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10 Careers That Don’t Require Grad School in 2022

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An increasing number of graduates nowadays can already pursue high-paying careers that don’t require graduate schools. While it doesn’t entirely mean ditching graduate studies for good, grad schools aren’t meant for everybody. Pursuing a college program is already challenging and expensive enough; therefore, graduate degrees are additional burdens for some students. After accumulating at least $40,000 worth of student loans, students may no longer have the desire and financial resources for more advanced studies.

Despite an increase in master’s and doctoral degree enrollment in the US, many graduate students find themselves leaving graduate school halfway in their program. Approximately 50% of doctorate students leave grad school without completing their degrees, as described by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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CAREERS THAT DON’T REQUIRE GRAD SCHOOL

Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, and Medical Sonographers

Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, and Medical Sonographers

Required Educational Attainment:

  • Associate’s Degree or Post-secondary Certificate

Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, and Medical Sonographers earn a median annual income of more than $70,000, above-average salary compared to other occupations in the US Combined with a 14% job outlook between 2020 to 2030, working as a medical sonographer and cardiovascular technician is one of the best careers that doesn’t require grad school. 

Although some diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists/technicians can start their careers with a high school diploma, pursuing a post-secondary certificate or associate’s degree is more beneficial. Both associate’s degree and certificate programs can take two years to complete. Individuals can also pursue a 4-year baccalaureate program to boost their credentials. However, working as a cardiovascular technologist/technician or medical sonographer doesn’t require graduate degrees to earn lucrative salaries.

Instead of completing graduate studies, individuals must pursue professional certifications even after obtaining a certificate or degree or obtaining their license to practice. The three major institutions for granting certification credentials in these professions include the following:

To earn a particular certification, medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists/technicians must first obtain a certificate, associate’s, or bachelor’s degree accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). These professionals can pursue more than one certification from the ARDMS, ARRT, and CCI, depending on their preference.

Some states require a license before working as a medical sonographer and cardiovascular technologist. Common state requirements for licensure include a CAAHEP-accredited degree, relevant professional experience or clinical hours, certifications, and passing the state’s licensing examination.

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Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Testers

Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Testers

Required Educational Attainment:

  •  Bachelor’s Degree

With a 22% job outlook between 2020 to 2030, working as Software Developers and Software Quality Assurance Testers are one of the best careers that don’t require grad school. With the rapid increase of technological innovations, software developers and quality assurance engineers are high in demand for developing and maintaining software programs for businesses and consumers. Software developers and QA testers can easily find a suitable role with a favorable employment outlook in mobile app development and website development.

These tech professionals often have a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology, Computer Science, or any related field. However, some of these professionals never had the chance to pursue their academic degrees. Instead, they develop their skills through extensive hands-on experience with programming languages and innate logical thinking abilities. 

Many software developers and QA testers pursue specific professional certifications to strengthen their expertise and credentials. Undoubtedly, it is one of the popular careers that doesn’t require graduate degrees due to the nature of work. A variety of professional certifications help individuals gain a comprehensive understanding of the latest programming and software development trends. Since programming languages are rapidly evolving, professional certifications help individuals catch up with new programming languages and in-demand and relevant tools in the field. Professional certifications include ITIL®4 Foundation, CompTIA Certifications, ASQ Certifications, and ISTQB® Certification.

Individuals without prior experience in programming or testing can take up short courses or certificate programs to become proficient in software development. Students can gain a holistic foundation in data management, technical writing, C++, Python, Java, UX and UI. As these tech professionals work with a team, they must also possess interpersonal, communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills to plan, develop, and deploy tech projects.

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Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers

Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers

Required Educational Attainment:

  • Apprenticeship
  • High School Diploma/Equivalent

With the non-residential infrastructure boom, Elevator and Escalator Installers and Repairers have a favorable employment outlook since many stores, and corporate/office buildings utilize escalators and elevators. Several moving walkways, lifts, escalators, and elevators must work efficiently and safely year-round, making the work of elevator and escalator technicians stable compared to other construction-related occupations.

These professionals install, maintain, and repair lifts, moving pathways, escalators, elevators, and other related equipment. Elevator and escalator technicians may have to work in cramped locations inside machine rooms, crawl spaces, and elevator shafts to fulfill their daily responsibilities. They also immerse in dirty and dusty areas with greasy tools and equipment in extreme temperatures. As it is a physically demanding profession, elevator and escalator technicians stand or sit for extended hours, lifting 50 to 200-pound equipment.

With an above-average income of $88,540 per year, working as an elevator and escalator technician is one of the careers you can pursue with no grad school requirement. Once they have a high school diploma, they can pursue a 4-year apprenticeship program offered by individual contractors, industry associations, or unions. Most apprenticeships will provide 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 144 hours of technical instruction. Students will become knowledgeable in electronics, escalator and elevator parts, safety practices, math, and blueprint reading during the apprenticeship.

To stay relevant and updated with the latest trends and developments, these professionals must pursue training and certifications instead of graduate studies. Thirty-five states in the US will require a license to work as elevator technicians. Although certifications are optional, they can boost their credentials and expertise in the industry. They can pursue any of the following certifications:

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Radiation Therapists

Radiation Therapists

Required Educational Attainment:

  •  Associate’s Degree

Radiation Therapists have a 9% job outlook between 2020 to 2030, making it one of the best healthcare-related careers that don’t require grad school enrollment. Due to the aging population with demand for cancer treatment, Radiation Therapists are beneficial in the continuous developments of more advanced treatment techniques. Some hospitals will require these professionals to hold Basic Life Support and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation certifications.

These professionals work with oncology teams and other healthcare professionals to help treat cancer and find the best course of radiation treatments for cancer patients. A Radiation Therapist works under the guidance of a radiation oncologist, playing an important role in the planning and implementation of radiation treatment and other essential techniques. They also explain treatment plants to their patients and answer related inquiries. Due to the nature of their work, Radiation Therapists protect their patients and themselves from too much radiation exposure.

The majority of Radiation Therapists have either associate or baccalaureate degrees. However, some professionals can already land a job with a certificate program. Regardless, they must pursue a radiation therapy program accredited by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). A curriculum of the radiation therapy program will often include essential radiation therapy procedures and theories, with courses in algebra, physics, research methodology, and human anatomy. As part of the culminating requirements, these programs also include learning experiences in a clinical setting.

Many states will require certifications or license to work as a Radiation Therapist. Although states have different requirements, these professionals must have the ARRT certification and ARRT-accredited radiation therapy program. Graduates must have an ARRT-accredited program and pass the certification exam to become certified. The exam will highlight all essential topics in the field, including patient education and care, quality assurance and safety practices, treatment planning, treatment techniques, and clinical concepts. 

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Information Security Analysts

Required Educational Attainment:

  •  High School Diploma with Professional Certifications

If you love working in the IT industry but don’t prefer coding, pursuing a career as Information Security Analysts is one of the best careers with no graduate degree requirements. Careers related to cybersecurity will continue to increase due to the more frequent cyberattacks and malware incidences in the digital era. The role has a 33% job outlook, indicating an above-average growth compared to other occupations in the country.

Information Security Analysts’ primary responsibility is to protect sensitive information and data of every organization, business, or individual. They design, plan, and implement security systems to protect an organization’s computer networks from cyberattacks. They help develop and maintain security standards, policies, and best practices for the entire company. These professionals also determine and record security breaches, evaluating the severity of damage they’ve caused. As part of their daily routine, Information Security Analysts may work with the company’s entire IT security team to perform a series of tests in their networks and computing systems and uncover potential vulnerabilities.

Since cybersecurity is an ever-changing field, Information Security Analysts must stay adaptable and update their skills and knowledge with the latest developments and trends. Contrary to pursuing graduate studies, they pursue a variety of professional certifications in cybersecurity. Many employers also prefer applicants with industry certification in Information Security.

Some of the professional certifications essential to the industry include the following:

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Air Traffic Controllers

Air Traffic Controllers

Required Educational Attainment:

  •  Associate’s Degree

Air Traffic Controllers are responsible for coordinating an aircraft’s movements using state-of-the-art technologies and expertise to monitor and alert potential hazards and other crucial pieces of information to pilots. As part of the collective efforts, these professionals monitor and report changes in weather and wind, help regulate ground traffic at taxiways and airport runways and provide comprehensive landing and takeoff instructions in their assigned airspace. The safety of aircraft personnel, passengers, and aircraft itself is the primary responsibility of Air Traffic Controllers. Since they use visual references, computers, and radars extensively, they must be responsive, decisive, and detail-oriented to monitor and direct aircraft movement in-ground traffic and the skies.

Since it is a highly technical and hands-on profession, Air Traffic Controllers is one of the best careers that doesn’t require grad school. Individuals can pursue their career as Air Traffic Controllers in four different ways, namely the following:

  • Must have a three-year professional experience or
  • Possess a baccalaureate degree in engineering, business, transportation, physics, math, or any related field or
  • Must have a post-secondary education combined with three years of professional experience or
  • Earn a degree from the Air Traffic Training Initiative program accredited by the Federal Aviation Administration

Regardless of the individual’s academic or professional credentials, each candidate must comply with the following requirements:

  • Accomplish training at the FAA Academy
  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Pass medical evaluations, including several background checks and drug test/screening
  • Pass the ATSA or Air Traffic Controller Specialists Skills Assessment Battery
  • Pass the Federal Aviation Administration Pre-employment exam, including the Biographical Assessment

With more than $100,000 annual salary, Air Traffic Controllers is one of the high-paying professions you can pursue without graduate degrees. If you are willing to go extensive hours of training and participate in a yearly physical exam and job performance exam twice annually, becoming an Air Traffic Controller is an ideal profession.

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Respiratory Therapists

Respiratory Therapists

Required Educational Attainment:

  •  Associate’s Degree

Respiratory Therapists is another healthcare-related field on our list of careers that don’t require graduate degrees. They treat and assist patients with cardiopulmonary and breathing problems. Their patients include children, adults, and premature infants suffering from lung diseases, including emphysema, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, asthma, or cystic fibrosis. These healthcare professionals can also give emergency responses to people who drowned, suffered from a heart attack, with breathing problems, or those in shock.

A day in the life of Respiratory Therapists includes consulting with physicians and other healthcare professionals to help develop and implement personalized care methods, educate patients on how to use equipment and medication, care for patients on life support in the ICU, and assess patients by facilitating limited physical exams and performing a variety of diagnostic tests.

To succeed in the role, candidates must have proficient knowledge in pulmonary rehabilitation and pulmonary functions and experience in handling a variety of respiratory equipment. The country’s growing middle-aged and aging population will rapidly increase respiratory or pulmonary disorders. With a whopping 23% employment outlook, Respiratory Therapists can anticipate a promising career with lucrative salaries, even without a graduate degree.

While many of these professionals can already start their jobs with an associate or bachelor’s degree, they must pursue their licenses to practice in the state. To pursue licensure, they must have a degree accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care. They must also pass the state or national examination administered by The National Board for Respiratory Care. Graduates can either pursue the Certified Respiratory Therapist or the Registered Respiratory Therapist credential. 

The NBRC also offers three specialty examinations for RRT-certified and CRT-certified Respiratory Therapists, namely Sleep Disorder Specialty, Neonatal/Pediatric Specialty, and Adult Critical Care Specialty.

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Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic Science Technicians

Required Educational Attainment:

  •  Bachelor’s Degree

If you have a penchant for forensic movies and documentaries and love working in the criminal justice field without a graduate degree, working as a Forensic Science Technician is one of the best careers to pursue that doesn’t require grad school credentials.  

Their main duty is to help criminal investigations by performing tests on samples or pieces of evidence and reporting their findings on the related crime. The evidence collected from crime scenes includes photographs, bullet shells, hair, blood samples, and fingerprints. All samples are crucial for ballistic testing, chemical analysis, and DNA profiling. A Forensic Science Technician’s expertise is highly needed during court hearings, allowing them to document their findings and testify in court.

While they are essential in the criminal justice system, these professionals often have chemistry, biology, physical science, forensic science, and other related fields. They also specialize in a particular field of discipline, including DNA, pathology, or toxicology. To ensure the credibility of the academic program, the American Academy of Forensic Sciences is responsible for regulating and setting up a set of criteria in the profession. 

Before working in actual crime investigations independently, Forensic Science Technicians must participate in on-the-job training. They will work under the management of more experienced investigators while learning the standard methods, processes, and tools for gathering, documenting and reporting pieces of evidence. They obtain knowledge in real-time laboratory settings to succeed in the profession other than pursuing graduate programs. They may need to pass a proficiency examination to boost their credentials in some cases.

An increase in the dependability of forensic evidence and state-of-the-art technology to resolve crimes has led to the increased demand for Forensic Science Technicians. They have a 16% job outlook between 2020 to 2030, indicating twice the growth rate compared to other occupations.

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Dental Hygienists

Dental Hygienists

Required Educational Attainment:

  •  Associate’s Degree

Do you love to work in the healthcare setting but focus on dental care instead? Being a Dental Hygienist is one of the best careers that doesn’t require graduate studies. They only need an associate degree to apply. However, they must pursue a license to work as dental hygienists regardless of their state. 

Dental Hygienists work in the dentist’s clinic, providing preventative dental care under the supervision of a dentist. They are responsible for educating their patients on maintaining good oral hygiene. They examine patients’ mouths for signs of gingivitis, tooth decay, and other oral problems. Dental Hygienists also administer local anesthetics, apply sealants and fluorides for tooth protection, and perform dental X-rays to their patients. 

Some people often confuse the work of a dental hygienist with a dental assistant. While both are employed in dental clinics under the supervision of dentists, they differ in academic requirements, the number of hours, and job responsibilities. Unlike dental assistants, dental hygienists require more extensive academic programs. A one-year certificate at a vocational school or community college for dental assistants will suffice academic and training credentials.

Aspiring Dental Hygienists must enroll in a dental hygiene program accredited by the Commission on Dental Association. Associate degrees will require three years to complete, featuring a combination of classroom, clinical, and laboratory work. Some candidates also pursue a rewarding career with a certificate program, with extensive experience in the field.

After completing an accredited dental hygiene program, graduates must pass clinical and written examinations. Although all states have a mandatory licensing requirement to practice, each state has different requirements for licensing. They must consult with their corresponding state dental boards for complete requirements.

Increasing demand for dental care services is projected since more and more people will require preventative dental services, which indicates an 11% job outlook rate from 2020 to 2030.

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Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers

Required Educational Attainment:

  •  Bachelor’s Degree

While most managerial roles require an MBA or any other master’s degree program, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers aren’t required to have one. It is one of the diverse careers you can pursue without a graduate degree. These professionals have relevant work experience in sales, promotions, marketing, and advertising. They formerly work as public relations specialists, purchasing agents, and sales representatives. Working as advertising, promotions, or marketing manager is ideal for career shifters, with relevant experience in the field and excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Most of these professionals work in regional managing or corporate offices and advertising firms or agencies.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers oversee an organization’s advertising activities and personnel to create effective, creative, and brand-specific advertising campaigns. They collaborate with their colleagues in objective-setting initiatives, monitoring, approving, and assessing a project’s impact and effectiveness.

Although technical skills aren’t required in the profession, Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers must have effective written and non-written communication skills and interpersonal skills. They work with a diverse range of people, including customer support, account executives, marketing assistants, and project managers. These professionals must also find ways to establish relationships outside of companies.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why do many students leave grad school without completing their degrees?

Many students ditch grad school halfway through their program since they eventually realize a graduate degree isn’t necessary for their long-term aspirations. Once a graduate degree isn’t aligned with students’ career objectives, they will no longer find it worthy of their efforts and time. Unlike college, graduate schools have higher demands. Although graduate studies don’t demand many all-nighter assignments, students will need to work extended hours to accommodate their deliverables. For professional students, well-deserved breaks after every semester are already a luxury that many can’t enjoy.

Although project management is one of the crucial skills when pursuing advanced studies, it’s not entirely thought in school. Graduate students don’t leave grad schools because they aren’t smart and worthy enough. Many of these students consider leaving after many years of disappointment and burnout. 

What don’t some students pursue grad school?

While many students test the waters in pursuing graduate studies, some completely avoid them. The lack of financial resources may be the most obvious reason some students don’t enroll in grad schools. However, there are other reasons why it has been the trend for some students that aren’t limited to money matters only.

Practicality

Pursuing a graduate education may involve self-supporting studies instead of relying on financial support from parents or financial aid programs. Many of these students prefer entering the workforce immediately after graduation without additional financial burdens. With several career opportunities that don’t require graduate studies, students can easily find one even with a technical certificate or an associate degree. Instead of completing a graduate program, they invest more in practical skills and essential certifications related to their professions.

Challenges with Thesis Advisors

While many students succeed in college coursework, some struggle to thrive in an extensive research environment. Since graduate studies involve a lot of thesis or research works, students must have a smooth-sailing rapport with their advisors. Otherwise, they won’t have a healthy and structured support system to guide their proposals, projects, thesis, and other essentials. 

Wrong Expectations between Learning Outcome and Academic Experience

Many students initially don’t know what to expect from their graduate program. A graduate program in History or English Literature, for instance, emphasizes methods and theories rather than content-based course works. If students don’t have any idea of the nature of their graduate program, it will deter them from pursuing graduate studies.

Mental Distress

The culture of graduate studies can easily affect students’ mental health. Many students are intellectually capable of completing their program. However, bureaucracies at school often lead to mental distress and frustrations. Graduate programs are highly competitive and demanding. A culture of criticism rather than a healthy support system from peers and advisors can discourage students from pursuing a graduate degree.

Misaligned Professional Objectives

Some students enroll in a graduate program because they’re passionate about becoming a college or university instructor. However, they get overwhelmed with a lot of research work or dissertations. When pursuing the academic program, they may find out that the curriculum emphasizes research rather than teaching. They eventually realize that a teaching profession won’t work in the long run.

Are all high-paying careers requiring graduate degrees?

Careers with no grad school requirements don’t indicate less significant and low-paying than professions requiring post-baccalaureate degrees. With cultural advancements and technological breakthroughs, a growing number of careers that don’t require grad school are becoming more available. These high-paying careers with no grad school are called “new collar jobs.” New collar jobs are a perfect fit for career shifters, high school graduates, and individuals wanting to work again after a break. They are often found in the healthcare, IT, and engineering industries, potentially earning lucrative salaries even without graduate degrees.

The promising news is that many high-paying, fast-growing careers nowadays no longer require advanced education. Are you planning to ditch graduate degrees and jump into a high-paying career easily? Here are the ten careers with no graduation requirements and credentials to pursue.

Malcolm Peralty
Chief Editor