Alternatives to a Four-Year Degree


With the rising costs of a college education and the large time commitment it takes to obtain a degree, many individuals are looking for alternatives to attending traditional four-year colleges. Besides the drawbacks of time and financial obligations, 25 percent of college graduates work in positions that do not require a college degree. While some of these positions are entry level positions that come with advancement opportunities that may utilize a degree down the road, many companies offer equal growth opportunity for dedicated individuals with or without a degree. Below are four alternatives to traditional four-year degrees.

Vocational or Trade Schools

If you have a passion for something that you can go to a shorter-term vocation or trade school for, you can significantly decrease the amount of time and money you will spend on your education. For example, if you enjoy cooking or baking you might consider attending a culinary school to learn to prepare the type of cuisine you are most passionate about. Some vocation and trade schools require that you obtain certification at the end of the program or to move forward in your field, while others simply recognize you as a graduate of their program.

Certification Programs

While some vocation or trade schools offer certification programs, there are some certification programs that require even less schooling than an average vocation or trade school. This could be anything from a Certified Nursing Assistant program to a massage therapy school. When you sign up for a certification program make sure that you understand the fees involved in maintaining your certification. Also inquire as to how and if the certification transfers from state to state.

Work Your Way Up

There are many companies that like to promote from within, which opens the doors for many individuals who do not have a college degree. While there is no sure-fire way to determine if you will indeed be promoted from within, it is a route many individuals take. The downside to working your way up is that you will need to commit to a company in the long term—and even if you are promoted, switching to a new company may be more difficult if you do not have the degree that typically accompanies your desired position.

Start Your Own Business

While starting your own business will require you to have business savvy and financial management skills, being your own boss is an easy way around obtaining a traditional four-year degree. Though starting a business is not for everyone, it is a good fit for many people. Some startups can be connected to larger businesses, such as a business that sells cosmetics, while others could be solely dependent on your own skills, such as selling your own artwork. If you are going to start your own business you may benefit from taking a handful of business classes at your local college that will teach you how to manage your finances, advertising, and marketing. You may even find classes at local community centers.

Attending a traditional four-year college is simply not for everyone. While you always want to challenge yourself to learn and grow, there are many ways to develop your professional skill set without earning a traditional four-year degree.

GraduatesThis article was written by Magnus Keith and his team of expert educational writers. He writes this on behalf of, your number one resource when looking to get your career in healthcare started!

Joanna S. Tyler

Joanna S. Tyler has designed to allow guest bloggers to post their unique, interesting and informative content for peace park readers. He does blogging himself and contributes to several blogs including

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