During a job search, many people find the jobs they want list a required educational degree that they do not have. However, those degrees typically take time and money, and you might want to pursue a career right away. This situation may lead you to wonder if you can get a job without a degree. In this article, we discuss if you can get a job without a degree and how to do so.
Is it possible to get a job without a degree?
It is possible to get a job without a degree. However, depending on the job, it may be more challenging. If the job you want specifically mentions a degree they are looking for, you have to show the employer why you are still the best candidate. For instance, you could detail your professional experience or skill level. Emphasizing this information in your cover letter, on your resume or in the interview can be an effective way of making up for not having a degree.
How to get a job without a degree
Getting a job without a degree is very similar to finding a job with a degree, but there are a few adaptations you may need to make. Here are some steps you can follow to get a job without a degree:
1.Search for jobs
Start off by simply searching for jobs that interest you. Consider your interests and experiences, then find some potential jobs that would be suitable for you. In this stage, only focus on your interests rather than the education requirements you think you might need.
2. Read the job description
As you’re searching through postings, be sure to read each job description, particularly what the education requirements are for the position. In this section, employers list what type of degree they are looking for if any. If the job description doesn’t mention needing any degree, this a good sign that you may not need one.
If the job does have education specifics, however, look to see how the employer describes them. Some employers may list a certain degree as “required” or just “preferred.” If the degree is listed as “preferred,” this means that the employer would like the applicant to have that degree, but is willing to consider candidates without it.
You can apply for any of these jobs without a degree, but those that don’t list education requirements, or list the degree as “preferred,” may be easier to obtain.
3. Adapt your resume
If you don’t have the preferred educational requirements for a job, then you’ll need to showcase your other positive attributes. A resume can demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the job despite not having the necessary degree.
To best show you’re a qualified candidate, highlight your skills and work experience. Make these more prominent on the page and ensure you include specific keywords from the job description. If you have a degree, but not the preferred or required one, you should still list the degree. You should also be sure to list any relevant courses you have taken along with any certifications you have received. Taking these measures will demonstrate that you are proactive about learning and have some familiarity with the job requirements.
4. Offer to demonstrate your skills
Along with your resume, consider offering to demonstrate your abilities to the potential employer. A demonstration can show that you have the necessary skills and knowledge despite not having the desired degree.
For instance, if you’re applying for a position as a web designer, you could submit past examples of websites you have designed. You could also offer to design a new page based on the employer’s requirements. If you’re applying to be a computer repair technician, you could offer to diagnose or repair a few of the broken computers. Offering to demonstrate for an employer shows that you are passionate about getting the job and that you are willing to work hard to get it.
5. Look for similar job opportunities
In some cases, employers insist on you having a certain degree. Your final option is to consider job opportunities that are similar to, but not the same as, the one you initially sought. For example, instead of applying to be a newspaper journalist, you could apply to be an assistant at the same organization. This step would allow you to gain hands-on experience and familiarity with the role. You may even get to work on some articles during your time there and use them for a future journalist job application.
Getting a job without a degree often requires significant prior work experience. By working other jobs in the field first, you build up your resume and emphasize your other strengths over your education history.
Tips for finding a job without a degree
Below are some tips you can use to help you get a job without a degree:
Change your resume format
There are several different formats you can use when creating a resume. If you don’t have a degree, you may want to change the entire format of the resume to better highlight your strongest attributes. For example, rather than having a section for education, you can replace this with a section for volunteer experience or special achievements. If you have extensive work experience, you could use a chronological format to showcase how long you have been working.
Consider taking additional classes
Earning a degree represents that you have acquired specialized knowledge about a field or role. There are other ways to acquire the knowledge you need for a job, however. For example, many community colleges offer classes in certain subjects, such as accounting or information technology, some of which you can even take online. By taking one of these classes, you can get the specific knowledge and skills you need for a job without having to get a full degree.
Find volunteer opportunities
Volunteering is an effective way to gain experience and knowledge in a field. Many volunteer opportunities provide training and do not require a degree. Look for volunteer opportunities in a cause you care about, ideally performing a job that is similar to the one you seek. You can then add this experience and the skills you learned to your resume.
Depending on the job, there may be certifications you can earn that demonstrate professional knowledge. You can then use these certifications in lieu of a degree, showing employers that you have acquired a certain level of knowledge about a topic. For example, if you wanted a job as a Java programmer, you could get a certification in the Java programming language.
Networking is a productive way to learn about potential job opportunities and to get recommendations. Consider finding conferences in your area to meet professionals in the field you want to work in. You can also reach out to former supervisors or coworkers to see if they will act as a reference for you. If a former colleague or manager can vouch for your abilities, hiring managers will have another professional’s opinion they can rely on for your qualifications.