So, the UCAS application deadline is today (for most non-art and design courses). Maybe you’ve applied and you’re going through the painful process of waiting to hear whether you have interviews or offers. Maybe you’re procrastinating from finishing your application and you shouldn’t really be reading this at all. Or maybe you’re part of the growing numbers who opted against applying in favour of doing something else.
Or maybe you still don’t really know what you want to do.
Well, don’t worry. That’s why we’re here. We know how hard it can be making big decisions about the future. But university isn’t the only option – and with tuition fees rising it’s not surprising that more and more young people are choosing other routes to their dream careers.
So, what are the alternatives to university?
Well, unsurprisingly, there are quite a few. But we thought we’d take a look at some of the lesser known options that can still lead you to really good careers.
First up, accountancy. Yes, you did read that right, you can become an accountant without ever setting foot inside a university. You can study for the Association of Accounting Technicians qualification full time or part time, from home or online. It’s flexible, practical and open to everyone – you don’t even need any formal qualifications, just a basic understanding of English and Maths. But maybe numbers aren’t your thing.
Maybe you’ve spent far too much of your time (when you should have been looking for jobs) watching The Wire and you reckon you could be a police officer. Well, we have good news: you don’t need to go to university to enter the police force. You don’t even need any qualifications – although there are some written tests and you have will have to prove you are physically and mentally capable of doing the job. And obviously not having a criminal record really helps. It’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s a pretty lengthy application process, but if you’re really passionate about going into the police then it’s worth doing.
Retail management is another area that is open to those who opt not to go to university. Yes, we know you don’t want to spend the rest of your life stacking shelves in Tesco, but this is about being higher up in the chain. Marks & Spencer offer a two year training scheme for people with two A-Levels or equivalent, while Tesco’s Trainee Management Options Programme is open to people with 180 UCAS points (3 A-Levels at grade D or above) and lasts just twelve months – six months training and then six months in a management role. And the best part about these kinds of schemes is, instead of paying for your training like you would at university, you get paid.
Or maybe you’re a bit of a wordsmith and you’ve got your eye on my job. Well, you can’t have my job – I love it. But you could become a journalist without going to university. There’s loads of ways you can get into journalism without a degree – you could freelance and get yourself known in the right circles and work off recommendations from contacts. Or you could consider doing an NCTJ diploma course. They generally last a year, with a day release to build up experience on a publication and (depending on where you complete the course) it could cost as little as £1,975 for the course. And with university as high as £9,000 a year, I’d say that’s an absolute bargain!
And here’s one that you really might not have ever even thought of: an air traffic controller. The minimum requirements are that you have five GCSEs grade A*-C and are over 18. Plus entry without a degree is really common as your ability to do the job is generally considered more important than qualifications. Most air traffic controllers train via the trainee air traffic control scheme at NATS and they recruit four times a year when there is a predicted need for controllers. Training takes two to three years, but once you’re fully qualified you could potentially earn more than £90,000 a year.