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3 Great Entry-Level Careers that Don’t Require a Bachelor’s Degree: Pharmacy Technician, Legal Assistant, and Protective Services (Police and Firefighter)

By Ryan Hickey updated on Friday, November 08, 2013
One day you’ll be a pharmacist, a lawyer or the Chief of your precinct. However, you want to get started on your career now and gain real world experience as well as build your network of connections. Most of all, you’re passionate about what you want to do and don’t want to wait four to seven years to begin working. Therefore, you might want to earn a two-year degree for an entry-level job and then acquire further education as you gain confidence in your skills and opportunities for advancement arise.

Pharmacy Technicians work in community and hospital pharmacies taking prescriptions, dispensing medicines, and packaging and labeling prescriptions. Those who work in hospitals may also mix intravenous medications and deliver them to patients in the hospital. As a pharmacy tech, you’ll work alongside a seasoned pharmacist and gain first-hand knowledge of the daily work of being a pharmacist.

Legal Assistants, also called paralegals, do the on-the-ground work of lawyering. They research relevant case law, verify the facts of a case, write reports, and take affidavits. Also, it can be an opportunity to work in a variety of specialties within law to help you choose the right path for your legal career. Law schools are particularly interested in candidates that have real world experience in the legal environment, and having worked as a legal assistant in a law firm, for the government or in a legal aide clinic might give your application an edge.

Becoming a police officer or firefighter generally requires a high school diploma and training from a police or fire academy. Depending on where you work, you’ll need both a certain level of seniority as well as a bachelor’s degree to move into management or administrative roles. Also, police and fire departments usually offer financial support for completing a bachelor’s or earning a master’s degree. Therefore, it might be in your best interest to begin working first in order to gain the education incentives of the department.

While you might choose a vocational school, this might put you in a difficult situation later as your credits will not likely transfer to your bachelor’s program. Community colleges offer the most affordable option but may not have the program you need or classes that fit your schedule. Less well known are private two-year colleges. Geared towards busy professionals while also providing an accredited education, Brown Mackie offers an environment where the student body, the instructors, and the administration are all career-focused.

With the increasing number of college graduates entering the workforce, employers are finding themselves inundated with applicants who have credentials but no experience. Earning a two-year degree first and then moving on to a bachelor’s program once you’ve gained experience can be an excellent way to manage your career. Taking a career-focused approach to your education can save you time and money, giving you a long-term advantage as you work towards your goals. Look into two-year colleges like that of the two-year program at Brown Mackie College in Oklahoma City, and then look into full four-year programs that can finish up your plans, if you need them.
About the Author

Ryan Hickey is the Managing Editor of Peterson's and an expert in college, graduate, and professional admissions. A graduate of Yale University, Ryan has worked in admissions for nearly a decade writing test-prep material for the SAT, AP exams, and TOEFL, editing essays and personal statements, and consulting directly with applicants. He enjoys sharing his knowledge to aid others in achieving their educational goals and, when he gets a break, loves hiking and fly fishing with his wife and two border-collie mixes.

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