Monday, July 26, 2010

7 high-paying careers to skip college for

Ask most high school guidance counselors, and they'll tell you a college degree is your key to a well-paying job. But that's not always the case. While lawyers, doctors, and many other professionals still require degrees, Al Lee, director of quantitative analysis at, helped us pinpoint several jobs that don't.

But before you ditch your plans to attend a four-year college, note that these jobs do require specialized knowledge, obtained through either a vocational training program or an on-the-job education. (And many people in these occupations do have college degrees, so one certainly can't hurt.)

"There's no high-paying job that doesn't require a high-level skill," says Lee. "You can learn it on the job, but you're going to have to learn it." With the rising cost of college tuition, pursuing one of these career paths may make sense.

1. Freelance Photographer: $47,800 median salary
Lee says that non-degree jobs tend to fall into one of two categories: technical or entrepreneurial. Being a freelance photographer requires a high degree of business savvy in addition to photography skills. Depending on the type of work you do, you might take product shots, family portraits, corporate head shots, wedding pictures, or other images, and then touch up the pictures digitally and send them to clients for review.

2. Private Detective or Investigator: $50,600 median salary
This is another career that requires a lot of personal initiative. Private detectives or investigators might testify at hearings, analyze data, search databases, or question suspects. Knowledge of psychology and the law, critical-thinking skills, and the ability to listen and read body language are also useful.

3. Elevator Mechanic: $61,500 median salary
"When [elevators] break, people are miserable," Lee points out. He adds that the job often requires travel and working at odd hours (for instance, so you can fix an elevator before an office building opens)--which may pay more. Successful elevator mechanics generally have a knack for understanding complex mechanical systems, assembling and disassembling elevator parts, and following safety standards.

4. Nuclear Power Reactor Operator: $79,100 median salary
Since nuclear power reactor operators work with highly sensitive equipment, they need an understanding of physics and engineering, as well as active learning and troubleshooting skills. The higher pay correlates to the highly specialized skill set required.

5. Personal Trainer: $37,500 median salary
Knowledge of nutrition, anatomy, and first aid are helpful, so many personal trainers have a college degree or specialized certification. Since an independent personal trainer's income is tied to the number of clients he or she trains, time-management skills, physical stamina, and customer service skills are assets in this field.

6. Director of Security: $62,400 median salary
Someone might start out as assistant to the director of security and work their way up. Tasks might include analyzing security data, investigating security breaches, and supervising others. Lee says jobs like this are "not a bad track for someone who is more physical or manual, where it's about on-the-job training and less about formal programs."

7. Air Traffic Controller: $60,200
Although the job doesn't require a college degree, the FAA screens prospective air traffic controllers with a pre-employment test and other requirements, so it's a competitive field. The job might entail monitoring aircraft, issuing take-off and landing instructions, and directing ground traffic.

Well, interested..?

info Yahoo


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