The fight for a well-paid job without a degree is a tough one, but there are still a handful of roles out there in which you can earn serious money without a degree-level qualification.
The job-search engine Adzuna has pulled data on hundreds of thousands of job listings over the past year to find which careers offer the highest average wage — even if you have never been to university.
Check out the top 10 below.
Average pay: £30,998 ($49,117).
Current vacancy: Deputy head of editorial, digital, MNA Media.
While many more hacks have degrees these days than they used to, it’s still possible to break into the industry without a qualification — all you need is a good story and the ability to write.
Times columnist and author Caitlin Moran, pictured, had no formal education, let alone a degree, but began her career writing for the music magazine Melody Maker at age 16 after winning several writing competitions.
9. Military security
Average pay: £35,144 ($55,687).
Current vacancy:Enforcement officer, Dagenham.
The top level of security is dominated by ex-military. Employers value not only the level of threat intelligence gained in the armed forces, but also the organisational and logistical experience.
British Military Security, founded by two officers involved in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Iraq, does security work for large festivals such as Glastonbury and Reading. It also guards high-profile clients including the British Athletics team and West Bromich Albion Football Club.
8. Hazardous-waste manager
Average pay: £36,684 ($58,127).
Current vacancy: General operations manager, hazardous waste.
Firms such as Veolia and Suez Environment get rid of the nasty byproducts that are generated everywhere from hospitals to pesticide factories and petrol refineries.
Because of the level of skill and care required when handling these types of products, as well as the potential danger hazardous waste poses to those disposing of it, jobs in this sector are well paid.
7. HR manager
Current vacancy: HR policy and engagement officer, University of West London.
While it may not be the most glamorous job in the office, the HR manager is probably among the most useful, keeping everyone happy, ensuring the office functions smoothly, and making sure everyone gets paid. Despite being essentially an administrative role, its importance means HR managers such as Toby from The Office (US), pictured, are well paid.
To get ahead in the industry you’ll need qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
6. Air traffic controller
Average pay: £41,011 ($64,983).
Current vacancy: Air traffic control assistant, Abu Dhabi.
NATS, or National Air Traffic Services, runs courses for people looking to get into the air traffic control industry.
The course takes a minimum of five months but can take up to 11 months depending on what areas you specialise in. The starting salary while taking the qualification is just under £12,000, according to Prospects, but once you qualify the pay quickly rises — and at the end of it you get to be like John Cusack in “Pushing Tin,” pictured.
5. Nuclear energy worker
Average pay: £44,494 ($70,502).
While almost everyone at the highest level in the nuclear industry will have academic qualifications, there are still some jobs that don’t require a degree — Homer Simpson initially got his role without one.
Most roles that don’t require degrees are still highly skilled but in a very specialised field, and the National Skills Academy for Nuclearruns courses to help people qualify for various roles.
4. Offshore oil-platform worker
Average pay: £49,278 ($78,083).
Current vacancy: Marine superintendent, Spencer Ogden.
An oil rig can involve long, tough, and dangerous work. Offshore rig workers at Maersk Drilling operate on a 12-hour-shift system, for example, and stay on the rig for months at a time.
Typical jobs include equipment maintenance, rig operations, drilling operations, and rig administration. Because of long shift times and lengthy spells at sea, employers pay well to entice workers.
3. Commodities trader
Average pay: £53,003 ($83,985).
Current vacancy: Soft commodity volatility trader, Dubai.
There are still plenty of traders in the City who joined the profession straight out of school. A good head for maths and the gift of the gab can be far more important than a BA.
Like many of the careers on the list, though, you need specific industry qualifications for the job. Traders must be approved by the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. The Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI) also runs courses for bond traders.
2. Mining construction
Average pay: £56,260 ($89,146).
Current vacancy: Long-range planning manager, Williams Mining.
Like offshore oil-field work, mining construction can be hard work that takes up months of your life at a time. Much of the industry is based overseas, so anyone thinking of getting into mining has to be willing to work abroad.
Entry-level jobs can require specialised licences that let you operate machinery such as bulldozers. Building experience in other fields can also be valuable.
1. Equities trader
Average pay: £59,475 ($94,241).
Current vacancy: Equity sales trader, investment bank.
As with commodities, it’s still possible to get into trading stocks and shares without a degree as long as you’re a good salesman — and have the necessary FCA and CISI approval.
The CISI Capital Markets programme can be taken without a degree, but candidates will need to pass an ethics test. Just don’t behave like Leo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” pictured.