Step 1: Find Support and Recover
- How to Cope With Getting Laid Off
- How to Help an Unemployed Spouse or Partner
- How to Prepare For a Layoff Before it Happens
- How to Get Health Insurance When Laid Off
However, before you ditch your plans to earn a college diploma, we should note that these jobs do require specialized knowledge, whether it’s obtained through a vocational training program or an on-the-job education. Many people in these occupations also have a traditional degree, so that 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, it may make sense to pursue one of these career paths.
1. Freelance Photographer – $47,800
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 headshots, wedding pictures, or other images, then touch up the pictures digitally and send them to clients for review.
2. Private Detective or Investigator – $50,600
This is another area where a high degree of personal initiative is required. 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
“When [elevators] break, people are miserable,” Lee points out. “You might have travel that makes it pay more so you can get there and fix it before the morning rush hour.” 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
Since nuclear power reactor operators work with highly sensitive reactors, 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
Knowledge of nutrition, anatomy, and first aid are helpful, so many personal trainers have a college degree or specialized certification. Since the independent personal trainer’s income is tied to the number of clients they train, time management skills, physical stamina, and customer service skills are assets in this field.
6. Director of Security – $62,400
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.
Source: Salary data provided by online salary database PayScale.com. Salaries listed are median annual salaries for workers with 5-8 years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions, or profit sharing.
When the economy goes bust, the number of part-time workers goes boom. Through April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 9.2 million individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job. And about 7.6 million, or 5 percent of all employees, are moonlighting — holding down more than one job in the first four months of the year.
Whether your full-time job’s been cut, you’re planning to moonlight, or even if you’re just looking for a way out of the 9-5 grind, there are plenty of jobs that offer good hourly wages. Think you won’t earn as much as a salaried employee? Do the math. Many of these jobs are often in line with positions in the $25,000 – $50,000 range. Take a look:
Room to Grow – Speech-Language Pathologist
A speech-language pathologist’s work can range from treating children with stutters or adults who can’t make sounds or speak clearly, or even those who want to modify their accent. It’s a burgeoning field, one the BLS projects will grow fast than average for the next decade. With a master’s degree and state certification, speech-Language pathologists can earn just north of $36 an hour for full-time work, according to online salary database PayScale.com.
Work from Home – Tutor
If you’re a math whiz or excel in English, you can put your skills to work part-time by helping elementary, middle, or high school students make the grade. Depending on your background, specialized training or an advanced degree in a particular subject, you could charge students $25 per hour and up, for your services and you may not even need to leave your home. With an online tutoring job you can schedule as many hours as you want and the most popular times are between 4:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., when most kids are not in school.
Night Owl – Radiologic Technician
If you’re not much of a morning person, you may enjoy working nights as a radiologist. Hospitals are staffed 24/7 and patients’ need for diagnostic testing such as MRIs, X rays, and CAT scans doesn’t keep regular hours either. With proper certification (usually an associate’s degree) an MRI tech can earn just over $33 per hour.
Get Physical – Personal Trainer
Make your own hours, work with people and stay fit. Sound like a dream? It doesn’t have to be. As a personal trainer you’d have all that – provided you earn the appropriate certifications to work with clients. Whether yoga, pilates, spinning or step aerobics is your thing, the BLS says you’ll be in demand in the years ahead, and your earning power is at $25 per hour for a part-time gig.
Relax and Do It – Massage Therapist
Licensed massage therapists work by appointment, which means they call the scheduling shots, whether they see clients at a day spa or a health care facility. Masseuses can specialize in any one of many modalities including sports, neuromuscular or deep-tissue, and many choose to be self employed which puts even more flexibility at their fingertips. Working part-time, massage therapists can expect to make over $40 per hour.
But wait…there’s more good news: Initial unemployment claims decreased by 31,000 last week, and in July, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 37 states and the District of Columbia and only declined in 13 states. The states that added the most jobs in July will probably surprise you.
Where the Jobs Are
North Dakota continued to register the lowest jobless rate at 3.6 percent, followed by South Dakota and Nebraska, 4.4 and 4.7 percent, respectively.
Where the Jobs Are NOT
But the state with the absolute worst unemployment rate is Nevada which reached 14.3 percent in July. That rate also set a new series high. The states with the next highest rates were Michigan at 13.1 percent, and California at 12.3 percent.
Should You Move?
If it looks to you like you’re living in the worst possible state to find a job right now, don’t go packing your bags just yet. “You can search for a job anywhere online these days,” says employment expert Doug Arms, SVP and Chief Talent Officer of Ajilon, a specialty staffing firm owned by Adecco. He notes that at certain levels, companies are still paying for recruiting and interview trips, and they still have budgets to help you relocate.
But even if you’re not at that lofty level, Arms advises against permanently moving. “A lot of people moved out the California during the Gold Rush, and to work on the Hoover Dam, when it was being built. When they got there, they found things were not what they expected.”
Rather than basing your job search on geographic indicators, Arms suggests searching within the professional sectors that are flourishing. For example, if you’re an accountant, bookkeeper, IT expert or transportation worker, instead of looking at traditional accounting, high tech or public transportation companies, try looking for a job in the private education sector (trade schools and private institutions) and in ambulatory health care (the baby boomers are aging, and increasingly need health care specialists to come to them). Both these industries need accountants, bookkeepers, IT specialists and transportation workers, in addition to educators and health care practitioners.
So, whether you’re living in a state like Michigan, which is finally adding jobs again, or North Carolina, which continues to lose them en masse, consider widening your job search to cover the industries that are flourishing everywhere. It’s estimated that there are more than three million jobs open right now, and someone’s got to get them, so why not you?
By Lisa Johnson Mandell