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90+ High-Paying Career Alternatives to College

by | Feb 6, 2024 | Finances, Teens

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Alternatives to College: Why Skip College?

Not everyone goes to college. Not everyone needs to go to college. But what are the alternatives to college? Will my child be able to support themselves without a college degree?

The answer is a resounding “yes!” Read Mel and her son’s story about why he skipped out on the opportunity costs of college and chose an alternative education, training, and career.

This post will give you so many great “other” choices for career choices without college. Here’s the thing too though, no one ever said that college couldn’t come later or a little bit at a time while working at one of the careers below. Mel’s son did get his associate’s degree as he figured out what to do next in our post: 7 Important Opportunity Costs of College.

**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see the full disclosure in the foot bar.

Alternatives to college
90+ High-Paying Career Alternatives to College 6

90+ Alternatives to College:

Many of the highest demand jobs do NOT require a college degree. Some require an associate’s degree, certification, on-the-job training or a combination of these things. My research showed these jobs as both recession-proof and in high demand as of 2024.

**One of our favorite resources for legal forms for 18 year olds is Mama Bear Legal Forms. There are so many reasons why we love Mama Bear Legal Forms for college students and others, but the main takeaway is that MBLF has got great products to help us as parents once our kids reach the age of 18, and legally, everything changes in regards to our rights as parents.

Alternatives to College: Careers in Health Care

Health care workers of all types will be in greater demand as the population ages.

#1: Home Health Aid

#2: Phlebotomist

#3: Medical Equipment Technician

#4: Medical Transcriptionist

#5: Medical Assistant

#6: Medical Biller

#7: Dental Assistant

#8: Sonographer

#9: Occupational or Physical Therapy Assistant

#10: Paramedic

#11: Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

#12: Pharmacy Technician

#13: Respiratory Therapist

#14: MRI Technician

See Finding a Medical Job Without a College Degree and Pharmacy Technician Certification for more information on the jobs above.

Alternatives to College: Careers in Manufacturing

U.S. manufacturing is facing a shortage of 2 million workers which began in 2020 in areas ranging from engineering to production workers. Most millennials rank this at the bottom of anything they want to do, but electricians and machinists both made the top 10 on The Conference Board’s labor shortages index back in 2016, and these jobs still need to be filled.

#15: Field Worker

#16: Computer-Aided Design Technician

#17: Machinist

#18: Mechanical Technician

#19: Nondestructive Testing Tech

#20: Electrical Technician

#21: CNC Programmer

#22: Instrumentation Technician

#23: Industrial Designer

#24: Land Surveyor

#25: Piping Designer

#26: Electrical Designer

#27: Network Engineer

#28: Network Engineer

#29: Software Engineer

For more information on manufacturing jobs that do not require a college degree: 16 manufacturing jobs that don’t require a college degree.

Alternatives to College: Legal Careers

#30: Title Examiner

#31: Paralegal

#32: Legal Secretary

#33: Process Server

#34: Court Reporter

For more information about some of the legal careers that do not require a college degree: Legal Careers without a Law Degree and How to Become a Court Reporter.

Alternatives to College: Criminal Justice and Public Service Careers

#35: Loss Prevention Specialist

#36: Police Dispatcher

#37: Firefighter

For more information on these careers: Do You Need College To Be a Firefighter? and Careers in Criminal Justice Without a Degree

Alternatives to College: Trades and Utility Careers

#38: Water Treatment Plant Operator

#39: Wind Turbine Technician

#40: Electrician

#41: Plumber

#42: Brick Mason

#43: Power System Dispatcher

#44: Energy Consultant

#45: Power Lineman (Read about Mel’s son’s lineman training and career)

#46: Sailor and Marine Oiler

#47: Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installer

#48: Roofer

#49: Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanic

#50: Elevator and Escalator Installer and Repairer

#51: Welder

#52: Aircraft Mechanic

#53: Diesel Engine Specialist

#54: Automotive Technician and Repairer

#55: Millwright

#56: Crane or Tower Operator

#57: Construction and Building Inspector

#58: Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Operator

#59: Air Traffic Controller

#60: Locksmith or Safe Repairs

#61: Tool and Die Maker

#62: Carpenter

Read more about Public Utility Careers: 14 of the Best Paying Jobs in Public Utilities

Alternatives to College: Careers in IT and Technology

#63: Computer Support Specialist

#64: Junior Data Analyst

#65: Help Desk Analysst

#66: Computer Programmer

#67: Web Developer

#68: IT Manager

#69: Cyber Security Specialist

#70: DevOps Engineer

#71: Software Architect

#72: Digital Marketer

#73: IT Business Analyst

#74: Aerospace Technician

#75: Software Applications Tester

#76: UX Designer

#77: Junior Python Developer

#78: Front End Developer

#79: JavaScript Developer

#80: Mobile Developer

#81: Graphic Designer

#82: Customer Experience Specialist

#83: Social Media Manager

For more information on Careers in IT with a college degree: Top 10 High-Paying IT Jobs You Can Get Without a Degree and 22 High Paying Tech Jobs without a College Degree

Alternatives to College: Restaurant Careers without a Degree

#84: Chef or Line Cook

Alternatives to College: More Careers without a College Degree

#85: Photographer

#86: Massage Therapist

#87: Makeup Artist

#88: Real Estate Agent

#89: Retail Sales Associate

#90: Medical Equipment Sales Representative

#91: Insurance Agent

#92: Automobile Sales Associate

#93: Travel Agent

#94: Media Sales Agent

Salespeople are in high demand. There is a great need for people who have a combination of social and cognitive skills AND who also have the ability to position a product or service in a way that makes customers want to buy it. Here are Sales jobs not requiring a degree.

For more information about many of the jobs mentioned above: 42 In-Demand High Paying Jobs without a College Degree

Alternatives to College: How to Get Help with Career Planning without a College Degree

Are you wondering what your son or daughter should do? Are they struggling to make a choice? Are they unsure about the direction that they should go? Our friend Loren can help your family with her services! She has helped my son (Mel) who graduated in 2020 when there were no job fairs or other career counseling available as they quickly tried to get everyone off campus, and then graduated.

Loren can provide career counseling for high school or college kids. She can work with someone looking for the right job, and will help with resume and LinkedIn optimization.

Start this conversation early! Have your middle schooler or high schooler take one of these future career quizzes. They really are helpful if your teen takes it seriously and thinks about their answers.

Final thoughts about Alternative to College

The decision of college or no is not a one and done. Start these conversations early -as in middle school or even younger as you see jobs in shows or out in real life. Visit different places of work on vacations or as a team on away games for “field trips”.

Listen to your kids’ questions and thoughts about different career choices. Have them talk with your friends who are in different careers about what they like and dislike about their jobs.

A great resource for beginning those conversations is Mel’s book: College Bound: The Ultimate List Of Conversations To Help Your Teen Through High School.

Posts related to Alternatives to College

7 Important Opportunity Costs of College

Surviving Senior Year: 7 Conversations To Have

Top 8 Senior Year Expenses and How To Plan For Them

NPP Review of Mama Bear Legal Forms

Apartment Move In Planner

Big List of Back to School Resources for Parents of Teens

We would love to stay in touch!

Be sure to see all of the Next Phase Parenting Resources on our Resources Page and subscribe to our Next Phase Parenting newsletter below for a weekly dose of love from us about surviving and thriving in your almost or already empty nest.  Visit our Facebook page, and follow us on Pinterest and Instagram where we share lots of helpful info for parents with teens, young adults, our aging parents, and other issues that we experience in the sandwich generation! Thank you so much!❤️

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