How to Buck the System & Still Make a Decent Living

Society, your teachers, and even your parents tell you that, if you want to be successful, you need to go to college. But going to college just for the sake of getting a degree isn’t a wise option, either. College can leave you with significant student debt, and if you pursue a degree field that you’re only somewhat excited about, you may find yourself wanting to explore a different career path after you’ve earned your degree.

Going to college isn’t to anyone, but just because you decide not to pursue a higher education doesn’t mean that you’re destined to work low-paying jobs for the rest of your life. In fact, there are plenty of ways that you can still make a decent living without a college degree.

Consider Jobs That Don’t Require Degrees

There are plenty of jobs available that don’t require college degrees, and these jobs pay better than you might think. The U.S. Postal Service hires entry-level positions like city carriers, mail processing clerks, and mail handlers, and there’s no education requirement for any of these positions. In fact, delivering the mail is one of the highest-paying jobs you can get without a college degree, and mail carriers make an average of $56,500 per year.

Other top-paying jobs that don’t require a degree include subway operators, who earn over $60,000 per year, transportation inspectors, who earn almost $65,000, and power plant operators, who earn over $66,000. You can also become a private investigator, which pays about $75,000. Alternatively, consider managing storage and distribution for the products and merchandise being shipped all over the world. This position pays about $80,000 per year once you have five years of experience.

Remember the Value of Skills Over Education

While there are many jobs that openly require no college education, just because a job lists a degree as a requirement doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t land that position without a degree. Talent matters to many companies, and some, like tech giants Google and Facebook, are willing to hire highly talented candidates even if they don’t have a college degree.

There’s a race for talent in the workplace right now, and it can act in your favour. With low unemployment rates, companies need to work fast to fill open positions and to find highly qualified and talented candidates for those positions. If you have the right combination of talent and experience, you may be able to get a position even if you don’t have a required degree.

You’ll need to find ways to effectively demonstrate that talent, though. If you’re applying for a creative position, then building out your portfolio and finding ways to show your creativity outweigh the importance of a degree. Take the time to make sure your portfolio is professional, show your best work, and demonstrates the many different types of work that you’re capable of. Ultimately, companies are hiring you for your skill, not for the degree that may or may not have helped you to develop that skill. A college education isn’t always the best way to learn a new skill either. Often times online seminars or learning at home gives a better experience. No matter what industry you’re in, find ways to show your talents in your application and interview to increase your chances of landing the job.

Access Online Learning

Going to college isn’t the only way to develop your skills and knowledge. Thanks to the availability of online courses, you can access education online for free. To get started, check out some of the top sites for free online learning, including Khan Academy, edX (founded by Harvard and MIT), Coursera, and Udemy. You can take one or a dozen courses, essentially building your own education as you go.

As you take your online courses, consider using apps for students to enhance your learning. Apps can help with everything from organizing your notes to managing your schedule so you stay on-task and improve how well you learn.

With online learning, you don’t need a college education to earn big. You can use these online courses to make yourself an expert in many different fields that pay well. From coding to real estate investing to trading on the stock market, spending time researching and learning about topics online can help you to strike out on your own and get involved in an industry that interests you – and that pays well.

Start Your Own Business

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, maybe traditional employment isn’t the right route for you. Technology is helping businesses around the world to grow, and you don’t need a degree to start your own business. With e-commerce platforms that allow for easy and streamlined retail businesses, smartphones and tablets that make it easy to accept in-person credit card payments, and smart technology that allows homemakers to build businesses right out of their houses, there’s never been a better or more empowering time to create your own business.

While a college degree can definitely help you to get a higher-paying position, you can still access plenty of well-paying opportunities without that degree. Whether or not to go to college is a personal decision that you need to make based on your priorities and circumstances, but know that if you decide not to go, you can still make a decent living.

Ainsley Lawrence, the author of this article, is a passionate writer. She is on Medium and Twitter