Though graduating from college presents you with several job opportunities, you can still have a lucrative career as a college dropout. Knowing your career options can help you determine whether you should stay enrolled or leave college altogether. In this article, we list what to consider before dropping out of college and list the top 16 jobs for college students with average salaries of over $34,000 per year.
What should you consider before dropping out of college?
You don’t necessarily have to graduate college to start your career. Before you decide to drop out, though, it’s important to take several things into consideration. Knowing what to expect as a college dropout helps you better prepare for your future. Consider the following before dropping out of college:
You don’t always need a degree. Many jobs in the workforce don’t require an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree. In fact, some even offer high compensation despite not having a formal degree. Before dropping out of college, determine whether the job you want requires a degree. If it doesn’t, you can get experience and knowledge through other avenues such as training and workshops.
Prepare for the risks. While there’s nothing to feel ashamed of when dropping out of college, it’s still a big decision. Ask yourself why you want to drop out, how it’ll affect your career and if you think you’ll regret it later on. It’s also important to consider whether not having a degree will affect any advanced positions you may want to pursue in the future.
You can get a degree later on. Even if you drop out of college now, it doesn’t mean you can never go back. You can always decide to enroll in college again a year or even several years later. However, keep in mind the difficulties that come from returning to school after joining the workforce. For example, after dropping out, you’ve likely had an established routine and have various living expenses. Returning to school may break you out of your routine and cause added debt. If you’re okay with these changes, it may influence your decision to drop out and return to school at a later date.
Jobs for a college dropout
If you find dropping out of college beneficial, consider the various career choices you can make. Fortunately, you can find jobs for college dropouts in a variety of industries. This ensures you can find a job that suits your interests and experience.
Here are the top 16 jobs for college students, their national average salaries and their primary duties. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on each salary link below:
National average salary: $34,216 per year
Primary duties: A photographer refers to a professional that uses photographic and lighting techniques and equipment to capture images using a digital camera. They analyze a photo’s composition, market and advertise their services, use photo-enhancing software to improve a subject’s overall appearance, maintain their photography equipment and communicate with their clients to set up a time, date and place for a photoshoot. Even as a college dropout, you can increase your job prospects as a photographer through short courses and workshops.
National average salary: $36,348 per year
Primary duties: Sommeliers often work in fine restaurants, focusing on various aspects of wine service. Working alongside chefs and a food and beverage manager, sommeliers create and update wine lists. They also recommend food and wine pairings and advise people on various wines based on their taste buds. Despite not needing a degree, sommeliers can earn experience by pursuing a professional credential.
3. Solar installer
National average salary: $41,891 per year
Primary duties: Solar installers install and maintain solar photovoltaic panels and systems on a variety of structures and building roofs. They measure, cut and bolt framing and solar modules. Solar installers also ensure their work meets all safety standards and may perform electrical work on the job.
4. Equipment operator
National average salary: $42,515 per year
Primary duties: Equipment operators drive and control a variety of construction equipment. Some of this equipment includes dump trucks, bulldozers and forklifts. They operate this equipment to help with the construction of structures such as roads and buildings. As an equipment operator, you get on-the-job training which can help you improve your hand-eye coordination and build your physical strength.
5. Automotive mechanic
National average salary: $42,786 per year
Primary duties: Automotive mechanics inspect a vehicle’s engine and its electrical and mechanical components. They determine which systems need repairs or upgrades. Automotive mechanics also perform routine maintenance to help improve a vehicle’s longevity. Despite not needing a degree, you can improve your skills in this profession through observation and by working under the supervision of an experienced mechanic. You can also specialize in particular vehicles which can help you advance in your career as an automotive mechanic.
National average salary: $48,859 per year
Primary duties: Millwrights install and maintain machinery in a variety of industries. Millwrights make repairs, read instructions to assemble machinery and use machinery to move other machinery or machinery parts.
National average salary: $50,086 per year
Primary duties: Plumbers install and repair pipes and drainage systems. They essentially diagnose and repair plumbing issues. Plumbers work alongside electricians and general contractors and reference building plans and blueprints.
8. Office manager
National average salary: $51,050 per year
Primary duties: Office managers organize an office’s administrative activities. Some of their duties may include hiring and firing employees, resolving office disputes, handling correspondence and supervising the work of the administrative staff. Office managers also greet visitors, coordinate meetings and manage staff calendars.
National average salary: $51,371 per year
Primary duties: Writers create written content for online or print publications. They edit and proofread their content for spelling, grammar and punctuation before submitting their work. Writers also market and distribute their work. Writers take several forms such as authors, journalists and bloggers.
10. Telecommunications technician
National average salary: $51,397 per year
Primary duties: Telecommunications technicians repair and install a company’s telecommunications systems and equipment. They also perform upgrades as needed. Before making repairs, they identify any system faults through diagnostic testing and order replacement parts and components.
11. Claims adjuster
National average salary: $55,908 per year
Primary duties: Claims adjusters evaluate insurance claims for insurance companies to identify the responsible party for an incident or accident. They speak with witnesses, review police reports and gather evidence from various sources to help with their investigation. Though some employers require a formal degree for a claims adjuster position, others hire entry-level candidates with only a high school diploma.
National average salary: $57,054 per year
Primary duties: Editors plan content for an online or print publication. They review story ideas and determine which content readers may find the most interesting or helpful. Editors also review written content and correct any spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. They also ensure all content meets the standards of a style guide, help writers improve and offer headline or title suggestions.
13. Insurance agent
National average salary: $58,779 per year
Primary duties: Insurance agents look for sales opportunities for various types of insurance plans. They oversee their portfolio of clients, manage policy renewals, ensure insurance plans meet the needs of their clients, analyze a client’s current policies and explain different policies to both existing and prospective clients.
14. Massage therapist
National average salary: $61,714 per year
Primary duties: Massage therapists use touch to manipulate their client’s muscles and soft tissues. They help alleviate pain, heal injuries, improve circulation and provide overall relaxation. Instead of earning a degree, you can take part in a massage therapy program that provides you with training and certification.
15. Sales representative
National average salary: $64,248 per year
Primary duties: Sales representatives promote and sell products and services using a variety of sales tactics. They provide solid arguments to convince prospective customers that they need what they’re selling. They analyze both existing and potential customers to determine their needs and recommend the right products and services. Sales representatives create positive relationships with both businesses and their customers.
National average salary: $67,413 per year
Primary duties: Videographers capture moving images using various electronic media. They plan video shoots alongside their client and the creative team, edit footage in post-production, set up and maintain their video equipment and guide other camera operators so they capture the right footage. While some videographers capture sporting events, others take video footage at a wedding. Just as with a photography career, you can gain more job prospects through videography courses and workshops to help you hone your craft.
Tips for finding success as a college dropout
Though it’s not necessarily hard to find employment as a college dropout, it’s important to consider several things to ensure you find worthwhile opportunities. Here are some tips to help you find success as a college dropout:
Keep learning. Even if you don’t get a formal education, continuing learning through online videos and tutorials and workshops relevant to your prospective career. This can help you improve your skills and ensure you’re ready for the workforce without a formal degree.
Stay humble. As a college dropout, it’s important to stay humble and be willing to start with an entry-level position. Stay motivated and know that with enough determination, you likely won’t be there for long.
Find mentors. Since you no longer have classmates or professors, it’s important to surround yourself with a community that can help you grow both personally and professionally. Find a like-minded mentor in your prospective career that you can continue to learn from.
Focus on your skills and experience. While many companies have specific job requirements, some employers may offer employment to candidates who can demonstrate the value they can add to their company. If you have relevant experience, employers may hire you over someone with a degree and no experience at all.
Consider freelancing, interning or volunteering. When applying for a job as a college dropout, it’s important to show employers that you have the experience they’re looking for in a candidate. Look for relevant internships and freelancing or volunteering opportunities you can add to your resume. Having this type of experience can help you find better job prospects and make it easier for you to show hiring managers your value as an employee. These opportunities also help you improve your skills and help you gain valuable knowledge in your field.