Heavy equipment operators make great money without degrees
Unemployment claims rose last week to the highest level in eight months, according to the Labor department. While all the talking heads started blathering about why (one theory is that high gas prices prompted people to stop driving to work and apply for unemployment instead…really?) the simple fact is that the economy is still in the toilet.
The tried-and-true course of two to eight years of college leading to a high-paying career (in the field you trained for) isgone. One recent study showed that it takes 14 years of post-graduate work, on average, for a college graduate’s pay – minus repaying student loans – to surpass the pay of the average high school graduate who went straight into the work force. 14 years.How much could you earn in 14 years?
If you are looking for a new career path, instead of going to college, or kicking yourself for not having gone to college, consider some of the following:
Real estate. Real estate news tends to focus on all those people losing their homes. But there has been an upsurge in sales at the low end of the housing market. Real estate agents are having to work a lot harder than they did 4 years ago, for smaller commissions, but there is a lot of work out there. Active, full-time agents are averaging about $75,000 a year.
HVAC. My friend Jason was working in a call center 8 years ago, making barely above minimum wage. The job went away, and he decided to sign up for HVAC school. 9 months later employers were lined up to offer him a job. Today he can easily make $1000-$2000 in a week. Other trades, such as certified welder, electrician, or plumber are also still doing well despite the drop in construction jobs.
Get licensed. You may have noticed a trend in the ideas just mentioned… a license or certificate. Getting a license in anything – from cutting hair to taking x-rays – will give you a better income than run-of-the-mill labor, without spending 4 years running up bills at college. For example, 2 months’ study or less will prepare you for the NFPA 10 exam to inspect portable fire extinguishers. Did you know that every business is required to have at least one fire extinguisher every 75 feet, and that each one of those extinguishers needs to be inspected every year by a certified inspector? (Next time you're in a store look for the inspection tag hanging off the extinguisher. If it hasn't been punched within the last 12 months, let me know!) Inspections run from $2 or $3 each for businesses with dozens of extinguishers, such as apartment complexes, to as much as $65 each for small businesses that only have one. There are dozens if not hundreds of licensed positions out there. My friend Paul recently retired from a certificate position in waste water treatment. He was making over $150k per year. Look around on the internet.
Write. Become an Examiner. Examiners don’t only write on serious subjects. There are examiners on every subject, from doll collecting to vampires. Most of us don’t make a living at it (though I suspect the vampire examiners do) but every little bit helps. Click here to learn more about becoming an Examiner. The great thing about joining Examiner is you don't need to know anything about publishing a web page, it walks you through the hard parts, you just need to be able to write. You'll be asked to submit a sample.
MLM. Multi-level marketing, or network marketing has earned a bad rap, and probably deservedly so, over the years since Amway and Herbalife. I joined several in my time. They always say ‘just talk to 10 of your friends, they’ll tell 10 of their friends…’ I went through enough MLMs to join the NFL: No Friends Left. Still, I know it can work. I watched a friend of mine in Massachusetts, Bill Fage, go from welfare to millionaire by working an MLM. After my last MLM nightmare, I sat down and thought about it, and came up with some rules for a successful MLM:
The product needs to be consumable. This came to me after I joined an MLM that sold alarm systems. After you’ve sold one, that buyer isn’t going to be back for any repeat sales.
You need your own success story. My friend Bill had a success story – herbs had cured his eczema, and he was excited about it. Convinced as I was about his success, I found I couldn’t sellhis story, I needed my own success story.
It needs to be a product people will enjoy hearing about and talking about. How anyone sells Amway is beyond me – who talks about soap? But an MLM about coffee or chocolate (or ice cream, maybe?) should be easy to talk to your friends about.
Clean. Several of my friends have started cleaning businesses with not much more than a mop and bucket. Some have managed to just pay the bills, others have been very successful. My friend Lucy spent several years building up a house-cleaning business, passing on lesser-paying clients to her friends and keeping higher paying clients for herself, until she was able to support herself with just 5 houses. My friend Will in Rhode Island turned his mop-and-bucket into a million dollar business.
If you are among the 10 to 20 percent that are unemployed, I feel for you, honestly. If you are among the hundreds of thousands working toward a degree thinking you’ll have it made when you graduate, I really feel for you.
But the fact that you are reading this tells me you have a terrific asset available to you: the Internet. Do some research. Do searches for phrases like 'certificate class,' or 'little known jobs.' SEO is a huge field, check that out. Find a niche; don’t place artificial limits on what you think you can or can’t do.
Most importantly, don’t allow yourself to be identified by what you do to support yourself. That’s just a means to an end.
Your polite comments are welcome. Comments containing links to other sites, or comments containing derogatory language will be deleted. If you would like to be notified when I publish my next column click on Subscribe.