Growing up, I was always told that to get a good job, you had to go to college. I made that my goal. So right after I graduated high school, I went to a university. I earned a four-year degree in three years – only to enter the job market and see that the best jobs didn’t necessarily need a degree.
At the time, I was working as a certified nursing assistant making $8.25 an hour. When I heard that an oil refinery was hiring people at $18 an hour with no previous experience necessary, I immediately hired on and more than doubled my income.
My first year working as a helper, I made $45,000 – working about half as hard as I had as a CNA. I got certified as a boilermaker, and in my second year my income went up to $65,000. The next year I earned $85,000 and I learned to weld metals. Within four years of working in the refinery, I became a mechanical maintenance planner and was earning over $100,000 a year with no degree required. Some of the other people that work out here specialize and travel, earning a quarter of a million dollars a year.
A few decades ago, it was true that you needed a degree to get a good job. When that generation grew up, they taught their kids that they all had to get a degree. But today, we see a supply and demand change where too many people have degrees for the number of those jobs available.
The demand is now in skilled labor. Those are now the high-paying careers that are always hiring, with the added benefit that you don’t have to go in debt for student loans. I bought my own house with an in-ground pool the same year that my old college friends were serving Starbucks or looking for a job while $100,000 in debt.
If you are willing to learn, be safe and work hard, then consider a career in the construction industry.