The 10 highest paying jobs you don’t need a degree for

Air traffic controllers:

Up to £91,000 per year

Could you help aeroplanes to land safely? Air traffic controllers make sure that planes travelling through the UK take off, land safely and are a safe distance apart. They also respond to any emergencies that arise – they’re the traffic wardens of the skies.

What’s it worth?

Qualified air traffic controllers take home up to £50,000 a year and senior controllers can make up to £91,000. While you’re a sponsored trainee controller at college you usually earn about £10,000 a year. During on-the-job training, this goes up to between £15,000 and £19,000.

How do I become an air traffic controller?

To become a fully qualified controller, you will need an air traffic control licence, which you can gain by completing an approved training course.

Project manager:

Up to £80,000+ per year

Could you lead a construction team and make sure everything gets finished on time? Project managers plan and manage all kinds of business projects. They make sure work is finished on time, as agreed, and within budget. You can find them in almost every type of industry – from looking after building projects to introducing new departments to big businesses.

What’s it worth? It depends on experience, the industry and the size and type of project, but you can expect between £25,000 and £50,000 a year as a project manager. Top project managers can take home £80,000 or more.

How do I become a project manager? You can start by working in a project support team and work your way up, or manage smaller projects as part of another job. It will help if you understand PRINCE2 (projects in controlled environments) methods or specialist software such as MS Project or Workbench.

Marketing and sales managers:

Up to £100,000 per year

Could you sell sand in the desert? Sales managers lead teams of people who sell products and services. You might work for a record label, selling music into record shops, or for a telesales company that sells insurance. The list is endless – if there’s something that can be sold, a company will need a sales manager.

What’s it worth?

Salaries vary, starting at about £18,000 and reaching up to £70,000 and beyond. You will often earn commission (extra payment depending on how much you sell) on top of what is called your ‘basic’ salary.

How do I become a sales manager?

You’ll need experience in sales – and have a good record of achieving targets. You won’t necessarily need specific qualifications (aside from a grade C or above in English and maths), because it’s more about your personality – how outgoing, persuasive and likeable you are. Personality counts for a lot in the world of sales and marketing.

Personnel and training managers:

Up to £50,000 per year

Could you help someone shine at work? Training officers help people get better at their jobs by organising and running training sessions. They look at the skills employees are lacking and the kind of things they need to know to do their jobs well.

What’s it worth?

If you start as a training assistant, you can earn between £16,000 and £18,000 a year. Full training officers earn between £20,000 and around £30,000, while for training managers this can reach £50,000.

How do I become a training officer?

You can work your way up from a training officer or personnel position by gaining experience and a professional qualification such as those offered by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Train drivers:

Up to £40,000+ per year

Think driving trains sounds like fun? It’s also well paid! Train drivers carry passengers and cargo around the county on local and national rail networks.

What’s it worth?

Trainee train drivers earn about £17,500 a year. Newly qualified drivers can earn more than £30,000 a year and this rises to £40,000 with experience. You’ll also get free or reduced price rail travel!

**How do I become a train driver? **

Good news! You don’t need any specific qualifications to become a train driver – although C grades or above in GCSE maths and English will help. Train companies often recruit from within their workforce, so a good way to get your foot in the door is by finding a job working in another role, such as rail maintenance, and applying for train driver jobs as they come up.

Customer service managers

Up to £40,000 per year

Got a big, friendly smile and positive attitude to match? Put them to good use as a customer services manager! In this role, you’ll make sure that a company’s customers feel happy and well treated. You’ll deal with clients or shoppers, lead the customer services team, and might even develop rules and regulations for employees to follow when dealing with the public.

What’s it worth?

At entry-level, customer services assistants earn up to £18,000 a year. When you become a customer services manager this increases to about £25,000 and can go up to £40,000 with experience.

**How do I become a customer services manager? **

You’ll need to start as a customer services assistant and work your way up. People with good customer service skills are always in demand, so there are lots of career opportunities down the line. You don’t need formal qualifications – good people skills, a positive attitude and experience are more important.

Supply chain manager:

Up to £60,000 per year

Great at organising people and coming up with clever plans? Supply chain managers – also called logistics or distribution managers – make sure that goods and materials from manufacturers and suppliers reach shops and businesses as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s an important job – get it wrong and customers can’t buy the products they need and a business will lose sales.

**What’s it worth? **

Starting salaries range from £18,000 to £22,000 a year. With experience and promotion to manager level, you can earn between £25,000 and £40,000 – while for senior supply chain managers this can rise to £60,000.

**How do I become a supply chain manager? **

You can start out as a transport clerk – arranging times for the delivery of goods – and work your way up in the company. Alternatively, take a logistics qualification in supply chain or transport management and start applying for jobs.

Police constable:

Up to £50,000 per year

Would you like to save lives and fight crime? A police constable helps to keep our streets and communities safe. They look out for suspicious behaviour and investigate any criminal activity, with the aim of preventing it before it’s happened or catching the people responsible. As a PC, you could work in a police station, behind a desk, or out on the streets.

What’s it worth?

The starting salary for a police constable is roughly £20,000. This increases to nearly £36,500 over the years. If you get a promotion to inspector or above, your pay packet will grow considerably.

How do I become a police constable?

All police officers need good literary and communication skills, but having a willingness to learn on the job is most important. You’ll also need to be in good health, free of any offensive tattoos and be at least 18 years old.


The sky’s the limit!

Got the drive and know-how to bring your business ideas to life? Entrepreneurs are brilliant businessmen and women who set up innovative companies and come up with concepts for new products.

**What’s it worth? **

That depends on how successful your business is – it could be millions of pounds!

**How do I become an entrepreneur? **

You don’t need any specific qualifications to become an entrepreneur, but you’ll definitely need a bagful of good ideas that you think you can turn into a business venture. A GCSE or A-level in business studies might help as well.

If you have an idea for your business, get as much help and advice as possible to make it happen. You need to research your target market, identify your competitors and work on making sure you know your product or service inside out.


Up to £40,000+ per year

Want to be the hero who saves someone’s life? Firefighters protect people in the community from fire and other dangers. They rescue people from burning buildings, extinguish fires and, yes, sometimes get cats down from trees when needed!

What’s it worth?

Firefighters earn between £21,000 and £28,200 a year. If you get promoted to crew manager you can earn around £31,300, while station managers can make between £36,000 and £40,100.

**How do I become a firefighter? **

You usually need to be at least 18 years old to become a firefighter but if you are under this age you might still be able to get involved by joining a Young Firefighters Scheme in your local area.

You will need to contact the chief fire officer at the fire station you want to join for details of their requirements. Typically, you will need a good standard of education (GCSEs or equivalent) and a reasonable level of fitness.

10 jobs you can get with your GCSEs

Accounts Clerks
What they do*: Accounts clerks (also known as finance clerks or bookkeepers) keep financial records and help to prepare accounts in all types of business.
What they need: You will find it helpful to have previous experience of office work. Above all, you should feel confident with maths and using computers. Employers may prefer you to have some GCSEs (A-C) including maths (or a similar level of qualification), although entry requirements may vary.
What they earn: Starting salaries: £12,000 to £16,000 a year. With experience: £20,000 to £22,000.

What they do: Receptionists are the first point of contact for an organisation. They work in all kinds of settings, including businesses, schools, hospitals and sports centres.
What they need: You may not need any qualifications to start work as a receptionist. However, some employers will prefer you to have GCSEs (A-C), particularly in English and maths. Clerical, secretarial and IT skills will also be useful.
What they earn: Between £12,000 and £17,000. With experience up to £20,000 or more.

Medical Secretaries
What they do: As a medical secretary, you would provide administrative support to hospital consultants or departments, GPs, health service managers or medical researchers.
What they need: You will need good typing and computer skills, so you may find it helpful to take a general secretarial or medical secretarial course. Employers will expect you to have a good standard of general education, and you may have an advantage with some GCSEs (A-C) including English.
What they earn: Salaries in the NHS are between £14,834 and £21,318 a year.

Customer Service Assistant
What they do: As a customer service assistant or adviser, you would be to handle customer enquiries and any complaints, face-to-face, over the phone or by e-mail.
What they need: Many employers will consider your ‘people skills’ to be more important than your formal academic qualifications, although you should have a good standard of general education.
What they earn: £13,000 to £19,000 a year.

Waiting staff
What they do: Waiting staff serve customers by taking orders, serving food and preparing tables. An important part of the work is to make customers feel welcome and comfortable during their meal.
What they need: You will not usually need any specific qualifications to work as a waiter or waitress, but you will need a good standard of maths and English and excellent ‘people’ skills.
What they earn: £11,000 to £14,500 a year, with experience up to £19,000.

Engineering Maintenance Fitter
What they do: As an engineering maintenance fitter, you would service and repair machinery and equipment in a range of industries, including transport, manufacturing and aerospace.
What they need: You may be able to get into this work through an engineering Apprenticeship. Therefore, you may need GCSEs (grades A-E) in subjects such as English, maths, science and technology.
What they earn: Starting salaries: £15,000 to £20,000, with experience to £30,000.

Fitness Instructor
What they do: As a fitness instructor, you lead and organise group and individual exercise programmes to help people to improve their health and fitness. You may also give advice on healthy eating and lifestyle.
What they need: To qualify as a fitness instructor, you could either complete a nationally-recognised qualification before starting work, or start as an assistant instructor and complete work-based qualifications.
What they earn: Starting salaries are around £13,000 a year. With experience: up to £20,000. Freelance instructors can earn £10 to £20 an hour.

Healthcare Assistants
What they do: Healthcare assistants (also known as support workers, nursing assistants, or nursing auxiliaries), assist healthcare professionals with the day-to-day care of patients, either in hospitals or in patients’ own homes.
What they need: You may not need any qualifications, but you may need previous experience (paid or voluntary) in a caring role, especially if you plan to work with people who have mental health issues or learning disabilities.
What they earn: Starting salaries: £13,000 to £16,300 a year, with experience up to around £18,200.

Sales Representative
What they do: As a sales representative or ‘rep’, it would be your job to sell your company’s products or services. You would be responsible for finding and winning new customers, as well as looking after existing customer accounts.
What they need: Employers will expect a good standard of general education, but they are often more interested in your sales skills and track record than your formal qualifications.
What they earn: Starting salaries: £15,000 to £20,000 a year, with experience: £35,000 to £40,000.

Care Assistants
What they do:
 As a care assistant, care worker or social care worker, you would provide practical help with daily activities to people with a range of difficulties. You could work with children, people with physical or learning disabilities, older people or families.
What they need: It would be useful to have experience in a caring role, perhaps through volunteering or with your own family. Previous experience is likely to be essential if you plan to work with people who have mental health issues or learning disabilities.
What they earn: Starting salaries: £12,000 to £16,000 a year. With experience: up to £21,000.

*For more information on Apprenticeships, visit

How to Become a Teacher

Becoming a Teacher

Can you teach a subject you didn’t take your degree in?

Most teacher-training providers like you to have a minimum of 50% of your degree that is relevant to the subject you wish to teach. You may want to look into studying for a SKE [Subject Knowledge Enhancement] course.

SKE courses are available at universities, schools and through third parties across the UK. “Some can be completed before your teacher training or maybe delivered in parallel with some or all of your training,” she says.

Experts add that it’s worth gaining experience in a school before applying to teach in order to boost confidence prior to training.

Can you still become a teacher if you don’t have a GCSE C or above in maths?

Most training providers will suggest sitting your GCSE maths before applying for a training course. “You can contact the school or university you’d like to apply to about this as they make the final decision and some schools and universities may offer you the opportunity to sit a GCSE equivalency test,” says Davey Nicklin. “If this choice is not available, you could consider a part-time GCSE or Open Access course.”

Our GCSE Maths Course

What options are there to earn a salary while training to become a teacher?

There’s a variety of ways to ensure your bank balance doesn’t suffer as you undertake your studies.

Graduates with a 2:1 degree or above can do Teach First over two years. You’re paid as an unqualified teacher for the first year and then as a newly qualified teacher in the second year. You receive leadership development training and have a coach or mentor as part of the programme. Essentially, there is a six-week training programme over the summer and then you get stuck into teaching.

Want to Retake Your A Levels?

Retake A Levels

You can resit any of the A levels sat in summer 2018, whether they were new linear, or old modular ones.  If you sat a modular A level this summer you can retake the same modular exam in summer 2019. If you sat a new linear A level, you can resit that too. If you want to retake an A level you took earlier than 2018 life is a bit more complicated: you may find you can only retake the subject in its new linear form.

Linear A Levels

If you took a new linear exam in summer 2018 you can retake it in summer 2019, but you have to resit the whole exam. The only exception to this is coursework, which you won’t be forced to redo – you can ask for your old coursework mark to be ‘carried forward’.

Old Modular A Levels

You can only retake in the summer (January exams disappeared years ago), but you can retake just the modules you need to rather than having to redo the whole exam.

If your modular A level was in a subject being examined for the last time in summer 2018, summer 2019 is the very last time any resit module papers will be set, and only those who took the full modular A level before can enter for the summer 2019 modular exams.

The exam boards will recalculate your modular A-level grade taking the best marks you have achieved for each unit, no matter when or how often those units were taken (so long as all the units came from the same exam specification). You might think it better to retake all the units anyway, but bear in mind that you’ll still have to work hard to improve a unit you have already done well in.

You are perfectly entitled to switch to a new linear exam for your retake if you want to, but you will of course have to take the entire linear exam in summer 2019.

If I Retake A Levels, Will A University Accept Them?

Yes, in almost all cases. A few will increase their standard offer, but most appreciate that students who resit are highly motivated and, because they have overcome disappointment, will work harder on the degree.

Getting an offer is tougher for very competitive courses – medicine for example, or law at Russell group universities.

As a first step, ring up the admissions officers for the degree courses you want, and ask them whether they would consider you with resits. Be ready to discuss why you missed the grades and why you know you can do better. They should welcome your enquiry and give you an honest answer.

Understanding UCAS Tariff

What are UCAS Tariff points?

UCAS Tariff points translate your qualifications and grades into a numerical value. Many qualifications (but not all) have a UCAS Tariff value, which will vary dependent on the qualification size, and the grade you achieved.

How are UCAS Tariff points used?

Some universities, colleges, and conservatoires refer to UCAS Tariff points in their course entry requirements, but this doesn’t mean they won’t consider qualifications that don’t appear on the Tariff ­– so make sure you check the course entry requirements carefully!

How Do You Work Out Your Tariff

The Ucas tariff assigns a points value to the different grades for post-16 qualifications, such as AS or A-levels. For example, A-level grades receive the following Ucas points:

  • A* = 56
  • A = 48
  • B = 40
  • C =32
  • D =24
  • E = 16

How do I know how many Ucas points I have?

Each qualification (e.g. A-level, Scottish Higher etc.) is allocated a size band value from 1-4, based on the number of learning hours. Each qualification is also allocated a grade band point from 3-14.

To work out the number of UCAS points your qualifications is worth, just multiply the two together: Size x grade = Tariff points.

UCAS Tariff

You can also use the Tariff calculator at:


Only around a third of undergraduate courses list a Tariff entry requirement at the moment; the rest just list grades. It doesn’t make any difference, and one way isn’t ‘easier’ or harder than the other – it’s just a different calculation.

Three key things to know about the UCAS Tariff

  1. The Tariff simply uses a different set of numbers, which some course providers use to describe qualifications and grades in their entry requirements. But only one third of university courses use the Tariff, and most use qualifications and grades.
  2. Just because a qualification is on the Tariff, doesn’t mean a course provider will accept it. Therefore, it’s really important to check the entry requirements for the course you’re interested in, don’t just rely on your number of points.
  3. There are only a certain number of qualifications on the Tariff. A uni, college, or conservatoire may accept a qualification even if it isn’t on the Tariff, so it’s best to check with them to see if they will accept your qualification. Remember, lots of course providers do not use Tariff points.

How Does Clearing work?

What’s the best way to approach clearing?

Clearing, which is run by the admissions service Ucas, is the way that universities and colleges fill any places they still have on their degree courses, and allows would-be undergraduates to see which courses still have places remaining.

Students can sign into Ucas Track from 08:00 on Thursday 16 August to see their status. You can also follow Ucas on Twitter @ucas_online or on for up-to-date information.

For more information you can also call the Ucas customer experience centre on 0371 468 0468. Lines are open from 07:30 to 19:00 on Thursday, 16 August, 08:00 to 18:00 on Friday, 09:00 to 14:00 on Saturday 18 and 10:00 to 14:00 on Sunday 19 August.

For more general careers advice you can also call the Exam Results Helpline on 0800 100 900, which is run by the National Careers Service. It is a free service and is open from 08:00 to 22:00, seven days a week.

It is staffed by careers advisers and offers advice on sixth form, college, university and other education choices, skills, qualifications, and subject choices, resits and re-marks, gap years, vocational learning routes including diplomas, apprenticeships, careers and employment, confirmation, clearing, adjustment and funding.

UCAS Gives the following advice about clearing:

How does Clearing work?

Clearing is how unis and colleges fill any places they still have on their courses. It’s an ideal way for you to find another course. You find courses (with vacancies) that interest you, and contact universities or colleges directly, to see if they will offer you a place.

  • If you haven’t already applied, you need to register and make an application, but you’ll only be able to add a choice after you’ve submitted it. We’ll send you a welcome email, with details of how to access Track, and your Clearing number. We’ll also tell you the steps you need to follow – ask for advice, search for vacancies in our search tool, then contact unis and colleges to try to find a place – see below for more details. Once you have permission from a uni you want to go to, you can add the course in Track.
  • You’ll know you’re in Clearing if your Track status says ‘You are in Clearing’ or ‘Clearing has started’.
  • If Track doesn’t say either of these yet, it might just be waiting for your results to update. Get in touch with the universities/colleges if it’s taking a while – they might still be considering you, even if your results are a bit lower than required.
  • If you originally only applied for one course for the reduced fee of £13, you’ll have to pay an additional £11 to apply through Clearing.

UCAS also suggest the following:

  1. Ask for Clearing advice
    Talk to an adviser at your school, college, centre, or careers office – they can talk you through alternative courses/subjects.
  2. See what courses are available
    Use our search tool to find courses – it’s the only official vacancy list. If you can’t find the course you’re looking for:

    • consider different subjects – you don’t have to stick with your original idea. You could also look at joint honours courses, so you can study a mix of subjects
    • keep checking – unis update their course information regularly. You might not find the exact unis/colleges/courses you were looking for – some might be full, but some might get vacancies later on
  3. Talk to any unis or colleges you’re interested in
    Before you add a Clearing choice in Track, call the uni and give them your Clearing number (you can find this in Track), and Personal ID, so they can look up your application.

    • Ask if they’d accept you – they might reconsider you (maybe for the same course) even if you applied to them earlier in the year.
    • Get informal offers over the phone – maybe from a variety of universities and colleges – then decide which one you want to accept.
    • Take a look around the campus – if you have the time, it’s the best way to see what a university/college is like – most will be happy to meet you and show you around. Alternatively, see if they have a virtual tour.
  4. Add your Clearing choice in Track
    Only add a Clearing choice once you have permission from the university or college.
  • Click ‘Add Clearing choice’, and fill in the course details by the date the university/college gave you on the phone.
  • This counts as you definitely accepting the offer, so if they confirm, it’ll show as an acceptance on your ‘Choices’ page in Track.
  • You can only add one choice at a time, but if the university/college doesn’t confirm your place, you’ll be able to add another.

You can search for courses through UCAS at:

Find Courses

You can also use their direct contact service at:

Direct Contact