Choosing and successfully pursuing a career path significantly impacts your life. Most people spend approximately 90,000 hours working during their lifetime. How you spend those hours will determine whether you’re satisfied with your career and affect your sense of achievement, stress levels, and financial health.

Choosing and successfully pursuing a career path significantly impacts your life. Most people spend approximately 90,000 hours working during their lifetime. How you spend those hours will determine whether you’re satisfied with your career and affect your sense of achievement, stress levels, and financial health.

Today, teachers and guidance counselors typically encourage high school students to go to college, overlooking satisfying career opportunities people can pursue without a degree. Whether you’re about to graduate high school or are already working, learning about rewarding careers you can enjoy without a degree can help you find the career opportunity that’s right for you and how to develop the skills needed to succeed in that career field.

How to Launch Your Career Without a Degree

Launching your career begins with choosing a career path. This process often involves several steps that prepare you to identify the job you want and ensure you have the qualifications required for that career.

Considerations When Choosing Your Career Path

Some factors you should consider when choosing a career path include the following:

Your aptitudes: Some people have innate skills that can serve them well in specific career fields. For example, suppose you’re an effective communicator. This skill is valuable in careers that involve interacting with others, such as early childhood education jobs.

Your interests: Pursuing a career that involves your interests can increase job satisfaction. For example, people who love children may consider careers as childcare workers or preschool teachers.

Your financial goals: Your career determines how much you earn. Your financial concerns may be the most significant factor when choosing a career if you’ve experienced financial insecurity while growing up. You may also focus more on income if you provide for an older family member. Your financial situation may also inspire you to take an entry-level position that doesn’t require a degree, allowing you to work while completing credentials that will enable you to advance. For example, teacher assistants can begin their careers working with preschool classes or special needs students with only a few college courses. Earning an associate’s degree allows teacher assistants to become preschool teachers. Those who do go on to earn a bachelor’s degree can pursue opportunities as daycare or preschool administrators.

Your location: Some careers can be pursued in almost any location, and the ability to work from home has increased this option for many. Still, you may identify reputable employers in your field of interest who are within commuting distance and focus on pursuing opportunities with those employers.

Ideally, you’ll find a career you can pursue in the location where you want to live that utilizes your aptitudes, focuses on one or more of your interests, and meets your financial goals. Otherwise, you may prioritize the most critical factors and choose a career path suited to those factors

Explore Career Opportunities

Many high school students have the opportunity to attend career fairs. Adults can also attend job fairs to learn about career opportunities. Learning about different careers could help you discover the right career path.

Once you learn about different careers, you can begin researching them to determine what skills and training are needed to succeed in them.

Gain Practical Experience and Relevant Knowledge

Practical experience and relevant knowledge prepare you to enter your chosen career field and give you skills employers look for when reviewing job applications.

Volunteer Experience

Volunteering means working without receiving pay. Volunteer experience is an excellent addition to any resume because it demonstrates you’re purpose-driven and willing to invest time and energy in meeting essential needs. Volunteering is also a great way to meet people who can provide references to support your job applications.


Internships are opportunities to gain practical experience in a career field. For example, if you want to work with children, you may intern in a preschool. This is an excellent way to learn about preschool curriculums and daily routines, gain references for future applications, and make connections in your chosen career field.

On-the-Job Training

Some careers offer on-the-job training. Some employers favor this type of training because they can teach new employees to perform tasks according to their preferences. On-the-job training is a great way to gain practical skills while earning income.

Take Online Courses

One of the best tips for anyone pursuing no-degree jobs involves completing online courses. Many online courses impart valuable skills and knowledge relevant to various career paths. You can take free MOOCs (massive open online courses), enabling you to build an impressive resume without going into debt. Completing MOOCs also shows employers you have initiative and are self-motivated. You can also take certificate or diploma programs online.

How to Advance Your Career Without a Degree

Many career paths involve advancement. You may start with an entry-level position and receive promotions over time, typically involving different duties and pay increases. Things you can do to prepare yourself for career advancement opportunities include the following:

  • Find a mentor: Find someone in a senior position in your field with experience willing to advise you about your career plans and help you prepare for advancement.
  • Gain practical experience and knowledge: You may continue volunteering or take online courses to acquire skills needed for advancement opportunities. Some employers offer leadership training programs and other on-site training you can pursue to demonstrate your interest in advancement and gain essential skills for senior positions within your company.
  • Networking: Join professional organizations for your chosen field and meet others in advanced roles. Networking is a great way to learn about opportunities with other employers and acquire the skills needed for advancement. It’s also an effective way to gain references.

Great Careers You Can Pursue Without a Degree

A group photo of the staff at Sunrise Children’s Foundation.Learning about the best career choices without a degree requirement can help you choose and prepare for your career path. Although you may not need a degree, you may need a high school diploma or equivalent. You should also consider things like projected job growth for the career because that determines whether there will be new employment opportunities or whether it will be hard to find a job in that field.


Childcare careers are ideal for those interested in working with young children. Opportunities include infant care jobs and nannying. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that childcare workers may need a high school diploma or certificate, depending on their state. In 2019, childcare workers in the U.S. earned a median hourly wage of $13.71.

Becoming a childcare worker is a great way to gain practical experience and determine if you want to pursue advanced career opportunities in early childhood education. An entry-level position with Sunrise Children’s Foundation allows you to discover the rewards of working in this field and other opportunities you could pursue if you remain in this field.

Early Childhood Education

Early childhood educators significantly impact children’s lives. They ensure children have the knowledge and skills needed to enter kindergarten. Preschool teachers prepare lesson plans, organize activities, and monitor student progress. These early childhood educators play a crucial role in identifying developmental delays or behavioral issues and helping children get appropriate support for their needs.

The BLS reports preschool teachers earned a median hourly income of $16.99 in 2022. According to the BLS, preschool teachers can expect to see job opportunities increase by 3% between 2022 and 2032, which equals 17,200 new jobs.

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Childcare and Preschool Administrators

Childcare facilities and preschools need administrators to oversee enrollment, train new staff, establish and enforce policies, address issues, manage budgets, and more. Childcare centers and preschools may have assistant center directors in addition to center directors, depending on the size of their facility.

Per the BLS, the 2022 annual median income for preschool directors was $23.89 per hour.


Childcare Workers. (2023).

Childcare Workers: Pay. (2023).

Naber, A. (2023). One third of your life is spent at work.

Preschool and Childcare Center Directors. (2023).

Preschool Teachers. (2023).

Teacher Assistants. (2023).

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