5 Good Careers That Don’t Require a Four-Year Degree

One of the pitfalls of modern society seems to be the idea that you need at least a four-year degree to get a good job. We are often told it’s the only way to make a decent living. One of my mom’s biggest regret was not having the money to go to college. That’s why she was adamant that my sister and I both at least graduate with a four-year degree. Saying that she felt strongly that having a college degree was the only way to success is an understatement.

She considered it so important we didn’t really have to do anything around the house growing up, because we needed all our time and energy to make sure our grades were up.

The truth, though, is that being able to earn a solid living isn’t just about a four-year degree. In many cases, it’s more about developing a marketable skill. Not all of those skills take four years to learn. And someone will still be willing to pay you for those skills.

While I don’t think that you need to pay for an expensive college education to succeed, I do still think it’s a good idea. Any sort of certification or training in something marketable is going to add value. It’s also important that what you are going after is in demand. Here are five good careers you can get into without going through four (or more) years of school. None of these are pie in the sky dreams, either. Becoming a viral YouTuber who makes it big isn’t very likely for anyone. These are achievable careers that you can get into, as long as you put in some effort.

Medical Assistant

You don’t need a four-year degree to get into medical assisting. Plus, the health care field is expected to grow in the coming years. If you are in a health care field, chances are that you will have job security for quite a while. After all, there’s always going to be a need for someone with medical training. Getting into medical assistance doesn’t require all of the education that comes with being a nurse or a doctor. All you need is a few months of training. This can be a rewarding career, with decent pay. And you won’t need to complete four years of school to make it work.

Dental Hygienist

If you can handle two years of school, consider this option. Getting an associate’s degree to become a dental hygienist might be for you. Since this is technically a health care field, you can earn a decent amount. The median starting salary is about $61,000 according to Payscale.com. You’ll also enjoy a certain amount of job security. It’s true that some dentists struggled a bit during the COVID-19 shutdown. However, business is expected to be back to normal once things return to normal. At the end of the day, people need to take care of their teeth. They can’t avoid the dentist office forever.

Personal Trainer

People are always looking to get healthier. This career choice is expected to grow again when pandemic fears subside. You can get certified as a personal trainer in as little as six months. If you can add some level of nutrition training to the mix, you’ll do even better. Learn the basics of helping others meet their health goals, and you could do reasonably well. Of course, this career depends on where you live and the type of gym you work at too.

Personal training was another field severely impacted by the pandemic. However, now is likely a good time to start your training. Demand is super low. People will more likely be ready to hit the gym by the time you get the certificate, since it will take another six months once you start studying for it. Then you’ll be in prime position to help people shed those extra pandemic pounds.


My plumber makes $150 an hour. That’s not bad, considering he didn’t go to a traditional four-year school. He had vocational training instead, and did an apprenticeship.

I have another friend who makes six-figures a year being a plumber. One great thing about being a plumber is the fact that it’s a hands-on job. Therefore, it can’t be outsourced to someone with a laptop in another country. Robots are unlikely to be replacing these professionals either. We are still a long way away from robots being complex enough to be able to diagnose and fix plumbing issues. Other vocational jobs, like becoming an electrician or a car mechanic, have similar benefits. You don’t have to get a four-year degree, but you can make a good living with these types of jobs.

In fact, my plumber friend told me business has been going gang-busters lately. Everybody is stuck at home and realizing the work they’ve been putting off needs to get fixed. He’s got so much work lined up that he is now referring potential clients to his competition. If you are handy, then this is a great career to get into.


If you like to travel, you can take a course to get certified in operating a large commercial vehicle. Then you’ll be ready to embark on a career as a truck driver. You can look for a regional route if you want to be home more, or you can do long-haul if you don’t mind seeing more of the country. It’s pretty hard work due to the concentration and long hours the job requires. However, the salary can be worth it. Indeed.com lists postings for a Regional Class A Driver at $103,000 a year. You can even receive better pay if you get a HAZ-MAT certification. I bet you’re surprised these guys can make that much!

My sister and I have both done well with our degrees, so we can’t complain. But as they say, there’s more than one way to Dublin. There are plenty of jobs out there (that pay really well) that don’t require a four year degree. Take some time to look for them and you could be making the big bucks — without the same time investment required to complete a four-year degree.


David Ning

David is a published author, entrepreneur and a proud dad. He firmly believes that anyone can build a solid financial foundation as long as they are willing to learn. He runs MoneyNing.com, where he discusses every day money issues to encourage the masses to think about their finances more often.

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