If you're looking for work in America without getting your undergraduate education, there are options available—but they won't necessarily be what you expect. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that by 2014, nearly half of all U.S. workers will have some college credit hours under their belts but will still need degrees to find employment. But don't despair! There are plenty of ways to earn money while avoiding the four-year slog. We've put together this guide on finding well-paying, entry-level positions that require little more than an interest or aptitude for success. We'll also point out which fields offer the best opportunities based on salary potential alone. Here's how to get started:
The BLS has compiled a list of jobs that pay at least $75,000 per year without a bachelor’s degree. They range from computer support specialists, such as system administrators ($60,530), to office managers ($62,920). Computer technicians fall into the middle ground, earning about $79,800 annually — not bad considering most people spend years studying programming languages like C++ and Java. If you want to know where you could end up working if you choose one of these paths, check out our interactive map below.
For comparison purposes, we looked beyond the top 10 occupations listed by the BLS. While many of them might seem appealing enough, these other career choices aren't likely to pay even close to $100,000 per year without any training whatsoever. These include salespeople, who take home roughly $29,200 annually, and personal assistants, whose earnings average just above $25,700 annually. In both cases, however, those annual salaries would only come after significant time spent acquiring additional skills. For instance, selling requires mastering marketing techniques and customer relations — two things that can easily lead down a path toward higher income goals. Meanwhile, becoming a personal assistant involves learning basic administrative tasks like filing paperwork and setting appointments. Again, we encourage pursuing these careers once you've completed relevant coursework.
These figures do represent median wages among full-time employees. When factoring in overtime, total compensation tends to exceed $110,000. However, keep in mind that the BLS data doesn't account for self-employed individuals or part-timers, so your actual earnings may vary depending upon your current occupation. Also, remember that these projections reflect expected growth rates through 2019.
In general, yes. Earning six figures isn't hard when you consider long-term benefits rather than short-term gains. "It takes patience," says Chris Johnson, founder of OnlineBizUcom and CEO of eCareerDynamics Inc., "and persistence." He suggests thinking strategically instead of impulsively. That means doing research before diving headfirst into a new venture. You should understand why certain industries command greater profits or value, then explore those sectors first. Once you identify a promising niche, set aside your doubts and follow your instincts. Remember, too, that past performance does not always translate directly to future results. Some employers hire freelancers because they think they provide better service. Others look for skilled trade workers because they offer consistent cash flow. It pays to stay flexible and open-minded. Most important, never let fear hold you back.
"A lot of people talk themselves out of starting businesses simply because of risk aversion," says Michael Tummillo, president of the National Business Institute. "They say 'I'm afraid'...or 'it's too risky.' Well, guess what? Those risks are not going away. So stop talking yourself out of it!"
To reach six digits, you must excel at something. Whether you enjoy cooking gourmet meals, playing video games, or building websites, chances are someone else wants to buy what you create. This concept holds true whether you run your own business or sell products for others. Consider opening a catering company specializing in weddings, corporate events, birthday parties, and graduations. Or start a consulting firm offering web design services, graphic design, SEO writing, and social media management. Whatever industry you decide to enter, focus on delivering high quality product or service consistently. Your clients will appreciate your efforts if they see clear value in what you bring to the table.
This approach works especially well if you're interested in creative endeavors. Design firms, animation studios, digital production companies, and mobile app developers often rely heavily on freelance talent. As a result, demand for qualified professionals who specialize in graphics, coding, copywriting, and similar fields far exceeds supply. And since there's a finite number of designers worldwide, competition grows fierce. To succeed, you need excellent communication skills, strong organizational abilities, and solid technical knowledge. This strategy also applies broadly to professions that involve helping customers solve problems. Salespeople, consultants, translators, insurance agents, and information technology experts fit nicely here.
Many online entrepreneurs swear by this advice. Sure, you can build a successful website or software program without formal training. After all, computers were designed to process instructions according to specific codes. Why shouldn't anyone else receive the same benefit? But the reality is much different. Learning code is difficult, costly, and time consuming. Software development processes differ widely across industries. Even though programmers often possess valuable expertise, they typically lack advanced practical experience necessary to execute complex projects successfully. Many organizations prefer hiring experienced engineers already familiar with client needs. Without proper preparation, amateurs tend to bog down early in project implementation.
So what happens if you happen to love tinkering around with electronics and are good at fixing mechanical devices? One option is joining an auto repair shop. Technicians here earn slightly less than carpenters do due to complexity involved in diagnosing faults. Another way to go is teaching others how to fix cars. Teaching brings its own rewards, including steady income, professional certification, and recognition. A third possibility is buying used parts wholesale and stocking inventory until you develop a reputation for repairing vehicles efficiently and quickly. Then, charge extra for speedier turnaround times. Finally, perhaps you'd prefer to become a mechanic. If so, plan on completing a specialized automotive school curriculum. The Automotive Service Excellence College offers intensive courses in vehicle maintenance and repair techniques, plus hands-on labs. By passing exams, students gain accreditation from ASEC International, a nonprofit organization recognized internationally.
Whatever path you ultimately decide to pursue, remember that the road ahead will probably prove rocky. Successful contractors, for example, encounter numerous challenges every day. "You're dealing with deadlines, budget constraints, and sometimes frustrating co-workers," explains Marc Schoenig, owner of SmartBusiness Consulting Group LLC and author of "Start Your Own Small Business." "There's nothing quite like being thrown into the fire." Nevertheless, he adds, entrepreneurship provides ample opportunity to achieve financial freedom.
By Daniel J. Foster
There are more than 20 million Americans with no college degrees. And while there's nothing wrong with having an education -- especially when you consider how much better off most graduates end up doing financially compared to those who don't go to school -- it doesn't mean everyone is cut out to be a teacher or firefighter. In fact, some careers would benefit from additional training before they're ready to earn as much money as someone else making less schooling.
That said, if you want to break into one of today's fastest growing fields -- health care -- then getting your nursing license may not be enough. To really reap big rewards, you'll need specialized knowledge like a master's degree in public health. Even though a lot of us have heard about doctors pulling down six-figure salaries, that number goes even higher if you've got a graduate degree in hand. According to U.S. News & World Report, medical professionals pull down around $185,000 on average annually. However, nurses only bring home around $60,000 per year (and that figure includes overtime). That's why so many families choose to become nurse practitioners instead [sources: DePaul University School of Public Health, The Guardian].
So what other types of high paying jobs do you think aren't being advertised by Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com? Let's take a look.
It depends on where you live, but yes, it is possible to make roughly $100,000 a year working full time without going back to school. You just need to know which industries will continue to thrive over the next decade. Here's our shortlist:
Healthcare workers - Nurses, EMTs, physicians assistants, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists all come under this category. If you work hard and stay focused, you could find yourself earning close to $100,000 within 10 years. This salary estimate was calculated using data provided by U.S. News & World report.
Financial advisors - Financial planners, financial analysts, insurance agents and mortgage brokers all fall into this group. A career in finance offers great potential for fast advancement because of its wide variety of opportunities. As far as income goes, we estimated that people actually bringing home $95,000 per year after taxes were spent on expenses such as housing, food and transportation.
Tax preparers - Accountants, attorneys and tax consultants all fit here. With recent changes in the IRS code, hiring a certified public accountant has never been easier. One way to get started is to volunteer for a local non-profit organization. Once you gain experience, start branching out to offer services to individuals and businesses alike. Many times companies will hire CPA's specifically looking for volunteers since they already understand their industry. We used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate annual earnings based upon employment size.
Real estate salespeople - Real Estate Agents, Home Inspectors, Landscape Professionals and Property Managers also qualify. Sales representatives bring home between $90,000-$110,000 per year depending on location and market conditions. These figures include commissions paid to realtors plus a small profit margin added onto top.
Hospitality staff - Hotel housekeepers, restaurant hosts/hostesses, baristas and cashiers are among the highest wage earners. While tips play a large role in determining final wages, waiters, bartenders and cocktail servers are typically responsible for a significant portion of earnings. Salary estimates range from $80,000 to $120,000 yearly.
Lawyers - Whether you plan on practicing law or simply helping clients navigate legal issues, lawyers generally make good money. But due diligence should always be taken during interviews to ensure you won't be stuck behind a desk pushing paper forever. Starting out as an associate attorney shouldn't cost too much, so long as you keep your eyes peeled for new promotions. Salaries vary widely and depend heavily on firm reputation and geographic region. In order to determine exactly how much an experienced lawyer makes in his or her field, we used information from Glassdoor.com.
Sales managers - Retail Store Managers, Office Manager positions and Merchandise Receivers all fall under this umbrella. Although hourly wages tend to be lower, commission structure tends to favor management employees rather than hourly ones. It takes leadership skills to manage upwards, so expect to move quickly through the ranks once you land a position. Based on current trends, we found that sales managers earned roughly $73,000 per year including bonuses. After taxes however, that amount dropped to $61,000.
As you can see, it isn't easy breaking into any of these fields without formal credentials. Sure, you might receive help along the way from family members and friends, but if you want to reach your true professional goals, you'll need to put forth maximum effort. There are plenty of ways to improve your chances, such as volunteering for free practice sessions, attending seminars and networking events. Also, remember that "no" usually means "not yet," so don't give up until you absolutely must!
The quickest way to increase your salary significantly is to acquire valuable life experiences. Do everything humanly possible to advance your position within the company, whether that entails taking night classes or finding another job altogether. Ideally, you'll try to pick an occupation that requires a minimum of two years' worth of education. For example, becoming a registered nurse involves four years of study followed by practical clinical training. On the contrary, becoming a licensed practical therapist only requires a two-year program.
Once you decide what profession best suits your talents, focus solely on learning everything you possibly can about it. Take advantage of every opportunity available to enhance your skill set. Volunteer for projects outside of normal office hours, attend conferences and read trade journals. Make sure you ask questions whenever possible and seek advice from experts. Never stop developing professionally. Stay updated on technology advancements and use them to your advantage. Keep abreast of changing laws and regulations related to your chosen field. Most importantly, remain flexible and open minded. Don't let fear hold you back from realizing your own personal success story.
Are you tired of your paycheck being so small because you need to invest in more education or training to advance your career? Do you want to be able to earn enough money to survive on while paying off student loans? If yes, then it's time to stop thinking about getting another degree just yet! Instead, think about how you could become an independent contractor who is making 6-figures income from home with no formal educational background required. Let me share my secrets with you below.
Most people are under the impression that they'll have to go back to school to finish their degrees before they can start earning big bucks as professionals. However, there are many ways that you can work around this by becoming self-employed first instead of going straight into university studies if you're currently out of school already. Once you've established yourself as an entrepreneur, you can begin working towards financial freedom without any additional investment.
In fact, you may find it easier to land one of those high-paying professional positions than you would have imagined by following our step-by-step plan outlined in this article.
To help illustrate what we mean here, let's take a look at some common careers that pay well -- especially when combined with other means such as personal branding skills, social media marketing, etc. -- and see which ones will give us a good idea of how much we'd actually end up making after taxes (i.e., net salaries) after all expenses like housing, transportation, health insurance, 401(k), child care costs, etc.
Here's a quick summary of the average yearly earnings for various professions based on data compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. The numbers shown represent only base salary (before deductions). Remember to add 10% to 15% onto your annual income estimate to account for bonuses, commissions, tips, etc.:
1. Registered Nurse ($65,770): This is the highest paid profession among women in America today according to Forbes. This figure includes wages earned through direct patient contact but does not include non-wage compensation such as vacation days, sick leave, public and private pensions, healthcare savings accounts, employer contributions toward retirement plans, etc.
2. Medical Assistant ($45,280): Again, this number represents only basic wage. It doesn't consider things like overtime pay, bonuses, commission fees, benefits, etc.
3. Physical Therapist ($59,880): According to BLS survey, physical therapists enjoy higher median hourly earnings compared to most occupations. In addition, over 40 percent of them reported receiving bonus payments above $25,000 last year.
4. Licensed Vocational Nurses ($46,130): According to BLS report, LVNs receive slightly lower wages compared to RNs. But since LVNs tend to specialize in certain areas like pediatrics, gerontology, diabetes management, blood pressure monitoring, etc., they often command better overall compensation packages due to higher demand and faster promotions within hospitals.
5. Pharmacists ($62,930): As mentioned earlier, pharmacists generally command higher weekly incomes than nurses, assistants or technicians. They also perform the same tasks as medical doctors but usually don't require years of schooling to qualify. All they really need is certification from state boards of pharmacy practice.
6. Dental Hygienist ($47,050): Dental hygienists typically provide oral cancer screenings, clean teeth, check dental records, fill cavities and extract wisdom teeth, etc. In terms of annual income, many dentists offer between $50 -$100 thousand dollars depending on location and experience level.
7. Personal Financial Advisors ($71,950): A lot of advisors charge clients anywhere from 1%-20% fee for helping them set aside long term goals and manage investments once they reach maturity. With proper planning, an advisor can save his/her client thousands of dollars every month while offering unlimited free advice.
8. Veterinary Technicians ($38,400): According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, veterinary technologists oversee equine clinics and farms, administer injections, conduct x-rays, weigh animals, draw blood samples, apply bandages, treat wounds and sores, keep equipment running smoothly, etc. Most vets spend 2 years studying at universities prior to entering the workforce.
9. Paralegal ($42,300): Although paralegals might seem less glamorous than attorneys, their hard work has helped lawyers slash legal billings across the board, resulting in substantial savings for consumers. These employees handle everything from researching court cases, drafting contracts, collecting documents, typing briefs, filing paperwork, taking depositions, serving subpoenas, organizing exhibits, preparing expert reports, attending hearings, etc. Many entry-level paralegals are promoted into attorney offices as associates after 3-5 years of service.
10. Information Technology Support Specialist ($44,730): IT support specialists are responsible for maintaining computers & networks, troubleshooting problems, installing software programs, updating hardware systems, providing technical assistance, operating servers, managing databases, creating user profiles, setting passwords, etc. Their duties vary greatly depending upon region. Some companies even hire freelance consultants to meet specific needs.
11. Computer Systems Analyst ($67,910): A computer analyst helps businesses maintain efficient information technology infrastructures by assessing existing network security weaknesses, designing new systems, analyzing performance statistics, overseeing installation procedures, testing system integrity, configuring new applications, upgrading old technologies, improving productivity, reducing maintenance costs, protecting critical systems, etc.
12. Office Manager ($52,590): An office manager coordinates different departments within an organization to ensure smooth functioning of its administrative processes, customer relations, sales operations, production lines, inventory levels, payroll processing, human resources activities, mailroom services, accounting functions, purchasing department, etc. For example, he/she can coordinate shipments, track deliveries, resolve issues, schedule meetings, prepare minutes, organize conference calls, handle complaints, create orders, etc.
13. Software Developer ($66,870): Software developers design, develop, test and deliver custom software solutions for clients using programming languages like C++, Java, HTML, XML, PHP, Perl, VBScript, Visual Basic, SQL, etc.
14. Technical Writer ($53,140): Technical writers translate complex scientific concepts into simple language suitable for everyday use, thus simplifying decision-making process for business executives. He/she prepares detailed reports, manuals, white papers, newsletters, brochures, presentations, web content, articles, eBooks, proposals, books, press releases, letters, memos, newsletters, news stories, speeches, scripts, product descriptions, resumes, project specifications, correspondence, reviews, testimonials, etc.
15. Insurance Adjuster ($61,490): An adjustor collects information related to claims submitted by policyholders, investigates accidents, evaluates damage caused by storms, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fires, burglaries, vandalism, theft, natural disasters, injuries sustained in industrial accidents, car crashes, vehicle rollovers, auto collisions, slip-and-falls, house fires, water leaks, electrical malfunctions, smoke alarms, mold growth, windstorms, hail, roof collapses, major appliances breaking down, oil spills, gas explosions, freight damages, etc.
16. Customer Service Representative ($39,760): Similar to receptionists, call center representatives screen incoming phone calls, transfer customers' messages, route incoming calls to appropriate staff members, handle routine inquiries, update files, send emails, answer queries, forward important messages, file requests online, book appointments, etc.
17. Bank Teller ($26,560): Like tellers, bank attendants assist customers during transactions and serve as guards against unauthorized access to restricted areas. Unlike tellers though, they don't deal directly with cash deposits or withdrawals. Instead, they merely pass along instructions to others handling these responsibilities.
18. Administrative Assistants ($37,430): This occupation involves assisting managers and senior personnel in performing clerical chores including invoices, billing, budgeting, scheduling, travel arrangements, answering phones, sending faxes, doing research, booking hotel rooms, writing thank you notes, ordering supplies, editing manuscripts, proofreading materials, etc.
19. Tax Preparer ($43,170): A tax consultant prepares federal and state tax returns, provides recommendations regarding estimated taxable refunds, works closely with taxpayers to understand their unique situation, offers personalized attention throughout the entire process, handles questions and concerns, explains complicated topics thoroughly, recommends alternative strategies, keeps accurate records, gives prompt updates, and submits final returns electronically.
Now that we know how much money we can potentially make in various fields, let's put together some ideas on how you can leverage your talents to achieve similar results. Here's my 4-part action plan to show you exactly how you can quickly increase your monthly income by 20%, 50%, 75%, and 85%.
Step #1: Identify Your Talents & Strengths
The first thing you should do is identify your strengths and passions. What kind of hobbies or interests did you always love doing even though nobody ever asked you to join in? Which classes were easy for you to master despite having little interest in them? What kinds of jobs made you feel fulfilled and energized whenever you had to complete them?
Become CEO of your own lead generation software company, just follow our battle-tested guidelines and rake in the profits.