No Degree Required: Trades Disciplines that You Can Look into for a New Career

Are you looking for a career path where you can learn a trade without the need to get a degree or wrack up debt? The good news is that there are options available. Let’s look at a few disciplines that will help you start earning decent money as you learn on the job.


Plumbers learn most of their practical knowledge on the job as apprentices. They work with an experienced plumber handling all sorts of plumbing problems such as clogged sinks, broken drains, and water heater repairs. Apprenticeships often last three to five years. The apprentice takes an exam at the end of that apprenticeship to gain his license to work as an independent plumber.


Electricians need practical knowledge in how to run wires, make connections, and install breaker panels. However, they also need knowledge in how to read blue prints, which electrical codes to follow, and what safety regulations are required. Most electricians start out as apprentices, taking classes along the way to expand their knowledge before becoming licensed.


Most mechanics are self-taught to some extent. They begin working on their own vehicles and then find a job as a mechanic in a garage. However, with more and more complex vehicles on the road, a mechanic needs to take courses on everything from brake repair to engine work. ASE certification has become a standard measure of automotive repair proficiency.

HVAC Technician

Working on heating and cooling systems requires practical knowledge as well as specialized training. Most technicians work as apprentices for a few years before becoming licensed to work on their own. If a technician is working with refrigerants, he must go through specialized training and certification. Many companies want technicians to become certified to work on particular brands, which requires classroom and practical training. This is a job you can do most anywhere as there’s always homes and sooner or later everyone will be in need of heating or air conditioning repair.


Locksmiths are always in demand. Learning basic locksmithing usually requires working under an experienced locksmith for a few months before working on your own. Some jurisdictions do require a certain amount of experience working under the supervision of a licensed locksmith before they will issue a license. A good locksmith also needs skills in basic carpentry, welding, and electrical.
Each of these trades are a great opportunity to learn on the job while earning a decent wage. Some do require getting some training in a classroom, but that is usually in conjunction with on-the-job training.