How to get into the Business Industry with or Without a Degree

Wondering what qualifications and experience you need to land your first job in HR, sales, marketing, PR, management or consulting? 

You can get into the business industry in various ways and you don’t always need a degree to do it.

How to get into the business industry without a degree

It is true that many people working within business have a degree. However it’s certainly possible to land a business position without one.

The first thing you need to know is which area of business you wish to work in. It’s fine if you don’t know just yet, there are programmes aimed at those without degrees that offer the opportunity to try out different roles. These types of opportunities are usually within marketing, HR, sales and sometimes even PR. The process is often quicker if you know what type of role you want of course. 

Business Apprenticeships

Higher apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships require you to work as a paid employee at an organisation while studying part-time for your qualification. There’s no need to worry about course fees as your employer pays for them. The qualifications you’ll gain are of course, a degree with a degree apprenticeship but qualifications for higher apprenticeships can vary. 

The apprenticeships position you take will depend on the type of experience you’ll gain. Some positions will focus on one area such as digital marketing, whereas others may give you the opportunity to work across different areas within the business such as HR, sales, finance and so on. It’s likely you’ll be given this opportunity during degree apprenticeships rather than higher apprenticeships. 

To have the opportunity of attaining a position a higher business apprenticeship or degree apprenticeship you’ll need at least 5 GCSEs between the grades of A*-C. These will also need to include maths and english as well as 2-3 A levels or the equivalent. 

How to get into HR without a degree

If you’re looking to get into the world of HR you can take a degree apprenticeship or higher apprenticeship, just as you can for business. You can also go for entry-level HR jobs and work your way up. 

Not all entry-level jobs are suited to school leavers but with some type of office experience such as admin experience you gained during work experience, they may take you on board. However, like most industries,  it’s competitive and those with more experience such as an apprenticeship may get the position over you. 

How to get into HR with a degree

If you’re a graduate, you can apply for an HR graduate schemes as well as open entry positions. You don’t need to have a degree in Human Resources to join the HR industry. HR schemes and graduate positions will often be open to applications from those with degrees in many subjects. Most of the time you’ll need at least a 2.1 degree grade but this will depend on the organisation as others will take grades of 2.2. 

If you did a placement year during your time at university, it’s likely this will put you ahead of other candidates as you’ll have valuable experience and a degree. 

However for both those who get into HR with or without a degree, to climb the ladder once you’re in the position you’ll need to gain a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualification.

How to get into sales without a degree

Weather or not you need a degree in sales really depends on the type of sales job you’re going for. If you were to want to work in pharmaceuticals it’s likely you’ll need a degree, whereas if you want to do sales in marketing you may not need one. If you go for a marketing position it can be possible for sales to be integrated into your role. 

There are also plenty of entry-level roles such as a sales trainee or executive. If you don’t have a degree employers will want you to prove you can sell and meet targets set. If you have worked as a sales assistant within a part-time role this would count as relevant experience. 

They’ll want you to prove you have good communications skills on the phone, email and in person as this is a key element to a sales role. You’ll need good maths knowledge so that you can do calculations quickly with no hesitation as this could put customers off. 

You may not realise that you have skills that apply to a sales role but most part-time roles require an element of sales and communication. Most entry-level sales roles that aren’t looking for graduates tends to be within marketing, media, IT, telecoms or recruitment. 

How to get into sales without a degree

If you have a degree there are so many opportunities and for most sales roles, it doesn’t matter what area your degree is in. However, some sectors such as IT may prefer to employ a graduate with a degree in business or IT over a candidate that has a degree in psychology. 

Just like those without a degree you’ll need to show a passion to pursue a career in sales as well as strong numeracy, communication and confidence. 

Once you’re within a sales role, you can attain professional qualifications in sales via the Institute of Sales Management (ISM) or The Chartered Institute of Marketing also offers professional qualifications. Qualifications from these can help you climb up the ladder but they are not always necessary.

How to get into marketing & PR without a degree

Degree apprenticeships and higher apprenticeships are a great option for anyone wanting to get into marketing without the qualifications to do so. There are a few different paths you can take within marketing such as digital marketing, print, PPC, SEO and much more. 

You can work within an agency or in-house. Working for an agency will require you to work on one or more external client account whereas working in house will require you to work on the brand you work for. Both offer apprenticeship opportunities and the culture may be different between these so you’ll need to think which type of organisation you want to get into first. 

The Chartered Institute of Marketing offers a variety of courses that are perfect for anyone who is new to the marketing world. You’ll need a little knowledge of marketing to land your marketing apprenticeship so it’s good to spend a little time on this. 

If you’re studying your A levels currently you may want to try and work an admin job as it will give you a little background to become more competitive when looking for a job. 

How to get into marketing & PR with a degree

If you studied a subject that isn’t closely related to business, you’ll  need relevant experience such as a marketing or PR internship or work experience to help prove your interest in the marketing industry. 

However, as the marketing industry has adapted, so have roles. You can get into marketing with degrees in social studies, English literature and many others. There are plenty of marketing graduate schemes and even more entry level positions. If you’re passionate and have a grade of 2.2, 2.1 or higher you should have no problem finding a position within the industry.

The business industry is thriving and there are so many opportunities as well as paths to take. The two main ways into the business industry are apprenticeships and degrees, although we have stated others paths where possible.  Weather you want or have been to university or not, there are many ways to pursue your career goals and dreams. 

If you’d like to browse our business, finance and law opportunities, you can do so here. Whether you’re looking for an apprenticeship or graduate position, we have the tools to help you. 

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