Many Fast-Growing Jobs Don’t Require Four-Year Degrees

By Roy Maurer Apr 20, 2015

Many of the fastest growing nondesk jobs do not require a four-year degree or higher for a typical entry-level position, and offer workers a chance to thrive in a variety of industries, according to a new analysis of labor market data from CareerBuilder.

In all, CareerBuilder found 170 nondesk occupations that pay $15 per hour or more on average, do not require a bachelor’s degree, and have seen six percent job growth from 2010-14.

The data was pulled from more than 90 government and private resources, according to the human capital solutions firm.

Nondesk jobs are defined as any occupation where the majority of the average worker’s time spent on the job is away from a desk. Occupations with split responsibilities between an office and nonstationary or field work were not included in the analysis.

“The U.S. workforce has gradually shifted to office-based work due to the rise of the professional services economy and productivity gains associated with information technology,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “But some of the healthiest areas of job growth year-after-year are in middle-skill occupations that don’t require workers to sit in front of computer monitors and phones for 40 hours a week.”

Ninety percent of the 20 highest paying nondesk jobs are in health care but most require a doctoral or professional degree, according to the analysis. Top-paying nondesk occupations include dental hygienist, occupational therapy assistant, elevator installer, drill operator, electrical power line installer, engineering technician, massage therapist, travel guide and fitness trainer.

Haefner said that while they tend to pay less than desk jobs on average, occupations that require their workers to move around provide real benefits. A 2014 CareerBuilder/Harris Poll survey found that workers in nondesk jobs were two times less likely to complain about their work environment and significantly less likely to report being overweight.

When asked to identify some of the advantages of nondesk jobs compared to office environments, 68 percent of workers pointed to the ability to stay more physically active, 54 percent said the variety in their workday, 41 percent cited more flexibility and 33 percent said not having to deal with office politics.

When asked to identify shortcomings of their work environment, 35 percent of workers in nondesk jobs said being exhausted from working on one’s feet all day, 24 percent cited beingmore prone to injury or illness, and 17 percent said receiving less recognition.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

Quick Links:

SHRM Online Staffing Management page

Subscribe to SHRM’s Staffing Management e-newsletter


Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You
Post a Job


Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies

Search & Connect