5 Qualities You Might Possess if You Don’t Have a Degree

without a degree success business job career happiness qualities why you should hire a person without a degreeProfessionals who are successfully navigating the workforce without a degree have significant and unique qualities.

As non-degreed professionals, it’s easy to become discouraged. Whether you’re in the throws of a job search or you’re seeking growth in your current position, it’s normal to question your professional worth. In a society that preaches a degree is necessary to survive, we are no strangers to self-doubt.


Non-degreed professionals have desirable traits which greatly benefit their employers and organizations. Because these traits can’t be officially validated, they are greatly under-rated.

When you need a boost or a reminder about what you contribute, refer to this list. Remind yourself of all the great things you bring to the table.

1. You’re self-made

Professionals navigating their careers without a degree generally start at the bottom. When they enter the workforce, they have no college education and usually very little experience. These circumstances force them to take entry-level positions. Quite frequently, the un-degreed professional climbs the proverbial ‘ladder’ within the company, leveraging themselves from role to role in an upward direction.

Both on paper and in reality, this pattern says a few things about you; you are looking to grow within a company and you don’t job-hop between companies. More significantly it shows that you are loyal and you have a strong buy-in to the organizations for which you work.

“When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people,”   –Lazlo Bock, Former SVP of People Operations at Google.

If enormously successful companies like Google can appreciate the qualities of a non-degreed professional, many others will follow suit soon.

2. You’ve overcome adversity

There are many different reasons why a degree was not pursued. Whether those reasons were personal or financial, it shows something important about non-degreed professionals.

Defying expectations, overcoming odds and hard labor all point to the ability to overcome great obstacles. Employers will value the growth and journey of a non-degreed professional because it speaks volumes about their problem-solving skills, creativity and work ethic. These qualities show companies that you can adapt to difficult situations.

At the end of the day, all businesses exist to solve a specific problem. Your history of perseverance is a great indicator of how you can help them to daily achieve their mission.

3. You’re self-taught

Non-degreed professionals teach themselves skills to succeed in their careers. They are committed to life-long learning and their Personal Education. Perhaps, more importantly, they teach themselves how to LEARN. They are in touch with what methods work best for retention and recall.

What many employers desire in an employee is the ability to LEARN WHILE DOING. A downfall of a traditional education is that college graduates have learned theoretically, whereas non-degree holding employees have learned in a real-world, hands-on environment.

While it can be difficult to qualify this type of skill, it is something that a company is fortunate to obtain in an employee. If a company can teach you how to do the job in a non-classroom setting, they will benefit from your productivity through on-the-job training. Furthermore, a company will spend less on hands-on training than they do for a traditional classroom style training program.

As Liz Ryan, a contributor to Forbes magazines, puts it:

Some people learn best in school, and other people don’t. They learn by doing. You will miss out on a huge talent population if you screen out brilliant, capable and hard-working people for whom the classroom is not a good learning environment — but for whom your plant or office would be.

We agree! Learning quickly by DOING is HUGE, and you’re a pro.

4. You’re humble

Non-degree holding professionals constantly work toward visibility and achievement because their careers depend on it. They know they are at a disadvantage without a college degree, so they have mastered the art of selling their accomplishments and skills in an honest, genuine way.

There is a balance that non-degreed professionals unconsciously achieve in exuding confidence while being down-to-earth and grateful for opportunities. An experienced, confident professional who doesn’t come off as arrogant, is a great person to have in your corner.

5. You have experience

Because non-degreed professionals are often at a disadvantage without a college degree, they make the most of their positive qualities and assets. The greatest thing they can leverage is their experience. Because they pursued a job instead of college, they generally had a quick start in the workforce and they harness a job history.

While some employers will always value a degree over experience, the RIGHT ones will opt for a degree-less candidate with solid experience under their belt. Find those companies and positions and the rest will fall into place.

You can find great positions and companies on our our ‘Jobs without a Degree’ Job Dashboard at the top-right of the page.

Have faith in the qualities that you have to offer. In an interview with Zip Recruiter, Arlene Vernon of Twin Cities Human Resources remarks:

If I’m screening resumes for a client’s job opening, I look at experience before I look at degrees. It’s a more accurate way of assessing what skills the candidate brings to the position.

Forward-thinking organizations are increasingly starting to prioritize experience over letters behind a name. Seek them out and blow them away with an awesome resume!

” Knowledge is only potential power. The real power is int the doing and creating”. –Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Remind yourself of the great value you bring to any job. There is no reason you should feel any sort of embarrassment or regret about the no-college-degree route you have taken. It may be the more difficult path, but it is not less valuable than one that includes a degree.

Embrace what you have accomplished.

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