10 High-Earning Careers You Don’t Need A Degree For

10 High-Earning Careers You Don’t Need A Degree For

With 29% of graduates earning less than those who skipped university and went straight into work, we’re now realising that degrees aren’t as important as we’d once thought. But what are the career opportunities that could make us some serious cash without spending three years at university? Finance.co.uk have given the low-down on the jobs you can walk into straight out of college. No degree, no problem.


If you’re obsessed with all things SEO, PPC and PPV, then a job in digital might just be the one for you. While a degree might be something that looks good on paper for this kind of career, in reality it’s an industry that moves so quickly that many things you learn at uni will become irrelevant or even obsolete once our favourite tech companies have released their latest updates and new tactics are required. A real, practical knowledge of how digital works is way more important in this job than a degree.

Now comes the bad news – you will likely have to start your career in a series of internships that could well be unpaid to start with, which might mean living with the parents for slightly longer than you’d anticipated. But, once you’ve shown your worth, working your way up the ladder could see you earning up to £50,000.


While a good command of the English language is a necessity, a formal degree isn't. Just look at Caitlin Moran, who started her career in journalism for music magazine Melody Maker at the age of sixteen and went on to write six books, despite the fact that she didn’t even have a formal education, let alone a degree. An ability to write and an eye for a good story is a must, but it’s possible to break into the industry without that all-important piece of paper. Unfortunately, a career as a writer doesn’t pay well in the early years and you’ll often find yourself doing work for free or very low pay, but according to Glassdoor, the average journalist salary is around £38,000 a year, and can go much higher if you’re promoted to editor.


If you’ve got a knack for writing and are bursting with creativity, but don’t fancy the long unsociable hours that can come with being a journalist, then marketing might just be the one for you. Entry level roles in the industry can start at £18,000 – not too shabby for a first job – and can go up to roughly £45,000 for a marketing manager and, according to Glassdoor, a whopping £86,000 for a marketing director. Internships and apprenticeships in junior roles are a great place to start and will help you work out what sector you want to specialise in – do you see yourself as more of a writer, or a researcher? This way, you’ll figure out what field of expertise you’re likely to thrive in.

Cabin Crew

If you’ve always wanted to make those hand gestures that point out where a plane’s exits are, then this could be your calling – and luckily, it comes with no requirement for a degree. It is a lot harder than just pointing at plane doors obviously, and you’ll have to go through rigorous training and exams to earn your spot, so it will require some school qualifications. You’ll complete a specific course with your chosen airline, which usually involves an intense four-week training process complete with online assessments and lessons in a classroom. Air stewards normally have a starting salary of £20,000 - £25,000 a year – and the chance to travel all over the world, of course. 

Firefighters And Police

While you’ll likely need a lot of moxy to tackle these career fields, you won’t need a degree - but these jobs roles in particular do require you to go through a lot of specific training. Their assessments are based around whether you have the right characteristics to become a public servant, testing you on your ability to learn facts and procedures quickly, whilst also ensuring you are able to remain calm in the face of potentially dangerous situations. Starter salaries are usually upwards of around £20,000.


For more creative industries, experience is often favoured over qualifications – the only way you’re going to learn is by doing, right? Again, fashion is one of those careers that’s oh-so fabulous once you’ve made it, but you have to be willing to put in the work and make your way up from the very bottom – which often means doing jobs for free. In this industry, it’s all about building that portfolio – eventually, you’ll have good connections and a strong representation of your hard work. A starting salary for fashion assistants is normally around £22,000.

Personal Assistant

Great news: the role of PA is something that you can go into straight from school, so if you don’t fancy faffing around with A-levels either, this could be your dream career. You’ll likely be working for someone high up in a particular company, and so will need to be patient, organised, and stay calm under pressure. There is no set PA salary as the pay often varies depending on the company you’re working for and how much responsibility you’re given, but according to PayScale the average is around £25,000.

Air Traffic Controller

NATS, or National Air Traffic Services, often runs courses for people that want to get into the industry. The course takes between five and 11 months to complete, depending on what area you specialise in. According to Prospects, while you’re taking the qualification your salary can be as low as £12,000, but once you’ve qualified your pay will take a steep incline, and can rise to around £41,000.


Contrary to popular belief, Reed say you don’t actually need a business or maths degree to become an accountant – but you will need to undergo some other exams in order to qualify. An AAT qualification is considered essential by most employers, but that’ll earn you around £35,000 as a starting salary. And if you manage to make it as high as a financial director, you could be taking home around £100,000 a year. Remind us why aren’t we all accountants again?

Project Manager

Project managers tend to get paid well because of varying jobs that come under the one role. They're responsible for handling the planning, budgeting, overseeing and documenting of projects, and can work in a number of different fields, from finance to architecture. But interestingly, Monster say you don’t need a business degree to get started in the field. The average salary for a project manager is around £40,000, but that can all change depending on the area and location in which you’re based.

Visit Finance.co.uk for more information.

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