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20 Jobs for Older Workers That Don’t Require a College Degree

Many of the positions offer flexible hours and opportunities to work from home

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Many job openings require a college degree to apply, and that qualification can be a barrier for some older adults. When compared with younger job seekers, older adults are less likely have college degrees because many of them started their careers when degrees weren’t necessary.

According to the United States Census Bureau, 28.8 percent of adults ages 25 to 34 have an associate’s degree or higher, the highest share of any age group. That percentage steadily drops for older groups, falling to 25.2 percent for people ages 35 to 54. Only 19.7 percent of people age 55 and older have a bachelor’s degree.

The good news is that more business leaders and policymakers are encouraging recruiters to look for skills rather than a college degree. In fact, several state governments have required their state agencies to remove degree requirements from any job opening for which the credential is not essential. States that have curtailed degree requirements for government jobs include Alaska, California, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and Virginia.

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Until more employers move to skills-based hiring, many older job seekers will need to keep an eye out for openings where degrees aren’t required. While they can be harder to find, such positions are available. The following occupations, listed alphabetically, are examples of those professions. Average wage data is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Clicking on the “Find jobs” link will take you to current postings on the AARP Job Board.

Editor's note: This article originally was published on April 26, 2023. It has been updated with more recent information about college degrees by age group and average wage by profession.

Bookkeeper

Average wage: $22.05 per hour

Find bookkeeper jobs

Jobs in bookkeeping and accounting are reliable favorites for older adults, particularly because these positions often provide the flexibility to work from home or work part-time. While some bookkeepers have college degrees, the jobs usually only require some on-the-job training or previous experience. Training also is available through online courses, including some that offer certificates.

Business analyst

Average wage: $45.81 per hour

Find business analyst jobs

Analyst is a role that allows you to use your business experience to help other companies succeed. These positions typically offer contract work that lets you work when you want to and decide which projects you want to take on.

Catering manager

Average wage: $29.48 per hour

Find catering manager jobs

Though it might help to have some experience cooking, catering managers aren’t primarily involved in the food preparations for events. The job focuses instead on finding new clients, determining what type of menu fits their idea and their budget, then ensuring that the event goes off without a hitch. If you have experience in restaurants or event planning, catering manager could be a suitable fit for you.

Construction and building inspector

Average wage: $31.00 per hour

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A few years ago, the BLS listed construction and building inspectors as one of the most popular jobs for older workers, noting that 39 percent of people in the profession were age 55 or older. While no degree is required for the job, many states and cities require construction and building inspectors to earn a certification or license.

Customer service representative

Average wage: $18.16 per hour

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Nearly 3 million people work as customer service representatives, proving how essential this role is for a wide variety of businesses. If you have the communication and people skills to help consumers get answers about products and services, this could be a good job for you. Employers provide the training, and — in many cases — the job can be done remotely.

Data entry clerk

Average wage: $18.26 per hour

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This job usually involves typing information from various forms and reports into a computer system. Accuracy and typing speed are essential, but the hours are flexible. These positions are slowly fading away, so it may not be the safest choice if you are looking for a position for the long term.

Executive assistant

Average wage: $30.25 per hour

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Executives depend on their assistants to help them stay prepared for their daily responsibilities and keep the office running smoothly. For these reasons, experience and ability — rather than education — tend to be more important for this role.

Insurance claims investigator

Average wage: $34.63 per hour

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Insurance investigators and claims adjusters are jobs that are projected to do more hiring in 2023. With the return of commuter traffic and other activities that declined during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, accidents are becoming more common. It’s also an age-friendly job, meaning it offers flexibility and fewer physical demands, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Inventory manager

Average wage: $47.49 per hour

Find inventory manager jobs

The rise in online shopping has created steady demand for inventory managers, who are responsible for ensuring that businesses have enough ready to ship to customers without having to pay for unnecessary storage. Experience in sales and retail is a valuable asset to have in this role.

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Medical secretary

Average wage: $19.84 per hour

Find medical secretary jobs

While the number of secretary jobs overall is projected to decrease during the next few years, hiring for medical secretaries is forecast to grow by 53,000 jobs. Most of the added responsibilities medical secretaries do, such as filling out medical charts and insurance forms, can be learned through on-the-job training.

Occupational therapy assistant

Average wage: $30.51 per hour

Find occupational therapy assistant jobs

Occupational therapy assistants help people who are recovering from injuries or managing disabilities learn how to perform their daily physical activities. While a college degree is not necessary for this profession, many of these jobs do require state licenses.

Paralegal

Average wage: $30.21 per hour

Find paralegal jobs

While lawyers need degrees from both college and law school, paralegals can work without a degree. Paralegals help conduct legal research, organize case documents and files, and write reports to prep lawyers. It’s also a field with a future: Demand for their services is projected to grow at a rate of 12 percent over the next few years, according to the BLS.

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Pet groomer

Average wage: $14.32 per hour

Find pet care jobs

If you have a way with animals, there’s a steady demand for workers in the pet-care industries, especially since the pandemic pet boom started three years ago. More than 23 million homes adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Many of these jobs offer part-time work, adding to their appeal.

Real estate broker

Average wage: $25.02 per hour

Find real estate broker jobs

With its flexible hours and its emphasis on the kinds of people skills that come with years of experience, real estate professions have long been a popular option for older adults. While licensing requirements vary from state to state, many people are able to obtain a license within a few months.

Real estate manager

Average wage: $29.17 per hour

Find real estate manager jobs

When businesses own multiple properties, real estate managers are the people who make sure that the paperwork, maintenance and general operations for each building are up-to-date. Real estate managers also play a key role in helping the business expand to new properties, which means it is helpful to have a real estate license for this job.

Receptionist

Average wage: $16.33 per hour

Find receptionist jobs

Virtual receptionists were becoming more common before the pandemic, and the rise of remote work has accelerated that trend. These workers answer calls, emails and other messages on behalf of one or more companies from any location. The hiring demand for receptionists of all types is projected to be steady through 2031, the BLS says.

Sales representative

Average wage: $32.57 per hour

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While sales representatives can work in a variety of industries, some fields currently offer enticing opportunities for these professionals. Demand and salaries are particularly strong for sales representatives in the pharmaceutical, software and medical devices industries.

Teacher assistant

Average wage: $14.87 per hour

Find teacher assistant jobs

Teachers generally need a bachelor’s degree and a state certificate before they can work in a classroom, but teacher assistants often can work with an associate’s degree or some work experience. Most schools also will require teacher assistants to undergo a background check.

Truck driver

Average wage: $24 per hour

Find truck driver jobs

The average age of a commercial truck driver is 47, according to the careers website Zippia, meaning that many successful drivers are in their 50s, 60s or older. Because a commercial license can be earned relatively quickly, this job can be an appealing second career for workers who are comfortable with time on the road.

Web designer

Average wage: $38.81 per hour

Find web designer jobs

The BLS projects the demand for workers will increase by 23 percent (45,400 additional jobs) by 2031. If you have an understanding of what makes a website both attractive and easy to use, this field could be a good fit for you. There are online courses and coding boot camps that can help you get started in this field, including through AARP Skills Builder for Work.

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