Is a Degree Necessary?

Nancy Anderson
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A college degree does not necessarily translate to career success. Thanks to varied opportunities and a highly competitive labor market, all you need are the right skills for the right type of position for a viable professional life. Take a look at how to achieve your job goals without spending four years in higher education.

Pursue a Business

Rather than starting out in a position working for a company, try starting your own business venture. Plenty of websites offer ideas for funding and advice on what type of business to try based on your interests. Perform market research to see if there is demand for your business idea, then determine how much to charge for your products or services. You do not need a college degree to start a potentially lucrative business venture.

An e-commerce venture requires website construction knowledge or the funds to hire someone to build and maintain your e-commerce website. Many website construction programs are free to use, but web hosting services often require a monthly or yearly fee. Consider reviewing free online tutorials for creating a website to make your web business idea a reality.

Real estate is another type of business that does not require a college degree. However, it does require a sizable upfront financial investment and financial savvy. Flipping houses and making profit requires you to purchase a property, fix it up and then resell it. You make more money when you perform the labor yourself versus hiring someone. Real estate is a very popular career field, and you can easily draw inspiration and ideas from a wide variety of books on the topic.

Study the Masters

Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael J. Fox are three examples of people who never earned a college degree yet achieved great success due to their persistence and hard work. Fox eschewed college and went straight for auditions and acting parts. Jobs partnered with people around him and started Apple in his garage in the 1970s. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard during his last semester to work full-time for Facebook, a company he started at age 19 while attending college.

All of these famous people have something in common. They committed to their ventures and stuck with them no matter what. You can do the same if you don't have a college degree, but you must work hard to achieve success. When you fall down, get up and keep moving forward until you achieve your goals.

Select Careers That Don't Require a Degree

Many good-paying jobs do not require a degree. Instead, they require relevant and specialized skills. Plumbers, electricians and skilled laborers may need certain certifications and training as opposed to a formal college education. For example, professional hairstylists often need several months of classroom instruction and a valid license. Auto body repair technicians, auto mechanics and car salespeople need relevant skills and hands-on training. There are countless lucrative careers that don't require a degree, so find one that aligns with your passions and professional goals.

Research which ideas work best for you in terms of career success without a college degree. Plug into relevant sources of information and jumpstart your professional life as soon as possible.

Photo courtesy of COD Newsroom at


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. Sorry @Michael H that you are encountering these issues. I would recommend that you find a recruiter who specializes in your field and have them present you to the company. Sometimes, going into a company via a recruiter, is the best way to go for someone in your position. I agree that military = college. I am a Veteran myself and I received tons of credit for my military service when I went to finish up my education. You could always offer to do a day trial or to do some testing to show that the skills you laid out in your resume are true.

  • Michael Adam H.
    Michael Adam H.

    Military=College in MANY Companies eyes as it is STILL an education.

  • Andrew V.
    Andrew V.

    I second the motion!

  • Michael Hunt
    Michael Hunt

    This is 100% incorrect in any type of job that wants some type of technical expertise. I worked an electronics tech starting in the Navy a d got out and worked my way up to a Sr. Test Engineering Manager and after working for 1 company for 18 years I can't get back into my field because I don't have a degree. It doesn't even matter what the degree is in only that you have one or u will end up SOL like I am

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