Making a Decent Living Even If You Don’t Have a College Degree

A college diploma is certainly valuable in today’s highly demanding and competitive job market, but this doesn’t mean that non-degree holders don’t stand a chance in making a decent living. Good ideas, a positive work ethic, and a marketable skill set can be as valuable, if not even more so, than a formal education.

There are several ways that you can make a decent living despite not having a college degree, but we’re focusing on two noteworthy means to earn money and pave a way for your success: the first one is becoming officially certified and recognised for your existing skills and knowledge, while the second one is freelancing.


Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

If you have expertise and work experience in a certain field, you can receive a nationally recognised certification through recognition of prior learning or RPL. This is a process that evaluates your qualifications based on skills and education you have acquired through work, practical experience, and trainings.

RPL is also a very practical way to achieve your desired certifications: you don’t need to pay exorbitant fees nor wait years to be certified. There’s also no need to repeat school or training, as you are getting evaluated and eventually recognised for the skills and proficiencies you already have. The only time you’ll need to get additional training is when you’re unable to supply sufficient evidence to verify your competency and meet all the unit requirements. In such a case, you will be advised to undergo what is known as “gap training.”

Here are some fields where you can get a certification through RPL.

Events Management

Do you have a knack in organising events and making sure that they run smoothly and beautifully from start to finish? RPL can help you get formal recognition of your skills in coordination, production design, scheduling, logistics, and other events-related expertise.

Getting recognised and certified can help boost your opportunities in the events industry and establish your credibility as an events professional, whether you prefer to organise small, intimate affairs or large-scale events.

Cooking and Baking

Those who have experience working in restaurants, cafes, and hotels as a cook, or those who have been a cook, chef, or chef de partie with supervisory experience in commercial environments can benefit from RPL, too. Having your skills recognised will also boost employment possibilities, not to mention help make you a trusted name in the field of cuisine and food preparation.

For those with a love for making sweet confections, you may also be eligible for a certificate in patisserie through RPL. By formalising your skills as a pastry chef with leadership experience, you can contribute to your professional development and get started in more patisserie work, where you will be able to showcase your expertise through your sweet and colourful creations.

Tourism and Travel

Your interest and skills in project management, opportunities evaluation, and tourism data research, among others, could be your keys to receiving a Diploma of Travel and Tourism via RPL.

Your competencies can lead you to a journey to success, once you’ve received formal recognition of your experiences in administration and business, marketing, planning, and tour operations. Watch your business opportunities grow and your clientele expand once you’ve been recognised and received your RPL certification.



For those who want to have multiple clients in different fields, freelancing is the way to go. You can capitalize on different skills and practical services without having to go through stringent processes. The advantage of freelancing is that you get to control the number of your clients and the projected number of work hours you put in. Barring deadlines set by clients, you can also choose when and where you’re going to do your job.

Below are some fields where you can dabble in freelance work.

Writing and Editing

From web content development and writing advertising copies to basic research and copy editing, there is a lot of freelance work to be done for the grammatically and literary-inclined. The pay can range from per-article to per-page rates, which can also increase depending on the quality of work, skill level you can offer, and the amount of work to be done.

You can often find writing and editing freelance jobs through referrals and online searches. There are also internet databases where you can upload your resume and sample projects, which clients can then use to determine if you’re the writer or editor that’s suited for the job.

Graphic Design and Illustrations

Graphic design projects comprise a wide range of artistic creations, which include brand logos, websites, posters, marketing materials, and even personal requests such as caricatures and portraits. The price for each design or illustration will vary, depending on when, where, and how the final output will be used. For example, an artist can charge higher if the logo will be used for an international brand.

Similar to writing and editing, there are websites that can host and showcase an artist’s portfolio. Clients can then review your work online and see if your art style matches their requirements. Fellow artists can also contact you for some collaborative projects.

Practical Services

If you feel like you don’t have enough creative skills, you can opt to offer services, like babysitting, yard and home repair works, or even tutorial services. The classifieds can be a jump-off point. You can either list your own set of services and let clients contact you, or you can look for job postings that match your skill set and get in touch with prospective customers.

The internet, especially social media, is largely useful in helping people find jobs in this sector. You can participate in forums, join groups, or even advertise your skills and services offered in your own page.

Don’t let your lack of a college degree stop you from earning and building your career. Just find something you’re good at, and use it to your advantage. You’ll not only make a decent living, you can also further develop your skills and become even more marketable in the process.