We’ve all heard that if you want a really good job, you’ve got to have a college degree. While it’s true that, on average, college graduates do still make more than non-grads, at least for the first 10 years or so after graduation, the gap isn’t nearly as big as it used to be. Also, more and more college graduates are starting their adult lives with so much debt that loan payments eat into the “extra” money they earn over non-college graduates. In today’s world, many employers do require degrees for positions that used to be available for anyone with a good work ethic who was teachable. The good news is that there are at least as many employers who are starting to realize that a college education doesn’t necessarily outweigh real-world experience. In addition to such employers, there are a number of other ways to make a decent living without a college degree.
Starting a rental service out of your home can be a good way to make money. If you have equipment like a pressure washer or power tools, consider renting them to homeowners at a rate comparable to (or maybe just a little less than) your local home improvement store charges. Quite often, you can find used equipment at garage sales on or Craigslist to bulk up your own inventory. If you live in an area where TV or movie filming happens, you might even be able to rent your house, vehicle, bike, camper, or antiques to a production company.
If you love the outdoors, consider turning that passion into a career. If you’re an avid hiker, camper, or white-water rafter that knows all of the best wilderness spots around, you could use that knowledge to organize retreats and guided adventures. If you pride yourself on your survival skills, you could make money teaching those skills to others.
If you consider yourself a tech expert in terms of social media, you might be able to sell yourself as a social media consultant. Many of today’s larger companies have a dedicated social media team, but a lot of smaller businesses don’t. Offer your paid services as a consultant who can show small business owners the power of advertising and connecting to current and potential customers via social media.
Real estate is an area that’s been a moneymaker for many people for many years. If you have enough up-front capital, you can partner with experienced developers or speculators. You can also now find real estate crowdfunding sites to help you get your foot in the door. Before sinking any money into any investment, make sure you do as much homework as you can to ensure that your investment partners are legit.
Lastly, and perhaps most solidly, consider a career as a skilled tradesman. Welders, electricians, and plumbers (among others) will always be in demand. Always. These are jobs that simply cannot be replaced by technology. Most skilled trades offer apprenticeship programs that allow you to be paid while you learn. A job as a skilled tradesman guarantees a steady paycheck. An affinity for the work and a commitment to learning and growing could earn you certification as a master of your craft, a designation that comes with a paycheck many college graduates would envy.