Rewarding Careers for People Without a Degree

Who says that you need to have a degree to have a rewarding job? Take an in-depth look at five meaningful career paths that do not require a college degree.

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Rewarding Careers for People Without a Degree

Not everyone has the time, funds or desire to pursue a college degree, although many people would like a career that offers a feeling of recognition or achievement, along with monetary rewards. If you are looking for a rewarding career that does not require a degree, explore the following five exceptional choices.

Job Title Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Police Officer $61,600 (police and detectives) 4% (police and detectives)
Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatcher $38,870 -3%
Optician $35,530 (opticians, dispensing) 24% (opticians, dispensing)
Medical Assistant $31,540 23%
Teacher Assistant $25,410 6%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information About Rewarding Careers for People Without a Degree

Police Officer

Are you passionate about keeping people and communities safe from harm? If you choose to serve as a police officer, you will be responsible for enforcing laws, responding to reported incidents, and patrolling neighborhoods. To become a police officer, an individual must obtain the necessary certificates and successfully complete police academy training. Working in this role is rewarding in that it helps protect others and has the potential for career advancement.

Police, Fire, and Ambulance Dispatcher

When an emergency situation occurs, every second matters. It is the duty of police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers to answer 9-1-1 calls, help keep callers calm, provide basic medical instructions, and coordinate the appropriate emergency service response. Although the position involves stressful situations and long hours, dispatchers help save numerous lives every day through their work. To become a police, fire, and ambulance dispatcher, one must have a high school diploma and successfully complete all required training and certification programs.


Opticians spend their work days assisting customers at an optometrist's office with a variety of important needs. Not only do opticians manage the front desk, but they also work with individuals to help them select eyeglass frames, repair damaged eyeglasses, and take needed eye and facial measurements. Rather than going to school to learn their duties, opticians receive on-the-job training. Choosing to become an optician is rewarding for those who enjoy helping others take better care of their eyesight.

Medical Assistant

Those searching for a rewarding health care career that does not require a college degree could explore the idea of becoming a medical assistant. These professionals perform the essential duties needed to provide patients at hospitals and physicians' offices with the best care possible. Responsibilities include taking and recording patient vitals (e.g. blood pressure, weight, temperature), assisting physicians with exams, scheduling appointments for patients, and preparing various patient samples for lab tests. Daily duties can be learned either by earning a related certificate, or through on-the-job training.

Teacher Assistant

If you have completed some college or pass a state qualifying test, becoming a teacher assistant could be the rewarding position that is right for you. These assistants work alongside teachers to help students with their work, supervise and enforce classroom rules, and to help with lessons and materials. Those who enjoy helping children learn and grow may find this career path to be rewarding. Teaching assistant positions are often available in childcare centers, public schools, and private schools.

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