Even before the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the nature of skilled work was shifting. A few years ago, I wrote about generational differences between millennials like myself and Gen Z. I noted that people born in 1995 or later tended to be more fiscally conservative than my generation. It made sense. They’d been frontline witnesses while older siblings and friends graduated from university with mountains of debt but struggled to find decent jobs. They don’t want to follow this same treacherous path.
Gen Zers often start saving for retirement in their teens. Return on investment is vital to them. Many don’t view a six-figure education as fiscally responsible. A TD Ameritrade survey found a large disconnect between the 96% of parents who expected their children to attend university and the 83% of Gen Zers who actually planned to. As Dara Luber, senior manager of retirement product at TD Ameritrade, explained, “As college expenses continue to rise at a rate that’s greater than inflation and student debt is reaching record highs, young Americans are beginning to change how they are thinking about college. Young Americans are concerned about college costs and the debt that they may incur, [and] they are looking at a number of alternatives to college.”
Stay-at-home orders and lockdowns disrupted in-person education –– accelerating the generational shift away from higher education. Last year, when Elon Musk sought employees to work on AI, he tweeted, “A PhD is definitely not required,” He added I “don’t care if you even graduated high school.” Instead, getting hired meant passing a challenging coding test.
Going to college can be transformative. A degree remains a vital qualification for many jobs. It’s also a necessary stepping stone to graduate school. Still, many people who work remotely have succeeded despite lacking a sheepskin. Performing high paying jobs from home without a degree is possible. Here’s a selection of opportunities.
Admin and Office Support
Even before the pandemic’s shift to remote work, increasing numbers of administrative assistants and other support staff were working from home. Many tasks can be done at home from data entry to bookkeeping. Numerous job sites post remote admin work. An executive secretary can command over $60,000 a year. One downside is that AI has reduced the need for these positions.
As admin left the office, so did the people overseeing them. Remote first-line supervisors of administrative workers can do their job remotely. Many companies are predicting they won’t return to in-office work until the Fall of 2021. Even if this holds true, research suggests some of their workers will remain remote –– including supervisors. When HR and workplace benefits consulting firm Mercer surveyed 800 employers last fall, 83 percent said they would enact more flexible work policies –– including remote work –– even after the coronavirus crisis passes. That’s not surprising considering 94% of the respondents said remote workers were as productive as they had been when they worked onsite. “Historically, there has been a perception in many organizations that if employees were not seen, they weren’t working—or at least not as effectively as they would in the office,” explained Mercer principal and senior consultant Lauren Mason. Today even first-line supervisors of transportation and material moving workers can be done remotely (although aircraft cargo handling supervisors need to be onsite.)
The insurance industry has championed the value of remote workers for years.
Agents, claims adjusters, examiners, and investigators don’t need to go into an office. In fact many professions including real estate and the law along with insurance have long had people who ran small offices from their home. Although remote entry-level sales jobs sometimes require a degree, if you have experience selling you’ll be able to get work regardless of your educational attainment. Although you can be home-based, there will be plenty of times when you’ll need to meet clients where they are or otherwise leave your house. You just won’t have to go into the office. The average agent or claims adjuster earns nearly $70,000 a year.
Besides small home-based traders, many people working in finance can do so remotely which puts brokerage clerks among the high paying jobs from home without a degree. Although elite investment banks often require advanced education, the industry has also produced its share of millionaires who didn’t graduate high school. If you are skilled with numbers, there may be an opportunity for you regardless of your educational background. Keep in mind many jobs do have licensing requirements –– they just don’t require a degree.
There are plenty of other high-paying remote jobs from private detectives and investigators to customer service. Numerous companies who are hiring remote workers including Apple, Google, and publisher Penguin Random House care more about your experience than your degree (or lack thereof). One final note, avoid work from home jobs that require a personal investment. One customer service company charges its independent contractors for both equipment and training –– the result being many of its agents earn less than minimum wage. Rest assured there are plenty of sterling opportunities available without spending your own money (unless you’re working for yourself).