50 Jobs over $50,000 – Without a Degree (Part 1)

Marquese Scott - world's best robot-like dancer

Marquese Scott – world’s best robot-like dancer

When people write to me for help, I’m often confronted with a dilemma. Many of them are hardworking and intelligent people who are making reasonable financial choices, but due to the non-negotiable nature of Math, not ending up with as large a monthly surplus of cash at the end of each month as their higher-income counterparts.

Even more troubling are letters from recent graduates in fields like liberal arts or even law.

“My degree was expensive”, they tell me, “But the jobs that are out there in my field don’t pay enough to get me out of this huge student loan debt hole.”

“How am I supposed to get a nice bushy ‘Stash, when we don’t have a six-figure household income like so many of the other MMM readers seem to have? I’m over 30 years old, and I only recently cracked $40,000 in income.”

The thing about earning money is this: nobody is going to pay you any more money than they have to. So if you want the benefit of a higher income, the first step is to make sure you’re not being complacent with your lower one.

In fact, why bother with a job that requires a degree at all, if it doesn’t pay accordingly?

In my current position of Man Who No Longer Needs a Job, I have the rare privilege of circulating around the country and meeting many people, then hearing about what they do for a living. And what I have learned has blown my mind. While our parents always told us that you need a degree to get anywhere in the job market, the reality has been flipped on its head in the last two decades.

There are all sorts of people out there quietly making a mint, in occupations that I thought were either nonexistent or low-paying. Some of them have questionable skills and you could easily outperform them in their own job. And yet, many of the university-educated job seekers are stuck on the other side of this easy money divide.

To help whet your alternative moneymaking whistle, here are a few of the ways I have recently learned that people make reasonable incomes, without any formal training. Since there are about 2000 work hours in a year, we can define a $50,000 job as one that pays over $25 per hour (or $200 per workday).

Good Old-Fashioned Manual Labor

While everyone streams through the university and competes for the office jobs, the traditional trades have seen a shortage of new arrivals for many years. As a result, wages have gone up. But to capture the good pay in this area, you generally need to run your own small business, rather than working for an existing company. The wage differential is often over 300%.

1: Carpenter – my perennial favorite. Once you have a good reputation in an area with nice houses and good incomes, it is easy to earn over $50 per hour building things – even things as simple as fences or decks. Kitchens and bathrooms generally pay even better. No formal training required, but it helps to work alongside another good carpenter for a year or two, or take classes at a community college.

2: Plumber – slightly more traditional and formal, in my area this job requires a two-year apprenticeship before you can get your own first level license. But that really just means you get paid $20-$30 per hour while learning, then you start your own business and start charging $80 (and hire your own apprentice to further increase profits).

3: Welder – I stumbled across this self-employment goldmine when I learned metalworking myself in 2005. In summary, rich people always need custom steelwork done on their houses. Not many people know how to do it. So it is easy to charge $50-$70 per hour for running your welder and grinder alongside some basic design skills.

4: Electrician – I recently quizzed an apprentice electrician working in my own area. He was a degree-holding geologist who ended up taking this job because it paid better. Two years of apprenticeship (or a shorter amount in community college), and you can write the test to get your first level license. His boss was billing him out at $65 per hour, and the boss’s time itself comes at $85.

5: Painter – Nobody does their own painting these days, and thus they often go searching for painting companies to handle it. But most of these companies are run by disorganized and occasionally rude owners who don’t know how to return an email. So YOUR company, with its polite and professional management, will have very little trouble carving out all the business it can handle. Once established, pay can be $25-$40 per hour depending on how wisely you bid; higher if you hire employees to work for $10-$15 to speed you up.

6: Tile Setter – An ideal combination with “Painter” above, because the same skills make you good at both. This pays a little higher, and you get to create fine bathrooms and kitchens. Bid out both tiling and painting, and watch the customers line up.

7: Landscape Company Owner – a little trickier because it requires knowledge of plants and design principles as well as heat tolerance, but in general a lucrative field if you work in a high-income area. Nobody does their own gardening these days.

8: Excavator – An oddball choice, but it can work if you like ultra-powerful machines and do the math right. You can rent a huge track-drive excavating machine, delivered, for $400 per day plus fuel. Or buy a used one for about $50,000. This qualifies you to dig foundations and other work (often under contract for local custom house builders or city governments), which yield about $1000-2000 per day of work. The guy I hired for my own housebuilding company was a former math major who found the excavating business to be more profitable. You might invest $200k into equipment if you have a dump truck, trailer, bobcat, and digger. But if that $200k is allowing you to make $100k per year more than you otherwise would, it is a huge ROI. Plus you are a hero to little boys all over town.

9: House Builder – although doing this professionally didn’t agree with my own temperament, the pay is good if you focus on building dream homes for rich people (as opposed to speculatively building houses to sell as I foolishly did). Builders get about 15-20% of construction costs, which works out to roughly $100k for a six-month project of full-time work. You must enjoy supervising other trades, however, which is like herding cats

10: Mechanic – once you know how to fix a car, all your friends and neighbors will want you to fix theirs. Even if you underbid the real garages, you can still earn over $50 per hour in your own garage.. then later expand to a real facility once the customer base grows.

The Internet

These occupations are exotic, because they are new and often silly-sounding. But they are real, as I am learning as I meet more of these people earning ludicrous amounts of money. The key to it is the size of the Internet: it’s effectively infinite, so you only need a tiny market share to be bigger than the big local tycoons of the olden days.

11: WordPress Developer: What do I use to write this blog? WordPress, just like everyone else with a blog. That means millions of people and companies need this system to work for them, and many thousands of them are depending on it to make a living. If you’re an expert at making it work, they will pay you – lots. Relatively simple programming and a high-level, open architecture make it one of the easier forms of software development to learn. With an established customer base, pay is $60-$100k+ per year.

12: Blogger: I thought this just involved occasionally typing some shit into the computer for a few laughs. But when attending last year’s “Financial Blogger Conference” in Denver, I saw over 400 bloggers gathering in a swanky hotel, with fancy sponsors and VIP treatment, some of them like Ramit Sethi now running entire organizations with millions of dollars in annual profit. Given interesting enough content, it’s not all that hard to build up a blog with the following of a small newspaper or magazine, and with some low-key sponsorship or advertising, that is good enough to make a living.

This blog, in case you are curious, now generates a six-figure income just under three years into its existence. And my income is on the very low side for sites of this size (5.4 million page views in February 2014).
(See article: How to Start a Blog)

13: Passive Income Guru: One of my internet heroes Pat Flynn has a radar-like mind for finding ways to create little “niche websites” that sell nicely-packaged information to people who search for it. These lodge themselves into search engines and start generating low-effort streams of money. I’ve noticed the same effect with my own articles on how to build a shower pan and the cheap mobile phone plan*- people show up every day from search engines looking for these topics. If I took the time to make a nice shower-building eBook or an ultimate phone plan guide, I could actually sell those for $5 each and make hundreds of dollars per day.

14: Interesting Ideas Guy/Girl: This is an elusive one, but Chris Guillebeau and Tim Ferriss are great examples. You learn about and do amazing things, and then teach others about what you learned. Eventually, you can write books about it, which people will buy. And, companies will hire you to be on their boards, just because of the amazing allure and buzz you have created. But it all starts with becoming an expert in something that everyone wishes they were an expert at.

Creative and Artistic

As manufactured items become more played out and commoditized, creative people are increasingly finding ways to get paid for their work. After all, Apple Computer is rich because of its mastery of design, not its technical sophistication.

15: Writer: the job that used to be thankless and underpaid (and still is if you work in the rank-and-file at a newspaper or magazine.)  But these days if you write an amazing novel and self-publish it on Amazon, you have a far better chance of paying for your groceries than the hapless “I got 75 rejections in the mail today” authors of yesteryear.

16: Techno Music Composer: just like writing, music has become an open meritocracy. Through Pandora streaming, I discovered the music of a youngster and fellow Canadian named Deadmau5. And he has made it huge, rocking stadiums full of people around the world whenever he likes – just because great dancy music pops into his head and he produces it using the awesome power of Ableton Live. This idea is close to my heart, as I made loads of music using older versions of the software throughout my youth, and now my 7-year-old son has become both a Deadmau5 fan and a composer himself, with over 30 cute catchy house songs under his belt. If the habit sticks, he could be on the turntables in front of stadiums before he even graduates from high school. Or the hobby might open other doors. Either way, there’s no bad reason to learn a new creative skill.

17: YouTube Channel Owner: With broadcast TV being obsolete, there are now millions of viewers available to watch anything you create. Some guy named Randall talked for two minutes about the Honey Badger, and it’s over 61 million views now – and he’s probably set for life. Marquese Scott happened to make himself into the most awesome dancer in the world, and is now paid appropriately for it after 91 million views on his Pumped Up Kicks recording. World-dominating fame, which he achieved by simply setting a camera on the ground and rocking out in front of a bank building for a few minutes – the efficiency is beautiful.

But YouTube is just not for freaky stuff that unpredictably goes viral. Much of the money being made there is meat-and-potatoes hard work stuff. Teenagers create hundreds of well-made Minecraft instructional videos with their own personal brand and style. Eric the Car Guy does well telling us how to fix our cars. Guitar and piano lessons, done well, earn their makers more than they would from teaching live students.

Like any of the jobs above, successful video production requires an attention to detail and conscientious bit of hard work. None of these jobs are easy get-rich-quick schemes – as far as I can tell, easy riches are not a reproducible model. But the point is, there’s more than one way to make a buck, if you keep your eyes open and step outside the conventional.


Well look at that – we’ve got a long article and we’re only getting warmed up. But the REAL story of entrepreneurial moneymaking is not the stuff that I think up off the top of my own head. It is the things that YOU dream up, and share with the rest of the world.

Because of this, I’ve requested Mrs. Money Mustache, Tyler Tervooren of Advanced Riskology and World Domination Summit fame, and Treehouse founder Ryan Carson to help out with part two of this series. And I’d also like to recruit YOU.

Jump directly to Part 2 of 50 Jobs over $50k


In the comments section below, share your own ideas and experience in ways to make $50,000 or more annually in a field that does not necessarily require a university degree. I’ll incorporate some of them into the next article. The more ideas we dream up and share, the wealthier we all become. Stay tuned!


Also on MMM: An interview with Ryan Carson on higher education vs do-it-yourself technical training.

* note that just by linking to my own articles from this popular one, I build the search engine ranking of those other articles, furthering the cycle of people being able to find them in the sea of results. And in the passive income world, search ranking for good keywords is very important. Isn’t the Internet a bizarre place?

  • Rich Uncle EL July 25, 2013, 2:24 pm

    Great jobs and the demand will only grow for the manual labor and internet in the future. Passion is something that must be found first before you can make money off of it. I guess you can start at the top of this list and start crossing each one off with every attempt until you find the right fit for you. I will add one that has been getting a lot of buzz, game application developer, like fruit ninja. Probably simple and easy to create for techie people. I’m not too techie so I might just learn carpentry and keep blogging on the side.

  • BKEL July 25, 2013, 2:31 pm

    MMM, what an excellent find in the sea of web crap! I happen to fit well into the mold of the philosophy wrapped up in this blog…well, kind of. I have above average income and savings just shy of $2 million by the time I hit 40 (recently!) I kick myself because it could have very easily been close to $2.7 – $3 if I had not squandered a lot on a few fancy cars, big house, and a lot of material possessions that mean nothing to me! However, I’ve learned my lessons and adjusted slowly to wean myself, and more importantly my family, off the “I can have whatever I want” attitude. It’s a work in progress…
    I have a high stress job, and have always dreamed of working for myself. My father, a business owner, always told me that the perfect opportunity is to start a blue collar business as it is not difficult to dominate many of the competitor’s that don’t return calls, don’t show up on time, are not professional, etc. So, your comments fall directly in line with a very real reality taking place today. Everyone thinks they need to go to college, and the last thing you aspire to after a college degree is to be a plumber, electrician, painter, etc. Many of the current large business owners in these fields are getting older and would like to retire, but they simply cannot find any new young people to come in and take over the business…their own kids don’t even want to run dad’s plumbing business! So, this is an opportunity for anyone that wants to dedicate a couple of years to learning the trade. Who cares what other people think? I have saved my money, which I call “F -you” money because I know one day I will walk away from my job and never look back. I look forward to the freedom that will bring, and the day where I have the courage to make it happen. Thanks for the quality content…very well done!

    • BadAss CPA July 25, 2013, 4:52 pm

      It’s time to take the leap! You say you’re looking for the courage to quit your job and I think turning 40 is as good a reason as any. At 4% withdrawal you can safely have $80k/ year for expenses, more than double what any MMM reader needs. So what’s stopping you? Life is short and you just reached the halway point! Not sure if you’ve seen it already, but please go read MMM”s post on the Quitting Lawyer (http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/05/11/the-quitting-lawyer-and-the-despondent-millionaire/)

      • BKEL July 25, 2013, 5:03 pm

        Thanks for the link! You are right…it is time to take the leap. I know I have enough savings…it’s still a difficult decision. Knowing I’m at the half way point adds perspective:)

  • AIR July 25, 2013, 2:44 pm

    I just wanted to add with an associates in ELECTRONICS TECHNOLOGY I was making 53K a year, then I switched to a Bachelors in Media Arts and ANimation where I am make less AND working outside the Animation field, in Graphic Arts… Sometimes a degree isn’t what you need. Having troubleshooting skills and a little experience goes a long way.

  • Tara July 25, 2013, 2:46 pm

    I would suggest nannying. It depends on your experience and sometimes there are really picky parents, but if you’re bilingual and good with children, there is a rich parent out there that will pay you well. At my last job, I had a coworker who actually took a pay cut from nannying to take the office job. In a city like NY, a desired nanny can easily make $20 an hour starting out and your pay can increase significantly in a few years if you become close with the kids. The only downside is you do have to be flexible with your schedules, especially if the parents are workaholics.

    I have a friend who actually moved from Philly to LA with a family as a nanny because the kids loved her so much and not only did they give her a significant raise and paid for her move, she was able to live with them for a few weeks until she got her own place (rent free) and with guaranteed “no bothering time” while she was in the house.

    • Joe July 26, 2013, 1:52 pm

      Even part time baby sitting can be pretty profitable. My teen aged daughter took a CPR/babysitting course and gets at least $10/hr part.

      • SZQ July 26, 2013, 5:13 pm

        Good for her – glad she is so ambitious at a young age! (do you know how many teens don’t bother with even looking for a job these days??). Way back when I’d babysit – I was getting $1/hour for 2 kids – and I was with them ALL day on Sat/Sunday! Probably the reason I never had kids! ;-)

  • Janette July 25, 2013, 2:57 pm

    The military- but only if you work the recruiter! (No, I am not a recruiter)
    If you have an ounce of brains you can begin at E3 at $24,000 with housing and food paid for- which quickly gets you to $40,000. Play your cards correctly and you will be out in four years with a good background in a skill that can be expanded on easily WITH college paid for if you want to go that direction. From cop to cyber security- the military is not for everyone- but if you go in informed you can leave with a great career. With the war winding down, you would be amazed at what the new military trains people to be.
    Most of the early retirees I know have a base in the military.

    • Tammy July 26, 2013, 2:45 pm

      I’ll second this! My husband and I are both retired Air Force- he is 47 and I’m 50. Together our pensions are $4200/month. For life.

    • Nate July 26, 2013, 5:16 pm

      The best kept secret in the military is the Air National Guard. If you’re right out of high school I would highly recommend being an Air Traffic controller. They usually offer a decent initial signing bonus( 15,000 ish). It highly increases your chances of getting hired by the FAA (75-100K). When your initial commitment is up, the signing bonuses increase dramatically (40-60K). Most states offer tuition assistance that covers all in state tuition and fees. If you don’t get on with the FAA, there are contractor jobs in the Middle East(125-200K). I’m a military pilot, when I pull tower duty in Afghanistan I’m blown away at how much these contract guys make and have saved. This one controller enlisted at 18, did 4 years active duty Air Force, just finished his 4th year as a contractor. He lived in Thailand during his down time to take advantage of tax rules. At 27, he had over 1M saved and will retire next year. He plans on enlisting in the Air Guard for cheap health insurance and tri care for life at age 60.

      Disclaimer: When dealing with military recruiters understand one thing…they are not your friend. Everything is a negotiation, you are making a deal with the devil. If you make a decision based on bad info or out of “patriotic” emotion, the recruiter is going to take full advantage of it.

      • kay peterson October 7, 2013, 2:36 pm

        can you please explain that to my son. He really thinks its a lose lose situation. I have tried to explain-coming from a military family (granddad a captain, uncle a major-both Army, cousins (2) both Navy) that when he was in National Guard bootcamp Air Guard was perfect for school reimbursement because my husband and I work just to get by, can’t pay for it. I appreciate your comments. Please let us know what to say and what not to say.

        Thank you for your time and service.

    • exprezchef July 29, 2013, 10:24 am

      I also have to promote the military option. I entered the Navy right out of high school in 1986 and did 12.5 years of active duty time and then transferred to the Navy reserve to complete my 20 years. I retired in 2007 with 21 years of service. I wont see the pension until I am 60 but it all adds up. I took advantage of all of the opportunities offered to me while in the military and did earn my Associates degree while still in the Navy. After leaving active duty, I became a state employee and currently make over 100k with no sweat. I can retire at 50 years old and will have my State pension coming in and then at 60 start collecting my Navy pension. My son just graduated high school and he is now exploring his options. I think he should look at the military and my wife thinks he should go the college route.

  • David July 25, 2013, 3:03 pm

    There are many mining jobs out there that require no experience and pay very well. Every mine has truck drivers that can make even $60+ per hour and get as many hours as you would like (plus you can drive a 400 tonne haul truck). You don’t need any trucking experience, you don’t even need to know how to operate a manual transmission (although you should learn anyways).

  • Aaron Houghton July 25, 2013, 3:27 pm

    A friend of mine was working in the UK as a heating engineer, he was earning around £100k per year, but this came after years of hard work and experience, and owning his own business of course.

    He emigrated to Australia and went to college for 12 months to gain the Australian plumbing qualification which entitled him to work in the field.

    After six months he gave up on plumbing and bought a business that had been going for more or less 20 years for not more than the cost of the van and the equipment. This business was a wood floor sanding and polishing company. The owner worked alongside him and showed him the ropes for six months. He now makes Au$100,000 a year.

    • Paul Silver July 26, 2013, 7:39 am

      A friend of mine went to Australia for a few months 7-8 years ago. He went to do IT networking, but ended up sanding floors instead as he said the money and hours were better – he could start early and finish mid-afternoon and spend time on the beach.

      Having talked to a couple of friends who have travelled and worked in Australia, you can do very well in what many people would regard as a ‘low grade’ job as long as you’re polite and actually turn up when you say you will. Actually, scrap that just being true in Australia, that behaviour works in lots of other countries too.

  • Lauren H. July 25, 2013, 3:36 pm

    Try Search Engine Optimization (SEO) / Google expert. I have a college degree, but my coworker doesn’t, and we do basically the same thing.

    Your goal: help businesses show up better in search results for things. There’s lots of little arcane rules, stipulations, things to watch out for, and definitely a ton of spammy people, but if you’re honest and do it well, you can charge $100+ an hour.

    Skills required: writing, analyzing data, willingness to research things, willingness to do mundane, repetitive tasks, ability to explain complicated things to people who have no idea what you’re talking about. Basic knowledge of HTML, PHP, Javascript, and Wordpress a plus.

    • Henry November 29, 2013, 6:57 am

      Do you have any recommendations for someone who wants to learn more about SEO.? My initial searches were mostly very vague or of companies selling their services rather than sites for learning how to do it.

  • Ryan Finlay July 25, 2013, 3:36 pm

    I love this post! Trades require you to get your hands dirty, and thereby keep most people away. Want job security? Look for hard work. Mike Rowe speaks on the issue well here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3h_pp8CHEQ0

    You didn’t mention the appliance industry, my personal favorite. They are dirty,require hard work, there is unlimited demand and very good money to be made. Here is a post a wrote on how I earn my living buying and selling appliances (on Craigslist)


    Love the site, keep it up!
    – Ryan

  • Kathy Ormiston July 25, 2013, 3:38 pm

    In the Bay Area a manual laborer can make between $50-$75 an hour doing something called fine gardening and skilled pruning. Many people in the West are getting rid of their lawns and installing gardens that required more plant knowledge and skilled pruning to maintain. There are also plenty of fussy gardens with lots of roses and annual color that require regular deadheading (removing spent flowers) to look good.

    There are many, many $10 an hour gardeners at the Home Depot, but I am able to charge significantly more because I prune in a natural style using hand tools, I have good design sense, and I communication often and well in English. Bringing your white collar organizational and communication skills to a manual jobs is key to bumping up compensation. Differentiate yourself by showing up on time, having business cards, maintaining a well designed website, using email, and invoicing with QuickBooks. Another key is to network with people who have high income clients — interior decorators, garden designers, and high end landscape contractors.

    You can pick up gardening skills by taking classes at a community college or an arboretum. Also volunteering at public gardens is a good way to pick up skills and referrals.

    I have as many clients as I can handle and I am astonished more people don’t do this kind of work

    • Mr. Money Mustache July 25, 2013, 3:48 pm

      Thanks Kathy – perfect example for the Manual category.. with so many high income/high spending people around these days, the industry of meeting their very particular needs well is huge and profitable. And combined with Mustachian living principles, one’s mandatory time in service will be very short anyway.

  • Mike July 25, 2013, 3:43 pm

    One job not mentioned yet in the above comments (at least I did not see it ) is police officer. Though I do have a bachelors degree, I technically did not need it, and I rookies starting right now have a base pay at my agency of over $52,000 a year. Put yourself through a 5 or 6 month police academy or get hired with an agency that pays you while you are there and before you know it you are well on your way.

    After a year or two, with night shift pay, overtime, court pay, raises, etc. you can easily be at $65,000+ or more. I currently am on my 8th year at my agency and make over $90,000 with raises and incentive pay. Not to mention very mustachian benefits such as dirt cheap health care, access to 457 plan, HSA’s, and a very generous pension plan. Some places you can be vested at 5-10 years and earn a partial pension at some point in your life. Or, if you aren’t ready to go ER and be fully FI, you can continue working, continue saving, and continue earning time towards your pension.

    Because of my savings rate and available benefits, I target that I will be FI in about 5-6 more years at age 35/36.

    It’s been an enjoyable job for the most part….though of course there is some level of danger involved (thus the reason for some of the benefits.)

    • Mike July 25, 2013, 3:46 pm

      I forgot to mention another great benefit. Lots of time off to try your hand at another job/starting your own business, which can really help accelerate your path to FI.

      • WageSlave July 25, 2013, 4:36 pm

        In a similar vein as the policeman: firefighter. I have no personal experience with this, but I’ve been told that it’s not uncommon for a fireman to literally live at the firehouse for some fixed time, say 48 hours. After that, they often have several days off.

        So you typically get some half-way decent base pay plus benefits as a fireman, and with all that time off, you can do one or more of the jobs listed here as a side hustle. Obviously fire-fighting has its risks, but could be a worthwhile setup for some folks.

        • JT July 26, 2013, 9:26 am

          I recently quit my boring desk job to become a firefighter/EMT. I took a pay cut from my previous job while I was in the fire academy, but now that I’m out in the field I’m making slightly more than my old job. It’ll work out to about $45k/year, plus great benefits including pension and 457 plan, though my employer doesn’t match. It’s not unusual for larger cities to start their firefighters at $50k or higher. With overtime I can easily make over $50k. Once I promote to engineer or paramedic I’ll be well above $50k and captains start around $75k.

          Nowadays it’s not something you can just fall into. It’s extremely competitive and most departments do require at least an EMT certification. College degrees are not usually required but many people coming into the fire service have one…it can help you stand out a bit from the competition. From the time I decided I was going to pursue this dream, it took about 4 years (including getting my certifications), and I tested 7 times with 5 different departments before finally getting hired. This last time, about 1000 people applied, 33 made it through the testing/interview process to the academy, and 27 of us graduated from the academy. Some cities see well over 4000 applications for only a handful of positions. None of this is meant to be pessimistic, but anyone considering the fire service needs to know what they’re getting into. When it comes down to it, the type of optimism that MMM talks about is the only thing that made me keep going and trying again until I finally got hired. The risks of the job can be great, but the rewards are AMAZING.

          Even though I work 24 hours at a time, I’m home with my family waaaaay more than when I worked an office job. Once I’m done with my probation year, I’ll be able to work side jobs, build my own side business, whatever. I have the coolest job in the world. I get to help people and serve the community I grew up in, have lots of family time (with my actual family and my fire dept. brothers and sisters), make good money, stay in good physical shape, and ride around in a fire truck! I can’t ask for anything more!

          • Giovanni July 26, 2013, 3:05 pm

            JT, love the ride in the fire truck part! How many people would pay to do that-

            Thank you for serving your community too.

  • Jamesqf July 25, 2013, 3:55 pm

    I would enter one caveat about some of these jobs, and in particular that of tilesetter. The problem is that it is not something you can do forever/until your early retirement. Various parts of your body give out on you. (For tilesetters, it’s the knees.) Indeed, that’s a big part of why I’m doing programming these days: did the tilesetting until my knees couldn’t take it any more (about 5 years in my case), then went to school for a CS degree.

    Depending on the trade and area, you may also face unions that are determined to keep down the competition. You’ll also find that demand fluctuates considerable with the state of the economy.

  • Brian Romanchuk July 25, 2013, 3:59 pm

    My cousin in Winnipeg works as a locksmith. Pay per hour is good, but I assume the problem is getting enough hours (clients). The main drawback is that you rake in the business at times like New Year’s Eve and Christmas Eve when people lock themselves out of cars. Plus all your friends keep losing their keys and calling you up for favors.

    I believe he was initially working for someone else, but he eventually had to do the investment to buy and equip his van (he worked solo or with a partner). I only see him every few years, so I’m not sure what steps he followed to get into the business.

    He’s switched over to working in a hospital. There’s thousands (tens of thousands?) locks for things like drug cabinets in a hospital, so there’s a need for a locksmith full time. Also, he gets to work normal hours, and so it’s a bit of a dream job for a locksmith with family commitments.

  • Nate July 25, 2013, 4:16 pm

    Notice how many of those jobs have a common trend; they are things people don’t do anymore. Ever since I left home, I have had a firm rule that I have lived by and has saved me tons of money. If I need to do something, and the tools cost less than the cost of paying someone to do it, then I buy the tools and do it. I now have most of the tools I need to fix my cars (and can temp loan specialty tools from auto parts stores) and whatever household repairs or projects I need. If I need to someday make extra money, I can always use these tools; and I never need to pay others to do simple things like painting and woodwork. Lastly, there is very few specialty skills for which you cannot learn the best tricks of the trade through YouTube.

    • Mike July 25, 2013, 4:24 pm

      Sounds great!

      • Brian May 14, 2016, 4:01 am

        I learned that the hard way recently with a brake issue on my car. Couldn’t pass inspection, so I couldn’t get it registered before it expired. Which meant that I couldn’t get it to the auto hobby shop on the air force base near me where I usually do work on my cars.

        The cost of resurfacing the drums, replacing the rear drum cylinders and renting the lift would have been about $50 or so. Instead I had to pay a shop to do it for me for over $500. It still hurts to think about.

  • sleepyguy July 25, 2013, 4:24 pm

    One more to add to the list :) IT Support (LAN Admin, Network Admin, Desktop Specialist, etc). Although lots of these jobs are being displaced by outsourcing They do pay over 50K and don’t require much of any formal education… I know because that’s what I do for a living :) Sitting in class was not my cup of tea, so I finished High School jumped into the workforce.

    I don’t advocate people go to IT support now as the field is too saturated but you don’t really need formal education to be successful in it (although it helps).

  • CashRebel July 25, 2013, 4:31 pm

    These sort of entreptrnurial stories make me remember that I live in the most prosperous lands to ever exist. There’s ways to make money and succeed all over the place, we just have to dedicate ourselves to figuring out how.

  • Sam July 25, 2013, 4:31 pm

    Costco full time employees make over 50k if they have worked about 4 years. (Raises based on hours worked over career)
    -Guaranteed 40 hours
    -Paid holidays
    -Make $22.00 an hour
    -Paid a bonus of 2500 every April and October 1st.
    -Given 2 weeks paid vacation (3 after 5 years, 4 after 10)
    -Given 72 hours of sick/personal pay (if you don’t use it, they cut you a check)
    -Match first 500 in 401k
    -Every March make a contribution equal to a percentage of your pay from the previous year. At 4 years it is 3-4%. (At 10 years it is like 6-7%)
    -Insurance is $66 biweekly for a family of 4. 250 deductible 1500 maximum out of pocket. Dental is 50 dollar deductible. Optical Insurance as well.
    -On Sundays they make 33 dollars an hour.
    -Oh and free membership for you and a couple people of your choice.

    This is just the cashier checking you out. Lowest level management is 60k next is close to 70k, assistant manager around 80ish and General Manager is over 100k plus bonuses. No diplomas needed.

  • aya July 25, 2013, 4:38 pm

    I don’t have a college degree. I started working part-time for a financial company (doing data entry) when I was 18. I spent the next 15 years toiling away there, still making under $50k by the time I left. One day I took the plunge and started consulting. I instantly doubled my salary, and I got to pad up my resume too. There was some per diem pay in there and expense reimbursement. That all led to my last contracting gig which landed me with a job in IT, which I love, and which pays very well.

  • cptacek July 25, 2013, 4:38 pm

    Integrating people’s websites, twitter accounts, facebook accounts, pinterest accounts, etc., so that when they post something on their website, it automatically updates all of their social media.

    • Eric Finlay July 25, 2013, 4:43 pm

      I think Hootsuite does that.

      • cptacek July 25, 2013, 4:58 pm

        But most people don’t know that :) So, contract with them to set it up on Hootsuite for them.

  • Tony July 25, 2013, 5:34 pm

    My personal favorite (and occupation): private music instructor. No college required (although I attended conservatory). I know high school kids who teach 4th-6th graders privately for $30/hr. in our town alone, hundreds of students start instrumental instruction annually. I charge $100/hr now, which will help when I embark on my own early retirement!

    • Patricia July 25, 2013, 6:52 pm

      I am a tutor. I teach traditional subjects: reading skills and writing, organization etc. that requires a college degree. I hold a Masters + in education. But I also teach students how to use technology such as Dragon Naturally, Text to Speech software, specific educational apps for their I Phones, I Pads etc .for organization, or to review concepts etc. In addition to kids, many adults could use this training and they’re willing to pay for it. You wouldn’t need a degree for that. I get calls from adults but I don’t have the time in my schedule. I charge $60-$75 per hour and I have a wait list.

      • chelsea July 26, 2013, 5:49 pm

        How did you initially market yourself? I’ve tried Craigslist, but find that no one will reply to ads if the price is higher than $25/hour. I’m trying to start a small tutoring business in the city I just moved to so lack any contacts at all. Any advice on developing such contacts would be quite welcome!

        • Patricia July 28, 2013, 8:16 pm

          Hi chelsea
          I do have a lot of contacts in my town, so that helped. I have strictly been word of mouth. I don’t even have a web presence. I would suggest that you put up flyers in local libraries or other places that parents and kids congregate. Also, many public schools keep a list of tutors in the area, especially if you’re a certified teacher.

    • Kenoryn July 26, 2013, 8:48 am

      When I was in high school I taught violin for $25/hr. No need to find students – they found me. I think a great tie-in with this for musicians would be playing at weddings and other events like corporate dinners etc. My partner plays guitar and we are often asked to play events when people find out – we’ve done a couple of casual gigs, but have not gotten around to developing a solid repertoire for weddings etc. I think the demand would be there if we did, and other musicians seem to charge about $150 for the first hour and $100/hr thereafter for events like that.

  • Sean July 25, 2013, 6:09 pm

    Real Estate Agent…paid my way through college, and bought me a Porsche and a house with cash one year after I graduated. Nowadays I would never buy the Porsche, but it was fun for a kid!

    I started in a new town, no connections. Spent $500 on licensing, $100 to print cards and letters on nice letterhead. Knocked on doors 5 evenings a week and worked weekends. Made $30k my first 9 months, 70k my second year and $120-200k each of the next five years while transitioning to part time, hiring agents under me. Takes a ton of work to do really well but easy once you get the ball rolling.

    • Jacob H July 26, 2013, 11:02 am


      That seems like an awesome return for a $600 investment! And, I don’t doubt the truth in what you say – I have a real estate agent neighbor with several sports cars.

      Now, I’m looking into how to get licensed myself. And, I’m curious, if you don’t mind sharing, what was your basic sales pitch?

  • Josh Frets July 25, 2013, 6:18 pm

    I’ve been making a great living exclusively from playing music for over a decade.

    A reliable, music-reading bassist or drummer in big metro area can make six figures. Or do it part-time for an extra $500/week.

    In addition to the money, the non-monetary perks are outstanding: free travel, free booze, free food, off-peak commuting times, fascinating & varied work AND coworkers, loads of free time.

    • Erik Y July 30, 2013, 7:47 pm

      I’d love to hear more about this. My son is a music major and worried about earning a decent living at it.

  • jeremiah July 25, 2013, 6:37 pm

    Really interesting article. I liked the welding idea. I was inspired a while ago to do this and if you recommend it why not? By the way I was at the MMM meet up in Ottawa and it was a blast! Thanks so much for coming. stache-out!

  • Micro July 25, 2013, 6:46 pm

    Reminds me of a conversation I was having with my brother a couple weeks back. He was saying there are two ways to make a nice wage. You either have a skill that is hard to find, or you do a job no one else wants to do. I think he summed it up very well and it seems to fit the theme of this post. A lot of the manual labor jobs combine both those ideas. It’s not easy to find people who can do the job well and people don’t want to take the time to learn to do it themselves.

    Not something you could do for money, but I would love to see the day when people could sell their own microbrew. Ah well, I can dream.

    • Chris July 27, 2013, 6:17 pm

      You can! It’s called nano brewing. My cousin started a nanobrewing business after they had been home brewing since college. There is a lot of regulations to deal with that probably varies by state but they got through it. They started selling at farmers markets and branched out from there.

  • Melissa July 25, 2013, 7:22 pm

    Sales is a great opportunity for those without a degree. All you need is personality and perseverance. If you’d told my younger self that I’d end up in sales, I would’ve said I’d rather die a slow and grueling death. But, in 1997 I was a single parent and couldn’t turn it down. I cracked $50K in 1998. Meanwhile my (computer hardware) company paid for my 4-yr business degree and while I’m not outside sales where they make un-earthly amounts of money, I happily work from home, travel 2-5 times a year, and have great benefits. (Don’t knock it until you try it!) When I am retired in a (hopefully 5) few years, I’ll pick up a side job–daycare during the school year, or my old moonlighting job of typing papers and doing research for businesses, or my new idea of helping the elderly and home-bound with day-to-day stuff like understanding/paying hospital bills, reading to them, getting their groceries, etc.

  • Lego my Legume July 25, 2013, 7:32 pm

    Had an acquaintance who made great side money harvesting medical marijuana in Northern California. Probably not the kind of work most people want to do year round, but a week or two or three at the right time of year could bump you up over that 50k mark when combined with your regular salary / wage (provided you don’t have any moral misgivings about the industry).

    Not really my cup of tea, but just goes to show how paying attention to changes in attitudes and culture can create economic opportunity with little / no training or education required.

  • Kestra July 25, 2013, 7:35 pm

    My sister is a hair dresser (2 year course, I think) and makes over $50,000. It took her a few years of making less, but once she got established and got tons of clients that love her, she makes great money at it. It really helps to be a people person. Part of her job is keeping up on celebrity gossip, current events, sports, etc so she can talk to her clients about anything.
    I think these have been mentioned, but my husband is a long haul truck driver and also a power engineer (stationary engineer) – both jobs easily pay $50,000 +. Truck driver training was a few months plus some on the road training. Power engineering was a 2 year technical college course.
    I lucked into a healthcare-related insurance job (2 year tech college course) that also pays more than $25/hr, but mine was more a series of lucky breaks than intention.

  • StashtasticMomo July 25, 2013, 7:53 pm

    Does obtaining certification count? If so, I strongly recommend working as a paralegal in law firms and government agencies. Even if you are new and starting out you can still work especially if you are fortunate to live in a higher demand area concentrated with litigation, intellectual property, and corporate lawyers.

    The starting salaries are often over 50k and over time as you become a knowledge based expert, you can make well over 100k. Income varies with experience, but you can certainly work your way up and gain experience through a combination of volunteering and paid part-time positions at the County Clerk’s Office, District Attorney’s Office, Public Defenders Office, Superior Court, and U.S. District Courts too. I am friends with many paralegals who worked their way through school part-time and still made time to complete their undergraduate degree, so it is definitely worth considering if you enjoy working in the legal environment.

    Your mileage may vary but good luck! Cheers!

  • Free_at_50 July 25, 2013, 7:56 pm

    I learned early that the more things you can learn the more valuable you become and mysteriously get opportunities you never thought you would. This includes fixing anything and everything you can. Taking jobs to learn construction, plumbing, hvac, getting a notary license, real estate license, pe license, learn to draft. Over the years these various skills allowed me to secure a great position in a large company and work my way up saving along the way. I only have a two year degree that I was given after taking way to many dissassociated college courses. :)

  • cab July 25, 2013, 8:53 pm

    Great post!

    While, I myself have a decent paying job, I’ve been trying to bring some extra income in through freelancing. My background is in database management and you’d be surprised how many folks are willing to pay you to do quick projects that don’t take a ton of work. This was the first month i’ve tried freelancing and I pulled in an extra $200 into our household for a project that only took a few hours of work.

    So for folks who might have the flexibility to do so, you can definitely use your skills to bring more money. The other benefit is income diversification. I’d like to build up my freelancing so that just in case anything happens with my current job, I have some confidence that I can fall back on something, at least temporarily, without having to raid my stash.

    • win August 2, 2013, 12:02 pm

      I like databases. Can you tell us about some projects you have done?

  • Seth July 25, 2013, 11:09 pm

    I’m surprised no one has laid this one out correctly:

    Personal training requires no degree, not even a certification if you’re working outside of the big franchises. In fact, most states don’t even require insurance. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t eventually obtain all of these things, but if you don’t have the ~$2,000 or so that it takes to address all these things for the first year, then all you really need is a success story and enough personalty to motivate your clients to keep showing up and listening to you while you take them through a competent plyometric [read: reasonably safe but effective] workout.

    An outdoor bootcamp helps young trainers hedge their fortunes even better, as 20 people paying $150-$250/month for only 20 HOURS of monthly work on your part adds up quickly. Want to double that? Offer a local Fire/Police discount. 50 people paying you $150-$250 each month to work only one hour each week day.

    If you’re reasonably well-spoken and know how to write, you can then create YouTube content, a blog, and even numerous eBooks- fitness is a so-called “macro-niche” topic: you can be an expert on your own style of fitness, while attracting people who just “wanna get abs”.

    A good personal trainer can earn six figures if they know how to structure their time appropriately between 1-on-1 clients [who will pay masseuse prices] and larger fitness bootcamps, which are a little more drought-resistant. And they can earn much, much more if they know how to leverage that following into a YouTube channel, ebook cult following, etc.

    I never recommend CrossFit for this career path: $2k/year in licensing fees, with a terrible and deserved reputation of causing more injuries than any other fitness system ever invented- seriously, high school football programs often fare better than CrossFit.

  • Seth July 25, 2013, 11:22 pm

    There’s also social media management:

    Understanding the social internet better than the brands and businesses that you interact with can be a great lever to earning a side income. The conversation goes something like this:

    “I noticed you guys have 47k followers on Google Plus, but almost none on Facebook. Do you have a social media manager?”

    “No. Our head of marketing does all of that.”

    “Who does your marketing?”

    Offer two days free, then the rest is a question of negotiating a rate for you to jump into G+/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest and splash around with their customers- to oversimplify it a bit.

    You can probably handle 7-10 different brands by yourself, so when you have more brands than fingers, bring on an entry level employee and simply keep an eye on their work.

    It is totally realistic to earn $25/hr or more doing this as an independent. Less if you work for someone else, and much more if you hire on a few helpers.

  • Seth July 25, 2013, 11:27 pm

    There’s also local web marketing, which is relatively misunderstood and nearly untapped:

    Ever read reviews on Yelp or Google local listings? I do. And I write them when I get bad service. Most brands need help with promoting themselves [if not some level of damage control] and it shows, but the owner thinks she can do it on her own.

    What she doesn’t know is that her business isn’t even showing up correctly in Google’s local listing engine, or when people search for her business through Google Maps [HUGE missed opportunity for her].

    Again, it requires selling/negotiating skill, and an understanding of the local web and review sites, but not a degree.

  • Venturing July 25, 2013, 11:30 pm

    Private Tutor: I did this for a number of years without any formal qualifications (just decent high school grades). I taught primarily ages 11-16, mostly maths with some English tutoring as well. My students were probably 50/50 between public school kids and homeschooled kids (if I was to take it up again I would explore the homeschool market a lot further).

    Once I had my first students the others came through word of mouth and I ended up with more work than I could manage. I loved this job as it gave the satisfaction of teaching without all the bs of behaviour management, politics etc that you have to deal with in a school environment.

  • Duncan Bayne July 25, 2013, 11:32 pm

    Also: programming. You don’t need a degree to be a successful computer programmer, as experience, attitude and aptitude count for more than qualifications in many places.

  • Peachy July 26, 2013, 1:11 am

    I spent a pretty penny on my degree to work in NGO’s making barely over 30K. My husband has no college degree but learned programming and web design on his own. He makes well into the 6 figures at a major tech company and has always been hired based on his portfolio (he’s a UX designer) not his resume.

    A few years ago we decided to develop some apps on the side and sell them for the ipad, kindle, nook, etc. I’m not at all technical but do all the research, writing and other little tasks. We came up with 10 apps – not great ones, just simple ones that each took only a few days to a couple weeks of work. Since then we’ve made an extra 50-65K per year on those apps without any additional work. None are excellent sellers but all together, and counting all the different marketplaces they’re in it’s become a nice stream of passive income for us.

    • win August 2, 2013, 1:19 pm

      Are your apps in the Apple app store? Which ones?

  • Mrs EconoWiser July 26, 2013, 3:05 am

    My husband and myself are working on an app. Hopefully we’ll launch within a couple of weeks. I also have this idea for an app to teach people how to get out of debt and live frugally. I guess that will take a couple of months to make…but as soon as I have something to show you I will!

  • Steve-o July 26, 2013, 3:16 am

    Banking and finance. Bear with me on this…

    If you start at the very bottom you do not require a degree. You are paid fuck all but if you specialise and move every 2-3 years you could end up somewhere quite interesting. The best piece of advice I can give for this path is learn how to use Excel properly. The entire global financial system is built on this (rightly or wrongly..) Buy a book on VBA and start automating tasks. People will love you for it.

    The path I took:

    Age 16 – Greeter in supermarket (customer service exp) – Min wage (£4.50 p/h)
    Age 19 – Job in retail bank call centre – Min wage (£5ish p/h)
    Age 20 – Job in loan processing back office for retail bank 2 – Min wage-ish
    Age 21 – Job in payments team for retail bank 3 – Min wage
    Age 21 – Job in FX team for investment bank – (£10 p/h)
    Age 23 – Job in investment ops for boutique asset manager – ( £12.50 – £19)
    Age 28 – Head of ops & IT for boutique asset manager 2 – (£38 p/h)

    This was a result of specialisation, starting young and always moving forward. Oddly enough at my last 2 interviews no-one even asked about degrees or qualifications (and both were on the spot offers). There comes a point once you are experienced enough that people hire you on that alone.

  • Matt July 26, 2013, 5:08 am

    I am a Corrections Officer and make over 50K a year plus sweet benefits and a nice pension to look forward to. What I don’t have is a college degree. I think it falls under the jobs nobody wants to do. It can definitely have some challenges and not everyone is cut out to do the job. We lose more than half of our new hires during the first year of work. But for not having a degree.. it is a good career.

  • Suzi July 26, 2013, 6:28 am

    Four words: nuclear power plant operator. You can make well over 6 figures with just a high school diploma.

  • Derek July 26, 2013, 6:39 am

    Awesome list so far!!

    This is one of the main reasons I believe all those 529 plans are a complete crock of shit. My tie up your money and not have the ability to get it back when there are so many options out there for our children?!?

    I think this list just goes to show that there is always room for someone to make a living if they put in the hard work and don’t give up!

  • JReyn July 26, 2013, 6:56 am

    One thing that doesn’t need a degree (but DOES need specialized skills) is to become an iOS developer. Back in college I knew plenty of people who were solid programmers even before they got their degree. Apple makes it pretty dang easy to put an app in the store and handles a lot of the legal aspects (even handles taxes, like an employer would, from what I understand). A lot of what “software engineering” degrees teach you is to work for a corporation and all that entails (working in a group, dealing with legacy code, that sort of thing), so you could totally skip the degree to just make apps. (Or, use the apps to FUND your degree, if you really want it). YES there is a risk in that just having an app is not a guarantee of success, but once you start making money it takes very little effort to keep that money flowing. If you make a few apps a year, even if each app doesn’t make much they might eventually add up to a nice flow of extra money.

  • JJ July 26, 2013, 7:00 am

    Saw an ad in the local paper while vacationing in the South that went something like this…

    “Gulf coast oil rig workers wanted. 65 to 165k in yearly earnings. No experience needed.”

    Now, you’ll need to spend a lot of time on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico, but what struck me was the earnings potential without any experience. Not only that, but while on the platform I’m sure you aren’t paying for gas, food, utitlities, etc. I suspect that you are forced to live as a mustacian on an oil platform.

  • zhelud July 26, 2013, 7:39 am

    It makes me so sad whenever I read an article or comment here suggesting that because a college education might not help one acheive a higher income, one should not pursue it. Why on earth would anyone suggest that a person voluntarily limit his ability to engage with the world of ideas?

    I would want my kids to get college educations even if they were planning to be carpenters or plumbers. They can even major in art history of they want.

    • win August 2, 2013, 2:45 pm

      Cost. Private schools are $60,000 per year, that’s $240,000.

    • Brian May 14, 2016, 4:30 am

      Because that’s how it has always been sold. Get a degree or you’ll be a loser making minimum wage. Funny thing, a lot of those people with degrees are serving me at Starbucks. No degree, making +100k.

      Because it’s not the Middle Ages. Knowledge is inexpensive. I learned more about philosophy reading it on my own and meeting up with other people with the same interest. History, mathematics, science, and a number of other areas I’ve always been interested in: I’ve always found a way to engage with those worlds of ideas. And without having to pay untold sums to an institution infested with people hostile to my worldview. Lately campuses seem more like Maoist struggle sessions than institutions where ideas are allowed to flourish.

  • Perry July 26, 2013, 8:08 am

    All In all some great suggestions, I’m new to reading the blog but I really enjoy it. Another great side hustle or small business is carpet cleaning, yes it sounds boring but the average cleaner makes about $25 to $50 an hour. Now what makes most different is their marketing and customer service, you can do those two things well you will be light years ahead of Joe Schmoe !!!

  • Andre Lima July 26, 2013, 8:33 am

    Indie Game/App developers can make over $40,000 a year, with average products.

    You don’t need to make the next Angry Birds to reach this level, but by developing an modest amount of games or apps every year, you can add up to a liveable wage, by doing a creative and fun work.

    I (an unsatisfied engineer), am trying to break into this industry. My first game is out ( https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.TOPgames.Happy_Star_Adventures ) and wasn’t very succesful so far.

    But that didn’t made me sad. Instead, I learned from my mistakes and i’m already developing new projects, that will surely be more profitable, until the day I can leave my day job.

    Good luck to all.

    • JReyn July 29, 2013, 11:11 am

      Agreed, I’m trying to make my first indie iOS game right now (after putting a more “boring” tool app in the store to get a feel for the process). Even if it doesn’t make a lot of money, it’ll add up as I add more and more games over time AND it REALLY is making me feel a lot better about my less satisfying engineering day job.

      Having something that keeps me earning a steady income AND brings in variable supplemental income cannot be underestimated.

  • Reepekg July 26, 2013, 8:34 am

    I would add sports referee to the list of odd professions with surprisingly high pay. I make $40-$60 to watch teenagers run around a soccer field for an hour or so. Tournaments have 6-8 games a day.

    If you get good and do college or pro games, you can make a couple hundred per game.

    I just do it as a side gig, but I could imagine if you did multiple sports at a high level you could do pretty well. There is also a lot of opportunity to teach clinics, assign games, etc. I bet you could reach $50k if you focused on it as full time work.

  • Jeremy July 26, 2013, 8:58 am

    My brother went to community college for half a semester and dropped out. Now he makes 100k+ a year, all because he started doing sound for bands at small gigs. One of those bands started touring, knew him, needed a sound guy, and hired him. Five years later the band has blown up to be pretty popular, he’s toured the world multiple times over, and his sound business at home has more local shows than he can handle, so his sound buddies are contracted through him to do some of his work. He’s one of the youngest good people in his field and his name is becoming well known in the industry.

  • Kenoryn July 26, 2013, 9:11 am

    A few suggestions!

    #1 – if you are organized and good with people and don’t mind public speaking, I think you could make a killing as a facilitator. I am a public servant and we hire facilitators regularly, to run stakeholder meetings where we know there will be dissenting views, or meetings where we are brainstorming/collecting ideas, or just large meetings where we need some help keeping it on track. Facilitators bill out at $1000/per day. Some are now creeping up to $1100 or $1200 per day. No formal training needed, just the ability to manage people and synthesize ideas. Junior staff at these and other consulting businesses bill out at $750/day. There is some prep work and the facilitator usually produces a report afterward, summarizing the day = another day’s work = $2000 per one-day event. You can find facilitation training courses online or you could get some experience as an assistant to a facilitator.

    Similar to this are other areas of consulting. We’ve hired consultants for things like designing & conducting surveys and writing reports on the results, reviewing policies of various organizations on some particular topic and synthesizing the results, writing strategic plans for our section, etc. Good research, critical thinking & writing skills all that’s needed.

    • Kenoryn July 26, 2013, 9:29 am

      Oops, forgot my others!
      #2 – photographer. Two areas I think would be lucrative would be wedding photography (do a few cheaply or for friends to build up a portfolio) and stock photography, e.g. for iStock Photo or similar. I don’t really have any idea how much you would make in stock photography, but I suspect that if you’re taking the right kind of pictures – which seem to be pictures of people, either in corporate/business settings with suits and laptops or pointing to charts, or concept pictures like people sitting in piles of coins, expressing emotions, holding little seedlings in a handful of dirt, etc. – it could be a lot.

      #3 – Mason. I am trying to hire a mason in my area and the ones that bother to get back to me are telling me they’re swamped. I’m thinking this is a job I need to learn to do myself.

  • Trede July 26, 2013, 9:16 am

    My husband and I have been working on #15 Writer, he as the writer, myself as the editor/website bulider/etc. (I posted about it in the Off-Topic forum when we started out.) We haven’t spent a dime except to register a vanity URL for his website. Neither one of us is a professional marketer or anything, just committed to bootstrapping it up, and there is a mountain of information and advice for indie authors online. It’s amazing what a little concentrated study can do. In the first two months, he’ll have sold about 2000 ebook copies of the first book in what will be an ongoing scifi series. Each new book will help promote the series, along with his blog and social media outlets, and I can easily see this growing substantially. Don’t know about $50K/year, but it’s certainly possible! I agree with an earlier commenter that for every success in some of these areas, there are plenty of under-succeeders (do we have to call it failing?), but you never know until you try.


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