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  #1  
Old 10-29-2006, 10:39 PM
Lizard Lizard is offline
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What jobs pay the most money for the least education?

I was sitting around thinking about how it seems the people I know who last the longest in creative fields (painting, journalism, broadcasting, acting, etc.) came from wealthy families. I concluded this was because they either could afford to go to such a great school they were snapped up immediately, or else their parents could support them while they built a career/body of work.

But there must be some jobs out there that pay really well but that few people are clamoring to go into. WHY no one wants these jobs could be any reason, I suppose. I know that many police department's still don't require higher education, yet pay a decent middle-class salary with good benefits. So, what other jobs are like that, yet maybe even more lucrative? Obviously someone could make a mint by going into a family business already established, but let's exclude any jobs gained through nepotism.
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  #2  
Old 10-29-2006, 10:50 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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Pimping?
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  #3  
Old 10-29-2006, 10:55 PM
iano iano is offline
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Roustabouts and other menial jobs on remote oil sites and offshore oil platforms seem to make no less than $20 an hour for what is unskilled labor.
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  #4  
Old 10-29-2006, 10:56 PM
psycat90 psycat90 is offline
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Possibly, but it sure ain't easy.
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  #5  
Old 10-29-2006, 11:00 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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There are some jobs on off-shore oil rigs that pay really well and require little in the way of formal education. However many of them are dangerous as hell (I personally know two people that were crushed to death), dirty, loud, and you have to live on the oil-rig often on a 2 weeks on-2weeks off arrangement. You commute to work via helicopter into the Gulf of Mexico.

I am not sure exactly how much they pay now but men in my small-town Louisiana home always lined up for the jobs and we weren't even close to the Gulf. I was told that the highest paying among these (and among the most dangerous jobs in the world) were the underwater welders that went to down into the pipe and then spent hours or days undergoing decompression. I think those people got a few hundred dollars an hour.
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  #6  
Old 10-29-2006, 11:07 PM
hajario hajario is online now
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Professional athelte. There are tennis pros making millions by the time they're 16.
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  #7  
Old 10-29-2006, 11:09 PM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Some unions can really distort pay levels in places. You can find examples of union workers like bus and subway drivers and longeshoreman making a pretty good wage in places like New York and California.

Outside of the unions, I think you will find that the basic economic laws always apply. Long distance truck drivers can make a good living but what it takes to pull that off is a grueling schedule, owning your own rig, and the business smarts to get some of the better hauls. Long-distance truck-drivers can clear $60k and sometimes more but they can't have what most people would call a normal life and may not see their families for weeks at a time. One accident can take it all away as well.

I have good word that being a farrier (a horse-shoer) can be a good gig if you are in the right place. The work is usually very unsteady but the hourly rate can be very high ($75+) and ity can bring in a good second-income. There aren't that many around and it isn't the easiest skill to master. In some places, only rich people have horses so it can work out well as a weekend job.
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  #8  
Old 10-29-2006, 11:10 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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What exactly counts as education? Any kind of high-paying job is going to require at least a significant amount of on-the-job training.
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  #9  
Old 10-29-2006, 11:13 PM
Cunctator Cunctator is offline
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These would require training rather than "education":

- high rise crane operators on building sites? They're said to earn heaps.
- coal miners?
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  #10  
Old 10-29-2006, 11:19 PM
AuntiePam AuntiePam is offline
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Longshoremen -- I thought my first husband did pretty good for a high school dropout (construction/union) until I learned what West Coast longshoremen are paid. Last I heard, the average was over $100,000 annually with generous benefits. I don't know if OT is figured into that or not.
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  #11  
Old 10-29-2006, 11:22 PM
Sublight Sublight is offline
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In the same vein as Shagnasty's suggestion, crab fishermen in Alaska can make some damn good money. The catch is that the work is very difficult, the conditions are very unpleasant, and the chance of being killed or maimed is very significant.
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  #12  
Old 10-29-2006, 11:33 PM
WhyNot WhyNot is online now
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What about the dirty and disgusting jobs, like garbageman, geoduck harvester or sewer-mucker-outer?

Mail carriers in Illinois have a median income of over $45,000.

Lots of folks in various areas of construction aren't doing too poorly, either, especially occupations like brick layers, boilermakers, glaziers, etc. Of course, these require pretty extensive on-the-job training, but the median incomes are all around $60,000.

What kind of training is needed for an air traffic controller? Dudes make well over $100,000

All my info from State of Illinois Wage Data 2006 - warning: big slooooow PDF.
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  #13  
Old 10-29-2006, 11:45 PM
The Octagon The Octagon is offline
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Any physical labor - construction, mining, etc can pay very well, but that depends on what you consider education. In my opinion, owning/running a business isn't really a job (you're working for yourself), but it doesn't necessarily require any education, just money or investment, determination and luck.
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  #14  
Old 10-29-2006, 11:57 PM
Raguleader Raguleader is offline
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Photographers *can* make a great deal of money without any formal education (though it's easier to develop the skills to be a good photographer if you DO have a formal education in photography), but it really depends on what you do. A guy who does school portraits can make embarassingly large amounts of money from a single day's shooting, but the competition for that kind of work is incredibly cutthroat. Similarly, my photography professor (who moonlights as a photojournalist for the local paper) says that a friend of his who used to do photojournalism with him ended up making six figures taking pictures of peoples' dogs in California, though it happened largely on accident.

Now, unless you particularly love photography, and have good business sense to boot, I wouldn't recommend leaping into it as a career field though. Especially since that'd only make even more competition for me (As I used to say: "I'm a photographer. That's a fancy way of saying I deliver hot wings for $5.60 an hour.")
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  #15  
Old 10-30-2006, 12:00 AM
Hilarity N. Suze Hilarity N. Suze is offline
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My son, aged 24, makes close to six figures as a "software development engineer" and he only graduated from high school (and that, just barely). However, he has been programming since he was 7, got his first job at 16 as a part-time data entry clerk in a company he stayed at for 6 years, rising to network administrator, and did a lot of studying on his own.
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  #16  
Old 10-30-2006, 12:27 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
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You can (or could- I don't know if this is still accurate) make $65-80k a year as a fabricator for Boeing.
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  #17  
Old 10-30-2006, 12:28 AM
danceswithcats danceswithcats is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Octagon
Any physical labor - construction, mining, etc can pay very well, but that depends on what you consider education. In my opinion, owning/running a business isn't really a job (you're working for yourself), but it doesn't necessarily require any education, just money or investment, determination and luck.
Owning or running a business isn't a job? You've obviously never been self-employed, which itself is a misleading title. I work for my customers, as it is their checks which are deposited into the business account, and they must be continually pleased by my workmanship, or I will soon find myself introducing Mr. Thumb to Mr. Keyster.

Among my skills are sales and marketing, as I have to sometimes call on new clients and present job proposals, financial management, as I keep the books, pay the bills, and write myself draw checks if I'm doing well, and much more.

The electricians, ironworkers, plumbers, steamfitters, carpenters, glaziers-on and on, each undergo an extensive training program as apprentices before being able to obtain their journeyman's ticket. I know a number of union guys, and there's a heckuva sight more to it than buying a tool belt and paying union dues.

I'm a non-union business owner, and regularly take continuing education courses to maintain my skill set, along with reading a half-dozen trade journals every month. To allege that we require/possess no "education" is rather ignorant, IMO.
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  #18  
Old 10-30-2006, 04:08 AM
Lizard Lizard is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ultrafilter
What exactly counts as education? Any kind of high-paying job is going to require at least a significant amount of on-the-job training.
Good point. Notwithstanding that all jobs require some sort of specialized knowledge, I was thinking of a bachelors-level college degree when I opened this thread. "Education" of the sort they want you to have before they'll even hire you. Obviously any jobs where they train you on the job wouldn't fit that description.

It looks like many of the candidates mentioned here fall into two categories: jobs that pay well because they are difficult/onerous/dangerous, or unionized jobs that are overpaid for the actual labor involved.
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  #19  
Old 10-30-2006, 05:56 AM
The Octagon The Octagon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by danceswithcats
I'm a non-union business owner, and regularly take continuing education courses to maintain my skill set, along with reading a half-dozen trade journals every month. To allege that we require/possess no "education" is rather ignorant, IMO.
I'm sure a farrier or a piano tuner would provide a similar response, so I guess the question is a bit silly as it stands and I'm a bit silly for trying to answering it.
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  #20  
Old 10-30-2006, 06:36 AM
Alive At Both Ends Alive At Both Ends is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizard
Good point. Notwithstanding that all jobs require some sort of specialized knowledge, I was thinking of a bachelors-level college degree when I opened this thread. "Education" of the sort they want you to have before they'll even hire you.
Nobody's mentioned the obvious one - politics. All you need to become a politician is the ability to get yourself elected. And for that you just need the "gift of the gab".
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  #21  
Old 10-30-2006, 06:48 AM
Tom Ripley Tom Ripley is offline
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Hitmen and blackmarket organ donors
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  #22  
Old 10-30-2006, 07:31 AM
Askia Askia is offline
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The low end of professional syndicated cartooning requires absolutely no formal training whatsoever and can still earn the artist a high five or low six figure annual salary (I think the rock bottom minimum is something like 30,000). If they can get their work successfully merchandised into animated or live action series, books, toys and lunchboxes? Potentially millions per year, or like Jim Davis and Charles Schulz, potentially a million per month.
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  #23  
Old 10-30-2006, 08:04 AM
glee glee is online now
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Maybe you should have included lack of skill as well as lack of education?

As has been posted, professional athletes can earn huge sums of money with no formal education - but with natural ability and lots of practice in their sport.
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  #24  
Old 10-30-2006, 08:28 AM
Tomcat Tomcat is offline
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Many sales jobs don't require higher education. Can you sell? You're hired! I know guys making $250k a year with only a high school education. Real Estate, computers, xerox machines, etc.

-Tcat
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  #25  
Old 10-30-2006, 08:30 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Porno actresses make $1000 a day or more with minimal education or training.
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  #26  
Old 10-30-2006, 08:45 AM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo
Porno actresses make $1000 a day or more with minimal education or training.
But possibly a whole lot of on the job training.
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  #27  
Old 10-30-2006, 09:05 AM
Trunk Trunk is offline
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Originally Posted by Cluricaun
But possibly a whole lot of on the job training.
Oh, they get an ass load of on-the-job training.
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  #28  
Old 10-30-2006, 09:10 AM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Musical composers earn "grand rights" whenever their music is played. These are nonnegotiable and nontransferable. They are yours and yours alone until you die.
You can be a high school dropout, and if you score a successful musical that plays all over the world, you will make millions.
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  #29  
Old 10-30-2006, 09:26 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Chairman of Microsoft, Inc. Not even a college degree, but pretty good money.
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  #30  
Old 10-30-2006, 10:25 AM
Raguleader Raguleader is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck
Chairman of Microsoft, Inc. Not even a college degree, but pretty good money.
Well, he did go to college. I'm not sure how much of that education went towards his success with Microsoft though.

That said, I do recall a magazine with him on the cover and the byline: "Most Successful College Dropout in History"
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  #31  
Old 10-30-2006, 11:29 AM
Poysyn Poysyn is offline
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My husband took a two year course to become a CET (in mechanical engineering technology).

He gets paid very well and has a ton of job security. I would also suggest welding or another trade, they are in short supply and heavily in demand.
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  #32  
Old 10-30-2006, 11:30 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alive At Both Ends

Nobody's mentioned the obvious one - politics. All you need to become a politician is the ability to get yourself elected. And for that you just need the "gift of the gab".

Politicians don't make that much money. It's also pretty difficult to get elected to any office of significance without some sort of education. Would you vote for a high school graduate to run your state?


Quote:
Originally Posted by The Octagon
In my opinion, owning/running a business isn't really a job (you're working for yourself), but it doesn't necessarily require any education, just money or investment, determination and luck.
It's actually harder than a job.



For highest potential money to education/trianing ratio, "Financial Analyst" (IOW, stockbroker) gets my vote. I interviewed at a number of "Boiler Room" type firms and they are pretty much just like that movie. They bring in a bunch of college grads who can talk a lot of shit as trainees. They put them on the phones working for a broker calling doctors and lawyers and housewives until they pass their Series 7. Once they bring in X number of clients, they're own their own. After a year or so you'll either be pulling in a couple hundred grand or (more likely) you will quit out of frustration or get shitcanned. It's not like being an investment banker where you need the pedigree and the Wharton MBA.

Professional model/actor also has a high potential to earn big money without a formal education.
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  #33  
Old 10-30-2006, 12:01 PM
Arien Arien is offline
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What about 2-year health related degrees like dental hygiene or x-ray technology? A quick google search tells me that a dental hygienist can make between $20 and $30 an hour. Plus apparently more than half work part-time. An X-ray tech seems to make about $20 an hour. There are some accelerated RN programs that can be completed in 2 years but that's a lot of schooling packed into a short period of time.
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  #34  
Old 10-30-2006, 12:10 PM
chela chela is offline
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absolutely a tech degree can get one started in an indemand career. Its up to the individual to take it to the upper echelons. A certificate get ones foot inthe door in allied health careers, foodie tech, Rx tech, essentially specialized service jobs for a livable wage.
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  #35  
Old 10-30-2006, 01:21 PM
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Truck driving and offshore oil work. My BIL does both (drives a bigrig for a small company when he's not in the oil patch).

Pro: Income well into the six figures
Con: He's not home very much
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  #36  
Old 10-30-2006, 01:39 PM
Auntbeast Auntbeast is offline
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Casino Dealer:
You can take a course that takes about 6 weeks, or teach yourself. If you can pass an audition, you can get hired.

I work in a low stakes State and full time dealers can make $50k a year easy. I made $36 last year and didn't work for 4 months.

I throw little piece of plastic in the air, take an accurate rake and keep the assholes in line. I sit down in air conditioned comfort and get a 30 minute break every few hours. My shifts are either 6 hours or 12 hours. Uniforms are provided.
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  #37  
Old 10-30-2006, 02:21 PM
Scarlett67 Scarlett67 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Octagon
In my opinion, owning/running a business isn't really a job (you're working for yourself),
Hm, I don't really have a job. Interesting. Here I've been working mornings, afternoons, and evenings, five to seven days a week; keeping old clients happy and cultivating new ones; paying expenses and taxes (15% Social Security compared to the 7.5% that wage slaves pay); keeping my computer maintained; reading trade publications; providing my own vacation pay, sick pay (I might add that when I "call in sick," the work is still there the next day), and retirement fund (fortunately not my own health insurance anymore, although that may change in the near future); and teaching myself new skills and keeping up with old ones, all the while trying to stay caught up with my sleep and my eye-drop and aspirin supply. Oh, and the money I bring in pretty much supports this household.

Guess I'd better go get a real job, since this one doesn't count. Turns out I've just been goofing off! (Oh, and I work at home too. Do I get extra slacker points?)
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  #38  
Old 10-30-2006, 03:27 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmith537
Politicians don't make that much money. It's also pretty difficult to get elected to any office of significance without some sort of education.
I can't speak for the U.S., but if you get elected in the U.K., even at the local level, it's an absolute gravy train if you want it to be.
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  #39  
Old 10-30-2006, 03:46 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Since prostitution has been mentioned, what about drug dealing? That's a huge pyramid scheme and the ones at the top are making a bloody fortune.

Of course, pyramid schemes are illegal.
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  #40  
Old 10-30-2006, 04:04 PM
mack mack is offline
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Quote:
Good point. Notwithstanding that all jobs require some sort of specialized knowledge, I was thinking of a bachelors-level college degree when I opened this thread. "Education" of the sort they want you to have before they'll even hire you.
I have a BA. My line of work - pharmaceutical clinical research data management - pays quite well. I suspect one reason it pays so well is because hardly anybody knows the job even exists (until now!). I started in 1996 at $28.50/hr (after 6 years on the hospital end of clinical research) and interviewed recently for a consultant position at another company that paid $65/hr (out of which I'd have to pay my own benefits). It's basically 9-5 plus some extra hours around major deadlines.

The big hazard is that off-shoring has worked so far up the food chain that my current job is history come December. The statistics & reporting programmers with Masters degrees are getting thrown out of work, too. Pretty scary.
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  #41  
Old 10-30-2006, 04:33 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty
Some unions can really distort pay levels in places. You can find examples of union workers like bus and subway drivers and longeshoreman making a pretty good wage in places like New York and California.

Outside of the unions, I think you will find that the basic economic laws always apply. Long distance truck drivers can make a good living but what it takes to pull that off is a grueling schedule, owning your own rig
You don't have to own your own rig; I know long distance drivers making $80K and up driving company rigs.

Good truck drivers are hard to find.
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  #42  
Old 10-30-2006, 05:00 PM
neutron star neutron star is offline
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Originally Posted by RickJay
You don't have to own your own rig; I know long distance drivers making $80K and up driving company rigs.
I did, too (from working 5 years as a billing clerk for Yellow Transportation), but those guys were Teamsters. From what I gathered from my conversations with them, their non-union counterparts made substantially less.

At the low-end of the truck-driving scale, the guys who delivered soda to local convenience stores (this was in Louisiana, so YMMV) made only a dollar or so above minimum wage.
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  #43  
Old 10-30-2006, 05:25 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmith537
Politicians don't make that much money. It's also pretty difficult to get elected to any office of significance without some sort of education. Would you vote for a high school graduate to run your state?
Well, I didn't, but quite a lot of people did.

I think it's silly to include politician in this discussion, for the same reason as professional atheletes and entertainers. While they might not require a formal education, they require a phenomenal amount of talent, skill, and other education, none of which can really be gained "on the job."
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  #44  
Old 10-30-2006, 05:55 PM
FormerMarineGuy FormerMarineGuy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tomcat
Many sales jobs don't require higher education. Can you sell? You're hired! I know guys making $250k a year with only a high school education. Real Estate, computers, xerox machines, etc.
-Tcat
I knew someone would beat me to this. To go a little further (in car sales), I have HEARD of guys who were fresh out of high school making 75k a year. I have heard of guys who were 30 years old with no high school diploma making 100k a year.

Me, I have a college education and make 150k+ a year. However, I believe my General Manager has no formal education (if you mean college and/or technical school) and probably makes 400-500k a year. But he has been in the business for 30 years or so.
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  #45  
Old 10-30-2006, 06:05 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FormerMarineGuy
I knew someone would beat me to this. To go a little further (in car sales), I have HEARD of guys who were fresh out of high school making 75k a year. I have heard of guys who were 30 years old with no high school diploma making 100k a year.
The problem with jobs like this is that while the superstars can make a lot of money, the median salary is probably considerably lower, and most people will be near the median.
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  #46  
Old 10-30-2006, 06:16 PM
A.R. Cane A.R. Cane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickJay
You don't have to own your own rig; I know long distance drivers making $80K and up driving company rigs.

Good truck drivers are hard to find.
You might find a very few teamsters making that, but it's sure as hell not typical.
If you ask a trucker about money, you'll get one of two stories: either they're crying poor mouth, or they're raking it in hand over fist and they're both likely lying through their teeth.
An owner/operator can make a comfortable sounding net, but they're putting in 70-80 hours a week to do it. The industry is trying to attract retired couples who both drive. They sell them on the idea of making good money while seeing the country for free. They soon find out that the good money only comes if they're both working lots of hours, and their sightseeing is all through the windshield. You'll see them interviewed on the news from time to time and they always say they love it. What else are they going to say after they have committed to a hundred and some thousand dollar loan to buy the rig and then signed a lease contract w/ a trucking company. People just don't like to admit, even to themselves, that they've made a huge mistake. They believe that they can make it work. Most of the O/O's making big bucks have found a niche market, but in most of those cases it takes years of experience and a bit of luck to fall into something like that. You are not going to walk into you local trucking company, go through their driver training, and start making 50-60 grand plus bennies.
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  #47  
Old 10-30-2006, 06:38 PM
Hockey Monkey Hockey Monkey is offline
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Bail Bondsman/Bailrunner

Boyfriend makes 6 figures a year. He is more of a runner than a bondsman. He catches people who skip bail. (NO he is not Dog the Bounty Hunter). Bounty hunters are illegal in my state. A Bailrunner works for a Bondsman and gets a percentage of the bond for catching the guy.

If a $1,000,000 bond skips his court date, and my boyfriend catches him, my boyfriend makes $50,000.

Nice work if you can get it.
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  #48  
Old 10-30-2006, 07:13 PM
Oakminster Oakminster is offline
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Best money for less education?

Stripper. Gals that dance in the upscale clubs make great money. Granted, there are downsides to that lifestyle, but it's legal in more places than hooking is....

I've heard that male strippers do pretty well for themselves as well.
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  #49  
Old 10-30-2006, 07:22 PM
A.R. Cane A.R. Cane is offline
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The obvious job, if all you care about is money, is sales. You have to be something of a sociopath and not have any compassion for your fellow man, and a "gift of gab", but those can be learned. The consummate salesperson is the confidence artist, if you figure the reward is worth the risk.
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  #50  
Old 10-30-2006, 07:28 PM
Dragwyr Dragwyr is offline
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How about a garbage collector?

I've heard they make pretty good money.
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