Sometimes it feels like the only option you have growing up is to finish school, get an ATAR and use that to go straight into uni. Nobody really tells you about all the careers you can get into by doing, you know, literally anything else. Nor do they tell you about the sweet perks of doing so.

The jobs listed in this article are all highly skilled, absurdly technical or super profesh gigs that aren’t what you would normally expect when you hear ‘no ATAR required’. These are jobs easily obtained through an apprenticeship or traineeship, studying a vocational education and training (VET) course or simply diving straight into the workforce and building your way up.

We picked these careers ‘cause they’re interesting, unique, suited to certain personalities that may not be catered for in the classroom, or simply ‘cause they pay a boatload, and we think you need to hear about them all.

They show that VET qualifications, like a certificate or diploma, are all you need to get into a whole heap of different careers—even things you think would normally need an ATAR, like accounting. Getting qualified through VET also takes less time than getting a degree, so you’re ready to jump into the workforce quicker than your mates. The stuff you learn is way more practical too, and has a strong link to the kind of work you’ll actually be doing at your future job.

So without further ado, here are six careers that you can get into without an ATAR.

Construction management

This actually topped last year’s list of highest paying jobs you can get without a degree with an average salary of $153,213. Most people start with a trade apprenticeship: carpentry, bricklaying and plumbing are popular options. With further training and experience, you’ll climb the management ranks and start making bank in no time.

Legal services

Studying a Diploma of Legal Services will qualify you to be paralegal or conveyancer, but it can also set you on a path to study a law degree, and eventually become a qualified lawyer. You can also start your career with a Cert IV in Legal Services or Cert III in Business Administration (Legal) and work as a legal receptionist or legal assistant.

Graphic design

There are bachelor degrees for graphic design, but studying through VET makes way more sense in terms of gaining practical skills. Instead of looking at your ATAR, admission is based on your portfolio, and there are options to study at different training providers.

Executive assistant

Also in the list of highest paying jobs you can get without a degree, executive assistants earn an average salary of $74,838. Their job is to help high-level managers and executives with administrative work. Those starting out can study a Cert III or Cert IV in Business Administration to learn about the basic needs of the job.


To be an accredited accountant in Australia you generally need a bachelor degree, however getting your start in this career isn’t nearly as demanding. Your journey can begin with a Cert III in Accounts Administration, Cert IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping, or a Diploma of Accounting. These will allow you to work as a payroll clerk, accounts payable clerk or bookkeeper—the first steps to becoming an accountant.


Most people think they have to go to uni to become an engineer, but it’s also possible to get a start by doing an apprenticeship. Because apprenticeships combine study and work, you’ll have a job with a legit company while you train to gain your qualification. Even companies like QANTAS have apprenticeship programs!

Find out more about fee-free apprenticeships here and search through courses here.