've got the motivation to build your knowledge, you'll be in with a great chance of securing an Accounts Assistant role!

2. Train Driver

Average starting salary: £24,000

Average final salary: £50,000

You might not think it, but you don’t actually have to have any specific degree to work in one of the most stable and well-paid roles in the transport industry – the train driver.

You might think that driving a train seems like an easy job. You just sit in a box and stop it at stations, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that in reality.

Driving a train is mentally exhausting work that carries a huge responsibility with it.  It requires you to maintain a high-state of concentration for hours at a time, whilst working to a strict timetable and looking after the safety of hundreds of people.

But, that said, it can be a pretty satisfying job that actually makes a material difference to people’s lives – if the country got rid of train drivers, it would grind to a halt, after all. It also has excellent pay and conditions, with an excellent salary and great pension, and good continuous development opportunities.

To become a train driver, you’ll normally need to be over 21 years old, to have a good level of eyesight and hearing, and to pass a series of exams testing your attention, your alertness and your colour vision. You’ll also need to be comfortable with working shifts at unsociable hours and have an excellent awareness of health and safety.


3. Firefighter

Average starting salary: £22,000

Average salary: £29,000

Firefighting is dangerous work, requiring a high level of fitness, good judgment skills and reserves of bravery. If you want to feel that your job makes the world a better place, and that you’re contributing to something meaningful, becoming a firefighter is something to seriously consider.

There are no specific entry requirements to become a firefighter, but most fire services will expect you to have a qualification like a Level 2 Certificate in Fire and Rescue Services in the Community, relevant work or voluntary experience, or knowledge of fire safety. The exact requirements will vary, depending on which local fire service you’re applying to join.

You’ll obviously need excellent fitness levels, the ability to make clear decisions under pressure and a good level of health and safety knowledge.

Recruitment is usually held once every year.

It’s also a relatively secure job – there are always going to be fires and emergencies that will need firefighters to respond to, after all.


Three Office Workers Looking At A Document

4. Human Resources Manager

Average salary: £30,000

If you’re a people person, looking at a career in the human resources sector is a good idea. Human resources is responsible for managing all of the ‘people’ aspects of a company – from recruitment and payroll, through to managing disciplinary and grievance processes.

The human resources sector is crucial to the smooth-running of businesses and organisations, and it’s growing at pace in the UK. On average, the UK human resources sector grew at an average rate of 7.1% each year between 2015 to 2020.

Many entry-level HR roles don’t require a degree, making it easy to get started. At higher levels, professional qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) are often requested instead of a university education.

These qualifications are significantly cheaper than full-blown degrees, focusing on the professional skills you need to excel at your job.

They’re also much more flexible in terms of how you complete them. For instance, all CIPD qualifications can be completed entirely online. This means that you can study the qualification from home and fit it around other commitments, like family or work.


5. Marketing Assistant

Average salary: £19,000

Consider yourself an excellent communicator? Marketing could be the perfect industry for you.

A core aspect of a business, marketing is about communicating why a customer should choose the product or services of a business – eg. why that product or service is so much better than everything else available.

It’s a broad sector, and there are a huge variety of roles available, with everything from sales and account-manager roles through to digital analytics and IT roles. Without marketing, a business is unlikely to make much money, so it’s an essential role in any organisation.

The common trait to all marketing roles is a need for excellent communication skills, and an ability to think strategically. You’ll need to be able to cope well under pressure and to work with others in a team environment. Having the ability to hit targets and deadlines is usually an essential trait of a marketer too.

For entry level roles, like a marketing assistant, you’ll normally need to show some relevant experience and an interest in developing your knowledge. You don’t necessarily need a degree, but a qualification from a professional body like the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) will help to set you apart from others. If you prove that you’re passionate about the subject and that you’ve got a sincere interest in you, you should stand a good chance of getting hired.

If you get your foot in the door, there’s usually a lot of potential for career progression and working your way up the corporate ladder as well.


A Veterinary Assistant Holding Up A Small Animal

6. Veterinary Assistant

Average salary: £16,000

Becoming a fully-fledged veterinarian isn’t the only option available to you if you want to work with animals. There are actually a variety of roles available that you don’t need a degree to be able to perform. The veterinary assistant is one of those.

A vital role when it comes to looking after animals that need medical attention, the veterinary assistant is the nurse to the veterinarian’s doctor. In this role, you’ll be responsible for exercising, grooming and feeding animals that are being treated, cleaning and preparing accommodation for animals, and also keeping track of records.

The role doesn’t require any formal qualifications but it’s normally expected that you’ll have at least a Level 2 Diploma in Veterinary Care for Animals and some experience of working with, or looking after, animals in the past.

Getting a job without a degree

While none of these jobs require you to have a university degree, there is a disclaimer: most jobs will require you to have (or get) some type of qualification – like a GCSE, professional certificate, or a Diploma in a related subject, for instance.

Fortunately, many of these, like CIPD qualifications for the Human Resources sector, AAT qualifications for the Accountancy sector, or CIM qualifications for the Marketing sector, can be studied completely online for a fraction of the price of a full degree.

They can also usually be completed at your own pace and shaped around your commitments, making them much more achievable than attending university if you’re already working full-time.

Whichever route you choose, we wish you luck in finding your dream career!

Interested in starting a new career without going to uni? Our 100% online professional qualifications can help you achieve your goals.