You don't need to go to college to find your dream job, 'degree free' entrepreneur says

A WSJ poll last year found 56% of all Americans viewed getting a college degree as a bad investment

A college degree isn't always necessary to land a lucrative job that can give you the lifestyle you want, one young entrepreneur firmly believes and shares with her followers on social media.

TikTokers Hannah and Ryan Maruyama run the Degree Free Network, a podcast and consulting business to educate teens, families and job-seekers on alternatives to college degrees.

Hannah Maruyama found a successful career without obtaining a four-year-degree. She says their advice can help high school students and their parents save years and tens of thousands in debt.

"We actually make career roadmaps for 16 to 18-year-olds, so rising juniors and seniors," Maruyama explained to Fox News Digital. "The idea is to make sure that they are taking the right path for their education. And we delineate [between] ‘education’ and ‘college’ because they are two separate things. There is the ability to learn practical skills and to learn valuable educational skills without buying college degrees."

SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR DITCHES COLLEGE DEGREE FOR ‘HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE’

"Degree Free" Hannah Maruyama on value of college degree

Entrepreneur Hannah Maruyama of the "Degree Free" network spoke to Fox News Digital about lucrative careers without college degrees.

Maruyama says many of their clients are looking for careers that earn enough income to pursue the lifestyle they want without digging themselves into student loan debt.

She warns that the "college pipeline" path most schools in the U.S. push isn't always the best option for high school graduates. 

Recent surveys, such as this 2023 poll from the Wall Street Journal-NORC suggest that more Americans than ever believe that going to college is a bad investment. Staggering student loan debt – about $1.7 trillion divided among 43 million Americans – has become a top issue in the United States, and the Biden administration has canceled billions in debt even after the Supreme Court struck down its initial handout last year. 

HBO comedian John Oliver devoted an episode of "Last Week Tonight" to the topic last week to underscore how many Americans are struggling to pay off their loans.

Maruyama says most parents and students don't take the time to learn about the thousands of jobs out there that pay a decent income but only require self-teaching and/or certificates to obtain.

When talking to parents, she recommends they first determine if degrees are legally required for the career their child wants, and whether they can afford to pay off tens of thousands of dollars to get a degree in that field.

She also asks students to determine what kind of lifestyle they want to lead and if their goals can realistically be met by that career and the responsibilities it entails.

"It's not my job to discourage these kids from certain jobs or from buying college degrees even. It's my job to make sure that they understand the consequences of taking certain paths," she explained.

US COMPANIES INCREASINGLY ELIMINATE COLLEGE DEGREES AS A REQUIREMENT AMID ‘OUT-OF-CONTROL’ SCHOOL COSTS

college graduates walking away

A WSJ poll last year found 56% of all Americans viewed getting a college degree as a bad investment (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Maruyama says her own personal experience of having to find a well-paying remote job after getting laid off during the COVID pandemic "opened her eyes" to what was possible without a college degree.

After losing her job, she immediately started researching what the top skills remote jobs with her desired income required. In just a few months, she had learned a new software program, earned a certificate and acquired her first job in tech.

"So it was pretty eye-opening to me because I had always suspected that you didn't need a bachelor's degree in order to apply for jobs that said they required them, but that really hammered it home for me. Because that job said it required a bachelor's degree in computer science, which obviously I do not have," she said.

"And that just sent me down this rabbit hole where I wondered if I can do this technical position with a certification… What else can people do?"

EMPLOYERS ARE FED UP WITH COLLEGE 'WASTE,' OPT FOR SKILLED BLUE-COLLAR WORKERS INSTEAD

Job search website on computer

Hannah Maruyama started researching what the top skills were for jobs without degrees that would make her the income she desired after losing her job during Covid. (iStock / iStock)

Maruyama started talking about her experience on TikTok where she drew a large following. Eventually, she and her husband Ryan launched their "Degree Free" network as a consulting service to help others in their career search.

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Maruyama says those willing to teach themselves the skills can find a variety of jobs in tech, finance, medicine and more. 

She's seen jobs like CNC programmers, software developers, AI experts, financial analysts, organ transplant coordinators, midwives, real estate photography, forestry and even pilots that don't require bachelor's degrees but often earn more than the median income those with college degrees make.

More businesses in the U.S. have begun ditching the degree requirements for corporate roles as part of a wider trend in the U.S. job market de-emphasizing the value of a four-year diploma.

Companies like Walmart, IBM, Accenture, Bank of America and Google recently announced plans to reduce the number of jobs that require college degrees.

People without degrees may have more work experience and a skill set that can give them an advantage over students who spent an average of five-and-a-half years in school without a job, Maruyama argued.

"The truth is companies don't actually care about bachelor's degrees. They care about your ability to do the job. And that's increasingly what's becoming the trend now," she said.

Fox News' Gabriel Hays, Kendall Tietz and Nikolas Lanum contributed to this report.

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