What are the Alternatives to College?

Alternatives to College

Getting a college degree is becoming more and more common so the question is are there alternatives to college? Yes, there are always alternatives, but you have to be aware and ready for that path.

For the generations before us, it was very common to just get a job after high school graduation. Now, certain jobs are requiring degrees that did not need degrees back in the day. Because of all of this going on in society, many people are trying to make a decision of whether or not to go to college.

First, college is a very expensive endeavor with the costs of tuition, books, and potentially room and board are high. It becomes a huge financial burden on anyone who goes.

Obviously, many scholarships and loans are available, however, even with these helpful things, it can still be a huge financial problem for many people. If someone is not able to get any sort of loans, scholarships, or grant money from the government, then this means they could graduate college with crippling debt.

Sometimes the debt is so much in comparison to the amount of salary a person is making that it takes an extremely long time for them to pay it off. This is another reason why many people are wondering whether it is worth it for them to personally go to college.

Especially when someone is not sure exactly what career path they want to take. It is easy to understand why it is questionable if college is the right decision. I know many people in my life, who have had extremely successful lives and careers without obtaining a college degree.

Even though it seems like maybe the majority of everyone is telling you to go to college these days, there are many opportunities without it.

It is important to realize that everyone who goes to college does not actually obtain a degree. It may seem like the majority of people have a degree, but many quit before getting it.

Here are some tips and advice about alternatives to college if you are wondering what decision you should make.

What are the Alternatives?

Technical / Trade School

The first option that many people take it’s going to be some sort of technical or trade school.

There are many different types of schools and they usually differ depending on what type of area or location you live in. The great thing about a trade school is that you can start taking classes in the last few years of high school.

Basically, what this means that you could get the chance to obtain a certification or certificate to do the job that you would like to do by the time you graduate high school. Even if you must do it after you graduate high school, it is still a smaller amount of time which means that you can get into the workforce as soon as possible.

The types of things that you can go to a technical or trade school include:

  • Electrician
  • Welder
  • Plumber
  • Cosmetologist
  • Dental assistant
  • Work in construction
  • Jobs within agriculture

Because I lived in a small rural town in high school, this was the top choice for many people that I graduated with. It just made sense to them and a lot of them had family farms and businesses as well.

To this day, many of them that attended the trade schools and tactical schools are extremely successful. One friend that I have, got a job as a welder where he gets to travel around the country. He is currently 19 and is making more money then I will probably be making starting out as a college graduate.

Another person that I know, went to a trade high school for cosmetology. She is now in her late 20s and owns her own salon in a city and seems to be having an extremely successful career and life in general.

Going to these kinds of schools is just up to each individual person and what they want for themselves or their career. You can have an extremely successful career after going to a trade school.


Another thing that you can investigate if you know that you don’t want to go to college is any branch of the military. There were also a lot of people from my graduating class that ended up going down this route.

There are so many different jobs within each branch of the military. You can literally be a cook, nurse, or even a member of a band in the military.

The first step to being interested in the military is going to be to talk to the recruiters from each branch and take the ASVAB test.

The other great thing about going to the military is that you can apply for the G.I. Bill which is basically tuition money for you from the government. You can use this money to go back to college or for your children. It is a great thing to have so you can then be in the military for a few years and then go to college to get a college degree. 


An apprenticeship is basically when a new generation of practitioners are specialized in specific trades or professions. The apprentice will do on-job training and eventually earn a license in a regulated profession.

Basically, what this means you’re getting trained for a specific practice while also earning money. Some of the main programs for apprenticeships are in areas for jobs like:|

  • Carpenters
  • Chefs
  • Childcare specialists
  • Specific parts of the construction
  • Dental assistants
  • Electricians
  • Pipefitters
  • Elevator constructors


It is important to understand that there are some jobs you can get without going to a trade school or going to college. This is the type of thing that you need to investigate and research.

One example is that you can get your real estate license and be a realtor without getting a degree. There are also many jobs at companies including secretaries, aides, interns, etc. that do not require a degree.

All of this can most likely be found on the Internet or by talking to the companies around where you live. I am the first member of my family other than my older brother to go to college. This means that every one of my entire family has been able to successfully find good jobs without obtaining a degree.

Many people do it and are able to successfully live good lives and provide for their families.

What are the High Paying Jobs Without Going to College?

There are many different paths and career choices that you can make without a college degree.

Since it is for some reason seen as a college degree equals more money (even though that is not always the case), here are some examples of high paying jobs without a college degree.

Distribution Managers

A distribution manager is going to be a key role within a company or organization that deals directly with the storage and distribution of the goods and services that the company provides.

They basically planning to manage the movements within the supply chain of the goods and services. You can get the type of job within pretty much any company that has any sort of goods and services. The average salary of this type of position is usually ranging between $70,000 and $80,000 per year.

My niece’s husband does this and is making a bunch of money.

Supervisors / Captains of First Responders

First responders usually refer to firefighters, police officers, and paramedics. Normal first responders make a decent amount of money, after going to some type of fire or police school.

However, once you make your way up and become some sort of captain, supervisor, or chief, depending on the location you can make $80,000 a year and more. As a battalion chief of a city for fire, you can make six digits.

You obviously don’t get these jobs right when you first start. You must do a great job like a normal firefighter and make your way up the department career ladder.

Commercial Pilots

To be a pilot, you obviously must go to flying school and get your license to fly a plane. This usually takes around two years but is much less than a normal two-year college degree. There are many different pilot jobs you can do, however the most popular is a commercial pilot.

Commercial pilots can make anywhere up to $130,000 a year.

Do You Really Need a College Degree? 

There are certain jobs and careers that you just simply cannot have without a degree. If you want to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, accountant, nurse, etc. then you must get a college degree.

This means that when these people decided that they wanted these professions as their careers, they knew that a college degree was going to be needed.

If the career that you want in your life does not require a degree, then there is no reason that you need to get one. A degree does not equal a successful life. A degree is simply something that is required for certain professions.

Basically, yes you do need a college degree for certain professions, but you do not need a college degree to be successful in general. Once again, this is just a decision that is going to differ for every single person on what kind of career and lifestyle they want in the future.

Starting a Business

You do not need a degree to start a business. There are millionaires and billionaires that do not have a college degree but are super-wealthy. You also have smaller business owners that make a good living with their business but do not have a degree.

Starting a business or buying one already established is a great alternative to college. There is some risk involved with starting a business, but the reward will always outweigh the risk. You should look at running a business if working for someone or college is not what you want to do.

Can You Be Successful Without a Degree?

Hopefully, after reading this, you can understand that you can definitely be successful without a college degree. If you work hard and figure out exactly what you need to do to get to the career that you want, you can be successful.


Whether you put the work in at a trade school, through years in the military, in an apprenticeship, or even just by getting directly into the workforce. You can make your way to where you want to be.

Answer the question first should you go to college before picking an alternative.

Recent Posts