There are many jobs that you can do and earn good money without a college education. In my experience, being good at a job is about skill, no matter how you got those skills. In most things, skills are used through learning, whether formal or informal. I am not sure what you want or like to do, but I would say strive to be your best in what you do. Take classes, even if it is a single online class, to improve your skills. Seek out mentors who do what you want to do and do it well, then ask them how they learned to do it well. Many skills are simply improved through practice and feedback. Ask for feedback in whatever you are doing from people who want you do well. Feedback is the greatest gift you can get - it will tell you what you are already doing well and give you insights into how you improve.
In trying to answer your question, I am going to phrase it just a bit differently...consider the question "if I don't go to college, what successful career can I build?". In this rephrasing, I am suggesting to you that a job is different from a career. I bet you are pretty smart and can figure things out in ways that are positive for you. If my bet is correct, then you probably already understand that a job is generally something for the "here and now". You can get a "good job", depending on what your definition of a good job is. It could be the amount you get paid or the hours you work or your job flexibility. A career, though, takes some imagination, creativity, hard work and time/patience. A career typically lasts longer than a job...and in my opinion, a successful career includes a formal college education.
There are endless studies that show how a college degree helps people to grow..both professionally and personally. Also that being in a college environment can help to stimulate creativity and can help to build life-long relationships and strong networks. I also add, that your starting point in either a job or career can be elevated with a college degree.
Even in sharing this, I acknowledge that college may not be for everyone...I also acknowledge that college can and should be a personal experience and as such, you may find that you can create a college experience that is unique and comfortable for you. I wish you the best of luck on whatever path you take.
Depending on your definition of success, there are a lot of trade professions that make a lot of money especially in the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania areas. An individual can do apprenticeships in 2 or 3 years and make a very stable living after only a few years. If someone enjoyed traveling they could enroll in flight attendant school and have the perks of making a living and having an affordable way to travel and see much of the world. The United States Postal Service hires high school graduates and offers great benefits and pay raises based on how long one works there. There are lots of options for individuals who choose to forego college in pursuit of starting a career. I also went to college and worked several jobs that did not require having a degree in the construction industry and organic farming.
I would encourage you to go to college.
However, if that is not possible, I would recommend that you consider a career in the medical field.
I think you should be able to go to a community college and get training to become a Xray technican or some other technician carrer in medicine.
Don't let the word college scare you, this is not an university.
It will be tough at first but once you gain the experience, there will be a lot of demand for your skills and you will have many opportunities to expand on your skillset.
That's true in IT, and I'm sure in many other industries. But many professions require you to be accredited by or be a member of a professional organisation or body (e.g. accounting, legal, etc), and those organisations sometimes require a degree as a basic prerequisite. Next thing for you would be to identify what you want to pursue, and then find out if you absolutely need a qualification.
Brian recommends the following next steps:
Spending four years in college can waste lots of time and money, compared to gaining four years of work experience. In most fields with four years of experience you'll be hired faster, earn more, and advance faster than anyone with just a bachelors degree and no prior relevant work experience.
So how do you get it? Lots of ways.
Computer programming, game and app development, security, help desk, system administration, technical documentation, and professional services:
Take free online courses in any of the technology areas you're curious about. Then start contributing to Open-Source Software (OSS) projects, or online games and mobile apps. You'll learn a ton, and can send links to your contributions to prospective employers, who can easily see that you have relevant experience.
Don't be intimidated by computer jobs! Jobs like Technical Documentation, Help Desk, and Technical Support are not that hard to learn, and pay $60-100k. You often get stock options that add much more to that. After you've learned that employer's software in your first position you can move up to jobs in the $100-200k range.
Bookkeeping isn't hard to start learning, and there's huge demand for it. You can start with free versions of popular software, take free tutorials, and then find part-time work, or find part-time assignments from remote-work platforms like Upwork. If you find you like it, you can later decide to go to school part time for Accounting or Tax Preparation, and they're good paying careers.
I also agree with Umesh’s answer. There are many Healthcare Certificates you can earn in one to two years, and they'll get you started in a great field, also paying $50k and up. You usually get great health insurance benefits, and many employers will pay education benefits so you can learn new things and level up if you're interested.
There are many satisfactory jobs that don't require college degrees. Some examples include: bus driver, chef, fitness instructor, plumbing and or maintenance working, beauticians, exterminators and etc. It is possible to make a satisfactory amount of money and access employee benefits in many of these fields without a degree.
However, even though some of jobs do not require a college degree, they may require a specific certification in that field of work. For example, to be a beautician, you may be required to obtain a cosmetology license. This is something to keep in mind when considering the jobs that you will be applying for. Essentially, any job that you apply for may require certain achievements, even if that achievement is not a college degree.
You can always open up your own business but you would need a mentor and advice from those who have already done so. You can also go to trade school which is quite different than college!
Anthony (Tony)’s Answer
What you start off at isn't necessarily going to be your final or even middle destination. I once worked for a boss who was in the IT field who had a MS in Zoology of all things. I also had a co-worker who had an actual BS in German Poetry. Both were great in the IT field. Essentially, you have to keep a mindset that learning is a lifelong endeavor that should only stop once you assume room temperature at the end of a long and productive life. ;) Gosh, I started off as a painter to get through college, then I was an airplane pilot, then a chemist, then an IT data center manager, an IT systems administrator, an IT network administrator, a purchasing manager, a state regulatory tariff manager, a cost accountant, an application developer/programmer, a database administrator, a project/program manager, an IT consultant/architect, a financial portfolio manager, a corporate compliance manager, etc. You get the idea, you aren't defined by what you start out as. You adjust, stay flexible, keep a smile on your face, keep positive, keep an "I can help you with that" attitude, you bring solutions to your business partners and bosses instead of problems, and you never ever give up.
Sure, the college route worked for me and I'm 60 now and only a few years from retirement, but the college route isn't for everyone. College is expensive and getting more so every day as colleges and universities become more and more bloated with administrators and overpaid professors. Also, there are lots of community colleges which offer 2 year Associates degrees which you can pay for out of pocket without loading up on debt. If you want to go on to get a Bachelors degree that's actually marketable in the workforce then you'll have a better idea what you're wired to do best given your personal skills, aptitudes and interests.
I think about that guy on the Discovery Channel, Mike Rowe (https://mikerowe.com/) and how he mentioned in his show "Dirty Jobs" how there are a lot of folks who go to work each day and get a deep feeling of satisfaction from getting their hands dirty so to speak. There are a lot of well paying jobs that you can find by going to a Trade School or getting an apprenticeship via a local union. These are areas like being an HVAC specialist, being a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter, a bricklayer, a truck driver, etc...... All are good paying jobs and as long as you're willing to put in the time to get better and better at it, and to take pride in your work, the sky's the limit.
Anthony (Tony) recommends the following next steps:
There are scores of jobs you can get if you don't go to college -- and many of them are lower paid.
Workers with bachelors' degrees earn $32,000 more each year than workers with high-school diplomas, this informative web page says:
Talk with an academic advisor/guidance counselor at your high school about how college can help you find a career and prepare for it -- and also cultivate your mind and feed your imagination. Knowledge is power. Don't ever forget that.
I don't have any affiliation with any college or any advocacy group for institutions of higher learning. I speak as a woman who has been a member of the American workforce for four decades.
By the time you've finished college, you may realize you want to go into skilled trades work like construction -- that's a great avenue for women. In that case, yes, of course you will need specialized training. And the study habits you cultivated in college will really come in handy.
Moreover, imagine how much easier it would be, in future years, to wind up owning your own construction company if you'd studied business and finance in college.