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career education

No bachelor’s degree? No problem.

Jun 1, 2018

High-growth, high-demand jobs are available in California, even without a bachelor’s degree.

There’s a new generation in town: Generation Z. Born between the mid-1990’s and mid-2000’s, these young people are either just about to finish high school or recently graduated. They grew up during a time of on-going economic and political upheaval, and as they come of age, they want to take control of their destiny. They understand that we are in the midst of the “gig economy,” and are looking for a pipeline that can lead them toward a meaningful career that offers the skills training, flexibility, and agility needed to succeed now and in the future.

Gen Z-ers aren’t the only ones looking for greater control over their careers. Baby boomers in career transition, millennials looking to get ahead, and Generations X and Y exiting out of the military all have a place on the pipeline.

How can they get on the pipeline? Their local community college is a great place to start.

According to LinkedIn Learning’s Insider Survey, “Over 60% of insiders believe that more employers will make the move to skills-based hiring: choosing candidates based on what they can do, rather than degree or pedigree.” Further, survey results indicated that employers will begin to shift towards skill-based or competency-based hiring, with digital badges and “micro-degrees” serving as an alternative type of credential. In fact, many high-demand, high-growth jobs will require post-high school education, but not necessarily a four-year degree.

In the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report entitled Good Jobs that Pay Without a BA, the authors note, “The reported death of the middle economy is greatly exaggerated. There are 30 million good jobs in the United States today that pay without a BA. These good jobs have median earnings of $55,000 annually.” With 3.4 million good jobs for workers without a bachelor’s degree in California alone, there are outstanding local opportunities for those who have the requisite skills or who enter a training program that imparts those skills.

California leads the way

DVC students working on projectsAs with so many other emerging trends and technologies, California is taking the lead, ensuring that residents have the skills and opportunities needed to succeed within the state that boasts the largest economy. California community colleges are well-aware that employers are intrigued by the concept of skill-based hiring – and of course, these colleges already have many outstanding, well-established career-focused training programs that culminate in a certificate or associate’s degree.

Diablo Valley College offers many exciting programs emphasizing skill-based learning that lead to good jobs that don’t necessarily require a bachelor’s degree. Our programs include:

  • Architecture
  • Art Digital Media/Graphic Design
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Computer Network Technologies
  • Computer Science
  • Construction / Pre-Apprenticeship
  • Electrical / Electronics Technology
  • Energy Systems
  • Engineering
  • Engineering Technology
  • Film, Television and Electronic Media
  • Industrial Design
  • Mechanical Technology
  • Respiratory Technology

At Diablo Valley College, you’ll be able to affordably prepare for a career that leads to a good job. Some of these programs enable you to earn an industry-recognized certificate in as little as two semesters. Enroll now, and get yourself ready for a career that is in-demand here in California.


Student Success

Tom CushnaTom Cushna grew up getting “lost” in California’s mountains and parks, finding these natural settings to be an endless source of inspiration for his artistic talent.

“Painting, sketching and photography consumed the walls of my room as I tried to capture my connection with nature,” Cushna says.

With time, his life took a detour, and he earned a degree in information technology. Tom spent more than 10 years pursuing a career that was stable yet left him unfulfilled. He started a side business focusing on design and ultimately decided to leave his IT career behind, enabling him to focus on his passion.

To grow his design business, Tom felt he needed to further develop his skills in key areas. “The decision to take classes at Diablo Valley College was critical in rounding out my skills in digital media.” He notes that this time, rather than pursuing a certificate or degree, he is “focusing on a few courses that will immediately benefit my career…and also enable me to grow in new directions.”

Graphic design and digital media are careers that don’t necessarily require a bachelor’s degree. Clients and employers will be more interested in a portfolio demonstrating skill and experience – both of which can be gained by enrolling in relevant courses at Diablo Valley College. Tom strongly recommends DVC for its faculty as well as its connections to local employers.

“All of the instructors I have had are incredible. Troy Bennett is world-class. In addition to a deep and broad knowledge of digital media, he also has a wealth of experience from working directly in the industry…Diablo Valley College not only helps you with your education, but also builds bridges to the ‘working world.’ A great example is the partnership with Oakland Digital, a local design studio that focuses on digital literacy…It’s great exposure to real-world feedback and networking opportunities with top Bay Area firms.”

Top Five Industries in California for good jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree

Industry | Median Salary

Manufacturing | $60,000
Health Services | $56,000
Information, financial activities and real estate | $62,000
Construction | $60,000
Retail trade | $53,000

SOURCE: Median salary data provided by Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce Analysis of Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey microdata 2013-2015.

Did you know?

  • Of the career education programs at DVC, approximately 80% of them prepare students to earn a living wage in two years or less.
  • 56% of all California workers who don’t have a bachelor’s degree earn $55,000 or more each year.

SOURCE: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis of Bureau of the Census, American Community Survey microdata 2013-2015.


Carnevale, Anthony P., et al. Good Jobs That Pay without a BA: A State-by-State Analysis. The Good Jobs Project, 2017, Good Jobs That Pay without a BA: A State-by-State Analysis,

Golding, Mordy. “What’s Next in L&D: Experts Reveal Predictions for 2017.” LinkedIn: The Learning Blog, LinkedIn , 19 Jan. 2017,–experts-reveal-predictions-for-2017.

Horn, Michael. “Will Alternative Credentials Replace College Degrees?” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 20 Jan. 2017,

Lohr, Steve. “A New Kind of Tech Job Emphasizes Skills, Not a College Degree.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 28 June 2017,

Zinshteyn, Mikhail. “California Has Millions of Good-Paying Jobs for Workers without a Bachelor’s Degree.” EdSource, EdSource, 12 Nov. 2017,