Top Jobs for People Who Don’t Want to go to College

The percentage of people in the U.S. who hold a Bachelor’s degree has steadily increased since the 1950s. While a growing share of the workforce has a four-year degree, college isn’t for everyone.

Of the millions of men and women graduating high school in 2018, about one in three will opt out of attending university, and choose instead to either pursue specialized training or jump straight into the workforce.

The good news for this cohort is that new collar jobs—jobs that do not require a four-year degree—are on the rise, many of which offer bright career paths and ample salaries.

Medium and high-skilled jobs posted to that offer on-the-job training have increased an average of 76% YOY over the past four years. In just the past year, from April 2017 to now, new collar job postings on ZipRecruiter increased nearly 150%.

Given the significant growth in new collar opportunities, we dug into our data to find the new collar jobs advertising the most openings right now. We then paired the job titles with their average annual salaries according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to give high school graduates entering the new collar workforce an idea of what they can expect to earn.

The Top 10 Jobs for People Who Don’t Want to Go to College

RankJob TitleAverage Salary
1Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)$45,710
2Claims Adjuster$64,690
3Retail Merchandiser$30,940
4Nurse Manager$69,426
5Registered Nurse (RN)$71,000
6Group Fitness Instructor$39,210
7Service Technician$39,550
8Real Estate Agent$47,880
9Licensed Physical Therapy Assistant$46,920
10Occupational Therapy Assistant$56,690

Rounding-Up the Top Three

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) jobs topped the list with the most available open positions. That’s excellent news for anyone without a college degree who want to break into the healthcare industry. Most LPNs complete a one-year program resulting in a certificate. The role is considered entry-level and requires basic nursing skills. But, because LPNs work hand-in-hand with more senior healthcare professionals, suchs as Registered Nurses (RNs) and Nurse Managers, they gain invaluable experience on the job and are set on a clear career path in a rapidly growing field.

Claims Adjuster

This job provides an excellent opportunity for someone eager to begin their career straight out of high school. Some states require licensing courses, but most adjusters begin their career working on small claims under the supervision of a more experienced professional. While many claims adjusters work for large insurance firms, the potential to become an independent contractor as an appraiser or claims investigator is high. Once becoming a seasoned professional, there are limitless opportunities to create your own business, expand your licensure across many states, and take advantage of the high demand for these skills.

Retail Merchandiser

Although Retail Merchandisers earn the lowest average salary on our list, this job is a prime example of a career with a low barrier to entry that offers significant growth potential. Beginning Retail Merchandisers may work on basic clothing or merchandise displays under the direction of a store manager. But the next steps on the ladder come with a significant increase of responsibility and boost in pay. After gaining several years of experience and developing a specialty in a particular type of product, it’s possible to become a Purchasing Manager who oversees the entire procurement process for a product line and easily earns six figures.

Our ranking perfectly encapsulates the nature of new collar work—each of these jobs require a varying degree of training and certification, and many offer apprenticeships and on-the-job training. These roles are the starting point for successful careers in growing industries and have high earning potentials. No matter what jobs new collar workers choose to pursue, our ranking reaffirms the fact that it’s possible to make a great living in our thriving economy, even without a college degree.

Written by

Jeffery Marino is a Los Angeles-based writer who previously covered emerging job market trends using proprietary ZipRecruiter data.

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