10 High Paying Jobs That Don’t Need a Degree: Earn Big Bucks Without Big Debt
There are so many reasons we might not have a university degree — not least a decision based on personal choice and preference.
The strict, linear grading system associated with high school through tertiary education is not a suitable model for everyone. It doesn’t always fit with those who thrive in a hands-on environment, struggle with the pressure of study or simply don’t have a clue what career path is right for them.
What we’re here to show you is that a degree is not a prerequisite for career success. While it is, of course, necessary for some vocations to have a firm set of requirements met, we see more and more pathways to achieving goals in job fulfilment — and even some pretty competitive coin.
So, you say, what are these excellent career opportunities and how do I go about getting my foot in the door? Well, we couldn’t possibly list them all — but here are 10 high-paying jobs you don’t need a degree for.
Enrolled Nurses work collaboratively with and are supervised by other healthcare workers such as registered nurses, specialist nurses and doctors to provide support to patients in the health care and aged care system.
Duties range from helping patients physically and emotionally to more complex care like administering medication and treatments.
There is strong projected job growth in support nursing over the next five years, and with options for further study into registered nursing available, you could work your way into a senior role relatively quickly.
Registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA)
As a Personal Trainer, you will provide guidance to clients based on goals they have to improve themselves physically in a safe way.
Your duties would be to assess clients wants and needs, strategise, work out plans and monitor progress. You will also ensure exercises are performed correctly and have a sound knowledge of muscle anatomy.
Although the average annual salary for this role can start on the lower end, the potential to freelance or create your own business can allow you to set your own rates and hours.
If you choose this route, your earning potential could be more than $100k.
To become a Personal Trainer, you are required to complete a Certificate IV in Fitness. This can be achieved over 12 months and can be a combination of face- to- face and online learning.
“My qualifications gave me confidence for the real world and the knowledge I needed to know on the job as a fitness professional.”
Maddy Williams, Founder and Director of Bikini Bods Women’s Kickboxing
Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent works on behalf of homeowners to arrange the sales or leases for properties. They advocate on behalf of buyers when negotiating purchases and provide market appraisals of properties.
With usually an entry-level base salary of around $50k, the commission is where the big bucks come in.
With some jobs paying up to 5% of an overall property sale price, the sky is the limit for earning potential.
Real estate licence relevant for your state
12 months of work experience under a licensed agent
Eligibility to work as an Estate Agent vary from state to state in Australia, so you need to complete the correct real estate qualification and gain your licence relevant to where you want to work.
You must also complete 12 months of work experience under a licensed Real Estate Agent.
There are many types of writing jobs. Copywriting, novel writing and technical writing to name a few. All writers create content for commercial or artistic purposes. Perfect for people with solid skills in communication and a creative flair, this can be a lucrative and fulfilling job for life.
A freelance writer can earn over $100k when setting their own rates, and the potential to start a business is enormous.
Creative flair and good communication
While there is no formal qualification required for a job in writing, having attended a writing course is highly desired by an employer or client. There are structures and formulas that, once you have the basic grasp on, take your writing to the next level.
“Take it from me, a freelance writer who has learnt her craft through short courses and on the job experience; a degree is not for everyone, and the lack of one does not stop you from achieving success.”
Bookkeepers can be in-house or sourced outside of the business to maintain a company’s accounting records and financial data. It involves close contact with business owners and can sometimes require imparting advice on how changes to the allocation of money can improve the running of an organisation.
This career choice is best suited to someone with good attention to detail, strong organisation skills, good communication and excellent time management abilities.
Tax Practitioners Board licence
If you wish to be a Bookkeeper that provides BAS services, you must apply to the Tax Practitioners Board for a licence.
In order to obtain the licence you will be required to have completed at least a Certificate IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping and other relevant requirements set by the TPB. More information can be found here.
An Office Manager role often has aspects of an executive assistant role included. Generally, it requires you to ensure the smooth running of an office environment in all of its facets. Responsibilities would include administration, human resources, document creation, meeting and greeting visitors, basic IT monitoring, EA duties, coordinating meetings and much more.
This role can vary significantly from office to office, so having proficiency in all administration and a support role skillset is essential.
Experience in a junior office or admin role
A role in Office Management can often be a follow-on from more junior office or administration roles, so experience in an office support capacity would likely be preferable.
There is no formal training necessary to enter a role as an Office Manager but having studied business administration will be incredibly appealing to future employers.
While a role as an Electrician can vary depending on what you choose to specialise in, generally, you will be responsible for the safe installation, removal or repair of electrical systems. Electricians work inside and outside of commercial or residential buildings.
This career can be rewarding, diverse and offers great opportunities for growth.
4 year apprenticeship
To work as a qualified Australian Electrician, you must complete a four year apprenticeship which will involve completing a Certificate III in Electrotechnology Electrician.
A Pilot is highly-trained to operate aeroplanes or helicopters for the use of transport. Flying a commercial plane can keep you from your home for long periods and tests your mathematics and physics skills.
A job as a Pilot can be extremely exciting, has a high average salary and offers good job security. For those who had childhood dreams of flying a plane, this could be your chance to make them come true.
Initial skill assessment
Obtain a series of licences
Complete 1500 hours of flight time
Although you do not need a degree to become a Pilot, you have to take on some serious training. All Pilots must obtain a licence through the Civil Safety Authority.
You will be required to pass an initial skill assessment, and medical test then complete a series of licences, including practical and theoretical training and assessments.
If you wish to become a commercial pilot, you will also need to complete 1,500 hours of flight time as part of your training, which can be a pretty massive investment in time and money.
A career as a Photographer can be exciting, glamorous and can earn you a significant income. Looking beyond our salary range averages, those who freelance or run a photography business can earn up to and over $150k.
Creating beautiful images for a client is a fantastic creative outlet and a skill that will be needed for many years to come. From commercial projects to corporate portraits and beautiful art, photography can be a diverse and fulfilling career. It is even something you can pick up as a hobby first and move onto small jobs when you are ready.
It is recommended that a photography course is taken for anyone looking to branch into this field. This will allow you to increase technical skills, learn about lighting, editing, retouching and, of course having experienced mentors to learn from.
Trained Photographers are more likely to get a foot in the door at a studio or gain the confidence of potential clients.
“I find with TAFE-based courses, you get the skills you need to be able to work commercially – and just get out there and do it.”
Prue Aja, Personal Branding and Portrait Photographer
Read Prue’s advice on how to start a successful photography business
If you are achievement orientated, honest, resilient and optimistic, a job in sales could be perfect for you.
Salespeople are the point of contact between a business and its customer and ensure the customer receives the correct information on products and services, leading to a successful transaction between them and the provider.
The role can be fast-paced and competitive, but those who thrive in this kind of environment can earn high percentages in commission.
There is also an opportunity for growth in these roles, with Sales Managers and Directors capable of earning over $200k.
There are no formal qualifications required for a sales position, and you may already have more experience than you think. That tuck-shop or clothing store job you had years ago has set you up with some basic customer-facing skills.
However, any courses completed in customer engagement would be desirable to an employer and make you stand out from the crowd.
How encouraging is it to know that so many career choices are available to you? With the option of certificates, diplomas other flexible learning plans available, if you really want it, your dream job could be just around the corner.
“I got to where I am today because of the work I have put in, because of what I believe to be my own self-worth, not that which a university degree tells someone else how much I should be paid.”
Travis Godde, Business Development Manager, AFL Global
Read Travis’ story of becoming a sales person with the AFL
TAFE graduates making big career moves
Meet Maddy Williams
Founder and Director of Bikini Bods Women’s Kickboxing
Maddy is the Founder of Bikini Bods Women’s Kickboxing Gyms, Australia. Maddy delivers fitness programs for women based around Muay Thai Kickboxing, Boxing and functional training classes with a focus on strengthening and empowering women through fitness.
She chose to enter the industry to follow her passion for sport and fitness with a VET qualification of Certificate IV in Fitness. The course allowed her to develop the skills she needed to enter the workforce confidently and in a reasonable timeframe.
“I wanted a career where I would work doing what I loved every day. I’m a very people oriented and social person and I wanted to be able to work face to face with people everyday. My qualifications gave me confidence for the real world and the knowledge I needed to know on the job as a fitness professional,” Williams says.
Meet Travis Godde
Business Development Manager, AFL Global
Travis Godde is a professional sales person with AFL Telecommunications and is based in the Australian Capital Territory working as a Business Development Manager.
Despite this career existing in a highly technical field, Travis initially started it with a Certificate III in Cookery. After making his way to becoming a Chef through his TAFE qualification, Travis decided to move to something different, working as a store-man in a large food service company.
“I got to where I am today because of the work I have put in, because of what I believe to be my own self-worth, not that which a university degree tells someone else how much I should be paid,” Godde explains.
There are plenty of six-figure jobs in a variety of industries. And many only require a TAFE certification, short course, associate degree or specific training programs. For some, all you need is a high school diploma — no experience required.
Completing a four-year degree at University is not the only way to gain a high salary and career success. Vocational school is one of the many options that limit your time in a lecture theatre and gives you more of a hands-on learning experience. In fact, TAFE is better than University for career success.