Great Jobs for Veterans Without a Degree

Updated: April 5, 2021
In this Article

    There are lots of great jobs for veterans without a degree. Those who retire or separate from the military don’t always re-enter the workforce with a degree. What waits for these veterans? Much depends on who you ask and what kind of career path you want to take.

    Defining Terms

    What does it mean to apply for a job without a degree? What should veterans know about getting a job with no college? Unfortunately even at some respected military-oriented websites when you search for articles about high paying jobs that don’t require a degree, what you get is a list of jobs that actually DO require some form of credentialing.

    For example one site’s list of ten jobs for veterans without a degree includes mention of “computer support specialists”.

    After discussing the ongoing need for such support for American consumers, the listing for this type of job adds, “Despite a candidates (sic) proficiency, the job usually requires training and, potentially, an associate’s degree.” Another of the top ten in this same article? Dental hygienists, which the article goes on to describe as a job that “usually only requires an associate’s degree.”

    That same article also lists plumbers as one of the ten jobs you can get without a degree, adding that the requirements may include, “…possibly attendance at a trade school”.

    As you can see, such information is not useful for the veteran who has no degree whatsoever and needs to enter the workforce to land a job prior to any additional education. So what are the great jobs for veterans without a degree?

    State And Local Government Jobs

    City and state governments frequently hire non-degree professionals in a variety of areas including highway maintenance, facilities management, landscaping, janitorial, physical security (see below), library work, professional archiving, and much more.

    There are so many entry-level jobs within state and local government that it’s one of the first places you should begin your search for jobs that don’t require degrees. Don’t forget that many of these gigs, degree-required or not, have veteran preference options for hiring especially if the job you want requires a Civil Service exam or some other type of testing/screening.

    Entry Level Security Jobs

    Security is a career field that places a high priority on military experience. A personal experience from the author of this article is a good example. Your author was hired into a corporate retail chain store loss prevention program on the strength of a 13-year Air Force career but with no degree.

    Loss prevention is basically anti-shoplifting and store security and this kind of entry-level work (with military experience) started (for the author in 2005) at $17 an hour.

    Another type of entry level security job is the small-town entry-level patrol option. Job listings for Entry Level Patrol Officers in the college town of Bloomington, Illinois have the following requirements:

    • Be a U.S. citizen
    • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
    • Be legally able to possess a firearm

    An international security firm called G4S advertises entry-level security jobs as having the following requirements:

    • Must possess a high school diploma or equivalent
    • Must have a valid and current driver’s license
    • Must pass any State-required training or other qualifications for licensing

    Entry Level Computer Jobs

    Web developers, IT support, computer support, and more are listed across multiple job and veteran sites as being no-degree-required jobs and in many cases this can be true. If you are proficient in programming languages but don’t have a degree to back you up, it IS possible to land entry-level jobs or even more advanced jobs in the industry. But in this particular case much depends on the skills and knowledge levels you bring to the job interview.

    Unlike a job in security (see above) where you will be given plenty of on-the-job training, you’ll be expected to bring a certain level of technical proficiency to an entry level computer gig. The more experienced you are, the better your chances.

    Bottom line, what this means is that if you seek non-degreed work in computers and you already have a good deal of experience working with them, you could easily land a gig without a degree. But if you are starting from scratch with no experience in this field whatsoever, your prospects aren’t just bad, they are utterly dismal–you’ll need experience, a degree, or both.

    Smaller towns are likely for some easier to land these entry level jobs in than a tech hub such as Austin, Texas where the competition is much higher–sometimes in your job search, especially without a degree, location counts.

    Construction And Civil Engineering

    Any veteran with Red Horse experience, Army Corps of Engineers experience, Navy Civil Engineering, etc. is likely a prime candidate to be hired as a civilian with or without a degree. Those who might find entry-level jobs in construction should be mindful of the upward mobility you can earn on the job–the right workers can rise to supervisory or foreman positions and move up within a private company. Construction work takes many different forms and some who enter the construction industry (entry level or not) often consider forming their own companies to act as contractors or builders for individual projects they land without being part of someone else’s operation.

    Transportation Industry Jobs

    From truck driving to federal jobs with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), there are many non-degree opportunities in the transportation industry. Federal jobs at TSA as Transportation Security officers include the following requirements:

    • U.S. citizen or national
    • 18 years of age or older
    • High school diploma, GED or equivalent certificate
    • Registered for Selective Service
    • Able to pass a federal drug screening, medical evaluation and background investigation
    • Available to work shifts at odd hours, occasional overtime and the ability to travel for training

    Some TSA jobs do require a degree, others do not. You may find your options are more plentiful as a veteran thanks to veteran hiring preference but you may also learn that some educational requirements for certain jobs may be waived in favor of military experience. Your experience may vary.

    No-Degree Science Jobs

    For these jobs, much will depend on state or local law, the nature of the facility doing the hiring, and whether hazardous materials must be handled as part of the new hire’s duties. In general there are plenty of science job possibilities for those without a degree including agriculture and food science work, veterinary assistance (some locations may require some form of a degree while others may not…the size of your town may play a part in how easy it is to land such a job without a degree), and work in forest conservation.

    Some jobs that involve a certain amount of science such as power plant jobs are also potential entry-level, no-degree-required opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that power plant jobs usually require only a high school degree with extensive on-the-job training providing the technical details needed to perform the work. Those who have prior military experience in these areas definitely have an advantage even without a degree.

    Things To Remember About Applying For Jobs Without A Degree

    It may seem totally obvious to some, but it’s worth mentioning that if you have extensive military experience directly or even indirectly related to the job you want without a degree, you have an advantage. Do not let the lack of a degree intimidate you into NOT applying for the job you seek–find out what options you have with your military experience that can stand in for a degree where applicable.

    One area NOT mentioned in other articles or even in THIS one up to this point? The options for those who do not have a degree but are currently seeking one while looking for work. Some state and federal programs may have exceptions to their degree requirements if the candidate is currently pursuing such a degree.

    In other words, the state library that advertises a job opening in their Reference Desk department may list a Master’s Degree in Library Science (MSLIS) as a job requirement. If you just got out of the military without having this degree, you are NOT barred from applying or from consideration in many cases IF you have been accepted into a degree program the job requires.

    While that is not true in ALL cases, it’s true in enough of them that you should seriously consider that as an option when seeking work. If you have the goal of entering a degree program while working, this can be a big help if you know the option exists. Be sure to check the requirements section in the job listings very carefully for information that may indicate such an option exists for that particular job.

    About The AuthorJoe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter for Air Force Television News

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