Hands-On Careers for People Without a Degree

Hands-on careers involve active participation while performing assigned duties. Hands-on careers that do not require a degree can be found in career fields including administration, construction, transportation and healthcare.

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Career Options for Hands-On Careers for People without a Degree

While there are some people who like to perform research and analyze theories, many other people prefer jobs in which they can be actively involved in performing tasks. There are a number of careers that involve hands-on work, and there are many jobs that fall in this category that do not require applicants to have a degree.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
Bus Drivers $31,920 6%
Janitors and Building Cleaners $24,190 6%
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics $38,470 5%
Electricians $52,720 14%
Nursing Assistants and Orderlies $26,590 17%
Medical Secretaries $33,730 21%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Information for Hands-On Careers for People without a Degree

Bus Drivers

Bus drivers are required to have a commercial driver's license (CDL) and also need to have a good driving history. They may also be expected to pass some medical tests. They are responsible for following the rules of the road while they drive buses from place to place and transport people. Since bus drivers are actively engaged in operating the bus and assisting passengers when necessary this is a hands-on career option that can be pursued without a degree.

Janitors and Building Cleaners

Janitors and building cleaners spend their shifts doing tasks such as vacuuming floors or emptying trashcans. They can learn through on-the-job training, so a degree is not required to work in this field. Janitors and building cleaners are physically involved in performing their duties and use their hands to do things like clean structures and replace supplies, so those who are interested in hands-on work may find this to be a good career option.

Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics

Automotive service technicians and mechanics do not need to have a degree, but they do need to earn certification after entering this career field. Their work involves repairing vehicles, and they use their hands for a wide range of tasks that include changing the oil and replacing defective parts. Individuals who are interested in working with their hands and who enjoy working with vehicles may be interested in pursuing a career in this field.


Electricians work with electrical systems. They may be responsible for identifying problems and repairing or replacing wiring or circuit breakers, or they may install electrical systems in buildings that are under construction. The most common way to become an electrician is to complete an apprenticeship, which involves on-the-job training and some postsecondary coursework. Since electricians are physically involved with the work they do, this is a career option that those interested in a hands-on job that doesn't require a degree can consider.

Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Nursing assistants must complete a postsecondary program and pass an exam, but they are not required to have a degree. Orderlies can enter their job field with a high school diploma. They help patients and perform hands-on tasks such as cleaning or assisting patients who need help getting dressed. Since they are physically involved in their work with patients this is a good hands-on career option for those who are interested in healthcare but do not want to pursue a degree.

Medical Secretaries

Medical secretaries do things like answer phones, type reports and file patient records. Secretaries can typically begin a career with a high school diploma and some basic computer skills, but medical secretaries may need to take some courses in medical terminology to prepare to enter this field. They are actively involved with the tasks they perform and work with their hands most of the day, which means that those interested in a career that doesn't involve earning a degree but provides hands-on work opportunities may want to consider a career as a medical secretary.

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