No college education? No problem with some jobs that pay over $100K

The headline on this blog is one that goes against everything in my typical college professor-based advice to my mentees who are seeking high paying and fulfilling career employment. In short, I tell them to stay in school and get their college degrees because it will result in big paydays. For the college graduates, I recommend they always include their educational accomplishments on their resumes and CVs.

Yet, I am always open to learning new things about the changing job marketplace, and I am willing to change my beliefs and perspectives when provided with solid evidence and other data.
job ad with no ed required

I came to this new-knowledge after checking out job sites with my
mentees who are looking for meaningful jobs to further their career plans. These mentees range from new college graduates to those with three years and more of professional work experience.

The job pasted in below is from one of my favorite employment websites, “Daybook.” What caught my attention was the public relations position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The applicants do not need to represent a traditional university or college degree to qualify for the job.

Stay with me and study all of the details of this ad. Wade through this job listing until you reach the item in bold: The educational requirement. After that notification, I will tell you why this listing includes the seemingly unique educational requirement.

Position Details
Public Affairs Specialist


Foreign Agricultural Service


Open & closing dates

07/19/2018 to 07/25/2018


$114,590 to $148,967 per year


This position is located in Public Affairs and Executive Correspondence, Office of the Administrator, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). The work of the office is essential to the success of the FAS mission of expanding exports of U.S. agricultural products and promoting world food security. If selected, you would serve as Digital Media Manager. In that role, you would manage and direct the development and implementation of all web content and digital media content related to the work of the public affairs and executive correspondence unit.

Salary Information: First time hires to the Federal government normally start at the lowest rate of the salary range for the grade selected.

Learn more about this agency


The duties may include, but are not limited to:

Web Development and Management

Develop, recommend, and implement strategies, policies, and procedures to manage the content of the agency’s web-based products.

Ensure that all relevant laws, regulations, and guidelines are incorporated in agency policies and procedures.

Consult with executives and managers to analyze their needs and propose ways to use the web to support their programs, projects and initiatives.

Social Media

Plan, direct, and implement social media strategy, coordinating with stakeholders across the agency.

Liaise with external organizations, including industry cooperators and food assistance implementing partners, to develop joint strategies for sharing information and successes via social media channels.

Plan, manage, and execute social media campaigns.

Data Visualization and Digital Product Development

Remain abreast of latest developments in data visualization and make recommendations to management on the adoption of new tools and methods for graphically displaying statistical data and other information.

Utilize graphic design skills to create infographics, interactive charts and graphs to be used on the agency’s website and via social media channels.

Marketing, Outreach, and Customer Service

Identify opportunities to promote the agency’s web products to all appropriate audiences (citizens, business partners, employees).

Train agency staff to use web and social media products.

Deliver presentations and trainings on digital media best practices and developments to external audiences, both national and international.

Travel Required

Occasional travel – Domestic and foreign travel required.

Supervisory status


Promotion Potential


Who May Apply

This job is open to…

Permanent USDA agency employees; CTAP/RPL/ICTAP eligibles; reinstatement eligibles; 30% or more disabled veterans; Individuals with Disabilities; former Peace Corps or VISTA volunteers; and those eligible for other Special Hiring Authorities.

Questions? This job is open to 5 groups.

Job family (Series)

1035 Public Affairs




Conditions of Employment

US Citizenship is required

Selective Service Registration is required for males born after 12/31/1959

Special Conditions:

Selection and retention in this position is contingent on a successfully adjudicated FBI National Criminal History Check (fingerprint check) and a background investigation.

Successful completion of a one-year probationary or trial period (if new hire to the Federal service).

Selectee must be able to obtain and maintain a Secret security clearance.

This position may be eligible for telework within the local commuting area of the duty location of the position. Employee participation in telework is at the discretion of the supervisor.


Applicants must meet all qualifications and eligibility requirements by the closing date of the announcement including time-in-grade restrictions, specialized experience as defined below, etc.

TIME IN GRADE: Federal employees must meet time-in-grade requirements by the closing date of this announcement.

FOR THE GS-14 LEVEL: Applicants must have one year of specialized experience (equivalent to the GS-13 level) that demonstrates:

Specialized Experiences:

Experience working with current and emerging digital communications strategies and technologies;

Experience planning, organizing, and executing the delivery of information and services via the web and social and digital media channels, including applying principles such as 508 accessibility and plain language requirements for digital media related to public affairs;

Experience developing websites using multiple development languages such as JAVA Scripting, ASP, PHP and HTML and utilizing a broad array of social media platforms (including Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr) to support public affairs and communications efforts;

Experience implementing graphic design skills to create infographics, interactive charts and graphs, and other tools for website and social media channels; and

Experience with written and oral communion methods and techniques related to public affairs communication and delivering presentations and training.

There is no education substitution for this grade level.

Experience refers to paid and unpaid experience, including volunteer work done through National Service programs (e.g., Peace Corps, AmeriCorps) and other organizations (e.g., professional; philanthropic; religious; spiritual; community, student, social). Volunteer work helps build critical competencies, knowledge, and skills and can provide valuable training and experience that translates directly to paid employment. You will receive credit for all qualifying experience, including volunteer experience.


This position does not possess an education qualification requirement.

“It (education reference) is likely targeted to veterans who have advanced military education and other experience,” said Erik Winkfield, a public relations manager at Pepco, a D.C. public utility owned by Exelon.

He and his colleagues in the federal government sector often converse about such job ads. Bridget Sherchak, PR Director for Voice of America, has rarely seen such job listings that advertise vague educational requirements. Sherchak was formerly a federal government employee for a major agency and she possesses several years of hiring experience.

Like the job featured atop this blog, there are all types of “education” one may include in their applications such as digital badges, certificates and advanced military training. Go for it, veterans and others who do not fit in the traditional, university-educated categories for work opportunities and have great experiences and knowledge from a wide range of institutions.

Ann L. Wead Kimbrough is an accomplished educator, award-winning financial journalist, author, special events leader, mentor and prolific contributor to select global and domestic non-profit causes. Her blog topics include travel, history, humor, education, career, family, journalism and ‘thought you should know’ subjects.

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Open letter to parents, advisors and ‘first time in college’ students: Your career begins with your college choice

Begin with the end in mind.
Who wishes for her/his prospective college or university student to enroll in academic programs that produce results on the road to nowhere? I don’t. That is why I have spent a few decades helping to educate parents, academic advisors and on-their-own students about thinking through their decisions on which colleges and universities are a match for the students’ overall goals and objectives.
There are also economic reasons why it is important to get it right. The sad statistics about the college drop outs remains at an alarming high.

If financial aid loans are involved in the drop outs’ matriculation, repayment is a problem and that adds up on the default rate of loans. Ask CEOs like Ce Cole Dillon whose company, Student Loan 411, is helping countless numbers of ex-college students to wade out of their debt.

My focus in this blog is on the importance of ‘looking before leaping’ to achieve ‘happily ever after’ results.
Why you should care what happens after college graduation
Going to college is no longer a cheap buy: The average 2017-18 price tag was $25,290 for public and $50,900 for private higher education institutions, according to the College Board.

With that annual figure growing each year, an increasing number of parental and foundation funders are asking the ROI or return on investment questions about universities and colleges’ tuition, housing and food expenses.
As one who believes in the value and lasting benefits of attaining a well-rounded higher education degree and socialization, I sought the same questions when my children were preparing to attend college. I also learned that my recommendations were not always in line with what my children wanted to achieve. My bottom line is and remains: What will a college and university do to enhance one’s career opportunities?

1. Despite the pressure of parents and others for a student to become a “legacy” college entrant, if that student is unsure about her/his academic interests and career goals, consider a two-year program at a community college. It is a cheaper buy. While I served as a dean at a university in Florida, I actively recruited and welcomed students who wished to transfer into our bachelor’s degrees’ programs. Graduation and other success rates at four-year institutions by associate degree graduates is impressive.

2. It’s okay to choose a four-year program. It’s even smarter to graduate in four years. I chose a historically black college in Atlanta, Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University). Many in my family chose larger, majority institutions. We all meet at the finish line as my siblings and cousins, aunts, uncles and parents graduated and are happily engaged in various careers. Please make sure that the program’s results match the preparation expectations of the students and hopefully, her/his supporters.

3. Asking for the right data and getting answers to queries involving curricula vis a vis careers, are vital components in the degree selection process. I always make myself available for parents and students and others to ask questions of me about academic programs, career choices and graduate school. At a recent gathering of prospective graduate students of the Medill School of Journalism, a family member pulled me out of a small circle and quizzed me on whether the “expensive cost of attending this school is worth it.” I responded with a resounding “yes” with my story combined with career placement data that I could recall. I also matched him with our websites and included the names of famous alums who would aid in his pursuit of one of the most legitimate queries. Note that most public universities are required to report similar data. Also, accreditation agencies of university and college degree programs are also requiring graduation, matriculation rates, and career placement rates. Some academics “hate” the phrase “placement rates” yet will answer your queries another way.

4. Check the walls — the virtual and on-site. In most specialized programs, there are regular postings about career and internship preparation, announcements about alumni visiting campus, career and graduate school recruitment visits and more. Do this during the academic school year because the summer months and holidays may not yield as much content.

5. Email, text and call alumni to ask about their career choices and how your desired university or college program helped those alums along the career paths. In the majority of situations involving prospective students, alumni LOVE talking about their college days.

6. Talk to employers about the post-graduation and entry-level preparation and expectations of college and university graduates.

7. Read the ‘fine print’ that is right before each of on a daily basis. Listen and read and learn from the general and specialized media stories, marketplace trends and global developments regarding career choices for the college bound or university enrolled student. When I arrived for my first day of work as a dean of journalism and graphic communication, I was provided with a “gift” from our mass media funders. They wrote a collective letter to university presidents, provosts and deans to inform us that they would no longer support out-of-step programs.

8. It’s okay to change your mind. I did. My oldest son did the same. He did chose Florida A&M University over other options that included the Georgia Institute of Technology. During the hot summer days when I was 17 years old, I debated on which university or college to attend. I was accepted to three colleges. I paid my housing deposit to Howard University. Yet, just before I booked my travel from Chicago to Washington, D.C., a Clark College (now Clark Atlanta University) alumna informed me that there was an equally strong communication program at Clark. When I placed both programs side-by-side, I chose Clark and became a “legacy” graduate. It led to my next important career preparation and that was at the Medill School of Journalism @Northwestern University. With my degree specialization in financial journalism, my career and later my doctorate in international business, have provided me with an outstanding the journey.

9. When final choices are made, consider the financial investment of travel to and from home to the college and university, the fees and tuition, location and whether the “helicopter” or “drone” parent syndrome is also involved in the decision-making.

It is not easy selecting which is the best college or university to advantage one’s career choice, yet it is worth the early investment.
If you are still unsure, request a year extension on attending a college or university also known as a “gap year.” Make sure your college or university offers such a program. You save your place in line while exploring a career, educational experience or a related adventure and perhaps gain some more research on whether the university will fill your career and life’s desires and needs.

Ann L. Wead Kimbrough is an accomplished educator, award-winning financial journalist, author, special events leader, mentor and prolific contributor to select global and domestic non-profit causes. Her blog topics include travel, history, humor, education, career, family, journalism and ‘thought you should know’ subjects.

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Need a job? Try the low-hanging “fruit.” Job seekers apply here …

Here’s a well-known secret: The best jobs are found on the websites of professional associations. If you are still looking for work, check out the professional associations in the field(s) of your intended career. It’s the low-hanging fruit for your labors.

For example, if your major was journalism, communications, graphic communication, publishing, documentary or digital journalism, check out the Society of Professional Journalists’ website. Currently, I live and work in Region 5 and here’s what I found by reading news highlights:

1. The weekly newspaper Planet Jackson Hole in Jackson, Wyoming, is looking for a Staff Reporter to join its “small but scrappy newsroom.” The publication is looking for a versatile journalist who can report on multiple beats.

2. The Northwest Signal, a daily newspaper in Napoleon, Ohio, is searching for an energetic sports writer who is eager to grow and develop within the sports department.

3. The Free Press in Kinston, (correct spelling) North Carolina, seeks an experienced multimedia reporter willing to jump head-first into delivering breaking and developing news in the community.

For my job seekers who may be a part of the “non-believers” that there are thousands of job opportunities for you, or for parents and other loved ones of those recent grads and perpetual career changers, here is my sample “proof in the pudding” listing of professional associations that allow anyone to browse for work … at zero cost:

(All fields searchable by job type, location, etc.) search

Ann L. Wead Kimbrough is an accomplished educator, award-winning financial journalist, author, special events leader, mentor and prolific contributor to select global and domestic non-profit causes. Her blog topics include travel, history, humor, education, career, family, journalism and ‘thought you should know’ subjects.

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Discouraged job seekers: Start here Are you sitting at home in front of your computer searching for jobs to fit your current career goals? Are you like one of my mentees who just told me that she cannot find a job where she is located? Or are you like another mentee who is networking and has lined up potentially two jobs while finishing his graduate degree?

I ask my mentees to remain strategic in their job searches. I offer a bunch of other job hunting tips that are rapidly forgotten. Layely, I am sensing a collective, heightened anxiety haze coming over some folk who are going around in circles to locate job possibilities, fix their resumes, start or improve personal websites and prep for the first round of interviews. Today, I am focusing on helping the almost discouraged job seeker in my career fields.

Here’s my top FREE and proven effective job sites for communications (digital media, PR, education) folk:

First pick is, the free job site of the Online News Association. This free offering is my favorite source for entry-level to career professional quality jobs in digital media, public relations and affairs, higher education and other related communications areas. I recommend joining this association. It is best to join if you are still a student because your $25 annual fee is “Open to high school, college and university students, including undergraduate, graduate and associate degree students, with an interest in journalism produced for digital distribution. (Graduate students who are employed full time and students in certificate programs are not eligible to be Student Members.)”- ONA.

Next pick: It is the free site of the journalism industry’s career prep and training. When I taught a course for senior students in college, I listed several free or low cost courses for them to utilize to sharpen their skills. What’s also great about this site are the categories of jobs to aid the career seekers:
PR & Advertising
Graphic Design
Online Marketing
Sales – General
Media & Broadcasting
Web, Graphics & UI
Application Development
Media Technology

Final pick: Your college or university’s career website that pertains to your major. For instance, as a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, I have a free career source for life. I have never used the career site because my graduate 🎓 degree from Medill has been more than enough to open doors and opportunities during my blessed career journey. If your school does not have a current and relevant job site for you, then seek help from other universities and colleges. Some are open to getting every graduate or career professional gainfully employed.

Also, there are many professional association conferences that boast of on-site job fairs. You usually have to 💰 to attend the conferences, this the free search is not in play. Ceck those associations’ sites for potential hints at which employers are attending the conference and then check those websites.

The point is to find free job sites that are also linked to your current career choice(s). There is no excuse for anyone to remain at home and grumble or express panic because you cannot find your best job. You may have to relocate to the new job. Yet, first things first: Locate your top 10 job possibilities. My next post will provide you with tips on how to effectively read job postings so that your resume and experience lines up with to get you noticed by your future employer.

Ann L. Wead Kimbrough is an accomplished educator, award-winning financial journalist, author, special events leader, mentor and prolific contributor to select global and domestic non-profit causes. Her blog topics include travel, history, humor, education, career, family, journalism and ‘thought you should know’ subjects.

Read more