College graduates are supposed to earn an average of $1 million over their lifetimes than those without college degrees. While college can definitely set you up for some financial benefits, there are also many reasons not to go to college. It’s expensive. The opportunity cost is high (entering the work force 4-8 years after your non-college peers). Some people simply aren’t school people.
Thankfully, you can still make a decent amount of money without that overpriced piece of paper. In fact, I wish I would have known about this before I went $36,000 in debt for an education. Oh well, live and learn.
Here’s a list of several jobs that don’t require a college degree. Note: this is not a comprehensive list, but it is a good sampling of different types of work (labor, creative, etc.).
1) Mechanic — You know, those guys that always charge you “way too much” for labor? Becoming a mechanic (and charging just a little less than your competitors) can net you a very impressive salary. Warning: It will also mean you are the go-to guy for family members and freeloading friends.
You don’t need a college degree to be a mechanic. The required skills can be learned in a trade school program in high school. Make sure to get licensed, as liability can be a problem if you are overestimating your awesome skillz.
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You can start a blog, start freelance writing for others, or self-publish a book on Amazon without any professional experience. You just need to be able to string words together competently and engage your audience. You will also have to promote yourself through social media, online marketing, and/or through word of mouth.
2) Plumber — Very few people want to deal with other people’s crap (see what I did there?), but there is money in it for those willing to get their hands dirty (buh-dum-chhh!). While plumbers are required to do a two year apprenticeship before receiving certification, they still get paid 2 to 4 times more than minimum wage during these 2 years.
After obtaining certification, plumbers can start their own business and triple or quadruple their hourly rate! Those willing to do what others won’t are compensated accordingly, especially when they are self-employed.
3) Real estate agent — If you’ve got a knack for sales and enjoy interacting with clients, you may consider selling homes. While agents do have to go through a course for certification, it only takes about two months and it is inexpensive.
Much like a plumber, a real estate agent is required to work under an experienced agent for a few years. After that, they can get licensed and work for themselves. Are you sensing a trend here? It is easier to make a good income without a college education if you are self employed.
Anyways, as an independent realtor, you can take home 3% commission on the houses that you sell. If you sell only one $200,000 house each month, that’s $72,000 a year!
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4) HVAC technician — HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. This is an in demand profession without a lot of people in the field. In demand + not much competition = high compensation. Many employers prefer HVAC technicians have some formal training, such as an apprenticeship or trade school.
5) App Developer — “There’s an app for that.” Not unless someone develops it! Talented developers can be self taught and make a lot of money off even a 99 cent app. Until this “smart phone fad” is over, apps will continue to flourish. Unless someone creates an app that creates apps. Don’t do that, it will surely put you out of business.
After an app is developed and thriving, it can actually become passive income. Every time someone buys your app, you get to sit back and collect.
6) Writer/Blogger — In this age of technology, we don’t have to be degreed to write (obviously, I have my bachelor’s in accounting, not journalism or English). Anyone can write at any time and those of us who are good at it can make some serious cash! You get out of it what you put into it, so it’s not unrealistic for hardworking writers to make a six-figure income.
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7) Electrician — There are two things that few homeowners are willing to DIY — plumbing (because it’s gross!) and electric (because they are afraid of electrocuting themselves and possibly dying). Similar to plumbing, electricians are required to do an apprenticeship for two years. The hourly rate is equal to or greater than that of a typical plumber.
8) House flipper — Do you have a knack for home improvement? Try buying homes at a discount, fixing them up, and selling them at a profit! Warning: You must live at a home for two years or more to make this profit tax-free.
Otherwise, while taxable, flipping houses is a solid way to make income especially if you are buying foreclosures in expensive neighborhoods. Can you say, ka-ching?
9) Debt collector — If you lack a soul, a heart, and any trace of empathy, debt collector could be the job for you! All joking aside, debt collectors often work on commission so if you are fabulous at asking past due people to part with their non-existent cash, this could be a goldmine.
10) Reseller — Those who have an eye for undervalued items could make a significant profit by reselling items purchased below value. Just make sure you have an awesome camera for relisting!
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Items that can be resold include appliances, car parts, antiques, or collectibles. Try not to waste your time on items you can resell for only a bit more money. In other words, don’t waste 3 hours of work for 10 extra bucks.
Having a degree is not necessary to succeed financially today. Having a marketable skill and/or becoming an entrepreneur can net you even more than some of your degreed friends.
What are some other high paid jobs that don’t require a degree? Which camp are you in: degreed or not?