Finding jobs for your GCSE's woman circling jobs in classifieds

Jobs you can get with GCSEs

Whether you want to be the next Richard Branson or simply don’t want to go onto further education, there are plenty of options if you leave school with just your GCSEs. 

So you’ve just done your GCSEs, what next? While many people choose to go on to do A-Levels and a degree at University, it is possible to pursue a different path.

For example, if you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland you can, with very few exceptions, leave school at 16 and get a job. Check out the Government website here for more details.

In England, though it’s a little more complex. Until you are 18 you really have only two options. You either need to combine employment/self-employment with some form of part-time education or you can get an apprenticeship or traineeship instead.

Working your way up

One advantage of going straight into the world of work is that you can start earning right away. You don’t have to worry about accumulating debts from your education that you will have to pay back further down the line. You can also try your hand at various jobs so you can see what you like and dislike.

The downside is that it’s probably not going to be possible to land your dream job at 16. You will need to be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up. It will also help if you have passes (grade 4 or above) in at least five key subjects. This includes English and Maths.

For those who can’t wait to embark on the world of work, here are six of the best-paid jobs you can do with your GCSEs.

Top 6 jobs for those with GCSEs

Firefighter
Starting salary: approx £22,000 per annum

If you’re passionate about health and safety and want to make a real difference in your community, then you should consider becoming a firefighter. As well as helping to protect people, property and the environment from fire, you will also be called upon to tackle emergency situations on a daily basis. This includes dealing with suspicious packages, bomb threats, road accidents and even chemical spillages. You don’t need any particular qualifications to be a firefighter. However, there are a series of written exams and aptitude tests you’ll need to pass. You will also need to complete a number of physical tests as part of the selection process. A fully trained firefighter earns around £30,000 pa.

Sales Representatives
Starting salary: approx. £18,000 per annum plus commission

Most companies need to generate sales and therefore require good salespeople. To do well you will need excellent communication skills and the ability to learn quickly. Salaries normally combine a low basic income with a commission for every sale you make. The downside is that being a sales rep can be a very stressful career. If you make a lot of sales you can earn a lot of money. But if you don’t, you can soon find yourself without a job!

Estate Agents
Starting salary: approx £16,000 per annum plus commission

As the job of a sales representative (see above) this is a career where you will definitely require people skills. As a trainee sales negotiator, you will be dealing with people the whole time, either on the phone or in person showing them properties. You will also have to work well under pressure. To get started you will probably need a good understanding of the local area and a clean driving licence. While the basic starting salary is quite low, you can progress extremely quickly if you are able to generate a high volume of sales and rentals.  An experienced estate agent can easily earn £40,000 to £50,000 per annum after a few years.

Armed Services: Navy / RAF / Soldier
Starting salary: approx. £15,000 per annum

You can join the army at 16 though you will need a consent form from your parents if you are under 18. While starting salaries for a junior soldier are quite modest, they do rise quickly. The average soldier earns approximately £24,000 plus added benefits such as free private health care, subsidised accommodation and generous holiday allowances. If you want to train as an officer then generally you will need two or more A Levels. However, you don’t need a degree. After training the starting salary of an army officer is around £32,000. For more information go to this website.

Here is our free Army aptitude test practice.

British Army Careers Guide.  /  Army Bleep Test.  /  Armed Forces Tests.

RAF practice aptitude test./  free RAF recruitment test

Free practice NAvy psychometric test

Chef
Starting salary: approx. £15,000 per annum

Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Delia Smith all started their culinary careers after leaving school with just GCSEs! And though Jamie isn’t a great example at the moment after the collapse of his restaurants, he’s still done very well for himself. Whether you work in a local cafe or a five-star restaurant, it’s your cooking skills, not your education which is the most important factor. You also need to work well as part of a team and under constant pressure. You can start out as a commis-chef, and then work your way up to head chef over time. One option is to combine learning on the job with an apprenticeship. With a minimum of 2 GCSEs at grade 3 (D) or above you can apply for a level 2 college course in professional cookery. With GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or the equivalent, you can apply for an intermediate or advanced cooking apprenticeship.

Fitness instructor
Starting salary: approx. £15,000 per annum

One way of becoming a fitness instructor is to complete a nationally-recognised qualification such as a Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing or Level 3 Diploma in Gym Instructing and Personal Training. Alternatively, you can start as an assistant instructor and complete a work-based qualification. To work as a personal trainer you must also have public liability insurance and a first aid award. This must include a cardiopulmonary resuscitation certificate (CPR). Professional bodies can advise on this as well as tax, insurance and self-employment issues before starting work.

Of course, these are just a selection of jobs you can do at 16. Others include customer service assistants, health care workers and waiters. The reality is that there are many options open to you if you don’t want to go onto further education. The key is to see what best suits you and where there are the most opportunities to progress. Often this will require some form of in-house training or an apprenticeship. However, at least you will be earning at the same time as learning. Good luck!

Further reading on this topic:

Firstly, Set Your Child for Career Success, What Are the New GCSE Pass Marks?

Also, don’t miss out on our Ten Minute Tests. A great way to get that extra bit of practice in.