No college? This is not a problem. A wide range of jobs, many of which are well paid, do not require a degree. In addition, some cities are particularly welcoming to workers without a university degree. These are the results of data compiled by a personal finance site called FinanceBuzz and SideHusl.com.
“When I was growing up in the 90s, they said you had to go to college. But that’s changing a bit,” said Josh Koebert, data scientist at FinanceBuzz. good jobs and good lives without a college degree.”
Indeed, data from SideHusl.com indicates that many high-paying positions do not require college at all. The best college elective jobs are in technology, logistics, construction, marketing, landscaping, and design. However, many other industries also welcome those without a degree.
FinanceBuzz’s analysis of the most college-friendly cities found that they were almost always heavy in hospitality, construction and manufacturing. The key, Koebert said, is a skilled workforce.
Las Vegas, for example, was ranked the top city for people without a degree in FinanceBuzz research. The site’s study looked at unemployment rates, the cost of living, your chances of finding work, and the income gap between those who graduated from college and those who didn’t.
One thing that has made Las Vegas special is that the many croupiers – croupiers – at the gaming tables do not require a college education, but have unique skills that are in high demand. High-end hospitality workers from all walks of life also don’t need a degree.
Construction and manufacturing have been key to making Riverside a top city, he said. You learn framing, electrical work, plumbing and other skilled trades on the job, not in school. The same is true in heavy manufacturing, where the understanding of what is needed to build and sell mobile medical equipment and gas generators is often learned through experience.
“You can start as an apprentice and have a great path to success,” Koebert said. “And there’s always a need for people who can do those jobs.”
Very rewarding scrambles
Data from SideHusl.com underscores this point. Workers who sign up for TaskRabbit, for example, offer everything from deep cleaning to grooming, DIY services to errands. Many charge between $25 and $100 per hour, depending on the city and service.
Dog sitters, who would fall under the broad category of “hospitality,” are also very well paid. In Los Angeles, pet sitters with Rover charge between $25 and $100 per night per dog.
Meanwhile, resume writers, voiceovers, and musicians registered with Fiverr say they can easily earn six-figure incomes and no one cares about their education. Again, experience and good reviews say a lot more about their skills than the fact that they went to college.
Construction, landscaping and logistics
Construction, landscaping, and logistics are also high-paying jobs that require skills, but not higher education.
Logistics companies, which arrange deliveries for the burgeoning online retail community, for example, may require a commercial driver’s license, but not a college. With a commercial license, you can easily earn $100,000 per year.
Side-hustle platforms in this space, such as GoShare and Truxx, only require a clean background, strength, a truck (or van), and insurance. With this, you can earn over $50 per hour.
A site called JiffyOnDemand helps workers find lawn care and other skilled work. Lawn maintenance is billed at rates ranging from $50 to $75 per hour, earning the freelancer at least $41 to $61 per hour. Electrical contractors earn significantly more – often over $100 an hour, depending on the city they serve.
technical and marketing
While full-time employers in technology or marketing often need college degrees to secure an interview, secondary platforms are much more interested in experience.
Mayple, a company that matches businesses in need of marketing expertise with freelancers who can do the job, expects at least two years of experience, for example. The site will ask about past projects and success metrics before allowing freelance marketers access to the platform. But there is no education requirement. Once there, freelancers are hooked up to part-time jobs that pay between $1,200 and $6,000 per month, which usually equates to $50 to $200 per hour.
In technology, certifications that indicate you’re an expert in areas as diverse as user experience and cybersecurity are just as valuable as college degrees. With these – or experience that shows your mastery of a tech subject – you can find work on a wide range of freelance sites, including FreeUp and Braintrust.
And, while big tech companies, such as Google and Apple, once required college degrees – often from top Ivy League universities – for new hires, that has changed as well. Increasingly, these companies are sponsoring low-cost certification programs to find the experts they need.
The founders of many of the biggest tech companies were college dropouts, Koebert said. Microsoft founder Bill Gates left Harvard. Steven Jobs, founder of Apple, dropped out of Reed College. And David Karp, founder of Tumblr (which was sold to Yahoo for over $1 billion), was a high school dropout.
Other notable college dropouts include entrepreneurs and artists, including Richard Branson, David Murdock and Steven Spielberg. (Spielberg finished college. But that was long after he had been an acclaimed director. His alma mater: Cal State Long Beach.)
Is college worth it?
All of this begs the question: Is college worth it? Unfortunately, the best answer is that it depends. A 2021 study from Georgetown University found that 16% of high school graduates earn more than college graduates. And 28% of those with a two-year associate’s degree earned more than those with a four-year bachelor’s degree.
But the average college graduate continues to earn more than someone without a college degree.
FinanceBuzz’s research also found that the average income in the 50 cities surveyed was significantly higher for college graduates than for those without a degree. But the income gap might not make up for the often crippling cost of college.
After all, the cost of a college education is not just the amount spent on tuition, fees, books, transportation, and accommodation. It also includes the cost of not working for four or more years while you study. Considering these factors and the cost of interest on student loans, the cost of a four-year degree can exceed $500,000, according to EducationData.org.
If you have a clear idea of what you want to do, and that job requires a college education, it’s a worthwhile investment. (However, it’s a good idea to consider ways to reduce the costs of college education. You can do this either by taking college-level courses in high school and community college, or by attending less expensive universities.)
But if your passions are in the skilled trades and technology, you might be able to live without it.
Kristof is the publisher of SideHusl.com, an independent website that reviews money-making opportunities in the gig economy.