You don't need a college degree to get a good job. Yes, you read that right. It’s okay if you don't have a degree – and you might not need to get one.  It used to be true that not having a degree would hurt your job prospects. However, the world has changed so much just in the last few years.

Even before the pandemic started, college was becoming overrated and too expensive. Today, many people struggle to just break even and pay off the education that they invested in. Is a degree worth it if it takes 20 years to pay off? And is college really the only path for your career?

Thanks in part to the pandemic, remote learning is more common than ever, as well as more affordable and more accessible. I don’t believe that traditional college will become obsolete, but I think it's becoming less relevant. There are more affordable and more flexible ways to obtain the same knowledge and skills.

Of course, everyone’s situation is different, and it depends on the field that you are entering. If you want to be a doctor, obviously you're going to need a degree (or two or three)!  But if you're entering the business world, you may not need an MBA. In fact, there are plenty of careers that don't require college degrees. For example, if you’re interested in healthcare, you could be a respiratory therapist, a dental hygienist, a physical therapy assistant, or a lab technician. You can also make a great living doing HVAC work or being a welder or plumber. You’d be surprised how much some “blue-collar” jobs can pay.

Yes, there are benefits to getting a degree from a personal growth standpoint. You learn how to think, how to collaborate, how to meet deadlines, how to manage your time, and so on. But you can learn those skills in a number of other ways.  There needs to be more of a focus on learning trades and doing internships and apprenticeships. Vocational schools are a good option for those who know what they want to do and are ready to learn that trade.

I also know a number of people whose career is very different from their degree, including myself and my family. A lifetime learner, I've got two degrees plus plenty of certifications and a jumble of letters after my name. But I don’t need either of my degrees for a single thing I’m doing now. Maybe I'm inclined to think this way because I'm in a nontraditional, self-created career, but I believe in taking your career and your life into your own hands. Each of us is responsible for our own future, and it's up to us to decide how to get there.

The pandemic is forcing us to rewrite the rules and reevaluate all of the systems that we have in place. I believe that employers’ attitudes are changing about academic degrees, and that you’ll see more companies relax their education requirements to obtain the best talent. I also think we will continue to see changes to the educational system over the next few decades. But for today, remember that when it comes to education, you have more options than you think.

For more on this topic, listen to episode 115 of the Career UpRising podcast You Don’t Need a College Degree on iTunes or at
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