Careers that Don’t Require College, Interview with Susan Stewart

God creates all kinds of children. All kinds of children develop all kinds of interests and giftings. We need to make sure that teens are not pressured into going to college if their callings include careers that do not need a college degree. Why waste talent, time and money on that?

One our of favorite topics at is Career Exploration (in fact, our Career Exploration Bundle is one of our top sellers), so Vicki was really excited to be joined for this HSHSP episode by Susan Stewart of Practical Inspirations. Susan serves the homeschool community as advisor and blogger (and now has a book: Harried Homeschoolers). She has three homeschool graduates who are all doing well careers and life. None of them have college degrees.

Career exploration bundle

Here are thoughts from our discussion on careers that don’t require college.

Susan starts off with a little encouragement for homeschool moms:

  • Things aren’t perfect
  • Things fall apart sometimes
  • You are not a failure because of that
  • We are not God, he has simply given you the job of raising his kids
  • God has made you enough for what he has given you

Susan and her husband did not have the homeschool goal of raising kids who go to college. Their goal was training Godly adults. So they concentrated on life skills and teaching to their homeschoolers’ needs and interests.

Susan reminds us: Not all teens are called to go to college!

Redefine success. We can fall into the trap that in order to be successful, our teens must earn a four-year degree. That is not true. Success is growing and fulfilling God’s plans!

Susan reminds us that her three kids learned that their career callings did not need college degrees. Her husband is an electrician and so her kids knew by watching their dad that career satisfaction comes from a satisfactory career, not necessarily a college degree!

  • Her kids were tired of education so graduated and just “got a job”. Her daughter got a job with a tech company and is now in management, climbing the ladder.
  • One son had some learning difficulties. He tried photography but decided he loved repairing mechanical instruments. His trouble shooting skills have made him valuable to his company.
  • One son started out in the Marines. After his stint, he made the most of his love of travel by becoming an over-the-road truck driver. He loves earning a living by doing the thing he loves: seeing America.

Susan says: We homeschoolers need to remember not be snobs about jobs. If a job is honorable and fits a person’s needs, it is a good job.

We homeschoolers need to remember not be snobs about jobs. If a job is honorable and fits a person's needs, it is a good job. #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #CareerExploration #CareersThatDontRequireCollege #SusanStewart #HomeschoolHighSchool

Because her older homeschool high schoolers were not interested in college, Susan invested in her children with some life preparation skills and experiences which included:

  • Part-time jobs (watering plants at a local plan nursery). Began resume building
  • Service opportunities (they did Meals on Wheels, library volunteer)
  • Job application skills (resume, interview skills, filling out application- especially answering short essay questions)
  • Financial Literacy
  • Community involvement (they did theater and other community activities)

Susan’s homeschool graduates have found that these extracurricular activities on the high school transcript can be as important (or even more important) in early employment opportunities.

Sometimes there is some discussion on whether homeschooling families should bother with an official transcript and diploma. Susan felt like it was a good investment for her teens. Vicki pointed out that sometimes employers want to see the transcript and/or diploma. This is also true sometimes when getting a passport or college applications,  if they decide to go to college later.

What are some careers that don’t require college?

Trade Careers

  • Training can include:
    • Union courses
    • Apprenticeships
    • Classes at local community college
  • Carpenter
  • Welders
  • Surveyors
  • HVAC
  • Mail carriers
  • Railroad workers
  • Masons
  • Heavy equipment operators
  • Truck drivers
  • Painters
  • Steel workers
  • Construction contractors
  • Line workers
  • Electricians

Service Careers

  • Training can include
    • Apprenticeships
    • Special courses
    • Classes at local community college
  • Cosmetologists
  • Barbers
  • Dog groomers and trainers

Technology Careers

This field is growing so quickly, there is no way to keep up with the job descriptions. Here’s a try:

  • Training can include
    • Apprenticeships
    • Special courses
    • Classes at local community college
  • Computer-user support
  • Junior data analyst
  • Digital marketer
  • Podcast and digital media editor
  • Web developer

Art Careers

  • Training can include
    • Apprenticeships
    • Classes at local community college
  • Photography
  • Local dance teachers

Retail, Food Service and Banking Careers

  • Training can include:
    • Learning hands-on
    • Avail themselves of free training within the corporation
    • Taking courses on MOOCs such as EdX

Fitness and Personal Training Careers

  • Training can include:
    • Training schools
    • Apprenticeships

Real Estate Careers

  • Training can include:
    • Courses from various agencies

Law Enforcement Careers

  • Training includes:
    • Specialized academies

Military Careers

  • Here are Susan’s suggestions for the military:
    • Develop a military-attractive transcript like she did for her son who started out in the Marines:
    • Civil Air Patrol in high school.
    • Talk to recruiter. Take the ASVAB military career test (not a test that can be failed, simply identifies best-fits for military careers).
    • Susan suggests for teens who don’t have a clue what they want to do be sure to do after graduation take a GAP year:

Gap Year Careers

Some teens need a year to transition from homeschooling high school before they settle into seriously thinking about a career. Here are some of Susan’s suggestions for a gap year:

  • Get an entry-level job
  • Travel
  • Do short-term missions
  • Volunteer in a local ministry or organization

Want some more ideas about homeschooling high schoolers who are not called to go to college? Check out these HSHSP episodes:

Join Vicki and Susan for this encouraging episode and check out Susan’s resources.

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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