Jobs you can start straight out of matric

Tertiary studies not for you? Try careers offering matriculants on-the-job training.

If you passed matric, congratulations! It’s time to take the next step in building your future: planning a successful career. Some careers require further education at a university or college, but tertiary studies are not an option for many matriculants for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you didn’t pass with good enough grades to qualify for college or university, or finances could be the issue, or maybe you’re simply not interested in any of the careers that require degrees or diplomas.

Happily, post-matric study is not the only route available to a successful future. There are plenty of jobs that will take on matriculants as entry-level trainees, in both the small-business and large retail sectors. If you prove hard-working, willing to learn and passionate about the job, many employers are willing to help you to expand your skills, earn any professional certificates and qualifications your industry offers, and secure regular promotions.

In many fields, after several years of on-the-job training and practical experience, you’ll have acquired the qualifications and industry knowledge to start a business of your own, if that’s your dream. You can still build an empire without a university degree, but like everything else, success is impossible without hard work and dedication.

Here’s a list of just a few of the career paths you can start on without a tertiary degree or diploma:

Beauty and spa industry

Personal care has progressed well beyond the era of beauty parlours for women and barbershops for men. Increasingly nowadays, both men and women are embracing the idea of pampering as part of regular self-care.

It’s not just about grooming yourself to look your best – in the high-stress lives many of us are living, soothing spa treatments that let you zone out and relax completely, physically, and mentally, can improve your health and happiness. Somatology is now a recognised discipline, for which a degree or a diploma is required.

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If you’re monetising a YouTube channel, remember that your income is dependent on ad revenue

If you have a flair for personal care, beauty and style and you enjoy interacting with people, there are a wide range of jobs you could end up in, for example:

  • hairstylist or barber,
  • nail technician,
  • make-up artist,
  • dietitian,
  • tattoo artist,
  • massage therapist, or
  • specialist practitioner in aromatherapy, reflexology, shiatsu, reiki or other spa treatments.

All those jobs require training and qualifications, of course – but the industry also needs support personnel to help with client care and maintenance of the premises. Those are the entry-level jobs that allow you to work in the industry while you study for your qualifications part-time, ideally with the hands-on help of your employer’s training and development programme.


A job in sales requires exceptional people skills, and if you’re good at getting customers to buy products, retail could be the door to knock on. Jobs in retail often include a commission structure, so you can increase your income if you perform well – that’s not an incentive many entry-level jobs offer. Most retail jobs will also provide you with some form of sales training and the chance to upskill and move into management.

Real estate agent

Much like retail, real estate is all about making a sale – but your income is entirely commission-based, so performance is even more important. You play an instrumental part in the lives of both buyers and sellers transferring an asset of major value, so it requires a great deal of responsibility. You’ll need to become familiar with property law.

Unlike retail, you will be required to complete an NQF4 RE qualification and pass the Professional Designation Examination (PDE4) to obtain a real estate agent licence, but this is another industry with entry-level positions in support services that enable you to learn while you earn. Estate agencies employ interns or candidates, who then have 2 years to obtain their qualifications while they learn the ropes under a licensed agent’s supervision.

Digital content creation

Do people often come to you for advice? Have you noticed that your opinions carry a lot of weight when those around you make decisions? Do you have decor, home-furnishing, cooking or life hacks that others find useful? Are you talented at entertaining and amusing people? One of the joys of the internet is that it has created job niches that don’t require any academic qualifications at all – just the ability to entertain, debate or inform.

Building up a social-media following takes time, so if you’re keen to become an influencer, a blogger or a YouTube star, be prepared to spend a few years engaging as much as possible on the platforms you use. You need to find out what your audience is interested in, and then focus on those areas in entertaining, informative posts.

A willingness to learn and the ability to exceed customers’ expectations matter more than academic qualifications

If you already have a large social-media following, consider finding brands that suit your audience to collaborate with. You may start out simply reviewing products, but if you become an enthusiastic, genuine fan of the brand, you could secure a role as a paid brand ambassador. If you’re monetising a YouTube channel, remember that your income is dependent on ad revenue, and the number of advertisers wanting to buy space on your channel will depend on how many subscribers you have and how often they watch your channel.

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Online media content creators are a subset of a much larger group of go-getters. Want to join the ranks of Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson? You can – if that great business idea of yours can be turned into a reality. Running your own business as an entrepreneur could put you among the great innovators, or at least help you build a comfortable future.

But not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur – success in business depends on a lot more than a great idea for a product or service. Production and distribution might see you looking for funding before you even have anything to sell, so it’s not an easy path to take straight out of matric with limited resources. Being your own boss takes long hours, hard work, discipline, planning and research. It may be a while before you see any profit – how will you support yourself until then?

If you have an innovative idea that you’re passionate about, it’s worth pursuing. But you may need to find a day job to support yourself while you work on your passion as a side hustle. Once you’ve developed it into a sustainable business, you’ll be more secure going the solo entrepreneur route.

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Never give up!

This list is just a small selection of the opportunities out there. Other careers to consider include personal training, professional driving, administration and office support, customer service or call centre agent – there are many jobs in which a willingness to learn and the ability to exceed customers’ expectations matter more than academic qualifications. Provided you work hard and stay focused on your goals, you can build a satisfying career in a field you’re passionate about.

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