If you’re looking for some great career opportunities but don’t have a college degree, don’t despair! There are employment opportunities out there even if you don’t have a degree. Don’t believe us? Here are a few firsthand accounts to change your mind.
Our first account comes from a comedian and writer who knows a thing or two about living the dream without a college degree. To see an example, check out this YouTube video!
I’ve worked in the Comedy Industry for the past 21 years and never graduated from college. I literally attended 7 colleges and dropped out to pursue a dream I’ve had since I was 8 and can say it’s been the most amazing experience ever.
I used college as a chance to party, live in different places and not be responsible for anything. And I did a great job of it too!
I’ve spent time on the road performing in comedy clubs, worked with the biggest comics in the business, managed the largest comedy club in the country, written for comics, taught comedy classes and never needed a degree. I’ve used all these experiences to work as a freelance writer, and currently I get paid very well as a content writer for a software development company. And the idea of graduating from college was never on the horizon.
When I was 25, the owners of the only comedy club in Charlotte, NC, began teaching “Introduction to Stand-Up Comedy” classes, which I immediately signed up for. One of the owners and I hit it off pretty well, and he’s been a major supporter over the course of my career. I’ve gone through phases where being on stage wasn’t a major desire, and he allowed me to come in and help run his flagship club, social media for three clubs, assist celebrity comics who were in town getting to media events, and everything else that comes with having them booked at the club.
Working in the comedy industry has allowed me the opportunity to experience things that most people would only dream of. I’ve taken Bob Saget to the dentist, gotten stoned with Tommy Chong and hung out with almost every legend of the business from Charlie Murphy to Jim Belushi and other major cast members from Saturday Night Live.
Eventually, I lost complete interest in performing and wanted to focus on writing and other aspects of the business. One of my closest friends is the head booking agent for The Comedy Zone and asked me to help him teach the same class I’d gotten my start from, which allowed me to close the circle from where I began.
Now I’m a humor content writer for a software development company (Yes! That’s a thing!) using all the skills I learned from comedy, writing, social media etc to make a nice living sitting at a desk doing what I love.
Our next bit of career advice comes from a professional freelance writer who will walk us through what it’s like to write for a living.
Pay ranges, most freelancers charge by word and it can range all the way from $0.01 to $0.30 per word for very experienced copywriters. I started at around $0.05 per word and grew to $0.10 to $0.15 per word after a couple of years of experience.
I also gained Amazon product description writing experience, which I charge about $0.20 per word for. I got my first writing gig through a mutual friend who needed content for their website. It was a pretty low rate, but I was able to gain experience and begin my journey!
What to expect on a daily basis definitely varies for different writers. It can change based on how many projects they’ve taken on, what type of writing they’re involved with, and any deadlines Currently, my workload only includes recurring blog articles for a few different websites.
My schedule typically involves writing one article per day that takes around 3 hours. What I love about freelance writing is you can manipulate your schedule – for example, I often squeeze my weekly articles into 2 or 3 days and take a break for the rest of the week.
There are no schedule requirements. Currently, my average monthly income hovers at around $2500. I’ve built a steady relationship with my clients, so income doesn’t fluctuate as it used to when I first began freelancing. Plus, I have plenty of room for more work and can take on new opportunities if desired.
On a side note, many people in need of writers are owners of blogs or websites that they want to rank in Google, so they love when freelancers have SEO knowledge. This can be learned through a simple online course on Udemy or a similar website. It’s easy to learn and can help you gain access to more opportunities with higher rates.
Makeup Artist Turned Photographer
Let’s take a look at something a little unconventional. This account comes from a makeup artist who became a photographer after an interesting career shift. You can check out their website here.
This was more of a side hustle for a couple of years. My makeup skills came naturally from doing my friends’ makeup in high school (and my own, of course). I started an Instagram account back in high school where I posted my makeup looks and it grew a couple of thousand followers. One day, someone local messaged me and wanted to pay me to do their makeup!
I was still 17 and only charged them $30, but I was beyond excited. I transformed it into more of a business account and made a cheap website to see if I could make anything of it. It slowly grew – aside from some social media customers, I got most clients through friends of friends and other referrals.
I usually traveled to the client’s home, but they would occasionally come to mine. It typically took around an hour to finish their makeup. I would also add a bonus hairstyle like braids, straightening, curling, or something else that wasn’t too intricate if they didn’t already have their hair done.
A couple of years after my very first client, I was able to charge $80 to $100 for full-face makeup in the client’s home (and most people added a $10 or $20 tip). I made a few thousand dollars on this throughout college.
I got into photography in a slightly unconventional way. I was working for a small business that needed to get some events photographed for their website. I was already vaguely interested in photography, so the job landed in my lap. They basically handed me a DSLR camera (a Canon 60D from memory), sent me on my way, and I learned everything as I went.
The beauty of photography is that it’s become so accessible. Literally anyone can learn. Moral is, you just have to go out and do it. Experience is the best teacher – often more so than any textbook or degree.
As for landing jobs as a photographer, it certainly helps to build up a social media presence. To gain experience and start to get yourself known, also don’t be afraid to volunteer yourself to do jobs in your field of interest – even if it means doing your first jobs for free or as an assistant to someone else. Once your work is of a high standard and people can see as much, they’ll be willing to pay for your services.
Project Manager and Sales Director
Our final career tip today comes from Neil Faragher, the managing director of CV Nation. CV Nation is a CV writing, career support and outplacement services company based in the UK. CV Nation provides career-related services to people in over 150 industries across the world.
One of the best jobs that doesn’t require a degree is project management. With salaries often exceeding $100k, project management is one of the highest paying jobs that do not require a degree. While a degree usually isn’t necessary, most aspiring project managers would be recommended to undertake project management training (such as Prince2).
Project management is a growing industry, so it is one of the best jobs to consider when looking to the future. By 2027, over 2 million new project managers are expected to be required in the United States alone, according to the Project Management Institute.
The job of sales director is also a high paying job that often doesn’t require a degree. Salaries for sales directors often exceed $90,000. Many Sales Directors progress to the role from more junior sales positions, without having a degree.