“I don’t want to go to school!”, cries my 5-year-old niece as she throws a tantrum, which her mother swiftly dodges. Empathising with her, I ask why she says so. She replies, “Dancers don’t study. Dancers dance.” I smile, for she makes a very valid point for someone with milk teeth.
No, I don’t agree that dancers shouldn’t go to school; everyone should have access to basic education. What is taught in schools and how valid it is to practical life is something that has been long debated, but I’d like to sidestep that for now. What does catch my attention though, is once an individual is through with schooling, why would an aspiring dancer need a college degree?
In a country like ours, there is far too much pressure on fresh school graduates to pursue a degree, or even a postgraduate degree after their college.
The number of years that could be spent honing one’s craft is all spent in labouring over a degree that adds little or no value to their professional engagements.
This is not to say that training, practice, or even extra lessons or diplomas are a waste – just that we need a shift in the way we pursue creative careers. If you’re someone who has longed to take up a creative career, or even to switch from your present one, we have some lucrative options for you.
Creative careers – the skills you need, the degree you don’t
As a writer, I can rightfully attest that one can do as well in this field without a proper degree. Usually, writing jobs don’t predispose the requirement of a formal degree. I started writing in school and was able to secure a full-time job by the end of my college, thanks to my experience. While many companies might opt for conventional hiring methods, most of whom might ask for college-level education, a lot of others only ask for experience.
If you’re starting out as a writer, an internship is your best shot.
Acquainting yourself with writing tools, spell-check apps, SEO tools, SEM tools, keyword search-based apps, etc. can help.
One of the best things about having a creative job is that you don’t have to be tied down in one place. As a writer, you can work freelance, take up part-time projects, travel the world, write from the comfort of your home, and you’d still be paid well.
Ghostwriting, technical writing, travel writing, fashion writing, blog writing, and SOP writing are some of the possible avenues one can explore.
If I step out with a sullen face, chances are that I’m having a bad hair day. I feel your hair can make or break your look. So, I take my hairstyling trips very seriously.
I think, someone could have all the degrees in the world, but if they’re a bad hairstylist, nothing can change that. This is because hairstyling is a skill. Undoubtedly, it can get better with practice, but that’s about it. Hairstyling masters and styling salons offer a splendid range of courses on styling, most of which are more effective at getting you a job than a degree.
You can start by assisting a professional hairdresser, then work your way up to working alone.
You can also work as a commissioned hairdresser for celebrities or influencers, or open up your own dream salon.
I remember standing in front of my nani as a little kid, her taking measurements of my tiny arms and round belly to knit me a new sweater. For years, I’ve longed to wear one of her hand-knit sweaters – the soft wool, the crossed stitches, the snug fit, I missed it all. Just when I thought that feeling was lost forever, I saw an Instagram page that knits personalised sweaters.
Thanks to social media, knitting, crocheting, sewing, embroidery and other such intricate arts are making a comeback.
If your hands work the needles like magic, knitting might be the perfect craft for you. Knitting doesn’t require a degree, it’s all about the skill.
Once you get your hands set, you only get better with practice. From stuffed toys to bedroom slippers, everything sells! With small businesses taking over the social media space, artists can very easily turn to entrepreneurship. You can open up an online store, or sell on E-commerce platforms, or promote your brand on LinkedIn. Once your social media presence is established, your brand will speak for itself.
4. Makeup artistry
Gone are the days when makeup was viewed as a method of concealment; it is now a tool of empowerment.
If you think formulating fun makeup looks with your best friend is your most relaxing habit, why not make it your job? From celebrities and YouTubers to blushing brides and happy grooms, everyone wishes for a makeup artist these days. A bonus? You get to travel on the job!
While you certainly don’t require a degree, there’s an array of makeup courses to choose from. Once you start with the beginner’s course, you can work your way up while working on the side. From Meenakshi Dutt to Leena Bhushan, there’s an unending litany of names who’ve made it in the industry.
When someone talks about being an artist, the first thing that pops into my mind is the image of a painter standing by a canvas. Well, that image is not entirely wrong. Painting, drawing, and sketching are all forms of art that can be turned into robust career options.
True, one can obtain a degree in drawing or painting, but one cannot pick up the craft. Like many creative careers, I think an artist’s career can thrive if they have the flair for it.
If an artist captures the eye of a true art enthusiast, their career may take an unanticipated flight.
Naturally, it might take an artist years to figure out their genre, carve a niche for themselves in the big sea of artists, or even be recognised. But, thanks to social media, a lot of smaller artists are getting recognition and appreciation on an unforeseen global scale.
They say that photographing a moment is like capturing a feeling for all eternity. Photography is one of the most sought-after professions at present. Whether it’s pre-wedding shoots, corporate events, modelling assignments, or brand launches, every major event requires a photographer.
While it may look like an easy job, photography does entail a lot of technical understanding and study.
You have to understand what lens to use, if the lighting works right, what angle to set the camera at, if a certain edit is flattering or not, and so much more.
While there are degree courses available in photography, like all other creative careers, success in this one also banks on how polished your skill is. The career allows you to travel, make huge bucks on short-term projects, meet new people, and capture the best moments in strangers’ lives.
Think you can tell a chiffon from a georgette? Is making a neon green skirt work child’s play for you? Overlapping prints do work together, and you think you know how? You might have a knack for styling.
Whether it’s Kim Kardashian stepping out in joggers and strappy heels, or Deepika Padukone doing a quick run at the airport to pick up her hubby, every celebrity needs a stylist.
A very sophisticated career choice, styling allows you to delve into your love for fashion while having fun. While you might require substantial experience, styling is more about how creative and confident you are about your choices. It requires you to make quick connections and risqué choices.
As a start, you can intern with fashion houses or reach out to influencers to work on a pro-bono basis. Once your work starts getting recognition, you can take up full-time styling jobs or freelance on a monthly basis. If you’re looking for some styling inspo, the Gambhir sisters sure have a whole lot to teach!
8. Graphic design
If you’re great with art, graphic design might be your gateway into the design world. Remember Pam from The Office? Well, your graphic design journey does not have to be the same. But the hard work and effort might be.
From websites and apps to brand design and logos, graphic designing is something that is indispensable to every company, business, or startup. A brand’s social media presence can make or break its business. So much so that people are coming up with dedicated design studios that cater to big and small companies.
While you don’t need a degree to pursue design, you will have to take up diploma or certificate courses to supplement your artistic skill.
Being good at art helps, but it is not enough to get the job done. You must also possess a walking knowledge of basic design software, as well as a keen eye for aesthetics.
9. YouTube blogging
A lot of people underestimate the value of social media. While recent times have seen a massive shift of audience from YouTube to Instagram, the wind seems to be blowing people back to the OG video app. If you didn’t know that YouTubers make money via their videos, you’ve probably been living under a rock.
The way this works is this: you start posting videos regularly, and once you reach YouTube’s required limit, your channel becomes eligible for monetisation.
After that, based on your channel’s popularity, Google places ads in your videos. Every time someone comes across an advertisement, your video gets a small commission.
Apart from not needing a degree, the best thing about being a YouTuber is that you can document any part of your life. Great at cooking? Show the world! Sitting on great life lessons? The world is all ears!
Kabita's Kitchen is a prominent YouTube channel that started with Kabita sharing cooking videos from her kitchen in 2014. Presently, she runs one of the most sought after cooking channels with her lip-smacking recipes.
10. Wedding planning
Remember what degrees Bittoo and Shruti had in Band Baaja Baraat when they set out to launch Shaadi Mubarak? Well, me neither. That’s the thing about wedding planning!
If you think you can manage the phoolwaala, tentwaala, sabziwaala, tempowaala, dulhan ke masterji, mehendi wale bhaiya, dance wali didi all at once, this might be the right career for you.
Like Bittoo and Shruti, you might have to work for a real-life Chanda Narang to get a lay of the land. You might not have a meteoric rise like them, but one can never be too optimistic.
While prior experience in event management firms or even a management degree in the same field can become greatly advantageous, wedding planning is more about tapping into your creative side than anything else. If wedding planning looks like a humongous task to undertake, you can start small by planning proposals, dates, anniversaries, bridal showers, bachelorettes, reception dinners, or even engagement announcements.
For anyone who has seen the young-adult Bollywood flick F.A.L.T.U, the concept of securing a job without a degree would make perfect sense. In saying that some careers can do equally well, even better without a degree, I don’t mean to undermine the value it may add to one’s career.
As a confused school graduate, my literature degree did wonders in helping me understand my passion.
We lay far too much stress on our degrees and often end up with careers that might be related to the same. The attempt here is not to question the integrity of higher education, but only to scrutinise its utility to those more creatively inclined.
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