Over the weekend, USA Today published an article titled “Almost $100K per year: Highest-paying jobs you can get without a college degree.” Now, I’m sure the author of this article wrote it with nothing but the best intentions, but to tell you the truth…it made me a little frustrated!

I can see where they’re going with it. Unfortunately, they’re pushing some outdated and frustrating stereotypes about workers without college degrees.

College Degree Tunnel Vision

Nearly all the professions listed were blue-collar jobs. Many of them are in the transportation sector, and many of them are dangerous.

Now, if you work in one of these roles or feel compelled to go into these fields, more power to you. However, I resent the notion that these are the only options or even necessarily the best options for individuals without college degrees.

In a word, it’s a load of BS!

There are countless opportunities for individuals without college degrees. What about sales people? Software developers? Loan officers? I could name a hundred different roles that could have gone on this list…many of which that pay more or are even more in-demand. I can certainly think of plenty that aren’t so dangerous.

And that’s not to mention all the executives, business owners, and entrepreneurs who don’t have college degrees!

Many entrepreneurs are not fans of playing by the rules, so it only makes sense that they either dropped out or skipped college entirely.

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Larry Ellison, Michael Dell, John D. Rockefeller, Dave Thomas…the list goes on and on!

And yet this BS myth that you need a college degree to succeed in business or in the white-collar world persists!

There’s Nothing Wrong with Blue-Collar Careers – But They’re Not the Only Option, Either

Now, I’m not trying to put down blue-collar careers. Far from it. Blue-collar jobs offer a range of great opportunities, and I strongly believe they have unfairly earned a bad reputation over the last few decades. There’s great earning potential there, as well as strong job security.

We’re all tired of the old, narrow-minded notion that college is the only path to success and prosperity.

But for the USA Today to make a list of almost entirely blue-collar jobs for an article about high-paying jobs that don’t require a college degree…well, that’s just as narrow-minded!

I’ll be the first to tell you that people should consider a career in the trades. I firmly believe that everyone should follow their purpose in life, and not everyone’s purpose is going to lead them to white-collar office jobs. After all, there’s no denying that many blue-collar jobs involve important work. Furthermore, there’s a simple satisfaction in working with your hands.

However, we should be sending a message to people without degrees that they can do anything they set their mind to. Some careers will justifiably always be closed to those without formal education – think doctors, lawyers, accountants, and so forth. But for the most part, the sky is the limit.

There are more options than simply trade school or college.

It’s Time to Move Past Outdated Career Stereotypes

Employers and employees alike must move past the notion that a college degree is a requirement for success or high-performance in the workplace.

For professionals seeking a job, it’s about waking up to their true potential and the opportunities available. We need to show younger professionals and kids alike that there’s wide range of careers for people without degrees…not just the trades.

For employers, even more is at stake – losing out on quality talent! If someone can deliver the results needed for the role…what difference does it make whether they have the “proper” qualifications or not?

Many of the best performers we’ve ever hired have been people without college degrees. Conversely, plenty of college-educated professionals failed where we thought they would succeed.

Altogether, it makes little sense to use a college degree as a job requirement. At my firms, we use degrees as a preferred item but not a requirement.

College Isn’t for Everyone – Don’t Hire Like It Is Either

There’s value to college degrees – but we must remember that college isn’t for anyone. Likewise, we must keep an open mind about what someone can achieve and where they can excel with or without a college degree.

In this historic labor shortage, we cannot afford to disqualify any candidate prematurely. That’s why we must give candidates without a college degree a shot. It widens our labor pool, and I guarantee that in time you will make some amazing hires who don’t hold a degree at all.