If you wanted to have a successful career, it used to be that you went to college, maybe worked a couple years to get some “real world” experience, then went to law school, med school, or business school to start your professional life. There are of course lots of other paths to success, and both individual and collective notions of what professional success means are changing. People want more than a paycheck. They want cultural fit, meaning, and flexibility. They want to learn new things all the time. The reality is that the jobs that are both most in-demand and most desired today do not necessarily require that traditional path of undergrad, work two years, grad school. These five jobs do not require grad school.
With an average salary of $100,000, product managers can expect to earn a good living, and find work. While the role varies from one organization to the next, expect to work closely with developers, UX designers, and business stakeholders to create and optimize products with great market fit.
Of course employers are interested in candidates who have related industry experience, but whether you are a designer, business analyst, or engineer, what’s more important than a degree is an example of your ability to bring a product to life. There are classes and workshops available to help you build an interview-ready portfolio.
2. Web Developer
The expansion of e-commerce, web and mobile tech has lead to a growing need for talented front and back-end web developers. Although understanding the founding principles of computer science is useful, employers are most interested in candidates who are up on the latest trends and can showcase their web development experience through examples of sites or apps that they’ve built.
Rather than spend tens of thousands of dollars on a degree in web development, focus on building a portfolio that showcases your technical knowledge or flair for design. You can do this by learning from online tutorials, working with a mentor, or taking an immersive course. Average salaries for web developers are around $87,000.
Database administrators build and maintain a company’s data infrastructure. Without these IT professionals companies would not be able to keep track of important data like financial information or customer shipping records.
Some companies may require their database administrators to be certified in the product they use, but a graduate degree is not a requirement. Certifications are generally offered by product vendors or software firms and additional courses are available online.
Digital marketers come from a diverse background of professional and educational experiences, and many employers are interested in candidates who have tangible marketing experience, rather than a business or marketing college degree.
If you’re trying to break into the industry, landing an internship at a company or agency that has a department dedicated to digital is key. Taking a digital marketing course can help you land that first internship or entry level position.
5.User Experience Designer
A UX designer aligns business needs and user needs by designing frictionless, elegant web experiences. Experience designers come from a variety of backgrounds including architecture and graphic design. Unlike graphic designers, they’re more concerned with how elements on the page interact or behave, and less with how they look or feel (that’s for graphic designers). Educate yourself in the field by reading, watching online tutorials, and networking with practitioners in the industry.
Erin May is the Head of Content at General Assembly. General Assembly offers classes, workshops, part-time courses and full-time classes in product management, web development, data science, digital marketing, user experience design and other tech, business and design fields most relevant to 21st century jobs. Classes are taught in 12 locations worldwide by leading practitioners in their fields.