Five Careers That DON’T Require a Degree


With the average student debt now at £25,000 and one in five graduates unable to find work, it’s good to know that some careers don’t require a university education. For instance, did you know that you can become an accountant, a lawyer, or air traffic controller without a degree?

1. Accountant
If you’ve got a good head for numbers you can train to become an accountant without needing a degree. Study for the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification full time, part time while in employment, from home or online.
Training is flexible, practical and open to everyone – whether you’re going for your first job in accounting, making a career move, or already work in finance.
There are three levels to the AAT Accounting Qualification, and you can expect to spend around a year on each level – if you have previous experience, you could qualify in two years or less. (Find out more at
Average salary: £17,673 for a Level 2 student to £35,997 for a fellow member.

2. Legal Executive
Fancy a career in law but don’t want to go to university? The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) offers on-the-job training, and is open to those with GCSEs (at least four is recommended at grade C and above). Typical trainees include school leavers, graduates, legal support staff, mature students and those who have family commitments.
It costs around £6,200 to study with CILEx over a four-year period – though average trainee salaries mean that ‘students’ could earn £63,000 over that time. (Find out more at
Average salary: £16.650 (£18,590 London) is the minimum salary set for trainee solicitors. Starting salaries at major firms are £25,000 — £35,000. Once qualified, legal professionals earn £33,087 on average; solicitors £44,552.

3. Retail manager
Many large retail and supermarket chains run graduate-style manager traineeships, which are open to applicants with A-levels. Taking around one to two years to complete, employees work at head office as well as on the shop floor.
M&S offer a two-year training scheme which is open to those with two A-levels or equivalent. Tesco’s Trainee Management Options Programme is open to people with 180 UCAS points (3 A-Levels at grade D or above) and takes 12 months to complete – six months training and then six months in your first management role.
Average salary: Starting salaries range from £18,000 — £25,000, depending on the size of the store and location. Experienced retail managers can earn £40,000.

4. The police
If you like the idea of doing something worthwhile and thrive on challenge, you might want to consider a job in the police force. The recruitment process is notoriously lengthy and it helps, unsurprisingly, if you have no criminal record – you may still be eligible to join if you have minor convictions but there are certain offences and conditions that will make you ineligible.
There is no formal educational requirement, but you will have to pass written tests and demonstrate that you’re mentally and physically able to do the job. The minimum age to apply is 18, and there is no upper age limit. All recruits, whatever their age, are required to undertake a two-year probationary period. (Find out more at
Average salary: Rates of pay vary by force, generally starting around £23,000; rising with experience.

5. Air Traffic Controller
If you’re articulate, decisive and possess excellent concentration, numeracy and problem solving skills, a career as an air traffic controller (ATC) could be for you.
The vast majority of air traffic controllers train via the trainee air traffic control scheme at NATS, the UK’s major ATC provider. Entry without a degree is common, as aptitude is generally considered to be more important than qualifications. The minimum requirement is five GCSEs (A-C) including English and maths. You need to be 18 or older to apply.
When the predicted need for controllers requires it, recruitment occurs four times a year (January, April, July and October). Training can take between two to three years. Once qualified, you could find yourself working at one of several NATS manned sites across the UK. (Find out more at
Average salary: £29,157-£32,496 when you reach first validation. After three years, assuming you have your first validation, you will be appointed as an ATC and salary rises to £41,653-£46,423 plus shift pay. After qualifying, you could potentially earn more than £90,000 (inclusive of shift pay) at some of NATS’ locations.

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