3 Career Paths That Do Not Require a University Degree

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Higher education has become a popular pathway for young students in recent generations, as regional barriers to university continue to be removed. But today, university is a cost that not many can afford, as rising living costs meet high entry fees. While university can open some doors within employment, it is not essential for someone hoping to find a lucrative place in the workforce. What follow are just three roles for which higher education is not a requirement.

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There are certain industries where artistry and engineering intersect, and where traditional programmes of education may not be best equipped to build real skill. One example of such an industry is woodwork, where the building of furniture and other installations requires a number of disparate skills – from the understanding of resistant materials to the hands-on ability to safely and effectively use a wide range of tools to achieve certain results.

These are the kinds of skills that can only be learned in-situ, under a professional and as part of career development. Carpentry is an incredibly fulfilling career path, and a lucrative one to boot; demand is particularly high for carpenters and joiners in the UK, with a two-thirds rise in available work. Getting started is as simple as starting an apprenticeship with an existing carpenter or finding entry-level work in joinery in order to learn on the job.


Trade work in general is in high demand, meaning there is a glut of lucrative roles in construction and engineering across the country that, in many cases, pay higher salaries than administrative positions that require higher education qualifications. 

Electricians will be in particularly high demand in the future, too, as the government moves towards a sustainable future through its net zero strategy. Demand is higher for air source heat pump installation, a process requiring experts in electrical work and plumbing, as a result of a subsidy program for retrofitting. An end to natural gas boilers by 2035 will also see electricity-based alternatives more popular than ever. 

Some of these trade positions may seem too specialised or complicated to be accessible without university qualifications, with electrical work being a leading example. But electricians often gain knowledge and experience through vocational qualifications and on-the-job training, rather than full-time higher education. 


Surprisingly enough, there are also paths to a career in law that do not require a university degree to follow. Becoming a solicitor is a long and arduous process even for someone who takes the high education pathway, requiring years of study and separate qualification. For those who do not hold a law degree, the process is much more difficult – but nonetheless possible.

The mechanics of becoming a licensed solicitor without a degree depend somewhat on your current situation. If you already hold an administrative position within a legal office, you can apply to join the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives – from which you can undertake institute exams in service of a vocational qualification.

There is also the opportunity to become a solicitor via apprenticeship, which would see you working under a legal team or firm while also undertaking traditional lessons in order to pass two Solicitors’ Qualifying Exams (SQEs).