How to Change Careers With No Degree

Recently there has been a surge in people wanting to transition into other careers. Some have been adversely affected by the economy while others simply feel they are stuck in a job with no way to grow further.

Key Takeaways

Recently there has been a surge in people wanting to transition into other careers. Some have been adversely affected by the economy while others simply feel they are stuck in a job with no way to grow further.

While it is easy for people with college degrees to reinvent themselves, those of us who don’t have fancy degrees are left wondering what to do next. The reality is that you no longer need a college degree to change careers and start earning a better salary. There are many professions that pay extremely well and require that you prove your skills on the job.

So, if you are amongst those who are stuck in their careers then there is hope even without a  degree. We will talk about how to do this successfully.

If you want to change careers but don't want to invest the time and money in a new degree, there is good news: it is perfectly possible to change careers without returning to school. 

You simply need to examine your current situation and establish some reasonable plans for the future.

As per the latest data, reports that the average worker changes employment 10 to 15 times during their career. 

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The median amount of years an employee has been with their employer now is now only 4.1 years according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

No matter what statistics you look at, the trend is clear - Americans are changing careers often to improve their quality of life, get paid better, and manage better work-life balance.

A vast majority of these Americans are also changing careers without having any college degrees. In this guide, we will show you how that is possible and what are some of the best career options you have to earn a good salary. So let’s jump straight in.

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

Career change with no degree

I don't have a degree, so what can I do?

In the past, the only guarantee of success in a career was having a college degree. This has changed especially with the advent of technology. Many job interviewers simply don’t care if you have a degree or not. 

What they want is a relevant qualification, which is usually a simple short certificate course or even just relevant experience. In many cases, companies are willing to train you on the job and pay you for it!

Now, while it is entirely possible to find a new job without a degree, this does not mean that you can instantly switch from your prior field to a completely new one. Having a varied network, as well as a lot of professional experience, transferrable abilities, and basic knowledge will make the shift smoother.

Incidentally, if you are struggling with figuring out where to start with your career change we have an excellent dedicated guide to get you started!

How to get a job with no degree

Before you start thinking about a new professional route, you need to examine where you are today and develop realistic living plans around the transition. Planning is the absolute key to a successful career change.

If you are worried about your career change impacting your life read this article on how to change careers without struggling.

Here is a step-by-step guide to planning and executing a successful career change:

  • Look for a job that fits your personality and interests

    To choose the right career, you must consider your personality, interests, and strengths. Knowing your personality will help you decide what type of career is best for you. 

    If you are an extrovert, customer-facing professions like sales and consultancy may be your cup of tea, however, if you are reserved, occupations like back-end web development may be ideal for you.

    Why is this important? There is a reason why you are changing careers right now. There was something at the old job that was making you unhappy. The last thing you want is to end up being in the same situation again in a year because you did something hastily to get out of one uncomfortable situation into another.

    So take your time with the research. Career changes are complex and disruptive to you and your loved ones. Think them through seriously.
  • Make an action plan

    Creating an action plan entails identifying a clear goal as well as milestones to achieve it. By this time, you should have completed all of your research and be able to narrow down your career shift to a certain occupation. It's time to think about what it'll take to get there.

    Consider education and certification, skill development, attending networking events, and taking advantage of opportunities to practice within a given sector or field. Make a list of the steps you intend to do and a timetable for completion.

    A lot of people get stuck with career changes because they don’t schedule their action plan, leaving things off to vague future points in time. By forcing yourself to get tasks done by deadlines you make solid progress and this encourages you to go further.

    Unmudl also has a series of articles to help you change careers at specific points in your life. So if you are in your 20s, 30s, or even 40s, we have you covered with these special guides.
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Photo by Bich Tran
  • Rebrand yourself

    You may need to do some personal rebranding before you start applying for new employment. When changing careers job seekers should use a résumé, cover letter, and social networks to develop a personal brand that appeals to potential employers. 

    This is especially vital when changing careers because your previous experience may not clearly correspond with your intended goals without some thought and planning.

    When doing this, focus on transferable skills. These are skills that people pick up in other jobs that can be applied to any other job. For a detailed guide on transferable skills and 15 good examples of them read this.

    Consider how your previous experiences make you a better candidate for the position you're seeking, and utilize it to develop a strong personal statement about why you're a good fit across your resume, cover letter, and any business networking sites.

    For example, if you were an accountant before, the fact that you participated in your company's website development project might not have been important. Now if you want to change careers to web development, that project needs to be highlighted. If you dig through memory you will always be able to find something relevant.
  • Use networking

    When choosing connections to contact, keep in mind the industry and position you wish to work in. Speak with specialists you can rely on to put in a good word for you and keep you informed of new chances. You can do this over the phone, by SMS, or even through a referral email or social media note.

    Also, look for opportunities to work shadow, volunteer, or intern. This will help you decide if the business or field is a suitable fit for you and will provide you with the necessary experience to set yourself apart from other job seekers.
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  • Consider acquiring new skills and certifications

    If you want to work in an area that needs a degree or certification, you may need to pursue extra education in addition to your present work experience. College courses, continuing education seminars, and even free internet resources might help you learn more about your new possible career.

    If you're already working, look for opportunities to learn new skills in your current position. A marketer who wants to move into finance, for example, may want responsibility over the marketing budget in order to obtain experience working with ledgers.

Interesting in finding out all of the steps to a successful career change? Check out the ultimate guide right here.

Career change ideas with no degree

Experience has a greater advantage over education in some occupations. A lot of these jobs have competitive pay and lots of room for advancement, which makes them great choices for careers.

Whether you're looking for a new job or a career move, we've uncovered some easy career changes that pay well without a degree:

1. Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers (EEIR)

2021 Median Salary: $97,860 per year / $47.05 per hour

Typical Entry-Level Education: High school diploma or equivalent

Job Outlook, 2020-30: 3% (Slower than average)

Yearly openings: 2,100 new jobs projected yearly

Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers service and repair elevators. They also upgrade existing elevators or build brand-new elevators in new structures. You can specialize as an elevator technician in a number of areas. 

EEIR technicians test equipment on a regular basis to ensure that it works properly. They also deal with electrical problems using diagnostic tools like voltmeters and ammeters. They are responsible for ensuring that elevator machinery conforms to building and equipment safety rules.

2. Web Developers

2021 Median Salary: $78,300 per year / $37.65 per hour

Typical Entry-Level Education: High school diploma or equivalent. To move higher up the career ladder you might need a bachelor’s later as you gain seniority.

Job Outlook, 2020-30: 23% (Much faster than average)

Yearly openings: 21,800 new jobs projected yearly

A Web Developer is in charge of writing code that tells websites and web applications how to function. Web developers often focus on either "front-end" ("client-side") or "back-end" ("server-side") development. Some adaptable and in-demand individuals perform both, and they are known as "Full-Stack Developers."

Web developers build visual designs and layouts, integrate images and content, optimize website speed and capacity, and test to ensure consistent performance across any computer, mobile, or device. 

Whatever your specific position, if you want to become a Web Developer, you should be able to create code in certain frequently used web programming languages such as JavaScript, HTML (HyperText Markup Language), CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and others.

3. Construction and Building Inspectors

2021 Median Salary: $61,640 per year / $29.63 per hour

Typical Entry-Level Education: High school diploma or equivalent

Job Outlook, 2020-30: -4% (Decline)

Yearly openings: 14,800 new jobs projected yearly

Building inspectors assess structures for structural integrity and safety, as well as if the materials used are adequate and fulfill certain criteria.

The purpose of the building code is to assure a specific degree of safety and construction quality. Before a structure can be used, it must be extensively inspected by a building inspector to ensure that it is up to code and safe to use.

Until the inspection is finished, the building cannot be occupied or sold. Building inspectors regularly check new construction blueprints before the facility is erected. The plans are submitted for approval to government authorities, saving time and money by spotting problems early on.

Download Checklist " 10 Simple Steps to Smooth Job Change"

4. Electricians

2021 Median Salary: $60,040 per year / $28.87 per hour

Typical Entry-Level Education: High school diploma or equivalent

Job Outlook, 2020-30: 7% (As fast as average)

Yearly openings: 79,900 new jobs projected yearly

Inside wiremen are electricians who focus solely on building wiring. The projects they work on range from newly built homes to historic industrial buildings that have been adapted for new uses. 

As the name implies, inside wiremen spend most of their time working indoors. They use blueprints to install new electrical systems in new buildings, troubleshoot faults, and replace aging systems.

Outdoors linemen, on the other hand, work outside for most of their careers. Because they must climb telephone and power poles when a lift bucket is not available, they must be physically fit. Outside linemen must also withstand inclement weather in order to restore electricity to all of the area's homes, businesses, and other structures.

5. Plumbers

2021 Median Salary: $59,880 per year / $28.79 per hour

Typical Entry-Level Education: High school diploma or equivalent

Job Outlook, 2020-30: 2% (Slower than average)

Yearly openings: 48,600 new jobs projected yearly

Anyone thinking about a career as a plumber should understand that the archetypal job of a residential plumber represents only a small percentage of the various career prospects for an experienced professional.

A plumbing professional is aware of construction codes and safety requirements and strives to ensure that they are followed. Plumbing also necessitates legal knowledge, as the regulations governing this sector differ depending on where you live and can be difficult for a layperson to understand.

Other more sophisticated features of plumbing include the ability to use air pressure and other gauges to test pipes for leakage, as well as the ability to build new pipe systems by cutting, fitting, measuring, and threading pipes.

6. Wind Turbine Technicians

2021 Median Salary: $56,260 per year / $27.05 per hour

Typical Entry-Level Education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Job Outlook, 2020-30: 44% (Much faster than average)

Yearly openings: 1,900 new jobs projected yearly

Wind turbine servicing professionals regularly inspect wind turbines to ensure they are in good working order. Wind turbine inspections require the technician to ascend the turbine and inspect all of its components.

If any faults are identified with the turbine, the technician will make a note of them and schedule them for repair. The wind turbine service specialist must also confirm that the wind farm's storage facility has the essential parts to conduct the repair or order the parts if they are not in stock.

Component replacement, hydraulic system repair, diagnosing electrical difficulties, fluid changes, and turbine torque are all examples of normal maintenance or typical repairs for wind turbines.

7. Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers (HVAC)

2021 Median Salary: $48,630 per year / $23.38 per hour

Typical Entry-Level Education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Job Outlook, 2020-30: 5% (As fast as average)

Yearly openings: 40,100 new jobs projected yearly

A competent HVAC technician installs, maintains, and repairs the heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and quality of the air in a building.

Despite having received training in all three components, HVAC professionals may opt to specialize in one of the heating, air conditioning, or refrigeration systems. Alternatively, they may specialize in installation, maintenance, or repair only.

They may also focus on a specific type of equipment, such as water-based heating systems, solar technology systems, or commercial refrigeration.

8. Licensed Practical Nurses

2021 Median Salary: $48,070 per year / $23.11 per hour

Typical Entry-Level Education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Job Outlook, 2020-30: 6% (As fast as average)

Yearly openings: 58,800 new jobs projected yearly

A licensed practical nurse (LPN) is someone who works under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses to offer basic health care and assistance to people who are sick or injured.

In states where a broad scope of practice is permitted, these nurses can execute the majority of the same tasks as registered nurses. In states with a tighter scope of practice, these nurses' duties are limited.

Because each state has its own set of rules governing the activities of a licensed practical nurse, the job description will differ based on where the nurse works.

Final thoughts

While making a career transition without a degree will need hard work, preparation, time, and devotion, never underestimate the value of your present skill set and transferable skills when applying to a different industry.

Utilize the chances and people around you; the more you connect with individuals and the industry, the easier it will be to determine your prospective career path.

In this guide, we have offered several career options that do not require any degree more than a high school diploma or a trade school certificate. This is by no means an exhaustive list. We hope that this will inspire you to look at better prospects out there that suit your life goals. Best of luck

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which career is best without a degree?

What pays the most without a degree?

How do I switch careers at 40?

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