9 Great Second Careers That Don't Require 4-Year Degrees

By Susan Ricker

You want to make a career change, but you don't have a bachelor's degree and don't have the funds or the interest in getting a four-year degree. Here are nine good jobs that don't require a bachelor's. Some of them offer on-the job training, too.
1. Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerk*
Bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks produce financial records for organizations. They record financial transactions, update statements and check financial records for accuracy. Most bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerks need a high-school diploma, and they usually learn some of their skills on the job. They must have basic math and computer skills, including knowledge of spreadsheets and bookkeeping software.
  • Median annual pay: $34,030

2. Electrician
Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses and factories. Although most electricians learn through a formal apprenticeship, some start out by attending a technical school. Most states require licensing.

  • Median annual pay: $48,250

3. Insurance sales agent
Insurance sales agents help insurance companies generate business by contacting potential customers and selling one or more types of insurance. An agent explains insurance policies and helps clients choose plans that suit them. Although many employers require agents to have a high-school diploma, more than one-third of insurance sales agents have a bachelor's degree. Agents must be licensed in the states in which they work.

  • Median annual pay: $46,770

4. Legal secretary
These secretaries and administrative assistants perform routine clerical and organizational tasks. They organize files, draft messages, schedule appointments and support other staff. High-school graduates with basic office and computer skills usually qualify for entry-level secretarial and administrative assistant positions.

  • Median annual pay: $34,660

5. Loan officer
Loan officers evaluate, authorize or recommend approval of loan applications for people and businesses. Most loan officers need a high-school diploma and receive on-the-job training. Commercial loan officers, however, need a bachelor's degree in finance, business, economics or a related field. Mortgage loan officers must be licensed.

  • Median annual pay: $56,490

6. Payroll and timekeeping clerk
Financial clerks do administrative work for banking, insurance and other companies. They keep records, help customers and perform financial transactions. A high-school diploma is enough for most financial clerk positions. These workers usually learn their duties through on-the-job training.

  • Median annual pay: $33,710

7. Pharmacy technician
Pharmacy technicians help licensed pharmacists dispense prescription medication. Becoming a pharmacy technician usually requires earning a high-school diploma. Some states also require completing a formal training program and passing an exam.

  • Median annual pay: $28,400

8. Police, fire and ambulance dispatcher
Police, fire and ambulance dispatchers, also called 911 operators or public safety telecommunicators, answer emergency and non-emergency calls. They take information from the caller and send the appropriate type and number of units. Most police, fire and ambulance dispatchers have a high-school diploma or GED. Additional requirements vary. Many states require dispatchers to become certified.

  • Median annual pay: $35,370

9. Real estate sales agent
Real estate brokers and sales agents help clients buy, sell and rent properties. Brokers and agents do the same type of work, but brokers are licensed to manage their own real estate business. Sales agents must work with a broker. In every state and the District of Columbia, real estate brokers and sales agents must be licensed. Candidates must be high-school graduates, be at least 18 years old and complete a particular number of hours of real estate courses.

  • Median annual pay: $40,030

*All median annual pay figures, job descriptions and education levels are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Susan Ricker is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

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Watching schools hire foreign nationals over US students for office jobs etc is disgusting , repulsive, and disheartening. The school authorities should be fired and banned from edcational institutions for life if they cheat American students out of jobs!

August 25 2012 at 4:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did they teach you not to trust a career educator that is pro unfair trade?

August 25 2012 at 4:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To put it mildly education is just a meal ticket for professors who also own stock in companies that outsource jobs or support a massive in flo of foreign students and visa workers.

August 25 2012 at 4:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am so sick with hearing about the importance of a degree and all its worth,maybe to some people its worth some thing,but the only worth it has it allows you more debt than you are already in.Furthermore it doesnt promise the salaries that degree holders think they are going to get and if you are even lucky enough to get an interview.One keeps heading to higher education and career goals but what about the huge expense that one occurs even if you dont find a job immediately upon graduation? Has anyone considered the salaries and the debt to ratio that college grads occur? But heres a plus,the more debt that one occurs the more likely you will receive offers for more debt, then when the employer checks your consumer file and sees how much debt you have occurred,will they still want to hire you then? Think about this now is it worth it?

August 25 2012 at 2:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The way the job situation is today, college is a huge gamble, meaning a huge debt & no guantee of a job. An apprenticeship program with eventual hire is the way to go. After colege graduation, most companies want experience which is ridiculous since you just graduated & have none. I think experience is far more important than a college degree for most jobs. Unless, of course you aspire to be a doctor . College does not guarantee much more than debt.

August 25 2012 at 11:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dmfischetti's comment

Eventually even the smartest students are going to see no alternative but to join with the rest of the population's blue collar workforce demanding the end of unfair trade deals and abuse of the worker visa programs.

August 25 2012 at 5:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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