White Collar Jobs That Don't Require a College Degree

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These six professional careers don't ask for a big educational commitment.

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Many people believe that non-manual labor office jobs, also known as white collar jobs, are only for the well-educated, and are unattainable by those who haven't had the time, desire, or resources to obtain a degree. However, this is not always the case.

"Many white collar jobs require exceptional communication, logistics, and problem solving skills, and often, these are skills that can be tweaked with time and experience, but not studied in a degree program," says Steve Langerud, who owns the career counseling firm, Steve Langerud and Associates.

And we're not talking about jobs that nobody wants. "Most of these jobs are in high demand today and are expected to see significant growth over the next few years," says Trish Thomas, founder of the Resume Resource and the assistant director of the center for internships and career development at Eastern Connecticut State University.

So keep reading to discover six white collar jobs that don't necessarily require a college degree, although you may want to pursue additional education to maximize your options in these fields.

White Collar Career #1: Computer User Support Specialist

Find Degree Programs
Median
Annual Salary*
$46,620
Top 10% of
Annual Salaries**
>$78,410
Bottom 10% of
Annual Salaries**
<$27,780

If you're interested in working in a comfortable office environment, maybe even from an office in your own home, consider pursuing a professional career as a computer support specialist.

"Computer support specialists are white collar workers who oversee the daily performance of computer networks or provide technical assistance to end users, either on-site or remotely," says Thomas.

Computer user support specialists are also known as help-desk technicians, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. They usually field questions from non-IT staff workers regarding using printers, working with email, and installing software.

Why You Don't Need a Degree: "There are a variety of classes and certificate programs that provide training in monitoring and troubleshooting system performance, setting up equipment for employee use, installation, operation, and minor repairs to hardware, software and peripheral equipment," says Thomas.

"Although a bachelor's degree is sometimes required for this position, it's really not necessary for a computer user support specialist," says Abraham Snell, an adjunct professor at ITT Technical Institute in Birmingham, Ala. "Their role is 1st tier support, which means they are the first line of contact with clients who are having system issues." Snell says that computer user support specialists do very basic troubleshooting, "but if the issue is too in-depth, they pass it on to the next level of support."

What You DO Need: The Department says that computer user support specialist jobs require some knowledge of computers, but not necessarily a bachelor's degree. Computer-related classes or an associate's degree may be sufficient.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Computer Science Program.

That being said, if you're looking to work with a large software company that supports business users, a bachelor's degree is frequently required, and more technical jobs will probably require a degree in a field like computer science, information science or engineering.

White Collar Career #2: Medical Records and Health Information Technician

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Median
Annual Salary*
$34,970
Top 10% of
Annual Salaries**
>$57,320
Bottom 10% of
Annual Salaries**
<$22,700

Doctors, nurses, and pharmacists aren't the only white collar options in the health care industry. Medical records and health information technicians are another option for those who want to be health care professionals.

"Medical records and health information technicians enter patient medical records, insurance information, and treatment data into computer databases," says Thomas.

Most of their work is performed while seated at a desk, although they may meet with nurses and other healthcare professionals to clarify diagnoses or get more information, says the U.S. Department of Labor.

Why You Don't Need a Degree: "Certificate programs for this growing profession provide ample training in medical coding and billing, as well as the legal, ethical and healthcare regulatory requirements," says Thomas.

Important qualities for medical records and health information technicians include the ability to be detail-oriented and analytical. They also need technical skills to use coding and classification software, according to the Department of Labor.

What You DO Need: The Department states that a postsecondary certificate is typically needed, but workers may have an associate's degree. An associate's in health information technology usually includes courses in classification and coding systems, anatomy and physiology, health care statistics, and more.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Health Information Systems & Technology Program.

The Department also notes that professional certification is required by many employers. Technicians who want to pursue a career as a medical or health services manager usually have bachelor's or master's degrees.

White Collar Career #3: Web Developer

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Median
Annual Salary*
$63,160
Top 10% of
Annual Salaries**
>$110,350
Bottom 10% of
Annual Salaries**
<$33,320

If you possess both creative and technical skills, you may be able to parlay these talents into a white collar web developer job.

"Web developers design, build, and maintain web sites, frequently incorporating e-commerce capabilities, multimedia content and analytics," says Thomas. These computer professionals may create content and convert text, graphic, audio and video components to compatible digital formats.

Why You Don't Need a Degree: "For this position, coding and design expertise are more important than a college degree," says Thomas.

"Post-secondary certificate programs provide advanced training in authoring and scripting languages, user experience methodologies, testing, data backup and recovery and performance analytics," she adds.

What You DO Need: Depending upon the type of work and setting, the U.S. Department of Labor reports that anything from a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree may be required to pursue a career as a web developer.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Web Design Program.

That being said, the most common requirement is an associate's degree in web design or a related field, the Department of Labor reports, and for more technical developer positions like web architect, some employers may prefer workers with at least a bachelor's degree in computer science, programming, or a related field.

White Collar Career # 4: Construction Manager

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Median
Annual Salary*
$84,410
Top 10% of
Annual Salaries**
>$146,340
Bottom 10% of
Annual Salaries**
<$50,220

If you like the construction industry, but prefer to collaborate and manage projects than to be hands-on, consider pursuing a white collar career as a construction manager.

Construction is an industry that places a lot of value on "getting it done," says Scott Barlow, career coach and founder of HappenToYourCareer.com. "If you are a practiced problem solver, have a bias for action, and don't mind learning from folks who are rough around the edges, you can excel in the construction industry."

Why You Don't Need a Degree: This job requires experience more than education, says Barlow. "Typically, you need experience balancing projects that have lots of moving parts, people, and short time frames."

According to Langerud, it's the intangibles that make these workers special, not the degree. "Overall, top construction managers have a sixth sense about how to get the best performance from vendors, workers, and clients," says Langerud.

What You DO Need: According to the U.S. Department of Labor, self-employed general contractors can qualify as construction managers with a high school diploma plus many years of construction experience.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Construction Management Program.

The Department does note that a bachelor's degree in construction management, construction science, engineering, or architecture is becoming increasingly important as construction processes become more complicated.

White Collar Career # 6: Insurance Underwriter

Find Degree Programs
Median
Annual Salary*
$63,780
Top 10% of
Annual Salaries**
>$111,750
Bottom 10% of
Annual Salaries**
<$39,410

If you possess analytical and math skills combined with an attention to detail, consider making your mark in the insurance industry as an insurance underwriter.

"The responsibility of an insurance underwriter is to assess the risk associated with insuring an individual or account and then set insurance premiums appropriately," according to Mark Sieverkropp, a consultant and director of happen-ings at HappenToYourCareer.com.

"An underwriter will review information provided by the applicant, obtain additional information as necessary and compare it to the past performance of similar risks in order to establish a premium that is appropriate for the amount of risk that the insurance company is assuming," explains Sieverkropp.

Why You Don't Need a Degree: "An underwriter can have several different disciplines within underwriting, such as personal lines underwriting, commercial underwriting, and production underwriting," says Sieverkropp, who is also a commercial underwriter. "Because of this, training is often provided on the job and experience or a degree is not required for entry level positions."

Sieverkropp also says the skills that are necessary for an underwriter to possess are attention to detail, the ability to assess and analyze information, and an ability to make decisions based on the data provided.

What You DO Need: The U.S. Department of Labor tells us that strong computer skills and insurance-related work experience may be enough.

Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.

However, the Department of Labor also points out that employers prefer hiring applicants with a bachelor's degree, with particularly helpful courses including finance, economics, business, and mathematics.

* All salary information from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment and Wages data, May 2013.

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