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8 Career Paths to Explore if You’re Not Sure About Going to College

Heading into the workforce directly after high school or taking a break before pursuing higher education is a route many choose for various reasons, including financial constraints or simply a desire to explore other opportunities. Here are eight viable career paths that showcase the diverse opportunities available without the need for a college degree.


Learning a trade can be a lucrative career choice, particularly in fields where skilled workers are in high demand. Electricians, carpenters, and HVAC technicians offer critical services that cannot be outsourced or automated, promising a level of job security.

IT Professional

With a knack for technology, you can pursue certifications in IT, such as a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). These credentials can open doors to positions in tech support, network management, or cybersecurity.

Creative Freelancer

For those with a creative streak, freelancing as a writer, photographer, graphic designer, or within another creative field can be rewarding. Build a portfolio and use online marketplaces to find clients and projects.

Sales Consultant

Sales positions are often about the skills you bring and your performance rather than formal qualifications. Excelling in sales can lead to high earnings through commissions and bonuses.

Real Estate Agent

After obtaining a real estate license, which typically requires some coursework but not a college degree, agents can work in residential or commercial real estate sales—a field where perseverance and people skills can significantly boost your earnings.

Emergency Services Personnel

Careers in emergency services such as a firefighter or EMT are community-centric and often require specialized training programs, which are typically provided by the hiring agency or local governments.


Starting your own business could be an option for those with a strong vision and work ethic. Many successful entrepreneurs began without formal tertiary education and instead relied on their passion and business acumen.


Plumbing is an essential service, making it a field often immune to economic downturns. Becoming a plumber can start with an apprenticeship or vocational training, leading to steady work, the possibility of union benefits, and even the opportunity to start your own business eventually. Plumbing requires problem-solving skills and sometimes a bit of ingenuity as every job can pose unique challenges. With experience, licensed plumbers can expect a stable and potentially lucrative career.

Choosing a path doesn’t have to be overwhelming. These career options demonstrate that there are rewarding and sustainable career opportunities outside of the conventional college route. Whether through apprenticeships, certifications, on-the-job training, or self-employment, the key is to find something that aligns with your interests and skills and provides growth potential.