Landing an Entry Level Job Without a Degree

entry level job

Stuck in a mind-numbing job, but you don’t seem to be able to escape? This can be a hard endeavor if you have minimal professional work experience, no college degree, and cannot realistically afford a college education.

A college degree is not the only path to professional career success. Individuals can obtain an entry level position that typically requires a college degree by pro-actively seeking out opportunities and activities that will build out their resume. Climbing the professional ladder without a college degree is harder.   But many of my co-workers (who work in internet marketing) are proof that it can be done.

Develop Necessary Skills

A college degree, for jobs that don’t require special certification, tells hiring managers that you dedicated hours of your life learning the skills required to help you integrate into the workforce without a lot of up-training. As an individual who wants to break into an entry level job without a college degree, I would recommend dedicating a few hours a week to your own professional and educational development.

Where to start? I would recommend scoping out some potential entry level jobs you would ideally like to one day land. Write down the expected non-degree job requirements. Once you have a list, begin searching online for articles (like this one) that lay out the ideal skills that a job candidate might have in your field. You’re looking for tools like, knowledge bases, and skills that you can begin to proactively learn.

By the end of your search, you should have a solid list of topics you will need to independently study and begin practicing.

studying 2

 How Do You Develop the Skills?

Modern technology offers an abundance of learning options and strategies. Here are a few strategies you can utilize:

  • Purchase or borrow “How To” books that you can utilize to gradually build skills.
  • Search for “How To” guides online that lays out basic concepts like this one.
  • Sign up for individual classes through organizations (AGI for example) that offer one-off classes in the skill you need to learn. Especially if you just can’t seem to learn it on your own.
  • Find a free website dedicated to walking people through the development of certain skills. (Codecademy is a solid resource for those who want to learn web development).

 Proving You Have the Skills – One Side Project at a Time

Learning the skills isn’t enough.  You need to be able to prove to hiring managers you have the necessary skills to succeed. In order to do that, you should do at least a few of these things:

  • Volunteer your time and expertise to contribute to websites or local non-profits.
  • Develop relationships with individuals who can be high quality references that can back up that you have the required skills.
  • Create a website or develop another type of online portfolio where you can publish examples of finished projects that highlight new skills as you develop them.
  • Be able to talk intelligently about key skills or concepts.

Do you desire an escape from a minimum wage retail job? Want to start a career without acquiring thousands of dollars in student loans? With a little effort, you can start the slightly more difficult journey of jumping into an entry level job without a degree.


Image Credits.

Main.  Skills.

Samantha Stauf

Samantha Stauf graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in technical writing. In the last year and a half, she has been working in the marketing department at a local start-up

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