Another college degree is not required to move into a higher paying job

  • Jeremy Peer felt stuck with his $60,000 accounting salary, but couldn’t afford to go to business school.
  • A TikTok account inspired him to pursue business analytics as a career move.
  • His SQL data analysis training was only $250 and he is working towards a free Microsoft certification.

It took Jeremy Peer 10 years to pay off $40,000 in student loans for his bachelor’s degree in accounting. Now he’s taking online classes to land a better-paying job in business analytics instead of shelling out tens of thousands of dollars in business school.

During the pandemic, Peer moved from her hometown of Detroit to Colorado Springs primarily to explore the outdoors. But he also moved to Colorado for its diverse mix of industries and job stability compared to Michigan.

“Everything that’s going on there is sort of based on the automotive industry and manufacturing,” Peer told Insider. “When the industry crashes, they all slow down with it, which we learned in, you know, 2008, 2009.”

There is a problem. “I can’t currently afford a house,” Peer said.

The 34-year-old earns about $60,000 a year as an accountant for a nonprofit in Colorado Springs, according to documents seen by Insider. “I want a home to have a stable place to raise a family one day and a place where I will call my own to retire,” he said.

But getting into the accounting world to afford a house would be expensive. “It would probably be more study, more money and more time – a lot of time,” he said. “I didn’t want to do that.”

Then one day in the fall of 2021, Peer saw a ICT Tac showing him that it was possible to land a well-paying job without going back to school. Now he is learning skills to work as a data or business intelligence analyst.

Peer is part of a growing movement of Americans realizing that hoarding college degrees isn’t necessary to get high-paying jobs. Today, fewer Americans go to college to avoid debt and find jobs when work is plentiful. At the same time, a number of States And companies dropped educational requirements to fill vacancies, instead focusing on skills and offering training courses to recruit workers. Americans are realizing that you can learn skills and get hired without going to school, or going back to school in Peer’s case.

You might just need skills – not a fancy degree – to land a job

With his student loans paid off and his new life in Colorado, Peer wants a home. He just needed a job that would allow him to afford one, and without taking out more student loans.

While scrolling through TikTok, Peer came across a video of Hannah Maruyama, who leads the Free TikTok account And podcast with her husband, explaining how she got a job at Salesforce earning $70,000 a year without a college degree, even though the job required one.

“Okay, how does she do it? Peer remembers thinking at the time. He started listening to the Degree Free podcast and reading their newsletter and learned that Maruyama had been hired after earning a Salesforce certification in just over a month.

“The company wanted to see they had the skills to do the job they needed,” he said.

Peer realized that he too could learn skills instead of going back to school.

From Degree Free, he learned that business intelligence and data analysts are among the most in-demand jobs, in part because “it’s a relatively new field” and “it’s not something that’s really taught in colleges,” he said.

Echoing the CEO of Apple Tim CookPeer explained that companies like Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce have “all created their own paths or training courses or certification paths because people aren’t coming out of college with the skills these companies are looking for.”

“When I learned that you could actually get jobs in this field with self-taught courses,” he said, “that’s when Degree Free kind of pushed me over the edge. or confirmed what I thought,” he said.

Learning from Degree Free what courses exist and how to restructure his resume to get interviews, Peer said he “crouched down and did this four-month course” in SQL data analysis for $250 over four months. When he finished it in January 2023, he started applying for jobs. Peer said he launched Microsoft Learn Power BI course, which is free and includes 10 hours of instruction, to improve and legitimize your SQL proficiency with a Microsoft certificate. That’s a far cry from the $20,000 to $30,000 price tag he envisioned for MBA programs.

“It’s something I can do now and get a raise instead of being in a master’s, CPA, which would probably take another three years,” he added.

“That should be enough to launch me into a new, better paying career,” Peer said via email. “It will change my life.”

Peer said an analyst could expect to make between $75,000 and $90,000 in the Colorado Springs area where he lives. Indeed, a career site, reports that $89,000 was the average salary for a data analyst with less than one year of experience. And unlike accounting, Peer wouldn’t need to go to school to make more money as a data engineer or scientist.

Technology leaves college in the dust

“What all young people, including myself, are taught is this: get a high school diploma, go to college. It doesn’t matter what degree,” Peer said, “you have to get something to succeed in life.”

This philosophy led him to earn a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2015 because “the job field seemed much more stable,” he said. “Before, I headed for IT. »

However, “technology is changing very fast,” Peer said, “and it’s hard, hard to keep up.”

As an accountant for a Detroit-based distribution company in 2019, he saw firsthand the business need to analyze large datasets.

“I saw this new technology as a new opportunity,” he said.

Although Peer said that the university “still brings value” and that it “definitely remains an important part of society”, the specialized skills demanded in the job market make him think that “a generic university degree is no longer as relevant”.

For those considering going to college, he suggested exploring “free resources before going into debt to try and do something they might or might not like to do.”

Have you built a career without a degree? Tell your story to this reporter at

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