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Careers that don't require college


Janie Grace
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If you have a child/children who don't seem to be college bound (for whatever reason), what kinds of careers are they/you considering? Ds14 isn't super academically strong and at this point says he doesn't want to go to college. I'm fine with this IF there is a path him that suits that leads to a decent career (i.e., can earn a living wage and doesn't require the kind of physical labor that isn't sustainable into middle age and beyond). College has been my paradigm my whole life, so I am curious to hear what the other paths/options might look like.

 

Ds just says he wants a career "with people" because he likes talking with people. He's extremely emotionally intelligent and caring. Connects with children phenomenally well. He's about a C student. Not great with his hands (he has dysgraphia and fine motor skills aren't his strong suit). Interested in science and sports. 

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Retail? I worked at Target out of college as an exec. This was store level similar to an assistant manager, but there were 7 of us under the manager. Some stores would have more depending on how big they are.

 

If it is still the same they have 3 levels that do not require a degree. First is entry level 1, this is the person who just got a job there as cashier, stock person, etc... The next level is 2. They generally have a little more responsibility. Level 3 is under the exec level. 

 

I was told that it is possible to be at the exec level without college, but it is rare. There were level 3's under me that understood my job way better than I did. Maybe he could start, and the closer he got to level 3 he could think about a 2 year AA or AS degree. I think you can get into the exec level with that and level experience.

 

ETA: Sorry, I missed your last sentence about sports and science. 

 

Kelly

Edited by SquirrellyMama
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My ds21 is currently in counseling for career help. He's been taking quizzes on values and interests. I don't know how much longer this will take but he's determined to find a career that doesn't require college, isn't physical labor, and has night shifts. We'll see what they find.

 

In other words, it might be worth the money to find a career counselor. 

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He could look into getting some coaching certifications and/or personal trainer certifications depending on his interests.

 

+1   Possibly something that would prepare him for working in or managing a Gym.   The high end Gym my wife and I attended years ago, when we had much more income, our Trainer had a university degree in Phys Ed or something related.  But, I think there are other gyms here where the Trainers have learned "on the job" or in a school that doesn't require a  5 year university program. He might end up owning his own Gym, with patience and time and experience. 

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Para support in a classroom setting? It might require some additional education, but not as much as a BA. This would allow him to work with kids that need a lot of attention and support.

This is what I was going to say. I have a good friend who just wasn't college bound. He tried, is brilliant but his intelligence doesn't fit traditional learning that encompasses college. He did get certified in ABA therapy which got his foot in special education. He loves workshops so attends many. He worked as a 1:1 support person hired by people with children on the spectrum. He would push into classes in private schools for support of the student. He then was able to do para work and eventually hired on as staff by a private school to work in learning support. Sometimes it is about getting that foot in and gaining experiences. Informal internships in areas of interest as a high school student is one great way to get a head start. This will provide him an edge post high school when job hunting.

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My ds21 is currently in counseling for career help. He's been taking quizzes on values and interests. I don't know how much longer this will take but he's determined to find a career that doesn't require college, isn't physical labor, and has night shifts. We'll see what they find.

 

In other words, it might be worth the money to find a career counselor.

How about something at the hospital? Transporters here don’t need a degree and work overnight,lots of other support staff too (security, housekeeping, etc)

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How about something at the hospital? Transporters here don’t need a degree and work overnight,lots of other support staff too (security, housekeeping, etc)

 

Ooh, good idea. I'll talk to him and see if he's interested. Our local hospital is only 20 minutes away. That would be perfect provided he wouldn't need to work directly with patients. I don't know how he'd feel about that. I like the idea of security though.

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If you have a child/children who don't seem to be college bound (for whatever reason), what kinds of careers are they/you considering? Ds14 isn't super academically strong and at this point says he doesn't want to go to college. I'm fine with this IF there is a path him that suits that leads to a decent career (i.e., can earn a living wage and doesn't require the kind of physical labor that isn't sustainable into middle age and beyond). College has been my paradigm my whole life, so I am curious to hear what the other paths/options might look like.

 

Ds just says he wants a career "with people" because he likes talking with people. He's extremely emotionally intelligent and caring. Connects with children phenomenally well. He's about a C student. Not great with his hands (he has dysgraphia and fine motor skills aren't his strong suit). Interested in science and sports. 

 

A lot depends on how you define "a living wage".  Hospital transporters are listed as $10-12/hr.  Paraprofessionals from $12-19, sometimes without schedules they can count on.  Many gyms put their trainers on contracts that won't net them more than $20 WHEN they have scheduled appointments AND the clients show up. (No training, no pay.)  Can any of those positions cut it?  Maybe for some people who really go above and beyond.

 

Two of my kids are looking at fire fighting and paramedics.  They do need education beyond high school, but not standard degrees.  The pay isn't terrific, but I think they'll manage, based on what they're used to.  Well, if they don't have 5 kids and homeschool, lol.

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Para support in a classroom setting? It might require some additional education, but not as much as a BA. This would allow him to work with kids that need a lot of attention and support.

Far from a living wage most places. Paras do such incredibly important work, and relative to other careers that require a similar level of skill and hard work they make very little. Most school systems also stagger para hours so they can avoid paying any kind of benefits.

 

My son is similar, except that he's not a fan of little kids. We are thinking about a career in. Restaurant among other possibilities. Servers, hosts no bartenders at high end establishments seem to do OK.

 

The AV people who trouble shoot and run the projection and sound systems at big hotels also do Ok, or so I have heard.

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Para support in a classroom setting?  It might require some additional education, but not as much as a BA.  This would allow him to work with kids that need a lot of attention and support.  

 

Around here (and I'm in a high COL area) they only get about $10 an hour, not really anything you could support a family on. I had several friends who were stay at home moms who did this once their kids were in school.

 

I second (third?) the sales opportunity.

Edited by whitestavern
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Para support in a classroom setting? It might require some additional education, but not as much as a BA. This would allow him to work with kids that need a lot of attention and support.

Paras make minimum wage or only slightly more than that in our area.

Edited by Word Nerd
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Ooh, good idea. I'll talk to him and see if he's interested. Our local hospital is only 20 minutes away. That would be perfect provided he wouldn't need to work directly with patients. I don't know how he'd feel about that. I like the idea of security though.

 

Transporters do work directly with patients, they "transport" patients from one place in the hospital to another. 

 

There are tons of other hospital jobs, though. He might like to look into medical equipment repair. Environmental services would have overnight shifts as well, but usually in high stress areas such as ED, OR and L&D. 

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Around here (and I'm in a high COL area) they only get about $10 an hour, not really anything you could support a family on. I had several friends who were stay at home moms who did this once their kids were in school.

 

I second (third?) the sales opportunity.

$12 here. I’d love the job but I can’t take the pay cut.

I would look at something like radiology tech. There isn’t a huge amount of physical work but it still pays well.

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I'd encourage looking at working for a city, county or state government. There are a wide variety of positions available. My town of about 50K currently has several openings for people with high school diplomas. 

 

One noteworthy one is that of "telecommunicator," or dispatch operator. This person takes 911 calls and dispatches EMT, fire & police. It is a job that starts at $35K and goes up to $56K, depending on experience. That's not a bad way for a young person to get some good job experience, provided that they can handle that type of pressure. They also have a position for "utility maintenance worker" to work with the water department, the pay for that one is listed as $30K-47K. It may not be a "forever" job, but there is also a listing for a utility maintenance manager, so that leads me to believe there is room to grow. 

 

 

 

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If you have a child/children who don't seem to be college bound (for whatever reason), what kinds of careers are they/you considering? Ds14 isn't super academically strong and at this point says he doesn't want to go to college. I'm fine with this IF there is a path him that suits that leads to a decent career (i.e., can earn a living wage and doesn't require the kind of physical labor that isn't sustainable into middle age and beyond). College has been my paradigm my whole life, so I am curious to hear what the other paths/options might look like.

 

Ds just says he wants a career "with people" because he likes talking with people. He's extremely emotionally intelligent and caring. Connects with children phenomenally well. He's about a C student. Not great with his hands (he has dysgraphia and fine motor skills aren't his strong suit). Interested in science and sports. 

 

Even though this would require college, has he thought of work as a Child Life Specialist? They do some amazing things at children's hospitals - the emotional intelligence would be a great asset. He would be explaining medical procedures to children, accompanying them as they undergo procedures and providing distracting activities. There are a few different majors that can lead to this - child life  being one of them, child development being another. 

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He's only 14 so interest can change. I would not assume he won't change his mind and try college.  

 

In this area, all of the medical tech type certifications require close to a 4.0 GPA (in college, pre-reqs)

 

When he's closer to 18, if he's still not into college or if that's really not in the cards, I suggest sales.  Auto or home can both be decent careers.  I know it's not with kids or sports, but it is a people person job.

 

And if it's doable when the time comes I do recommend Community College. Even an Associates degree can be helpful.

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What about a program director with the YMCA or other camp/counseling/after school and summer programs?  He'd have to work his way up but he could begin volunteering now at least.  Unfortunately, careers working with children--unless you have a college degree or specialized training--don't seem to pay well.   Out of whack priorities in this country, IMO.   :(

Edited by 6packofun
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I know a quite a few people who support families on one income with jobs that did not require a college degree. Some did require tech school though. Jobs are:

 

Police officer

Carpenter

Landscaper (his own business)

Concrete work (owns the business)

FedEx driver

Meat cutter at grocery store

Piano technician

Piano tuner

Farmer

Paramedic

Fire fighter

Corrections officer

Town maintenance department

Electrician

Air craft mechanic (required post high school diploma)

Sales

Aircraft carrier/submarine builder

 

Some of these jobs required classes for certification (police officer, paramedic, fire fighter). Some started their own businesses and built them up over time (landscaper, concrete worker). Some did on the job apprenticeships (electrician, piano tuner and technician). Some started at the bottom making minimum wage and over the course of many years have moved up to managerial positions (meat cutter). My Dad is the sub/carrier builder. I’m not sure how easily one could get his job without a degree these days but he’s been able to make it work. He started in an apprenticeship program 40 years ago and has moved around into different departments doing different types of jobs - some of them engineering type jobs that typically require an engineering degree. He’s currently a cost estimator. Not really sure what that means but he likes it. He just earned a Master Builder designation.

 

ETA: None of these families are living in the lap of luxury but all have their basic needs met plus a little extra for fun. Most the families I’m thinking of own their own homes and drive older, but paid for, cars. Most of them home school and manage to pay for those expenses plus a few extra curricular activities for their kids. Sometimes they have to get creative to make things work but it’s entirely doable.

Edited by 2ndgenhomeschooler
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Can you share more about what is involved in drafting? What skills needed? Thx!

I don’t know a ton about drafting but the work is done on a computer in a program like Autocad. You can take classes and earn your associates degree (most people go this route) or learn on the job kind of like an apprentice. In a nutshell you are drawing an engineer’s design to a specified standard. My husband specifically works in the natural gas industry so the drafters he works with draw the plans to build compressor stations and pipelines. A drafter would work closely with engineers or in construction fields.

 

At his old job drafters started around $20/hr-$25/hr but the drafting managers who had several years of experience were making as much as or more than the engineers. I don’t know what the drafters at his current job make.

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I know a quite a few people who support families on one income with jobs that did not require a college degree. Some did require tech school though. Jobs are:

 

Police officer

 

 

This depends on where you live.... most places that I've lived have required entry-level police officers to have a bachelors degree (in anything) plus the police training school.

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.

 

My dad is an aircraft mechanic. He is in his 60s. He has a degree but most of the guys he works with do not. I am the oldest of 4 and although my mom worked part time off and on through my childhood, there were many years that she didn’t work and I never felt that out family wasn’t well supported.

 

ETA: he is currently grossing around 6 figures .

 

Yes, the two air craft mechanics I know seem to make good money. Neither of them have hit six figures (I don’t think) but they’re among the top earners on my list. One went on to get an associates degree after starting his job but had no trouble getting the position without it.

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This depends on where you live.... most places that I've lived have required entry-level police officers to have a bachelors degree (in anything) plus the police training school.

Yes, many places do require a degree but many do not. Our state only prefers one. The other states my DH has looked at have similar requirements to our state or require a bachelors OR a combination of other training/experience in place of it. My DH would have no problem getting enough “points†to be eligible without a degree. It helps that our state has an excellent academy with a significant amount of training hours.

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Our local public schools have "technical colleges" that offer a bunch of short-term (like, less than a year) certificate programs. There are all kinds of options, including things like pharmacy techs, heating and air conditioning, barbering, child care, cosmetology, dental assisting, drafting, EMT, phlebotomy, medical assisting, sports marketing, veterinary assisting . . .

 

If I had a kid who wasn't feeling "college" in a traditional way, one of those programs would be my next stop.

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I wouldn’t steer him *away* from college at 14. My ds is not an academic giant, either, but I am pointing him towards college. At “worst,†get an AA/certifcation from community college. 14yo people can be very unrealistic about what is a living wage.

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This depends on where you live.... most places that I've lived have required entry-level police officers to have a bachelors degree (in anything) plus the police training school.

Most of the police officers I know have, at minimum, a two year degree. Many have a bachelor’s in criminal justice. Hiring can be competitive and they’ll hire the degreed people over the non degreed people.

 

Paramedic is not a good job for someone who doesn’t like school and doesn’t want long term manual labor. The coursework is 18-24 months of very demanding study plus clinical time, and most of us at ten years in have hurt our backs or shoulders and are looking for other employment. The paramedic class is an associate’s degree at the program I went through, and it was far harder than anything I’ve done for my bachelor’s degree.

 

And frankly the money I’m making isn’t worth the annoyances of the job anymore.

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Transporters do work directly with patients, they "transport" patients from one place in the hospital to another. 

 

There are tons of other hospital jobs, though. He might like to look into medical equipment repair. Environmental services would have overnight shifts as well, but usually in high stress areas such as ED, OR and L&D. 

 

I was thinking of food services. I found a position that handles storage and checks in shipments as they arrive and other such paperwork as that. I didn't talk to him about it yet though. 

 

Sorry, I should have been more clear. I realized that transporters worked with patients. I meant good idea to think of looking at available jobs in a hospital. That's one area we never even considered. 

 

I also looked at their security which is something he's expressed an interest in and he would need hospital experience or other emergency type experience but they'll also accept one year of college in lieu of that. We would need to know exactly how many college credits that is, 24 or 30. He only has 12 so far.

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Yeah, I know lots of people in these kinds of careers - probably most people are.

 

Tradesmen of all kinds obviously, though that maybe doesn't sound right for your son.

 

My uncle worked for years as a kind of orderly in a mental institution.  In some ways it was similar to work with kids, though at times it could be a physically demanding job.  But it requires a lot of ability to be calm and relate to people.  Later he trained as a butcher and eventually was meat-manager at the co-op.  Then he had a third career as a school bus driver for special needs kids.  Oh, and for a while he owned a bar - which is to say, hospitality which can be a great career for a people-person.

 

My other uncle worked in counselling for addictions, he had some sort of diploma for that.

 

My other uncle works as a bar musician and in the day he runs a small delivery company.  

 

One of my cousins works in sales - he started in a lower position but now is Vp of sales for a fairly large company.  His sister runs an publishing company - she started with proof reading.

 

My sister worked in IT for many years with no degree, and a lot of her work has always been in management and working with users - so, people skills.

 

 

All of which is to say, there are actually a lot of directions a person can go in, but I think the thing is they aren't always as planned out as people think their career should be.  Now, I don't think degrees usually provide that either, but people feel like they do so it feels safe.

Edited by Bluegoat
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I think you may need to plan on him working while going to school one or two classes at a time, and living at home to save money, for several years after high school. He will probably need at least a two-year degree or certificate to make any money that would enable him down the line to support himself (much less a family). My youngest dd broke up with her boyfriend of three years, and that lad sounds academically like your son, even down to wanting to work with people. "Roger" has struggled with academics all his life due to minor learning disabilities and has had to repeatedly drop classes as he struggles through college. His mom expects him to help support her, and he has to work almost full-time. She is not supporting his attending college at all. He wants to be a social worker - he is trying a full load as a junior at the local state U now after scraping through the local cc, and dd and I fear he will end up, again, having to drop at least a couple courses to avoid failing them. Since he is getting no support at home he took out max student loans....even if he gets through college and becomes a social worker, that debt will be crushing.

 

He currently is working through our local park district as one of the day care/camp counselor dudes at two local schools...in fact, he is a lead person now. DD and I think he should have aimed at a certificate or two-year degree towards recreation management or something like that. We both are angry neither his mom nor his dad (they are separated) are supporting him much. Some kids need to take longer to get through whatever school they NEED to get a decent job.

 

My other DD hated school, and took only a handful of classes at the local cc (and those only because in order to live at home after high school a kid has to be in college, or pay a small amount and go p/t, or pay more and not go to college at all). She ended up via a temp agency being placed filing invoices etc for a local air filter shipping company. She was so good at it, and solving customer problems, that they made her a permanent employee. After a couple years she was so good at her job that she was "poached" by one of the firm's clients, a trucking firm of 500+ employees this summer...and now is head of Billing, with her own staff. This with only a high school diploma and barely any college. She makes close to $50,000 now and there is room to advance and make more (she is due for a raise soon, too). So - she used on-the-job training,as it were, to start her career. BUT - I doubt this is a typical situation. The co-owner of the firm that poached her himself only has a high school diploma, so for him her lack of college was a non-issue. And dd certainly never thought to herself "Oh, I'd love to be in charge of billing and customer service for a trucking company" She actually wants to run her own cupcake bakery someday, and makes and sells cupcakes in her spare time.

 

There are and will be careers, not just jobs, suitable for your ds. He just may need to find, via a few beginning jobs, what his skill set is and where it might best be used. And if he needs a community college or trade school degree or certificate to get there, let him go as part-time to school as is needed for him to succeed in each class. Set him up for success, not failure like poor "Roger".

Edited by JFSinIL
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Oh, and don't rule out being a PSW - Personnel Support Worker, for the elderly or disabled. My son with autism is in a group home, his and his roommates have the nicest, most carrying crew of PSWs running their house. One of them used the job (the hours can be very flexible) to support herself as she got through college. Since she had been there a number of years, her pay was several dollars over minimum wage. It is a start, and with attending college very part-time, one can work towards a certificate or degree leading to higher pay and perhaps more responsibilities with whatever agency runs the group homes and/or day programs.

 

 

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Even though this would require college, has he thought of work as a Child Life Specialist? They do some amazing things at children's hospitals - the emotional intelligence would be a great asset. He would be explaining medical procedures to children, accompanying them as they undergo procedures and providing distracting activities. There are a few different majors that can lead to this - child life  being one of them, child development being another. 

This degree now requires a master's degree. My dd really wants to do this for her career. She will have to get a degree in either social work or education and then spend two years for her master's degree. 

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My DD22 really like her job as a dietary aid (kitchen helper) at our local nursing home. The pay isn't great, but she gets good benefits and an extra $2 per hour to work weekends.

 

I recently saw an add for a job that I thought would be great for DS when he is old enough. It was for a apprentice at the water treatment facility in the next town. They were looking for a high school graduate with strong math and science skills. Pay was just above minimum wage but would increase when certifications were completed (at no cost). It is not a glamorous job, but towns around here pay well for people who have the proper wastewater certifications.

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This degree now requires a master's degree. My dd really wants to do this for her career. She will have to get a degree in either social work or education and then spend two years for her master's degree.

That must be location dependent. None of the CLS have master’s degrees at our hospital and at least two of them were new graduate hires within the past two years. There are several degree routes available.

 

ETA: A master’s isn’t required for certification. All of our CLS have this certification. The require,Ent’s are here. http://www.childlife.org/certification/students/requirements-before-2019

 

ETAA: it looks like a masters degree will be required for certification beginning in 2022. I’m not sure what I think about that, honestly. Generally speaking it isn’t a high paying job, so they may run into a shortage issue eventually. I wonder what the CLS I work with think about that. Looks like I’m in for some interesting conversations the next few weeks! http://www.childlife.org/certification/students

Edited by TechWife
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This is depressing. There isn't a single job on that list that my Aspie ds21 could or would do.

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