Good professions without going to uni?

(74 Posts)
Badbadbunny Tue 23-May-17 09:53:38

My year 10 son is a high achiever, straight A/A* student across the board and predicted 8/9's at GCSE.

Trouble is, he hasn't a clue what career he wants to do, and isn't really that keen on uni. Most of his peers are looking at doing history or classics degrees, and he's just not that interested in doing academic subjects. He's adamant that if he goes to Uni, he wants to spend his 3 (or more) years doing something that will be directly related to a particular career. He doesn't want to learn for the sake of it - he wants to learn specific skills etc for a particular reason.

He's good at sciences, so we've broached the subject of the medical profession, but he's not interested in being "hands on" with people, so that's put an end to any ideas about becoming a doctor or dentist!

Just wondering if there are any good professions where you don't actually need to go to uni, or where the uni degree is very practical and relevant?

Accountancy is an obvious choice as their are both degree and non-degree routes to becoming a qualified accountant. He'd probably be interested in that and would probably do fine for a career. But I'm just wanting to explore any other similar professions. I've looked into architecture, but it seems that it's definitely a graduate only route and quite a long uni course, so that's probably off the agenda. What about other professions, such as solicitor, actuary, etc - does anyone know if there are non-graduate entry routes??

OP’s posts: |
Gannet123 Tue 23-May-17 10:17:04

The non-graduate route into the legal profession is via becoming a Chartered Legal Executive - see - various routes including Apprenticeships.
It takes a while, but you're earning while you're doing it. But it's worth knowing that, as with many professions, there is a bit of a 'glass ceiling' to the non-graduate route - in theory, a legal executive can rise to the top of the profession, but in practice fewer do, and there may be limitations as to the kinds of work done. And if he doesn't want to work with clients his options would be more limited as well.

Engineering would be an obvious example of a practical and relevant degree.

But I think his first job (his, not yours) is to work out what he would like to do next and then plan from there. Not very specific - but to get a sense of his next steps. He doesn't want to define his own career on the basis of what he wants/doesn't want aged 16 - best really to try things out and see.. If he doesn't want to go to uni now, then fine - but don't rule it out in the future if things change. It's for him to decide what he wants to do - not to choose from a list of 'good' professions which he is then wedded to (and he may not want to enter a traditional profession anyway).

FanSpamTastic Tue 23-May-17 10:19:30

Accountancy could be a good path for him. It is a good grounding in business - you don't have to end up a bean counter!

From the cohort that I trained with some have stayed in practice and are now partners, some went into industry and are accountants in business. One is a teacher - another works in the film industry in a role unrelated to accountancy. Another is an IT director.

Lots of the firms run non graduate programmes. Here are some of the big 4 but there are probably similar programmes in smaller national and regional firms. With many of these programmes you also get a degree as well as a professional qualification.


senua Tue 23-May-17 11:34:14

Has he heard about Higher Apprenticeships. There is a link here. I'm afraid that I don't know who the website is so I don't know how reliable their information is, but it give you some idea of possible careers.

Polomintini Tue 23-May-17 11:43:15

Was also going to say that apprenticeships in professional sectors are increasing due to a change in the way the government is taxing large companies. There will be more opportunities to study for a degree level qualification while earning money, and the qualification will be more vocational. Technology and digital development is massively in demand and can offer a variety of career options. Try

DrudgeJedd Tue 23-May-17 11:48:43

I don't think law or accountancy would suit somebody who didn't want to be hands on. Both involve a lot of face to face interactions. How about pure research in one of the sciences?

GingerHanna Tue 23-May-17 11:58:50

Has he looked at engineering? There are many varieties, hands on, and very applicable to end careers / used in real world work.


SlB09 Tue 23-May-17 12:05:33

If he will consider uni but a particular science subject there are lots of health related job roles that are not 'hands on' or involve public engagement and are predominantly academic.
Biomedical sciences
Academic roles, completing Phd & lecturing
Research, public health, health surviellance
Graduate management schemes in NHS or various pharma companies (can include worldwide travel etc)
IT roles

But also 16 is so young to decide the rest of your life! Hell figure it out x

howabout Tue 23-May-17 12:09:50

If Accountancy appeals but he is not sure then it is better to do something slightly broader at Uni. Maths and Economics are good options but if he is science minded any science degree or engineering would also work. (If less science minded then an Arts degree also works if you can demonstrate an ability to count).

I did Economics and am a Chartered Accountant. My degree was also good for getting into the Financial sector and Civil Service / Public Policy Research / Local Government. Many people choose to qualify as Chartered Accountants and then leave the profession to go into these areas but also Industry and the Charity sector and almost everywhere that needs money to run it. Specific choices tend to be driven by interests and experience and less frequently degree choice. Less than half tend to stay in a Professional Services Environment. There are plenty of roles for people friendly and non-people friendly Accountants.

Closetlibrarian Tue 23-May-17 12:33:42

What's he interested in?
I teach in Higher Education and I would 100% advise him to follow his interests. Students doing a degree for the sake of it or choosing a subject because they think it's the sensible choice inevitably end up unhappy and not doing as well.

Chiliprepper Tue 23-May-17 12:35:27

As as been suggested, some kind of engineering!

Badbadbunny Tue 23-May-17 13:06:22

What's he interested in?

Nothing, that's the problem!! His real love is football! Closely followed by computer games and watching inane u-tube videos about football and computer games! Closely followed by hanging out with his friends, going to football matches, playing footie in the street, playing online games with his friends, etc. So, basically, nothing that would translate into a career/profession.

He has no problems with people, i.e. face to face, talking, teamwork, etc - he has discounted the medical profession because he doesn't want the "touchy-feely" side of interacting with people and hates the idea of anything to do with peoples' bodies!

He needs something/someone to inspire him. He wants a good career/profession and has already said he'd be very unhappy to waste his education if he couldn't use it for a successful career. It's not so much us pushing him, he constantly brings it up and wants advice as to what direction to take. I'd be happy for him to take a broad mix of A levels and then take a generic degree at uni, so as to keep his options open, but he will lose interest quickly if he doesn't have a "plan". If he's motivated and inspired, he'll give 200%, but if not, you're lucky to get 25% out of him. He needs a goal/aim.

Unfortunately, our family doesn't really know anyone other than in the medical or accountancy professions. We know those inside out, from OH and myself and also other close family members and friends. It would be SO easy for us to persuade him into accountancy as we know of the wide range of opportunities that can lead from it, but I'd rather explore some other options first to see if anything else would inspire him.

Sounds like engineering could be the answer. Something we'll have to do a bit more research on.

OP’s posts: |
unlimiteddilutingjuice Tue 23-May-17 13:11:41

Would he be interested in sports science?
With the aim of going into personal training or football coaching?
PE teacher even?
Could he volunteer with a football related youth project and see if he enjoys it?

catslife Tue 23-May-17 13:12:56

It's rather than the link above.

What about computer science / computer systems engineering. There are courses in computer games design either as BTEC/apprenticeship or even degree level.

CryingShame Tue 23-May-17 13:13:41

You do know he can do degrees in sports law and computer game design don't you? Would either of those appeal to him?

Tell him to look at the degrees offered by the old polys which tend to be more vocational courses rather than the "academic for the sake of it" history, philosophy type courses.

thesandwich Tue 23-May-17 13:17:27

Have a look at headstart or etrust courses. Also consider going to something like the skills show at the nec- he could meet and talk to people in all professions. An on line personality test( free) like Icould may give him some ideas too.

Itsallaswizz Tue 23-May-17 13:18:43


LorLorr2 Tue 23-May-17 13:25:24

Things might become clearer for him over the next few years. I know schools usually encourage that you need your career path sorted by A-Level time but that's ridiculous. For the people around me, they started understanding what they truly wanted in their early 20's.
Your son is still just GCSE age, of course he doesn't have a clue! I would reassure him that it's a confusing time but that talents and passions keep developing in adulthood and he doesn't need everything mapped out just yet, even though it's hard when that's the topic of the moment at school and amongst peers.

LorLorr2 Tue 23-May-17 13:27:37

Btw, as examples- A friend of mine went to college to do beauty. Now she's studying to be a nurse. Another one went to be an apprentice at an estate agent's. Now he is doing his teacher training smile

Spottyladybird Tue 23-May-17 13:32:58

Has he thought about the forces? A friend of mine is an engineer with the RAF, sponsored through sixth form and uni with a job at the end.

Or something computer based, there are computer games design degrees!!

PossomInAPearTree Tue 23-May-17 13:38:19

Bio chemistry degree? If he's strong on science but doesn't want to be hands on.

GingerHanna Tue 23-May-17 13:41:13

Okay, so I'm in the Netherlands so pretty biased for engineering - but if he wants inspirational look up civil engineering and how the Netherlands was made/maintained.

There's an old saying that I'll badly quote - God may have made the world but Engineers made the Netherlands.

Also, structural engineers, mechanical, aeronautic etc... but civil is something a bit special imho and you can find some really interesting stories. I'd follow that by structural but that's because of DH's job!

InDubiousBattle Tue 23-May-17 13:43:29

So has he selected A levels yet?

He sounds like my nephew, except d nephew is finishing his A levels now so is two years down the line! If he really doesn't know what he wants to do he should take subjects he is most interested in and enjoys most. I think he should try not to focus too much on an end profession because, well he's only 16 and doesn't know yet! If he's not sure then I would actually avoid very specific, vocational degrees and go for something more general. He really doesn't have to decide any time soon.

PossomInAPearTree Tue 23-May-17 13:51:40

There's also electrical engineering. A friend designs control systems for turbines. Pays well and travels the world .

Gannet123 Tue 23-May-17 14:01:43

Might be worth explaining to him that most graduate careers don't require specific degrees - its the general skills, rather than the knowledge, that he would get out of a degree, and not just in the classroom. So he could look at universities with strong extra-curricular or entrepreneurial programmes, where he could do a year in industry, for example. So if he did, say, an English degree and then went on to do something other than being an English teacher, he wouldn't be wasting his degree - he'd just be using his skills in different ways.

He could look at sports/exercise science, or something to do with IT and Digital.

One of the problems with thinking about this kind of stuff very young is that very often you have a limited range of ideas of what is possible - the kind of 'when I grow up I want to be a xxxx' thinking, which doesn't really reflect the reality of what people's working lives actually look like. There's probably lots of things he'd enjoy doing that he doesn't know exist - and probably some that don't exist yet!

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