Pass Debt, Go Straight To Success: 10 Careers That Don't Require A College Degree

by Brian Lawrence

If you’re thinking about making a name for yourself and doing something you actually love, you should understand that there are certain career paths you don’t need to go to college for.

With a wealth of information pertaining to various skills available online, you can now learn how to do a number of things on your own and make some good money doing them.

Here are 10 occupations to consider trying before applying for that student loan:

Music Producer

All you need to do is download Audacity and the demo version of FL Studio, and voilà! You have a music studio. It's time to start putting together your ideas for lyrics and beats and get the world's opinion on them.

This job is all about self-promotion. When you’ve made your tracks, sign up for a Soundcloud account and begin uploading your work and sharing your account as your online portfolio.


Think you need to have a firm grasp of history and a degree that confirms your knowledge of the English language to be a great writer? Think again.

Once you have a message you want to share with the world or a story you want to tell, you can put your fingers to work and start getting your thoughts on paper.

You could start writing articles for a blog, newspaper or magazine to get a feel for it, or maybe start writing the next fan-frenzy book series. You can even take a subject you already have a great deal of knowledge on and write some pieces on it. Whatever you decide, any time is a good time to start writing.


Have a camera and a computer? Great! You can start scripting, directing, acting in and recording those action scenes you keep rehearsing in your head.

Create a YouTube or Vimeo channel, and let people see the amazing ideas you have. When you’ve finished producing one of your films, you can take it a step further and submit your work to the Sundance or South by South West (SXSW) film festivals. Again, it's all about self-promotion.


You can roam the Internet for tutorials on image composition, lighting, filters, mood setting and equipment technicalities and get your photography career off the ground.

It helps to try out specific genres, such as concert, sports, portrait or environmental photography so you can find out which styles you prefer and develop your skills from there.


Yes, this is actually a job now. While most owners of popular YouTube channels earned their stripes by blogging about things on their minds or that happened in their daily lives, you can actually pick any area you’re interested in, talk about your opinions in video form and upload it to YouTube.

It could be gaming, sports, science, fashion or absolutely anything else. The more people see your videos, the more popular you get and the more views, subscribers, likes, dislikes and shares your videos will have.

Because of the popularity of the platform, YouTube has a special partnership program where they give you a certain amount of advertising revenue from your videos if you have enough subscribers and get a certain number of views per video. You can do a Google search to find out more on the criteria you need to fulfill to become a YouTube Partner.

Pro Gamer

If you’re always beating your friends at League of Legends, Call of Duty or Counter Strike, you may start thinking about giving yourself a bigger challenge. Get started by finding tournaments in your area or areas close to you, and start competing for prizes and a bump up in your reputation as a gamer.

Media Reviewer

You don’t need a special license to start a blog and write your own reviews of TV shows, video games, movies or music albums. Once you’ve gone through the material thoroughly, you can write down points for a review and post them online for others to read, share and comment on.


If you have an idea for a product or service that solves a problem for you or someone else, you may find the entrepreneurial road appealing. Make a prototype of your product, do some more research on it and the industry you’re going into and conduct market research to find out if people would actually pay for your product or service.

When you’ve done that, you can put together a business plan and start looking for funding to get your idea off the ground.

Software Developer

With the number of forum posts and tutorials on sites such as Stack Overflow, it’s a wonder why anyone still thinks he or she definitely needs to go to school to make and release software.

Google and Microsoft have made it easy for anyone to learn and start coding by directly providing you with the information you need. If you have an idea for an app or website, no matter what it is, why not start building it?

Graphic Designer

Tuts+ and Abduzeedo have a wide array of tutorials for graphic designers, ranging from novice to expert. Once you have a computer and graphic editing software, like Gimp or Photoshop, you’re ready to start learning how to design company logos, digital illustrations, fliers, magazine pieces and even t-shirts.

You can then put your knowledge to work by designing concept pieces for your portfolio and putting them online to showcase to the public.

The environment that being at a university provides may give you more structure and possibly more resources, but you definitely don’t need to go to college to excel at any of the careers listed above.

Make no mistake, even without school, you need to make sure you work on your skills daily, and build your reputation for doing high quality work if you want to make a career out of any of the above.

Photo credit: Alex Moldovan