College Advice Blog

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Feb 26, 2013

High Paying Jobs that Don’t Require a Degree


Most of us are told at a young age that we need to go to college to make something of ourselves and the message tends to get thoroughly reinforced as we make our way through grade school. The difficult truth many of us find at the end of that road is that college is not for everyone. The high rate of people dropping out, frequently changing majors, or finding a career unrelated to their degree is not something you often hear about in those formative years when everyone seems to be urging you toward college. Fortunately, there are plenty of people who are proving that career success is not necessarily found exclusively in the land of collegiate academia.
real estate concept 2

Real Estate
In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that real estate agents average around $39,000 a year. Successful ones in areas of coveted property may make up around the $90,000 mark. There is also the opportunity to become a broker, which averages a much higher salary.

There are courses you can take to prepare you for the testing to receive your license, but they are not required if you wish to study up on your own. Those interested in the field should have good social skills and be able to present themselves well. Being flexible with scheduling is also a must and new real estate agents can expect to struggle to get things going in the beginning.

Commercial Truck Driver
People in this field generally make somewhere around $40,000 a year. There are also opportunities to move up into a higher pay bracket by getting different endorsements on your commercial driver’s license (CDL) or by working into being a trainer.

The amount of time and effort required to work up to taking your CDL test will vary depending on background and preoccupation, but six to eight weeks is probably about average and the test is not easy even for those with some experience operating large vehicles.  Training and courses are available, though not required. You will, of course, need to be able to operate a big rig safely and efficiently to pass the road driving portion of the test as well as hit the books fairly hard for the written portion.

If you have a love of driving and are able to deal with long hours of solitude, the job offers a constant change of scenery. The first couple years as a truck driver can be a difficult learning experience, but sticking with it pays off.

Commercial Pilot
Commercial airline pilots average around $50,000 per year, which varies between airlines. There are also opportunities to employ pilot skills in other areas such as cargo piloting, glider tow piloting, and instructing among others.

You will have to log at least 250 hours in private pilot training (usually a small, four-seat aircraft) before beginning the training for commercial certification. Between private and commercial training, working up to commercial flying can be fairly costly, so this may not be the field for those with some money up front.

Those with a strong dream of taking to the skies may find the dedication to become a successful pilot, though the profession is not without its stresses and solitude.

Rail Transportation Worker
Railroad work is still relied upon for transportation of goods and people around the country. Average salary for railroad workers is around $40,000 a year. There is also the opportunity to command a higher salary around $70,000 by working up to locomotive engineer through experience and federal licensing.

Training for rail transportation work is often on the job, but requires a high school diploma and good physical condition, sight, and hearing. If prefer some personal freedom on the job and can deal with a sporadic schedule and the physical demands of the job under varying weather conditions, this may be the path for you.

Personal Trainer
Personal trainers make around $40,000 a year. Some of the most successful ones even clear six figures, though that requires exceptional experience and track records as well as catering to an affluent clientele.

Certification is generally relatively easy to get into personal training and there are a variety of types of certifications and organizations offering them. A strong knowledge base in health and fitness is a must. If you enjoy staying in shape yourself, this may be a good career path, but remember that you also have to be able to get others in great shape that have a variety of physical and lifestyle roadblocks through motivational skills and adaptability.

Massage Therapist
Massage therapists average around $50,000 per year though this is another profession where the pay varies among different areas and clientele.

As with personal training, general certifications for massage therapy are not usually considered difficult,
though states with more regulated practices will offer better job opportunities. Diversifying knowledge of varying techniques is also a good practice for developing a larger base of clients.

Those beginning in massage therapy may struggle to fill hours with clients, but those with good networking skills and personal drive can find themselves at home in this profession.

Though many professions that offer an alternative to college may be attractive even to college bound career seekers, do not be fooled into thinking that finding success in them is easy. The training and licensing required often calls for a higher degree of self-motivation and networking abilities. It may not be difficult to find high paying jobs that don’t require a degree, but it is often difficult to learn of the downsides of these jobs that may make other careers a better choice for certain people. The ideal situation is to have a friend in the industry, but also don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions of strangers and you can find your way on or off the beaten path.

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About the Author
Hank Barton is a second generation trucker-philosopher with a penchant for the written word. Though he has some background in higher learning, he found his way on the open road. He writes for E-Gears, an online CDL practice test authority that specializes in a variety of study guides.
 

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