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10 high-paying UK jobs not requiring a degree

Published: Sunday 13th September 2020

Selection of blue-collar workers representing the top ten UK jobs not requiring a university degree.

Good UK jobs require a university degree. We have all heard this and many of have blindly agreed. However, whilst true for the most part, is a degree the massive help it once was? Should we instead be looking for those UK jobs not requiring a degree? The value of studying for a degree has come under fire in recent years. This is partly because tuition fees have tripled since 2012, rising to approximately £50,000 for a three-year degree.

As such, many young people are being put off by the thought of years of loan repayments. The average salary for a graduate in the UK is £34,000 compared to £24,000 for non-graduates. However, roughly 29% of people with a degree earn less than those without. We look at ten high-paying jobs in the UK not requiring a graduate degree to help your job search.

Marketing Assistant

Many high-paying marketing jobs still require a degree. However, many entry-level roles are still available that do not. Work experience, internships and apprenticeships have all become common in this sector. These are a great way to enter the industry and allow you to work your way up to more senior-level positions. Typical entry-level marketing jobs include junior marketing executive, social media assistant and marketing assistant. Starting salaries begin around £18,000, rising to £25,000 – £45,000 for more senior positions.

Male personal assistant takes notes to highlight the top ten UK jobs not requiring a degree.

Personal Assistant

The role of a personal assistant continues to grow in importance. Once viewed as a junior, predominantly female role, things have been changing. Many modern companies view personal assistants as a vital cog in their operations. Personal assistant jobs are often entered into straight from school or college. Useful skills that help candidates include good communication and IT abilities. In addition, determination and the ability to multi-task are also important. Many of the skills and experience acquired in this role can be easily transferred to other UK jobs and sectors.

Prison Officer

Prison officer positions are high-paying UK jobs because they play an important role in society. Working as a prison officer is a demanding but rewarding career. You must be over 18-years of age and pass various background checks and tests. This includes the Prison Officer Selection Test, which assesses skills such as reading, writing and physical fitness. Salaries begin at £19,000, with this rising to £33,000+ for senior-level positions.

Blue flashing light on top of police car representing the top UK jobs not requiring a degree.

Emergency Services

Many emergency services jobs do not require a degree. These roles include police officer and fire fighter positions. You are required to have GCSEs in English and maths for emergency services roles. Furthermore, desired personality traits include having a calm personality and natural empathy for others. Whilst physically and emotionally draining, emergency services jobs are also very rewarding. Starting salaries are around £21,000, rising to £32,000+ with the relevant skills and experience.

Human Resources

The UK human resources jobs sector has grown significantly and provides many opportunities across different industries. Duties focus on the employee/employer relationship. These include disciplinary issues, training and hiring. Starting salaries are around £21,000, with this rising to £35,000 and more for HR managers. Graduate degrees are often not required for entry-level human resources positions. However, professional qualifications such as those offered by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development are useful.

Laboratory Technician

Sometimes also known as a process technician, these UK jobs feature excellent salaries and career prospects. Laboratory technicians exist in various sectors, including pharmaceutical, nuclear, chemical and education. Senior-level laboratory technician positions often still require a related degree. However, many people work their way up from entry-level positions. Starting salaries begin around £16,000 and rise to £30,000 depending on the sector and hours you work.

Offshore rig workers working on an oil rig, representing the top UK jobs not requiring a degree

Offshore Energy Worker

Offshore energy positions are popular high-paying jobs that do not require a graduate degree. This is because of the need to work away from home and dangers of offshore jobs. Furthermore, the offshore renewable energy sector is displaying significant growth. Offshore energy worker jobs are also being boosted by various government incentives. These include the provision of free training courses. Average salaries in this sector are around £32,000, with this rising to £60,000+ for more senior-level roles.


Journalism is another area that people wrongly think you need a graduate degree for. However, many employers are placing more emphasis on writing abilities and previous experience. Having a small portfolio of published work will help your application, including blog writing. Starting salaries for trainee journalist jobs can be low, particularly with regional publications. Therefore, starting salaries range from £12,000 to £18,000. This rises to approximately £25,000 with around five years of experience and up to £40,000 for senior-level positions.

Air Traffic Controller

Air traffic controller jobs do not require a graduate degree despite the pressures and complexity of the role. The National Air Traffic Services runs courses for people interested in working in the aviation sector. The course takes five to eleven months to complete depending on the role you are interested in. Furthermore, you will receive a salary of around £12,000 whilst studying. Air traffic controller jobs offer salaries of around £40,000, with this rising for supervisory roles.


Sales is a hugely important employment sector, creating many UK jobs not requiring a degree. As such, a good salesperson commands large wages and receives regular bonuses and other incentives. Important skills include good interpersonal abilities and strong spoken and written communications. Salaries vary depending on industry you work in. A quick job search reveals entry-level positions start around £18,000. This rises to £60,000+ for senior-level positions when bonuses are included.

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