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No College Degree? It May Not Hurt Your Job Prospects

By Maurie Backman – Jun 23, 2019 at 6:33AM

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Talk about positive news.

With the cost of college climbing rapidly and nationwide student debt levels following suit, many Americans inevitably find themselves wondering whether college is actually worth the cost. If you opted to skip college, you may be worried that you'll struggle on the employment front. But here's some good news in that regard. An estimated 50% of companies say they're now hiring more employees with no formal college education, according to PayScale. Not only that, but 69% of employers are now prioritizing skills over formal education when bringing in new hires. And that's a positive thing if you're not a degree holder but are hoping to land a good job nonetheless.

Opportunities abound

While it's true that college grads are statistically likely to earn more than non-grads, your prospects are still pretty good if you fall into the latter category. That's because many employers are relaxing or making changes to their recruiting process.

Smiling woman holding up her resume.


Many are no longer making college degrees a requirement for entry-level roles, thereby making it easier for non-grads to break into new fields. Some employers are also going so far as to create jobs that specifically don't require experience, but rather, hinge on a willingness to learn. Others, meanwhile, are taking jobs previously earmarked for workers with advanced degrees and splitting them up into lower-level opportunities. And a large number are starting to accept technical programs or courses as alternatives to a college diploma.

Just as important, employers are learning to prioritize skills over formal education. For example, coding and web development experience might trump a degree in computer science for openings in the information technology field.

As a job seeker without a degree, this means you have a unique opportunity to score a solid role, especially in today's relatively healthy job market. The key is to take advantage of it by playing up your existing skills and emphasizing the fact that you're ready and willing to learn.

Be adaptable

The ability to adapt to changing job situations and demands is a good quality to play up on your resume and during interviews, especially if you're approaching your job search without a college degree. A big reason why there's been a shift toward true entry-level roles (as opposed to those entry-level roles that historically required a year or more of experience) is that companies are realizing that they have a great opportunity to train and mold employees to succeed, so if you make it clear that you're on board, your chances of landing a job offer could increase.

Let's be clear: A college degree is still, in many cases, a good investment, especially if you're able to swing one without racking up a fortune in student debt. But if you don't have a college degree and you're not particularly keen on getting one in the near future, know that it doesn't necessarily have to doom you to a career filled with mediocre jobs -- especially if you have useful skills to bring to the table and the right attitude to boot.

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