When you were younger, you were probably made to feel as though graduating from college was the peak of what you could achieve in terms of education and career preparation. Most of us subscribed to the idea that earning a degree was the most sure-fire route to landing a job that pays a desirable salary. However, that traditional reasoning isn’t really as valid as it used to be, as now there are many ways to launch a lucrative career without going to college, including but not limited to the following alternative career paths:

1. Earn a Vocational Qualification

Earning a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) is one of the fastest ways to become trained in a trade that will have you earning a commendable salary within a matter of months. You don’t have to attend any physical university to complete NVQ courses, although some of the higher-level courses will require an apprenticeship for full completion. You can look here for NVQ training options to see what kind of career paths you can choose from. There’s a shortage of skilled trade workers everywhere right now, so having one of these qualifications will make you an in-demand candidate for a stable and lucrative position.

2. Launch a Blog and YouTube Channel

You might think that operating a blog or YouTube channel isn’t a real career, but tell that to the many bloggers and YouTubers who have made full-time incomes out of it. The fact of the matter is, if your content is good enough and you put enough effort into promoting it, eventually it can become a very profitable endeavour that pays for all of your living expenses and more. This is something that you can do in combination with any of the other methods on this as a means of boosting your income on the side until it becomes enough to completely replace your day job.

3. Become a Freelancer

Taking the freelance route is a great way to pave your own path instead of relying on a predefined career path. There are so many online services that you can provide on a freelance basis, such as fitness training, writing, video production, web development, programming, app development, logo creation, voice overs, translations, and many more. While a degree might help you land some clients, in most cases all that matters is that you have a nice portfolio and a decent amount of positive feedback.

4. Take an Online Course

Some online courses, like Kevin King’s training course, will equip you with a nice shiny star on your resume that will heighten your chances of being hired. You don’t necessarily need a degree on a topic to show that you have a fair amount of knowledge and expertise in it. For example, if a hiring manager were comparing two job candidates, one with a business management degree and another with a course credential on the same topic, their decision would most likely come down to the interview, not the weight of the credential itself, because at that point, both applicants are probably skilled enough to do the job.

5. Start an Online Retail Business

Launching an eCommerce store might not seem like a solid career choice, but did you know that one third of online stores that make it past their third year of business wind up grossing more than $1 million in sales annually on average? In terms of how much profit that is, it will vary depending on your mark-ups and margins, but the point is, you can become very wealthy by participating in the ongoing explosion of eCommerce if you’re willing to do your research and stay consistent

6. Become an Affiliate Marketer

Affiliate marketing might seem like side hustle, and that might be what it starts out as, but with enough effort it can become a very lucrative career. Top affiliates can make as much as $50,000 per month or more, so it pays to become an expert in this field.

7. Start a Local Service Company

Becoming a provider of local services is an easy way to take advantage of the demand for labour in your area. You could even market your company in areas that are in need of your services e.g. marketing a tree clean-up company in an area that was just hit by a hurricane. Many forms of contracting can be done with nothing more than a vocational training or certification, so this is noteworthy as a degree-less option in some industries.

8. Become a Truck Driver

You can earn a commercial driver’s license in just a couple of months and be out on the road earning $1,000 per week or more from the very beginning. Once you take the steps to become an owner-operator, you’ll start making much more per mile so your income will increase to anywhere from $1,500-$3,000 per week. Obviously, that’s a great income to make for a job that you can start doing without ever paying a costly tuition or dedicating two or more years of your life to studying. Plus, many truck driving schools will even let you earn your CDL with no money down under the arrangement that you repay them the tuition fee out of a percentage of your driving checks, so there’s very little upfront cost to you.

9. Earn a Certification

Having a certificate that says you’re a qualified job candidate is often just as good as having a degree. Of course, one could definitely argue that a diploma carries more weight than a certificate, but you could also counter that argument with the fact that many people have landed great-paying jobs with nothing more than a certification – so from that perspective, a diploma certainly isn’t mandatory and a certification often can achieve the same results.

10. Read Lists of Jobs That Don’t Require Degrees

Now that you’re familiar with all the steps that you can take to set yourself up for success without having to attend a college, it’s time to actually examine your options in terms of jobs that you can get hired for without having a degree of any sort. Fortunately, this is a quite extensive list, and while the average salary of a degree holder is usually higher, there are still plenty of great paying jobs that only require training or vocational qualification. In fact, there are many cases where a degree-less job pays more than one that requires a degree. For example, many owner-operator truck drivers make more than some kinds of nurses, yet the latter requires a two-year degree program at minimum.

College Isn’t the Only Route to Big Money Anymore

A couple of decades ago, most people would agree that going to college was the smartest path because you could almost always land a better job with a degree. However, in today’s world, there are so many career types that don’t require a degree, and coincidentally, they are often the most in-demand jobs out there. To the contrary, there are many degree-requiring job positions that are leaving graduates on long and hard job searches after graduation. Thus, while there really is no wrong or right answer, it seems that going to college provides just as much risk as it does benefit these days.