5 potential career paths that don't involve university

Back in the day, degrees were all the rage. But the truth is, it’s no longer an essential asset if you want to get a good job. It could be that you’re looking to specialise in a certain sector or even want to start your own business. Whatever your reasons, not going to university is no longer such a big deal, and there are plenty of potential career paths to explore without a degree.

1. Independent Colleges

Independent colleges are educational institutions where you can further your interests or chosen career path, and they’re best for pursuing vocational learning in a chosen subject. Put simply, you can specialise in an area like copywriting without the broad syllabus a university course would offer.

2. Charity grants

Many people have gone on to highly successful careers by starting their own businesses, like Jamie Oliver and Richard Branson. If you’ve got an idea for a business, you’ll need funding to get things started. That’s where charities like The Prince’s Trust and Business Angels can help. Organisations like these can provide training, mentoring and funding opportunities.

3. Apprenticeships

An Apprenticeship is a learn-on-the-job arrangement. They usually last one year and will be with a business that specialises in the subject you’re studying. Essentially, you’re studying your subject while getting paid to work in that sector – earning both money and valuable experience simultaneously.

If you’re over 18 you’re entitled to the National Minimum wage, and the work will most likely be full time. You can also choose from a huge variety of subjects, from beauty, tourism and accountancy, to stone masonry, glass blowing and engineering.

4. Well-paying jobs

Think you need a degree to have a decent job? Think again! More than a grade on a piece of paper, employers look for skills and personality. A number of jobs in the public sector such as firefighters and police constables, are open to all. Among the high paying jobs, you can get a foot in the door with skills rather than grades:

  • Transport – Tube and bus drivers
  • Media – Journalists
  • Military – Secretaries, soldiers and intelligence work
  • Human Resources – Trainees rising to managers
  • Finances – Equity traders

5. Entry level programs and Internships

An increasing number of businesses are advertising entry level positions. It benefits them as a company because employees receive in house training so as to really understand the brand, and are likely to stay with the company for longer if they are hired at a younger age. These programs benefit you because you’ll have the chance to progress through the company to higher paid positions.

You can search for internships with particular companies – most of them won’t say no to extra help – or look on search sites for the sectors that interest you.


University isn’t for everyone. Whether you tried it and found it wasn’t for you, or never wanted to go in the first place, it’s no longer such an essential thing to have on the CV. With employers focusing on passion and personal skills, you’re sure to find your calling no matter what area of work you want to explore.

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