Gone are the days where a degree was the be-all and end-all if you wanted a high-paying career. There are plenty of jobs out there that pay well without a degree, and focus more on experience and time spent on the ground learning the tricks of the trade rather than a piece of paper.
For some people, the thought of study and university excites them, they know exactly what they want to do and what they need to do to get there. It just seems easy. But for many of us, the thought of three (or more) years of assignments, essays and exams makes us break out in hives. Add to this the fact that uni doesn’t come cheap and that just because you have a degree it doesn’t guarantee you a job.
Global jobs site Indeed earlier this year conducted research into Australia’s highest paying jobs without a degree with a construction manager topping the list with the earning potential of $155,463 on average - which is 90% above the national average salary.
“This data proves that choosing not to study at university after school does not automatically mean settling for a lower salary later in your career. Although most of the roles on our list do require some form of training, they don’t require a university degree,” Ricky Fritsch, Australia Managing Director at Indeed told Business Insider.
“While having a degree typically increases your earning potential over time, the cost of gaining one is substantial.
“And when you factor in that a significant number of graduates enter the workplace in non-graduate roles outside their field of study, having to work up the ladder and earn their spurs before they can get into higher-paid traditional graduate jobs, many school-leavers will be asking themselves whether the cost of doing a degree adds up.
The Top 10 highest paid jobs without a degree
10. Fitness Manager
Average salary: $86,372*
Description: Fitness managers look after recruiting, training and supervising of staff as well as overseeing the operations of the club, often including budgets, equipment, OH&S as well as driving memberships and incentive programs.
Qualifications: Many fitness directors will have a degree in physical education or health management, however a certification related to their specific health or fitness field combined with the job experience gaining essential skills will help you rise to the top.
9. Sales manager
Average salary: $88,828*
Description: A sales manager represents a business to customers and clients as well and helps drive the business through sales – usually with a team under them.
Qualifications: A degree in business or marketing might help, but experience and working your way up – as well as a natural knack for sales – will help.
8. Environmental health and safety officer
Average salary: $88,838*
Description: Environmental health and safety officers - also known as occupational health and safety managers, corporate safety directors, environmental protection officers or safety consultants - prevent and eliminate injury and illness to employees and assist companies to make sure they comply and meet safety laws and standards.
Qualifications: While you don’t need a degree to get into this one you will need to obtain a VET qualification to prove that you understand the complex legal and ethical guidelines set out by the government.
7. Maintenance manager
Average salary: $88,911*
Description: Managing the upkeep and repair of facilities, buildings, machines or mechanical systems usually overseeing a team of staff and specialists.
Qualifications: Often maintenance managers would start out with a specific trade and gain experience before moving into a broader management role.
6. HR manager
Average salary: $90,902*
Description: Plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization with a large focus on the people management overseeing recruitment and hiring of staff as well as ensuring staff are meeting job requirements through reviews and providing support and training.
Qualifications: Starting from the ground up could see you work around a degree in an HR role. Extensive experience and a natural talent would see you excel here.
5. Software engineer
Average salary: $91,214*
Description: Designing, constructing, testing, and maintaining computer applications software and/or systems.
Qualifications: Natural ability and experience are key, as well as up-to-date knowledge of the relevant software and systems.
4. Real estate agent
Average salary: $97,862*
Description: Helps someone buy or sell or rent a home or property
Qualifications: A degree in business or marketing might help, but experience and working your way up – as well as a natural knack for sales and networking – will help.
Average salary: $105,222*
Description: Either a commercial pilot to an air transport professional
Qualifications: While you don’t necessarily need a degree to become a pilot (although many do), there is still a lot of work that goes into getting your commercial pilots licence. In Australia the Civil Aviation Safety Authority strictly regulates the industry and requires at least 200 hours of flying experience and that you pass a series of examinations before you can obtain your Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL). If you then want to be able to fly a multi-crew aircraft you’ll have to obtain your Air Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL) which requires you to sit further exams as well as clocking 1500 hours in the sky.
2. Ethical hacker
Average salary: $132,456*
Description: A computer networking expert who helps companies penetrate a system or network in order to identify security vulnerabilities.
Qualifications: Experience and time spent as well as thorough knowledge of the specific operating systems as well as hacking techniques – and an ability to stay up with/ahead of current trends. You can become a certified ethical hacker (CEH) by obtaining an IT security certificate.
1. Construction manager
Average salary: $155,463*
Description: Involves planning and directing building projects from residential to commercial and industrial and includes the management of staff and specialized contractors.
Qualifications: While this role can be reached with a bachelor’s degree in Building Science or Civil Engineering, it can also be reached with experience and a completed Certificate and Diploma in Building and Construction.