There's a reason Singaporean kids wear such thick glasses and are more likely to be seen labouring over assessment books than frolicking at a playground. The wage gap between degree and non-degree holders is huge, which leads many to believe that if you don't get that bachelor degree you're doomed to a life of poverty.

But just as having a degree doesn't shield you from earning a pittance if you choose a less-than-lucrative field to work in, not having one doesn't have to be financial suicide if you choose jobs such as the following. 

Recruitment agent

Recruitment agents have one of the most under-rated jobs in Singapore. These guys put on display none of the swag of top-performing property agents, yet a good entry-level recruitment agent can bring home more than $5,000 a month. Agents in lucrative fields or who recruit for highly paid employees can bring home five figure sums a month.

Recruitment agencies often pay their agents a base salary, with the rest of their pay being made up by commissions depending on the value of the cases they can close.

But not all recruitment agencies are created equal. There is a big difference between recruiting for a small general agency where you're forced to close cases across all industries, and specialising in a lucrative field like law, oil and gas or finance. In addition, some agencies give unrealistic targets or an unattractive commission structure. Keep shopping around until you find one that you can profit from.

English teacher

No, unless you like working 60 hour weeks, we're not suggesting you go and work for the MOE. But now that Singapore is home to a significant number of foreigners whose first language is not English, the demand for English language instruction at language schools is rising.

You don't necessarily need a degree to teach English locally (depends on the school; you might also be asked for early childhood qualifications if you're teaching kids), but you will need to be fluent enough in the language to qualify as a true native speaker-if you're asking yourself whether your English is good enough, the answer is probably no.

You will, however, need an English teaching qualification like CELTA, which costs a bomb to complete in Singapore but is 50 per cent to 70 per cent cheaper in countries like Thailand or Poland.

According to this blogger, he was able to earn $4,500 a month teaching English in Singapore. Whether you're at a language school or tuition centre, you should be able to get away without having to bring work home or work overtime. 

Commercial pilot

The road to becoming a commercial pilot is a long and arduous one, and you can't be too myopic or too short to qualify. But having a degree is not one of the requirements, at least if you want to become a Singapore Airlines pilot-a poly diploma is enough so long as you have decent O level grades in English, Math and Science.

Of course, whether you manage to pass the airline's rigorous training process is another story, but if you do, you could enjoy a very attractive five figure monthly salary.

Insurance/property agent

Although real estate agents used to get all the glory, and every few years you'd see an article in the newspapers about some hotshot agent who made a million in a year, the market's been in the doldrums for quite a while and newbie agents might find it hard to survive.

While there are many factors which can contribute to your success or failure, if you're a newbie who doesn't have a huge network of high net worth friends, don't quit your day job to go into property just yet. However, if the cooling measures are eased further, this is one job you might want to consider.

Selling insurance may not make you a millionaire in the short-term, but if you keep it at for a few years and succeed, you can make a tidy sum. The first few years might be a struggle, but if you're successful you could see yourself leading teams of agents and earning five figures a month. Of course, not everyone succeeds, but the point is that whether you have a degree will never be an issue.

The article first appeared on MoneySmart.

Find these jobs in the following:

Recruitment AgentEnglish Teacher & Insurance/ Property Agent