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Let’s face it, university is not for everyone. You may prefer hands-on learning, have a need for financial autonomy, or you just simply don’t fit the academic mould. With the combination of tuition fees and the cost-of-living squeeze, it’s no wonder why people are choosing to enter the job market directly.

Whatever your reason, ditch the “missed boat” feeling – there’s a sea of alternative opportunities out there, ready to land you a fulfilling and well-paying job, no degree required!

Acquiring relevant skills and qualifications will give you a leg-up on your desired career path, however. As an example, in the IT sector, self-taught individuals who can demonstrate strong technical and practical skills are at an advantage as these skills are highly transferable and can be an equally effective way to make you stand out as a great candidate, irrespective of traditional qualifications. Let’s break some of these down.

Project Manager

National average salary: £48,078

A project manager is responsible for the planning, execution, and completion of a project. Their success lies in their ability to lead, motivate, and coordinate a team towards a shared goal by delivering a successful project on-time. Ultimately, your success as a project manager will hinge on your ability to demonstrate the necessary skills and experience, which can be acquired through various routes beyond a traditional degree. If you’re passionate and can show to your employer that you can deliver projects in a timely manner, you shouldn’t let the lack of a degree hold you back.

HGV Class 1 Driver

National average salary: £37,573

A Class 1 driver operates some of the largest vehicles on the road used for long-distance or national deliveries of various goods. To drive a Class 1 lorry in the UK, you don’t need a specific degree, but you require several specific qualifications, including a full car driving licence, a full lorry driving licence, a Driver Certificate of Professional Competence (DCPC), a Digital Tachograph card, and some employers may also desire Class 2 lorry experience. The ideal person for a Class 1 driver job will vary depending on the specific role and company. However, if you’re someone who enjoys independence, travel, problem-solving, and driving, and doesn’t mind spending time on the road, this career path could be a great fit for you.


National average salary: £28,391

Recruiters play a vital role in connecting individuals with the right job opportunities by identifying and attracting talent and ensuring a smooth hiring process for the candidate and the employer. Recruiters can specialise in a specific sector or industry, so you may require relevant knowledge and experience in your chosen field. Success in this role also requires strong communication and interpersonal skills. So, if you enjoy talking to and connecting people and thrive in a fast-paced environment, consider exploring this career path as it can be extremely rewarding.

Support Worker

National average salary: £27,590

Support workers play a crucial role in supporting individuals with a variety of needs to live independent and fulfilling lives. A support worker’s role might involve caring for the elderly at home or in a residential setting, supporting people with learning disabilities, assisting people with mental health issues, or working with children and young people who require additional support.

Many employers offer on-the-job training, enabling you to gain practical experience on the go, and you can obtain some valuable qualifications down the road which may open even more opportunities for you. This is a career path with plenty of variety and opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives, so if you have a caring nature, enjoy working with people and want to contribute to society in a meaningful way, this could be the job for you.

Sales Representative

National average salary: £27,880

Sales representatives bridge the gap between products and customers, building relationships and communicating the value of their products or services and helping guide clients towards informed purchase decisions. Overall, your ability to demonstrate your skills and desire to succeed in sales is often more important than a qualification. Your ability and willingness to listen and learn can take you far, so if you’re customer-driven and can dig deeply into what your customers most care about, you can adapt to this role and see great success.

Account Manager

National average salary: £33,214

Just as a sales representative bridges the gap between products and customers, account managers serve as the bridge between companies and their customers, ensuring smooth communication, proactive support, and continued satisfaction. Account managers are relationship builders and problem solvers – if you possess great communication skills, a helpful attitude and the knack for building trust, this role might be the perfect fit!

Business Development Manager

National average salary: £39,758

A business development manager is responsible for researching, identifying, and producing new business opportunities. They are the cornerstone of any successful business because they generate new revenue and help the company grow. Developing the right skills is essential to become successful in this role, including communication, interpersonal skills, negotiation skills, and business intelligence just to name a few. If you have relentless drive and passion for building relationships, this could be your compass to a fulfilling career!

Production Manager

National average salary: £41,920

A production manager is responsible for making sure all aspects of manufacturing in a factory run smoothly and are delivered on time and within budget. Their core responsibilities encompass planning, project management, operations management, team leadership and communication. Many production managers climb the ladder through experience, often starting as production operatives, so demonstrating your talent and skills can be a valuable foot in the door to a successful career.

Security Officer

National average salary: £32,205

Being a security officer can be a varied job as you may be responsible for the safeguarding of individuals, buildings, and other unauthorised areas. Experience is valuable, but the only mandatory qualification is a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence, which is relatively inexpensive, and many employers provide comprehensive training to equip you with the skills you need. If you’re a diligent, proactive, physically fit and can work well under stress, you can excel in this role and work your way up in the industry.

Cybersecurity Analyst

National average salary: £50,102

In short, a cybersecurity analyst is responsible for defending computer networks, systems, and data from cybercriminals. They’re in high demand, and the market is only expected to grow, just as our reliance on the digital world does. As mentioned, a degree can be helpful, but it isn’t required – there are plenty of resources you can use to gain valuable knowledge and experience in this field, such as online courses or boot camps. If you’re tech savvy, creative and highly motivated, you can build your own projects and participate in “ethical hacking” challenges to showcase your skills and passion to potential employers.


Take a moment think about the countless success stories where passion and perseverance trumped experience – we all know about the story of Steve Jobs starting Apple in his garage.  Dedication and a willingness to learn can bridge any gap, so take any opportunity you can to grow and hone your transferrable skills, and remember, the journey of learning never ends!

All salary data has been sourced from Indeed and is accurate as of 25.01.24.