8 Skilled Jobs You Don't Need University For

See also: Entrepreneurial Skills

Not so keen on those rising university tuition fees? Going to university is not the only way to carve out a successful career.

Whether it’s through alternative qualifications, work experience, or life experience – these career paths let you bypass university. After all, there are so many essential skills that you simply cannot learn in a lecture hall.

These skilled careers offer professional fulfilment and advancement – find a path that you’ll want to tread.


Helping people to help themselves is supremely rewarding.

Many people become counsellors later in life, using their life experience and communication skills to support and help others.

Counsellors need to cultivate their sense of empathy, and must learn how to actively listen without judgement.

  1. Counsellor training is very practical, and you need to undertake a significant amount of counselling sessions before you qualify. During your training, you will learn all about confidentiality and safeguarding – two central tenets of being a good counsellor.

  2. Counsellors often work across a number of different services, working for bereavement charities, youth organisations, family charities, hospices, universities, and a loads of other associations.

  3. Counsellors can also work privately, offering sessions inside their own homes, or at the homes of their clients.

  4. There are loads of good books on counselling and emotional resilience it’s worth reading up on counselling to see whether it’s something you could handle. Learn more about becoming a counsellor.

Advertising & Marketing Executive

Working in advertising and marketing is a fun and dynamic career choice – popular with gregarious and communicative individuals. There is a lot of money to be made in this industry (if you play your cards right).

  1. Everyone working in advertising and marketing must have strong commercial acumen, as well likeable personal attributes. Relationships and referrals are crucial in this industry which relies on portfolios, client recommendations, and personal branding.

  2. Work experience in advertising and marketing is relatively easy to find, with many summer internships offered to talented people.

  3. It’s a good idea to learn new media skills in order to stay competitive in the current landscape.Social media and online video have been dominated by people who have learned the tricks of the trade on the job.

  4. Data analysis and market research are crucial to campaign success, so you need to be comfortable with numbers. Creativity is also valued in this industry.

Web Expert

Many web experts are self-taught, learning how to code, design, and promote websites by doing it themselves.

  1. Web Designer: A good web designer (whether in an agency, or freelancing) has to combine creativity with technical ability. Web design requires precision, and an understanding of what clients want (and need). Good web designers rely on their portfolios and communication skills to find new work. Find out what other skills web designers need.

  2. Web Developer/Programmer: The line between web developers and designers can become blurred, but generally developers have a more mathematical and technical understanding of websites. Good developers need to cultivate strong motivational and project management skills in order to succeed.

  3. SEO/Digital Marketing: Promoting websites combines many skills. It’s a commercial role that, nonetheless, combines creativity, people skills, and a deep technical understanding of how the web works.

Administration & Management Professional

Working in administration or middle management is highly rewarding, and many roles offer a great work-life balance.

Developing leadership, time management, and team working skills, this line of work encompasses a wide range of diverse roles. These careers tend to appeal to process-oriented and organised individuals.

Rising to managerial roles is possible through relevant work experience and an understanding of how to empower teams to work better.

Here are just some of the cool jobs you could do:

  1. Paralegal
  2. Medical Secretary
  3. Student Services Manager
  4. PA/Executive Assistant
  5. Procurement Manager
  6. Project Manager
  7. HR Manager

Real Estate

There are a wide range of real estate jobs available to industry first-timers, with many people starting out as an office assistant or Saturday staff, working their way up the ranks to become an estate agent.

Estate agencies vary in size and property portfolios, but most estate agents in the UK have an online component. Estate agency work encompasses both selling and administrative tasks.

Skills needed by an estate agent:

  1. Great communication and people skills
  2. Being comfortable with selling
  3. Excellent attention to detail
  4. Great customer service skills
  5. Commercial acumen
  6. Research skills
Read more about The Skills You Need to Become a Successful Estate Agent.


Being your own boss is a great way to make your own luck in life. Being a good entrepreneur requires grit, stamina, and perseverance.

  1. Startups are formed by people who have an innovative product or service to sell. After a short incubation period and some investment, good business ideas can be made into good businesses. Running a startup is not an easy path to take, but it can be supremely rewarding.

  2. Consultancy work is a great option for people who feel they have something to share, and is a popular choice for people further along in their career. Being a good consultant is all about developing interpersonal and leadership skills.

  3. The door-to-door salesman has now become the ecommerce merchant. Whether you want to run your own online shop, or simply sell to others through Amazon, selling online is big business. You need to be comfortable with data analysis, marketing, and management in order to run a successful ecommerce venture.

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Getting a Job

Develop the skills you need to get that job.

This eBook is essential reading for potential job-seekers. Not only does it cover identifying your skills but also the mechanics of applying for a job, writing a CV or resume and attending interviews.

Land Surveyor

Surveyors analyse land for development, and are needed by property and land developers.

You don’t need a degree to become a surveyor, but there are some professional qualifications and training you’ll have to complete to qualify.

  1. Learning to be a surveyor is very hands-on and practical. You start as a trainee, then move on to becoming an assistant, before becoming a surveyor.

  2. To be a good surveyor, you need to have a good understanding of land, geography and mathematical space. You will also need to effectively lead a team and manage the day-to-day operations of your surveying team. It’s important that you work well with others, and that you don’t mind travelling for work, or working outside in all weather.

Public Service Roles

Many respected public service roles don’t require formal university qualifications. These roles are suitable for school-leavers, as well as people who fancy a career change.

For these roles, the training is rigorous and encompasses a wide range of aptitudes, both physical and mental. Though you don’t have to go to university, you do have to work hard!

During training and assessment, you will get to bond with your peers as you all overcome challenges together. These roles require emotional resilience, physical fitness, and excellent team working skills.

Here are some exciting roles to consider:

  1. Police Officer – working within communities, this role is both physically and mentally taxing

  2. Firefighter – this 24/7 role requires physical fitness and steadiness under pressure

  3. Territorial Army/Navy/RAF – military roles span a wide range of disciplines and the Army is very good at training its own, so career progression is competitive

  4. Ambulance Service – ambulances are at the frontline of emergency medicine and staff undergo rigorous training to help them deal with the emotional stress of their role.

Just because you missed the university bandwagon, doesn’t mean you’ve missed out on a great career!

What professional skills matter the most to you?

Pactrick Foster

About the Author

Patrick Foster, ecommerce entrepreneur & writer

EcommerceTips is my personal blog where I write about the challenges (and joys) of ecommerce.