Securing a college degree is traditionally seen as the surest way to obtain a good-paying job. Statistics also bear out the fact that the best opportunities await those with higher education. Anyone can look up the numbers and confirm this workplace reality. In 2018, for example, 83% of the United States population between the ages of 25 and 64 with a bachelor’s degree or higher were employed. Meanwhile, among the civilian population in the same age group with high school as their highest educational attainment, only 68.8% were in the labor force (Ma et al., 2019).
Despite the staggering difference between the employment status of college degree holders and non-college-educated workers, the unemployment rate for the latter has been steadily decreasing in the past nine years. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for individuals age 25 or older who have a high school diploma had gone down to 3.7% in 2019 from 10.3% in 2010. A major driving force behind the decrease in the unemployment rate of non-degree holders is the growing number of companies that don't require a degree and recognize the value of experience and hands-on skills instead of just focusing on educational attainment, especially if there are good character and professional references.
However, if you're among those considering further education, you might want to explore options like online MSW programs to acquire valuable skills and credentials that can open up new opportunities. In this article, we will look into some of the best companies to work for without a college degree. But first, let us briefly examine some of the factors that play significant roles in an individual’s decision to not acquire or pursue a college degree.
There are several known reasons why students do not go to college and take a different route. Here are some of them:
Besides the given reasons, people can also pursue a strong time-sensitive business idea instead of college if doing both concurrently is not possible. The venture can serve as a person's career and even a source of funds to pursue education down the line. In addition, operational tasks can be streamlined by technology, including simple acts like finding name ideas for companies.
Now, let us look at the subject from the companies’ point of view and find out some of the reasons why they hire individuals who did not study or graduate from college:
As the economic landscape shifts and reshape the working environment, more and more companies are offering corporate jobs that don't require a degree and giving non-college graduates opportunities to flourish in their chosen career path. In the next section, let us take a look at the best companies to work for without a degree in 2020.
However, there are fields where advanced education, such as a psychology degree, may be necessary to unlock higher-paying and more specialized job opportunities. If you're considering pursuing a psychology degree, you can explore various career paths and specializations within the field, offering the potential for rewarding and impactful work. In this context, it's worth asking, "What can you do with a psychology degree?" to better understand the diverse opportunities available in the psychology field.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median usual weekly earnings of 25 and older full-time workers has increased from $669 during the first quarter of 2015 to $793 in the third quarter of 2020. For full-time workers in the same age group who have some college education and at least an associate degree, they can earn as much as $914 on average weekly. And for workers who were not able to graduate from high school, the usual weekly earning has peaked at $642 for the past 20 years (BLS Reports, 2020).
For hourly-paid workers in 2019, 2% of those with at least a high school diploma, some college, or associate degree received the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour or less. Meanwhile, 3% of workers without a high school diploma were paid the federal minimum hourly wage or less (BLS Reports, 2020).
High-salary jobs, on the other hand, are also not uncommon among non-college-degree holders. Even without a college degree, workers can hold managerial positions that offer competitive compensation. For example, workers with no college degree can be property managers as long as they have a high school diploma or GED and pass the certification exam to obtain a license. As a property manager, a non-college-degree holder can earn as much as $50,000 a year based on the national average salary. As a retail store manager, someone without a college degree can receive more than $48,000 a year. Other managerial positions that do not require college degrees are fitness manager ($49,567 a year), hotel manager ($50,510 a year), and food service manager ($53,304 a year).
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Despite the stark difference between the average salary of degree holders and non-college graduates, there are industries where the latter can thrive both professionally and financially. One of the best industries that cater to those without a four-year college degree is the tech industry where they can earn 58% more than in other industries (Foote & Atkinson, 2019).
There are companies that pay well without a degree and with only vocational training, apprenticeship, certificate, or a two-year associate degree. Even with these credentials, one can earn as much as $99,730 a year as a computer security analyst. Meanwhile, a database administrator job can earn as much as $93,750 per year. Furthermore, a computer programmer job offered as much as $86,550 median pay in 2019 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020).
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Given that workers without a college degree can gain access to high-paying positions, aspiring individuals who may want to aim for higher-level roles or secure a long-term career can aim to save and pay for a degree. To this end, our research team has identified the most affordable degrees to aim for. Here are your options:
A bachelor's degree in nonprofit management is an undergraduate program that delves into the principles of managing and leading nonprofit organizations, covering areas like fundraising and organizational governance. It encompasses coursework in areas such as grant writing and program evaluation. The affordability of this degree is influenced by its shorter program duration of typically four years, often offered by public universities or community colleges with lower tuition rates. It is an accessible and financially feasible pathway to a rewarding career in the nonprofit field.
A bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) is a program that typically spans four years, offering theoretical and practical training in healthcare, nursing ethics, and patient care. Often provided by community colleges or state universities, BSN programs are more affordable due to lower tuition rates. Financial aid options, including grants and scholarships, make the degree accessible to students. The high demand for nurses in the healthcare industry not only positions BSN graduates for strong job prospects but also influences the affordability of the degree.
An undergraduate degree in addiction psychology focuses on understanding and treating substance abuse and addiction. This degree typically combines coursework in psychology, counseling, and addiction studies to prepare students for roles in prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation within the field of addiction. It is one of the most affordable degrees as it is available in most public and community colleges. Practical experiences, online study options, and the potential for rewarding careers in addiction counseling also contribute to the overall affordability and value of the degree.
A secondary education degree is designed to prepare individuals for careers as teachers in secondary or high school settings. This degree typically combines coursework in education theory, teaching methods, and subject-specific content relevant to the chosen secondary school teaching area. It aims to equip future educators with the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively instruct and engage students in grades 6 through 12. Upon completion of the program, graduates often earn teacher certification, enhancing their employability and offering potential opportunities for loan forgiveness programs for educators.
An MBA in entrepreneurship prepares individuals to become successful entrepreneurs or to work in entrepreneurial environments. This program goes beyond the foundational business concepts covered in a general MBA and delves into specialized topics related to identifying business opportunities, launching ventures, and managing startup enterprises. They are often designed to be completed in a shorter timeframe compared to other advanced degrees, reducing the overall cost of tuition and related expenses. Some MBA programs also offer part-time study options, allowing students to work while pursuing their degree.
The best companies to work for in the world are those that help you grow as a professional. For adults who have not gone to college or have not completed their college education, below are some of the best places to work without a degree.
In 2019, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook announced that around 50% of the company’s employees hired in 2018 did not hold any four-year degree (Eadicicco, 2020). According to MarketWatch, below are some of Apple’s job listings that do not require applicants to be bachelor’s degree holders:
Source: Apple Annual Report 2020
Just like Apple, Google has made it a mission to offer business jobs that don't require a degree and welcome employees who do not possess a four-year college diploma. These employees are given equal treatment and opportunities for non-entry level positions, such as the following:
A global publishing giant, Penguin Random House has more than 10,000 employees around the world who are responsible for a variety of professional roles. Among these jobs are those that do not require a four-year college degree for employees to fulfill, and below are some of them:
This London-based multinational company provides professional services, including tax services, strategy and transactions, assurance, and consulting. For potential employees, Ernst & Young is not only open to experienced professionals but also to students who can get in through the company’s academic programs. Among the positions in the company that does not require a college degree are the following:
Source: Ernst & Young - Global Review 2020
Hilton is a hospitality corporation that started and continues to thrive in the U.S. and various places around the world. The company also has approximately 169,000 employees from all over the world. Aside from hiring degree holders and experienced professionals, Hilton also offers career opportunities in the form of internship programs. Below are some of the positions available in the company:
This is another multinational corporation based in the United States that operates various membership-only warehouses. Among the jobs that don't require a degree or experience it offers are the following:
Publix claims to be the largest employee-owned supermarket chain in the U.S. Its headquarters is located in Lakeland, Florida, and it also has branches in the cities of Deerfield Beach, Atlanta, and others. It offers a variety of career opportunities for college graduates and non-degree holders, including the following:
Another U.S.-based supermarket chain, Whole Foods, carved its name in the market by only selling organic produce and has been certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a grocer that sells products that are free from preservatives, artificial colors, and flavors. The career opportunities it offers include:
As the world’s largest coffeehouse chain, Starbucks employs approximately 340,000 individuals across more than 31,000 stores around the globe. Below are just some of the popular corporate jobs without degree requirements offered by the company:
This luxury department store company was originally a shoe store established in 1901 by John W. Nordstrom and Carl F. Wallin. It now has several subsidiaries, including Nordstrom Rack, Haute Look, Sole Society Holdings, and more. When it comes to career opportunities, Nordstrom offers the following:
Also known as International Business Machines Corporation, this tech giant and consulting company has opened its doors to employees who do not have four-year college degrees. Some of the career opportunities offered by IBM are the following:
Considered as the largest home improvement store in the U.S., Home Depot nurtures talents in various areas of retail, customer service, marketing, management, and more, such as the following:
This global investment bank and financial services company has headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has major branches in New York City, Dallas, Toronto, and Hong Kong, which are some of the best cities to find a job without a degree. Among the job opportunities it offers are:
Source: Bank of America 2019 Annual Report
Lowe’s is an independent home improvement retail company with its main branch located in Mooresville, North Carolina. The career opportunities if offers include:
Officially known as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc., this food chain corporation operates in cities across the U.S. and in other countries, such as Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. It offers the following positions:
Some experts may believe that having a college education is still the best way to secure a stable career, Fortune 500 leaders, even the top female CEOs, leverage college degrees, if not higher degrees in their careers. But according to a study that looks into how Americans view college education in general, only 16% believe that a four-year degree is necessary to ensure that an individual is well-equipped to tackle the challenges of establishing oneself as a successful professional (Pew Research Center, 2019).
The knowledge that there are companies that hire without degree and recognize the value of skills and experience aside from having a college diploma is, in some way, reassuring. After all, in a continuously evolving economic landscape, having multiple options on how to lay down the foundations of one’s career path is always welcome. Besides, growth in the workplace does not necessarily require a degree, especially with employee evaluation comments from superiors.
Still, if you want to get a good salary, try easy college degrees that pay well eventually. However, for those considering a career change or looking to advance in specific fields, exploring options like online psychology master's programs in Florida can provide a pathway to acquiring specialized knowledge and qualifications to excel in their chosen professions.