4 Well-Paying Jobs That Don’t Require Degrees (In Singapore)

University is only about wild parties if you (1) have a big trust fund, and (2) are waiting to take CEO position in the family business. If you don’t have either, then University has all the entertainment of a power drill through your kneecaps. It’s expensive, it’s demanding, and there’s a sinking suspicion that negative 100% of it applies to the real world. Just to make grads feel worse, here are some awesome jobs that require no degrees:


Singapore esplanade

And then I thought: If a durian vendor can be an architect, anything’s possible.


1. Property Agents

Property agents sell living space, by conducting viewings and SMSing clients into submission. Some deal with simple room rentals, others sell penthouses or central region condos.

This job has no fixed income; property agents receive commissions based on their sales. As such, there’s a wide disparity in earnings, ranging from $3000 a month to $50,000 a month. According to a property agent from PropNex, who chose to remain anonymous:

“The agent gets a 2% commission. If you sell high value properties, housing in district 9 and so forth, you can make $40,000 – $50,000 from one deal. Agents who specialize in HDB flats can also do quite well. They can make around $10,000 a month quite regularly”.


OMG sign

That happened in your head so loud, it’s embedded on the screen.


The requirements for a property agent are four “O” level passes, good people skills, and passing the RES (Real Estate Salespersons) exam. Some other restrictions (Being at least 21 years old, not having prior convictions, not being being bankrupt, etc.) also apply. Check on the CEA (Council for Real Estate Agents) website for the full criteria.

The fees for the exam are about $246. You’ll also need to approach an ACP (Approved Course Provider) on this list. The fees of the ACP range from $700 to $900.

Our anonymous agent includes a caveat:

“This job is very time consuming. It requires a lot of patience and persistence. You need to have the sort of attitude where, if someone gets angry with you, or turns you down, you are encouraged by the challenge instead of losing your temper.”

There are plenty of sites that offer property agent jobs; look for the ones that will subsidise your exam fees.


Complex maths on a board

It’s an extra test component on Black Hole physics. It used to be called Shoebox Flats.


2. CAAS Air Traffic Controllers

Hah! You didn’t expect to see this here did you?

Air Traffic Controller is a well-respected job that involves landing planes. Preferably, without the involvement of fire or twisted metal. CAAS Air traffic Controllers work in Changi’s control towers, on rotating shifts.

The job pays $1700 a month during the training period, then hits $2500 – $3800 a month once you get started. Apart from the sheer coolness factor, there’s a lot of job security involved; it’s not like they can fire you and have a temp land planes tomorrow (This isn’t Indonesia).


Changi airport control tower

Actually, it only turned yellow because Ryan was up there when a plane nearly hit us.


I interviewed an air traffic controller about his job. Heh, no, not really. They’d barely let me in a pet shop, let alone an air traffic tower. But I did speak to Human Resources at CAAS. The basic requirement is a Poly Diploma, accompanied by a voice and aptitude test.

You can apply for this job right out of school. So if you have a Poly diploma, this beats the hell out of flipping burgers. Also, the job is great for people who loathe having to sell things (Most of the good diploma level jobs involve that).


3. Emcees

Emcees host events. It could be fashion shows at malls, video game launches, or even government awareness campaigns. Their job is to engage the crowd, deliver a message, and act as indirect salesmen.

Emcees make anywhere from $350 – $800 per gig. That’s typically a one to three hour session. In case that hasn’t sunk in, let me repeat: $350 an hour. A decent emcee can secure six gigs a month (good ones are constantly “booked till next April, sorry”).


Emcee speaking at event

Not only are the organizers too cheap to pay me, they also endorsed every racist joke I’ll tell tonight.


That comes to an average of $2100 a month. Yes, that is impressive, because that’s for six to 12 hours of work. In a month. Most of us work a 40 hour week to make that much.

But Eugene Tay, veteran emcee, warns that:

“A lot of it depends on your ability to engage the crowd, to make them stand up and participate. You don’t need paper qualifications; but you need to have stage presence and charisma. It’s easy  if it comes naturally to you. Otherwise, it’s not really something that can be taught.”

In other words, no qualifications apart from being likeable. Just one problem: If you’ve got the personality of a law student or a door knob (but I repeat myself), youre facing a learning curve steeper than the Matterhorn.

Got the guts? Your resume is a blog, a website, and lots of online ads. Just type “emcee jobs Singapore” in Google, and you’ll see how aggressively these people advertise. Your clients will call you.


GE rally with giant fake hammer for WP side

Wow, those guys must really hate the emcee. Is it because he keeps going on about Section 49?


4. Illustrators

Illustrators make ugly things look pretty; like walls of text, bad websites, or unedited photos of MoneySmart staff. They don’t always do graphics; sometimes they just handle layout.

At the “low end” of the scale, there are illustrators who make $1500 – $2500 a month (newsletters and fliers). On the “high end” are illustrators for comics, games, or product packaging,  who rake in about $3500 – $5000 a month.

Samantha Godding, who’s been a freelance illustrator for five years, says most people misunderstand the job. It doesn’t require you to be Picasso:

“You need some artistic capacity, but more than that you need to be an IT person. I ‘ve learned that it’s more important to be good with computers than to be a great sketch artist.”


Sketch of an emcee speaking

I call it Pursuant to Section Forty Ni… Hey, what’s that hammer for?


Samantha has designed logos and mascots, but most of her jobs involve “positioning text, designing borders, and lots and lots of Photoshop”.

You don’t need a degree to become an illustrator. But you do need to know Flash, Adobe Illustrator, and Photoshop. As for drawing, basic courses from ACAS or Art Fusion will do.

Image Credits:
wallygrom, Jonas B, stuartpilbrow, edwin.11, viagallery, abdulrahman.elections, gruntzooki

Do you have a great job that doesn’t need a degree? Comment and tell us about it!

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