It’s official. UK graduates earn less than those who start work via an apprenticeship or college course, according to the Office of National Statistics.
So if you didn’t get the A level grades you need, don’t despair! There are plenty of high-paying jobs that don’t require a degree. Here are some of the best on offer.
1. Air Traffic Controller
Air traffic controllers guide planes through the take off and landing process, as well as ensuring that they fly at a safe distance from each other. They also respond to problems and implement emergency procedures. To qualify for this top paying job you’ll need to gain a place on a three year course, which combines college based study and on the job training.
While you won’t need a bachelor’s degree to apply for training, competition is fierce, as there are just twenty places available each year. If you pass the initial online assessments you’ll be invited to an assessment centre, where you’ll undergo an interview and complete further computer based tests.
To become a trainee air traffic controller you’ll need to be over 18, and have 5 grade 9-to 4 GCSEs or equivalent, including English and maths. You’ll also need to pass a medical exam and receive security clearance.
Top Skills for Air Traffic Controllers
What do air traffic controllers do?
Qualified air traffic controllers usually specialise in one of three areas. Area controllers guide and track aircraft from a regional control centre, approach controllers manage aircraft as they approach an airport and aerodrome controllers work from a control tower, helping pilots to take off, land and park.
Whichever specialism you choose, this top paying job includes a variety of day and night shifts. You’ll work for forty hours a week and guide aircraft for two hours at a time. Once you’re experienced, you could become a group supervisor, which involves managing the work of other controllers. Alternatively, you could move into a training role.
What do air traffic controllers earn?
2. Sales Representative
Becoming a sales representative involves selling goods or services to consumers or businesses. Although there are no specific entry requirements, gaining work experience in a shop or office will give you an advantage. Apprenticeships are also available.
Top Skills for Sales Representatives
What do sales representatives do?
Working as a sales rep includes contacting customers, promoting new products, agreeing and recording sales, meeting targets and attending industry conferences. Job openings often come with a basic salary plus commission for each sale. You’ll probably receive a bonus if you meet your targets and you might be given a company car.
If you become a sales rep you’ll generally work from nine till five, although you may need to work some evenings or weekends. Occasionally you’ll travel to trade fairs and conferences, which may involve an overnight stay. With experience, you could look out for job openings as a sales team leader or an area sales manager.
What do sales representatives earn?
Highly Experienced (Sales Executive or Manager)
3. Police Officer
If keeping law and order, investigating crime and supporting crime prevention sounds appealing, you could apply to join your local police force straight from high school. Once you’ve submitted an application form you’ll be invited to an assessment centre, where you’ll undergo written tests, an interview and fitness assessments.
If you’re successful, the first two years of your service will be spent completing the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme, which leads to a level three Diploma in Policing. This on the job training enables you to apply for job openings in specialist units including CID, the fraud squad, child protection and dog handlers.
While there aren’t any formal entry requirements to train as a police officer, you’ll need to be over 18 and either a British, EU or commonwealth citizen. You can also apply if you’re a foreign national with the right to work in the UK for an indefinite period. All applicants have to pass background and security checks.
Top Skills for Sales Representatives
What do police officers do?
The life of a police officer is challenging and varied. Tasks include responding to calls for help, conducting patrol duties, investigating crimes, interviewing suspects, making arrests, giving evidence, controlling crowds and giving advice.
Police officers work a 40 hours a week on a shift system, so expect to work nights, weekends and public holidays. With experience, you can climb the ranks to become a sergeant, an inspector, a chief inspector or even a superintendent.
What do police officers earn?
4. Train Driver
Fancy driving trains for a living? Then your first step is to apply for a trainee driver job with a train operating company. If there aren’t any current job openings, you could gain valuable work experience while you wait by becoming a passenger assistant or conductor. When a driving post does come up, on-the-job training lasts for twelve months.
To apply for trainee driver jobs you’ll need to be over 20 and you must live within an hour’s commute of the area you’re applying for. All applicants have to pass a medical check and some employers ask for GCSE grades 9-4 in English and maths. You’ll also require clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
Top skills for Train Drivers
What do train drivers do?
A train driver’s responsibilities include checking engines, contacting control centres for route information, following signalling instructions, making passenger announcements, controlling doors and recording any incidents. They also work closely with maintenance staff, station staff and signal operators.
If you become a driver, you’ll normally work a 35-hour week spread over four or five shifts including evenings, weekends and nights. With experience, you could find a job opening with a rail engineering company and drive machines used in maintenance work. Alternatively, look for job openings in management or driver training.
What do train drivers earn?
If you dream of becoming a solicitor but you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, you can now access one of the UK’s highest paying jobs via a fully funded level 7 apprenticeship. Lasting six years, these combine on-the-job-training with ten week academic modules. Successful applicants will attend university for two days per module but most lectures and tutorials will take place online.
Interested? You’ll need 5 grade 9-4 GCSEs including English and maths and 3 A Levels at grade C or above. Relevant work experience is also useful. The application process for these popular apprenticeships begins with online tests, followed by an assessment centre where you’ll undergo critical thinking tests, an interview and team exercises.
Top skills for Solicitors
What do Solicitors do?
This top paying job involves advising clients about the law and acting on their behalf in legal matters. Some solicitors work in private practice, while others find job openings in industry, the government, court services, charities and the armed forces.
If you become a solicitor your responsibilities could involve advising and representing clients in court, instructing barristers, drafting contracts, researching legal records and preparing papers for court. You’ll also need to stay up to date regarding changes in the law.
While solicitors officially work for 37 hours a week, working late is common, particularly if you specialise in criminal or corporate law. You’ll be based in an office but may need to travel to meet clients. With experience, you could become a partner in a private practice or manage a company’s legal department.
What do solicitors earn?
According to recent research, almost half of graduates regret going to university and 44% say they don’t need a degree to do their current job.
There are many lucrative and rewarding careers that don’t require a bachelor’s degree, so before you commit to a university course, why not check whether there’s a less costly alternative? You could save thousands.