11 top jobs that don’t require a degree

There are now plenty of routes into careers that were once the preserve of graduates, thanks to a rise in apprenticeships and professional training.

According to teen magazine Future-Mag, more than half (54 per cent) of graduates say they’d think again about choosing a degree at university as the best way to find a job. 

And there are now plenty of new routes into careers that were once the preserve of graduates. 

These new opportunities are partly thanks to a rise in apprenticeships since the government and business invested more in professional training. 

Read more: How do I decide what to do with my life? Here’s how to uncover your passion

Now three in four UK businesses believe more young people will choose these earn-as-you-learn routes in the next five years, according to AAT research. Here’s a line-up of some top jobs you can do without a degree.

1.       Air traffic controller

What do they do?

24 hours a day, they help to keep some of the busiest airspace in the world moving. The work is challenging and demanding – but it’s immensely rewarding too. Air traffic controllers give information and advice to airline pilots to help them take off and land safely and on time.

Getting there

You have to be over 18 and have at least five GCSEs or equivalent at Grade 4 or above (previously A-C) or Scottish Nationals five Grade A-C or equivalent, including English and maths. As well as having a good level of physical and mental fitness, you must satisfy the basic medical requirements set down by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The National Air Traffic Control Service (NATS) has developed a series of games to help gauge whether you’re right for this career.

Pay: £17,000 to £50,000

2         Solicitor 

What do they do?

TV series Suits has a lot to answer for. In reality, solicitors advise their clients on the law and can specialise in a host of areas, including commercial, criminal and family law, and much more. 

Getting there

You can now become a solicitor by training on the job since new solicitor apprenticeships (level 7) which were approved in 2015. This isn’t an easy route – you’ll need to pass a series of tough exams. You’ll need good A levels and it can take five to six years to complete.

Pay £25,000 to £100,000

3         Junior 2D artist – visual effects

What do they do?

They help artists produce all the whizzy visual effects (VFX). They assist senior VFX artists and prepare the elements required for the final shots. Eventually, they’ll be employed by post-production companies working on commercials, television series and feature films.

Getting there

You could do a practical short course at London’s MetFilm School  (Ealing Studios) and try to get into the industry that way, or do an apprenticeship via Next Gen.

Pay from £18,000 to £50,000 once qualified

4.       Laboratory technician

What do they do?

Lab technicians work in many areas from forensic to medical science, nuclear and more. They might set up experiments, record data, collect and analyse samples and do all the day-to-day jobs of laboratory work. Attention to detail is critical.

Getting there

Any relevant science A levels will help, and you can apply for a two-year apprenticeship scheme through relevant employers.

Pay £15,000 to £30,000 plus

5.       Police officer

Police officers

What do they do?

Police officers keep law and order, investigate crime, and support crime prevention.

Getting there

There is no formal educational requirement, for direct application but you will have to be physically fit and pass written tests. Or, you could start by doing a police constable degree apprenticeship. You’ll usually need four or five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and college qualifications like A levels for a degree apprenticeship.

You can get a taste of what it’s like to work with the police by volunteering as a special constable.

You could also get paid work as a police community support officer (PCSO) before applying for police officer training.
Pay £20,000 to £60,000

6.       Environmental conservation officer

What do they do?

Monitor the outdoors, encourage others to enjoy the environments around them, manage wildlife habitats, monitor rivers prone to flooding and coastal areas

Getting there

Try volunteering and apply for an environmental conservation apprenticeship – Landex has a map of providers.

From £18,000

7.       Professional Services

What do they do?

A whole range, from auditing, consulting, financial advisory work, internal client services, to risk advisory and tax consulting. They’ll work with clients from a variety of industries and will develop valuable business advisory skills – even management consultancy is an option.

Getting there

Big companies such as Deloitte and PwC offer professional services higher apprenticeships which help A level students gain a range of professional qualifications. 

Pay £18,000 to £80,000 plus depending on the specialism

8.       Computer forensic analyst (cyber security)

What do they do?

Investigate and thwart cyber crime. They might work for the police or security services, or for computer security specialists and in house teams. They’ll follow and analyse electronic data, ultimately to help uncover cyber crime such as commercial espionage, theft, fraud or terrorism.

Getting there

Cyber security professionals are in high demand in both the public and private sectors in the wake of high-level breaches and perceived terrorism threats. And there’s a severe shortage of qualified professionals. Cyber security higher apprenticeships (level 4) are offered by major infrastructure and energy companies and – excitingly – the security services. 

Pay £20,000 to £60,000

9.       Nuclear engineer

 

What do they do?

Ensure the safe running of a nuclear power station, or the development of defence capability. They cover a whole range of tasks linked to nuclear power, from helping design and build new plants to monitoring radiation to planning safe disposal of nuclear waste. 

Getting there

Unsurprisingly through professional training – the National Nuclear Laboratory offers apprenticeships and the ministry of Defence has a new nuclear undergraduate engineering apprenticeship. More broadly, there’s a massive national shortage of engineers and companies are pushing on-the-job training in many sectors.

Pay £24,000 to £70,000

10.   Youth worker

What do they do?

Work with young people and help them develop personally and socially. They might work with local services, youth offending teams or voluntary organisations and community groups. They might help organise sports and other activities, or be involved in counselling and mentoring, or liaising with authorities.

Getting there

Many enter youth work as a volunteer or paid worker, but you can now qualify via a youth work apprenticeship.

Salary £23,250 to £37,500

11.   Royal Navy officer 

Royal Navy coat

What do they do?

Undergo leadership training before choosing from a wide range of specialisms, from navigation to submarines, intelligence or mine warfare.

How do you get there?

You’ll typically need five GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 (A* to C) or above and two to three A levels. If you’re an A level student, you’ll have to take aptitude and ability tests, pass a fitness test and interview before a more rigorous assessment to see if you’re capable mentally and physically.

If successful, you can begin officer training at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.

Pay from £27,300 to £46,000

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