Being able to secure a good-paying job has always been associated with having a college degree. The higher the education attainment, the better the opportunities available to secure employment—a reality that has been statistically proven time and time again. For example, in 2018 alone, 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 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.
In this article, we will look into some of the best companies to work for without a 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:
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 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.
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 compensations. 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).
With only vocational training, apprenticeship, certificate, or a two-year associate degree, 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
The best companies to work for in the world are those that help you grow as a professional. For adults who have no college degree, below are some of them.
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 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 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 job opportunities 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. 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. But according to a study that looks into how American view college education in general, only 16% believes 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 who 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.