Degree Alternatives to Getting a Career

Feb 16, 2021 by

The world has very much done a 180-turn when it comes to the best way to get a career. Back when the baby boomer generation were first setting foot into the workplace, it was (mostly) a case of entering an establishment, asking for a job and getting told ‘see you on Monday’. Fast forward to the millennial era and it was expected that you’d go to university and get a degree in order to get a worth career. Well, now we’ve turned back again, with many (mostly older) people seeing degrees as a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t as it was back then and you can’t simply walk into a place of work and demand a job, but that doesn’t mean the boomers are entirely wrong. University tuition fees are soaring and as many as 50% of young people feel pressured to go to university rather than actually wanting to go themselves. University is vital for some careers – take medicine, science and teaching as examples – but it’s not the be all and end all. Qualifications are still highly regarded in the workplace, but there are other ways to getting a step on the career ladder without paying through the nose for it.


The most obvious choice for those who have no desire to go to university but who still need relevant qualifications is to undertake an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is where a student studies whilst working in their desired field. This gives them ample opportunity to learn in real time whilst getting paid for it. There are many advantages to undertaking an apprenticeship, including:

  • Valuable industry experience
  • Paid wage
  • Relevant vocational qualifications often equivalent to a degree

You may undertake apprenticeships in most fields, including engineering, construction, business, finance, media and journalism, meaning whatever field you desire to enter, there’s likely an apprenticeship you can do. Apprenticeships cost the student nothing and businesses get funding for offering them, making them an attractive and beneficial prospect for everyone involved – not to mention the chances of being offered full time employment following the conclusion of the apprenticeship are fairly high.

Independent Courses

Apprenticeships are great, but they’re not for everyone and they don’t always pay a livable wage. For this reason, many people – such as single parents or carers – may choose to undertake full time employment and enroll in an online course on the side. Benefits of an online course include:

  • Low fees
  • Do it in your own time
  • Professionally recognised qualifications

There are many providers of online courses and you can gain a qualification in almost any field. Whether you’re looking to supplement your finance CV or pay for an animal care course online in order to get into canine care, there’s a viable route through independent courses. What’s more, they’re often more specialised which bodes well for niche careers.

Start From the Bottom

This is a somewhat old school approach to getting on the career ladder, but it works. You might see hospitality management as the career path you want to go down, but you don’t know how to get there. Well, one way is to start from the bottom and work your way up. From bus boy to branch manager, it’s a tale as old as time. The benefits of gaining a career this way include:

  • Free to undertake
  • Invaluable real-time experience
  • The chance to progress quickly

Many employers value experience as much if not more than academic qualifications, and there are specific industries where working your way to the top is far more beneficial than a degree. In any case, graduates will typically find themselves at the bottom of the ranks anyway, so depending on the career field, getting a foot in the door early will be the best way forward – not to mention, it’s free!

These are just some of the ways you can get a meaningful career without going to university, but it depends wholly on your desired career field and your personal circumstances. Either way, it’s important you do what’s best for you and the rest will fall into place.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email