15 Solid Ways to be Successful Without College Degrees

College may be an incredible experience, and earning a degree can be the proudest achievement of one’s life.

However, college is simply not for everyone.

Fortunately, you can still make it big even without higher education. 

how to be successful without a college degree

Are you wondering if you should even go to college at all?

Well, I’ve loaded up this post with tips on being successful without college.

Keep reading if you’re put off by universities’ expensive costs or unsure how to live a happy life without one. 

Yes, you can still be successful without a college diploma.

[This video titled, “Don’t go to College” agrees]

There are numerous avenues for success.

Here are my thoughts based on my team’s research.

Things To Consider Not Going to College

There are career paths that don’t require college degrees

Are you curious about your prospects of succeeding without a college diploma?

Well, many occupations, such as air traffic controller, dental assistant, detective, and even teacher, allow you to train while working. 

You’ll get paid to become an expert in your chosen career path.

Other professions, such as entrepreneur, stylist, sports coach, and many others, do not require a degree.

Moreover, even historically, degree-required jobs are becoming more accessible to non-degree holders. 

There are a number of large companies (even ones like Google, Publis, and Hilton) that no longer require college degrees for you to work with them.

But this doesn’t mean you don’t have to work hard.

To get plugged into the professional world, you still need to do things like…

Expand your network

Attend networking events, participate in online webinars and hangouts, and identify people on social media to connect with.

Use Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter to create your reputation and become a well-known name on their social media feeds. 

Don’t annoy people.

Instead, build real and meaningful relationships and add value to their audience.

Before you know it, you’ll be invited to conferences and social gatherings.

These are excellent opportunities to learn how to be successful without going to college.

You could learn first-hand from industry experts. 

Who knows, maybe you’ll even find a mentor along the way!

But networking isn’t the only thing to do.

I also recommend that you…

Read, read, and then read some more

Reading is an important solution to how to be successful without going to college.

Many college courses necessitate a substantial amount of reading. 

Look, every bit of knowledge is available for free.

All – of – the – world’s – knowledge.

Yes, you can do so without paying tuition or enrolling in a formal program. 

Heck, get a library card and go to your local municipal library to order or search for the books you need.

A Google search of your specific field of interest will yield a reading list.

There may even be used books for sale in the bookshop on your local university campus.

You can visit these shops even if you are not a student.

There are no excuses here.

And while we’re talking about no excuses, we’re more connected than ever.

Therefore, you need to…

Take advantage of the internet

Many people are now making a lot of money working online, whether as freelance writers or virtual PAs.

Some work as social media influencers without having any unique talents or even a college degree. 

Many businesses will also encourage you to participate in online group training days and reward you for your efforts.

You’ll have regular opportunities to meet other online colleagues and enjoy the benefits.

In addition to meeting new colleagues, there might be an opportunity to…

Get on-the-job training

I’m sure you know someone who began at the bottom and worked their way up.

It could be your local hairdresser who began with only a high school diploma and washed hair for cash tips.

It could be a DIY repair person turned construction pro.

In many corporate careers, the same is true. 

Retail managers and consultants, for example, frequently began their careers on the shop floor.

Top negotiators frequently began their careers answering phones. 

Inquire with your current boss whether there are any training classes you may enroll in while continuing with your current position. 

One or two classes a week may be enough to help you develop new skills and qualifications.

These aspects can help you advance your career and give you a stronger sense of purpose over time.

But maybe you’re open to schooling, just not a traditional college education.

Maybe you want to…

Pursue an online degree instead

You might be having trouble getting an education because of time constraints or the cost of a college diploma.

Then consider an online degree program like those offered by UoPeople

These programs allow you to study for a degree from the comfort of your own home, tuition-free.

Professors can focus on each student’s needs because students are taught in small online classes of about 25 individuals. 

Plus, from the start of their studies, each UoPeople student is assigned a personal Program Advisor. 

The Program Advisor provides individualized support to the student.

They answer any questions students may have, help them choose courses, and encourage them throughout their studies. 

All of this might make the concept of pursuing a degree more intriguing and realistic when it previously wasn’t. 

[If you decide to go this route, maybe you’ll want to pick up a side hustle while you’re there. This vid will give you some ideas.]

But if those skills don’t excite you to work on in your own time, then maybe you can…

Invent something

I know, sounds tough.

But why not you?

Develop something that makes a business more money if you want to progress without a degree.

This will propel you to the top of some companies’ priority lists. 

If you’re starting in life and think you can invent something that the market wants, you’re golden.

I’m sure you’ve seen the success stories from SharkTank (one of my favorite shows).

Some great products have come out of the Shark Tank!

Speaking of the tank, one of the things folks can do before entering is to…

Develop sales and negotiation skills

Many jobs in the commercial sector are based on a person’s ability to acquire new business and negotiate better prices.

Even self-employed artists, musicians, and business owners must be masters of this game!

The good news is that learning does not require a college diploma.

The book ‘Never Split the Difference‘ by Chris Voss is an excellent book about negotiation skills!

In addition to negotiating, you can learn to market and sell.

You could advertise clothing and outdated electronics on eBay or set up a pop-up shop at a vintage market. 

If you need to re-sign a rental contract soon, take advantage of the opportunity to practice your new skills.

Make an initial offer and play off how the other person responds. 

Knowing how to negotiate a fair deal in and out of the workplace will help you immensely. 

You can also look to…

Find yourself a mentor

Ask someone you idolize to be your mentor.

Yeah, they may only have time to meet for coffee every so often.

However, knowing they are looking for you will drive you to improve your career and personal life. 

So, how can you persuade someone to mentor you?

Well… do something.

Don’t just ask them to be your mentor.

Research what they do.

Send them a list of 10 ideas.

Or show them why their investing time in you can also add value to them.

It could be an app or a new product they need to test or market research among individuals in your age range.

If you offer a skill swap, essential people may want to work with you and help you out. 

You’re also going to need to get ready for hard work and to…

Roll up your sleeves 

When you put in the effort, there are no limits to what you can accomplish.

If you already have a job but aren’t progressing in it, try to go at it a different way.

Gab with your boss and explain that you want to earn more money while developing your career.

Lay out a plan and outline what you would like to do to further your education and skills.

Take initiative.

Who knows, as you progress, they may change your job title.

Set aside 30 minutes five times a week for self-development.

It could be learning a new employable skill like typing, learning a language, learning to code, learning to use ChatGPT, or revising your resume.

[On the ChatGPT front, I found these 30 use cases after using it for the first 100 days it existed as a tool].

Another thing that you can look at doing for your professional development is to…

Get Certified 

Certificate programs are short-term training programs that require less time than a degree. 

Certain certificates can be earned in as little as a few months.

They also tend to be less expensive. 

Moreover, certificate programs might assist you in developing the abilities and experiences required for specific employment.

Certificates are available for careers in various industries, including healthcare, administration, and information technology. 

Programs are now available for newer disciplines, such as social media management, SEO optimization, and copywriting.

These are abilities that are in high demand in today’s internet-based world.

[What you definitely don’t want to do is go into debt for any sort of college — watch the video below…]

video about college debt

In addition to getting more education and getting certified, you should also…

Become an expert in what you’re passionate about

Do people always pay attention to your restaurant and bar recommendations?

If that’s the case, consider launching a food blog to reach a larger audience. 

Are you a Superbowl aficionado?

Write about it on social media every day to establish yourself as a valued voice on the topic. 

Your following count may grow if you post a daily social media story on a topic related to your passion.

Ultimately, you could get compensated to run sponsored posts on your YouTube channel or a blog site.

While you’re working on the skill set of becoming an expert, you can also…

Learn how to solve problems

The majority of great ideas and start-up businesses begin with an issue to address.

You don’t need a college degree to become an entrepreneur if you can solve people’s problems. 

If you are a company employee who can solve difficulties for the company, that expertise will help you advance in your career.

It will make your resume nice and shiny should you decide to work elsewhere. 

Solving problems and saving money for the organization will catch the attention of executives and result in favorable results.


Remember: It’s never too late or too soon to begin

It’s never too early to start investigating new opportunities.

That applies whether you’ve just turned 18 and decided not to go to college or you’ve struck the big 5-0. 

So, how do you succeed without going to college?

Google is your new best friend in this situation. 

Look for information on any new career you’re interested in.

You can acquire a specific work-related skill, such as coding, by reading about how other non-graduates succeeded.

Don’t be discouraged if you think you’ll have to wait years to make a living doing what you love.

The only solution is to get started right away.  

And be sure to think outside the box.

Some companies are in their 23rd or 24th iteration.

As a result, it’s possible that you’ll fail your first professional ambition. 

No worries – failure is a part of success.

Get started now and gain the experience you’ll need to succeed when the time comes.

Okay, So How Successful Can You Be Without A College Degree?

Okay, how successful can you really be without a college degree?

Ok, some final thoughts here.

Is college a requirement for “success”?

Of course not.

Success is defined in a variety of ways by all kinds of folks anyway.

Yes, research is pretty clear that in general, people with a college degree will earn more over their lifetime.


They may possibly have more debt as well.

College has its advantages, but that’s for another day.

Just note that it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.

Either way you go, get out there and rock it!


Can you be successful without college?

Heck yeah! Read this entire article to get a complete answer.

Can I be successful without high school?

Sure, but I wouldn’t recommend it. High school gives you the basics for future success. It’s also legally required by most states.

Can a person be successful without education?

Absolutely not. We should continue to educate ourselves every day. Education never stops. But can you be successful with multiple types of education? Yes, absolutely.

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Brooks Conkle Banner Image
Brooks Conkle

Brooks is an entrepreneur, father, husband, & follower of the golden rule. He has over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur after graduating with a Finance degree from Auburn University. Addicted to starting new business projects, he believes in creating multiple income streams and a life of flexibility. Business should work around your life, not the other way around. He creates content on his website, sharing his projects to help other hustlers in marketing, personal finance, and online business.