A diploma doesn’t have the same impact it did a few decades ago. College graduates rarely work in their respective fields — and most of them have jobs that only require high school education. Shouldering $30,000-$40,000 in student loan debt before you land a job is a step in the wrong direction — especially if you can start earning big without a diploma.
Learn to Code
While the term is sometimes considered derogatory, learning to code is actually a good way to earn money. A Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) certification can land you an entry-level job that pays more than $60,000 a year. Additional Cisco training, especially with ACI or Application Centric Infrastructure can further increase your salary — often surpassing $100,000 a year. Certified programmers are always in-demand in major cities, and most companies allow remote work for their programmers.
Training for a CCNA takes less than 6 months — with some programs finishing in as little as a week. You can take the certification course slowly at a community college, learn on your own, or enter a training program. You’ll spend less than $4,000 on a community college course, while the cost of training programs can vary depending on the ability of the trainers.
Drive a Truck
If you know how to drive, you can start working in the trucking industry almost immediately. Training for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) takes an average of 7 weeks. A trucking company may require another couple of weeks of training before you ride off — but that time is usually paid for. As a rookie driver, you can expect a salary of around $55,000. Depending on your record (which includes safety), your salary can increase to $100,000 in just 3-5 years. Trucking companies are often in need of new drivers. Most of them will offer various incentives to attract new drivers as well as retain their old ones.
More than half of all truck drivers are over the age of 55 — so expect wages to rise sharply once companies vie to fill their ranks when their drivers retire. In a few years, automated trucks will begin appearing on US roads. However, these trucks will still require a driver — the way a plane needs a pilot. Automated trucks will only make a driver’s job easier — allowing him/her to relax for a bit on long stretches of highway.
Plumbing may not be a glamorous job, but it definitely pays the bill. Plumbers typically earn salaries of around $50,000-$55,000, while the more accomplished master plumbers earn over $200,000. Independent plumbers can earn $400 or more on a single house call — depending on the rarity of plumbers in the area. Union plumbers typically earn over $15 per hour as apprentices, with wages going past $50 per hour after 5 years. It takes 2 years to learn plumbing from a community college, but you can start your apprenticeship while you’re still in school.
With more college students ending up underemployed — learning skills and trades are becoming clearer paths to success. Take the road less traveled and ditch glamorous jobs for ones that actually pay.